P. Ballantine & Sons Brewery
In the mid 90s in New York, I worked on a clamming boat with a fleet of men that had been running these beds for generations! I was honored to work with a man by the name of John Walters, an energetic 60 year old who knew everything there was about the ocean and all of its manners. One day while we were both out on the water, I happened to pull out of the rake (clamming basket, picture below) a bottle that caught my attention. I later found out that it was one of the original bottles from the Ballantine Brewing Company, based out of Newark, NJ. Not only were they once the 3rd largest beer company in America, but they were also the official sponsor of the Yankees. Here is their story:
Ballantine was an American brewery. It was best known for Ballantine Ale, a pale ale that is one of the oldest brands of beer in the United States. At its peak, Ballantine was the 4th largest brewer in the United States. The company was founded in 1840 in Newark, New Jersey, by Peter Ballantine (1791–1883), who emigrated from Scotland. The company was originally incorporated as the Patterson & Ballantine Brewing Company. Ballantine rented an old brewing site which had dated back to 1805. Around 1850, Ballantine bought out his partner and purchased land near the Passaic River to brew his ale. His three sons joined the business and in 1857 the company was renamed P. Ballantine and Sons. The name would be used for the next 115 years, until the company closed its brewery in May 1972.
By 1879, it had become sixth largest brewery in the US, almost twice as large as Anheuser-Busch. Ballantine added a second brewery location, also in Newark, in order to brew lager beer to fill out the company product line.
In 1933 the Ballantine company was acquired by two brothers, Carl and Otto Badenhausen. The Badenhausens’ grew the brand through its most successful period of the 1940s and 1950s, primarily through clever advertising. Ballantine Beer was the first television sponsor of the New York Yankees. It was during this period that the brand was elevated to the number three beer in the U.S. It was also during this period that the company grew into one of the largest privately held corporations in the United States.
In the 1960s the company went into decline. The breweries were closed and the brands acquired by the Falstaff Brewing Corporation under whose stewardship the beers remained faithful for a time to their original flavor profile. By the late 1980s, though, Ballantine Ales were produced by a number of different outsourced companies.
The Ballantine logo is three interlocking rings, in a design known as Borromean rings. New York Yankees announcer Mel Allen called it “the Three-Ring Sign.” In the logo used in advertising, the rings were labeled “Purity, Body, Flavor”. According to one legend, Peter Ballantine was inspired to use the pattern after seeing condensation rings left by beer glasses on a tabletop.
Bottles of Ballentine’s can be seen in photos of American World War II aviators debriefing on Iwo Jima after a raid against Tokyo.
Three ring Label below –
The brewery had a long sponsorship arrangement with the New York Yankees on television and radio, spanning the 1940s to the 1960s. Team announcers, most notably the legendary Mel Allen, labeled Yankee home runs, “Ballantine Blasts.” The advertising jingle went “Hey, get your cold beer! Hey, get your Ballantine!…Just look for the three-ring sign/And ask the man for Ballantine.” After which Allen would advise, “You’ll be so glad you did.” Ballantine was responsible for making Phil Rizzuto a Yankee broadcaster after his release. Years after he was famously let go by the Yankees, Allen told author Curt Smith that Ballantine had ordered his firing as a cost-cutting move.
Ballantine also sponsored the Philadelphia Phillies on radio and TV for many years in the 1950s and 1960s. The scoreboard in right center field at Philadelphia’s Connie Mack Stadium (previously known as Shibe Park) sported a 60-foot-long (18 m) Ballantine Ale sign.
Ballantine Ale is still around today:
Since 2005, the Ballantine Ale brand has been owned and marketed by the Pabst Brewing Company, which in turn outsources the brewing to the Miller Brewing Company.
Because Ballantine is now widely sold in 40-ounce bottles, it is often lumped together with Olde English 800 and other malt liquors in the public mind.
So when you see that old bottle of Ballantine remember it’s an Old American Classic. Thanks for reading.. and thanks to these guy’s below –