Sep 19, 2002

The Bottom Line If you can find Ballantine Ale in bottles, you can enjoy a taste that's a lot like it used to be!

I first drank Ballantine Ale while riding in the club car of the 20th Century Limited from Chicago to New York. I lived in Minneapolis at the time and somehow had survived over 19 years without ever having tasted ANY ale, let alone Ballantine. I loved the taste and I was instantly hooked.In those days(December 1960) Ballantine Ale was distributed in the New York metropolitan area and upstate, at least as far as Albany, as well as in the club cars of trains that went through the states of New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. It was brewed in Newark, N.J. They had a great song-"Who is the Ale Man? It could be you!" and it had a great logo- three rings named "purity, body and flavor" in green on a gold can. I didn't know it at the time, but they were a major radio sponsor of New York Yankee baseball.

After I came home from the Army in 1964 home became New York and a good part of my college days and nights involved the consumption of Ballantine Ale. I can't describe the taste, and can only write that it was unique and very pleasant! According to internet sources that weren't available in the 1960's there were oak casks and hop oil involved in creating this magnificent taste. Then, sadly, it ended. I was transferred upstate at my own request in the mid-70's and discovered that in Western NY there just wasn't any Ballantine Ale. Later, there just wasn't any ANYWHERE, at least anywhere I went.

After a LONG hiatus,I went into a Rochester-area store called Beers of the World- yes, I most certainly will give them a plug! I was looking for something close to Ballantine Ale, and I tried a few India Pale Ales- not even close! Then one day I walked to the back of the store and saw a 6-pack in regurgitation-green(I really don't want to describe it as "puke green" even though that's exactly what it was) cans with those beautiful 3 rings in darker green. Brewed by Falstaff, San Antonio, TX! I bought a 6 pack and when I tried it I was really crushed. Not what I remembered, although just a hint.

My wife, who I met several years AFTER I first had a Ballantine Ale, told me to give it one more try, only this time buy bottles, not cans. The bottles said "Distributed by Falstaff Brewing Co, Milwaukee, WI" and were green along with the old-type 3-ring logo. THIS TIME IT WORKED! From the moment I pulled off the cap, I smelled what I'd been looking for. The taste was, if not 100%, awfully close to what I'd been searching for! No, it didn"t make me 19 years old again, but it was sure refreshing. I still can get it, at Beers of the World at a pretty reasonable price($3.99 a 6 pack, plus tax and deposit.) Gotta say I'm happy. I really can be the Ale Man and it's sure great!

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About the Author ID:
Member: Robert Darmer
Location: Rochester,New York
Reviews written: 81
Trusted by: 12 members
About Me: Retired NY State Parole Officer. Army veteran. Married with grown daughter.