Food & Drink

11 reasons you should be drinking Ballantine India Pale Ale

It’s true that those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it, but, sometimes, those who do learn from the past are privileged to repeat it.
We’ve dug deep into the history of one of the most storied brews our nation’s ever produced, Ballantine IPA, and come up with some pretty spectacular reasoning for why you should be cracking open the newly reintroduced (that’s right, Ballantine IPA is back) ale right now. 

Because you like knowledge
Rebus riddles -- which had drinkers cogitating how to pronounce a phrase illustrated in pictures -- were printed on the underside of Ballantine caps starting in the 1960s. The Beastie Boys celebrated these brain burners on Paul’s Boutique’s “High Plains Drifter” (more on Ballantine’s musical influence later). So when you pick up a six-pack, you’re raising a glass to raising IQs. 

Because you like literature
Hunter S. Thompson drank it in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, desperate to find a regional beverage in the middle of nowhere:

“’Ballantine Ale,’ I said ... a very mystic long shot, unknown between Newark and San Francisco.
He served it up, ice-cold.
I relaxed. Suddenly everything was going right; I was finally getting the breaks.”

And, seriously, Hemingway, as himself, wrote an ad for Ballantine:

“You are tired all the way through. The fish is landed untouched by sharks and you have a bottle of Ballantine cold in your hand and drink it cool, light, and full-bodied, so it tastes good long after you have swallowed it.”

The lesson here? Ballantine will make you a freakin’ man.

Because you like collecting
Vintage Ballantine church key cans are awesome and can go for $50 on eBay -- bottles of Burton Ale, still highly prized by collectors, go for a lot more. Save some of your fresh Ballantine bottles and they could be worth a ton someday. You’ll be dead, but the grandkids will really appreciate the gesture.

Because you like power hitters
From the 1940s to the 1960s, every single Yankee homerun was pronounced a “Ballantine Blast” by legendary broadcaster Mel Allen. Ballantine was so hooked up with the Yankees that they helped Phil Rizzuto become a booth broadcaster after his retirement. Tip one back while watching America’s pastime and maybe your favorite slugger will knock one out.

Because you like music
As previously mentioned, the Beastie Boys rapped about Ballantine. So did Biggie. So did GZA.  And, uh, Limp Bizkit’s rider included Ballantine beer… and a full-length mirror… and action figures. Rollin’!

Because you like IPAs
Ballantine brewed their first IPA in 1878. The style had fallen out of favor during Prohibition in the 1920s, but Ballantine was the only major American brewery to keep pumping out the hoppy goodness into the 20th century.

Because you like that barrel aging thing
Ballantine’s been into barrel aging since the very beginning (1878, remember?). They actually let their Burton Ale hang out in barrels for 10-20 years. While that stuff was only given to VIPs as gifts, Ballantine’s standard IPA rested in wood casks for a full year before bottling. The new, carefully researched return of the classic promises similar exposure to American Oak.

Because you’re patriotic
In WWII, Ballantine made a can that didn’t reflect light so that soldiers wouldn’t get spotted popping the tab. Thanks to the reflective quality of glass, the new bottles won’t get you spotted either. Also, you’re not in a World War, so that should help.

Because you like math
The logo is a set of Borromean Rings. In nerd speak, that means that while no two of the circles are actually connected, removing one ring will collapse the whole structure. This three ring image has been used in medieval heraldry, so when you buy a Ballantine, you’re like your very own beer baron. Or you’re like John Bonham, whose symbol on Led Zeppelin IV was reputedly inspired by the same rings.

Because you like comedy
Mel Brooks adapted his classic 2000-year-old man bit for Ballantine commercials. Check out the 2,500-Year-Old Brewmaster.

Because you like reverse engineering
The original recipe was lost during the many times Ballantine traded hands over the years, but Pabst (the newest owner) has spent oodles of time researching the original taste in order to reproduce the most authentic version possible. They essentially rebuilt the beer based on tasting notes written decades (sometimes over a century) ago. It’s kind of like what they did with absinthe -- the difference being van Gogh never played baseball.