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Quotes on Ballantine

The acknowledged excellence and extended reputation of P. Ballantine & Sons’ Newark Ales is a source of genuine pride to the city in which they are produced.

William Ford, 1874.

“Despite its want of the magic water of Burton-on-Trent, the Messrs. Ballantine manufacture strong Burton and India pale ales, which rival those of Bass and Alsop to such a degree that experts can seldom tell them apart, and they have very largely superseded imported brands in the American market.  Indeed, sold on draught, the have almost entirely replaced them.”

---- "Ballantine & Sons’ Brewery", The Daily Graphic, New York, May 9, 1878

To bring before our readers some facts relative to the brewing of ale, we give engravings illustrative of the industry as at present carried on by Messrs. P. Ballantine & Sons, of Newark, N.J. – this establishment being the largest and one of the oldest of its kind in the United States.  It has been in existence for more than forty years, and has been located in Newark since 1840.

Since the organization of this business by the elder Mr. Ballantine, in 1835, in Albany – then the headquarters of the brewing business – this industry has slowly but steadily developed until it has reached gigantic proportions.  The establishment of Messrs. P. Ballantine & Sons, covering about seven acres of ground, has a frontage on the Passaic river of 600 feet; this, in conjunction with the railway lines on the opposite side of the premises, afford the most extensive facilities for receiving and shipping materials and products. 

--- "Ale Brewing - as conducted by P. Ballantine & Sons' Brewery" Scientific American, 3/15/1879

 “Peter Ballantine… has succeeded not simply in amassing a fortune, but in raising the reputation of Newark ale in this country to a height scarcely less that of Munich beer in Germany, keeping at the same time his own reputation, amid all the vicissitudes, free from spot or tarnish.”

--- The Biographical Encyclopedia of New Jersey of the Nineteenth Century, 1877

"The largest breweries and malt houses in the Untied States for the production of ales and porter are those of P. Ballantine & Sons of Newark, N.J.  The associated corporation of Ballantine & Co. of the same city, also possesses one of the most complete and extensive lager beer brewing plants in the country.  Sixty-four years of successful ale brewing is the Ballantine record.  The capacity of the ale brewery alone is now 250,000 barrels per annum, and the product is far reaching in its popularity, comparing favorably with the finest imported ales.  George Porter has for many years been the head ale brewer, his reputation being second to none in the country."

"Ballantine’s Breweries” New York Tribune, 1903

You can’t kill an ale drinker, unless by premeditated violence or sudden accident.

Ale is the drink of ruddy cheeks and robust health.

Go to the Ballantine breweries today and you will find the same sure, careful processes that Peter Ballantine made a fixed principle, unshaken after seventy seven years, despite the stir of the changing times.

You will find the same standards of malt,grain, and hops, but the brew is better because finer malt and hops are available.

 You will find the same investment of courage and integrity.

--- P. Ballantine & Sons promo book, 1910

“…Ballantine Ales and Beers are never made from anything but the very choicest grain, barley-malt and hops, the purity of the Ballantine products is beyond the veriest shadow of a doubt.  Expert brewers constantly supervise every process, and absolute cleanliness is observed in every operation.  All Ballantine’s Ales and Beers are thoroughly matured and fully ripened in order to perfect their condition and retain the distinctive flavors at their very best.  No preservatives are ever used in any one of the Ballantine products.  None is needed.”

--- Newark, The City of Industry, Newark Board of Trade, 1912

"The three rings of the Ballantine Company, standing for purity, strength and flavor, are known all over the world.  At least they were when the Newark brewers and maltsters made liquid products.  Since prohibition the company has been making malt exclusively."

--- "Sale of Ballantine Brewery, Once Largest in State, Due this Week", Newark Call, 6/11/33

"Founded almost a hundred years ago, the company operated a prosperous business until the advent of prohibition. It managed to struggle through the dry days until the depth of the depression, when the family decided to sell. In May, 1933, the company was bought by brothers Carl and Otto Badenhausen, who set out in the teeth of bad times to put the property on its feet.

"The first thing they did was to study what sort of drink a certain number of people wanted. They fixed on a light ale. Then they studied how to make this ale as good as it could be. And finally, they advertised the product as widely and as cleverly as possible, spending a much greater portion of their budget for this than the average brewer.

"So successful has this enterprise been that, today, the Ballantine three-ring symbol is perhaps the best known drink trademark there is. From 100,000 barrels in 1934, the annual output has risen to 1,000,000 barrels and is expected to
reach 1,300,000 barrels this year.

"Thus have the Badenhausen brothers taken a business almost moribund and, in the midst of a depression, made it  business which nets a million dollars a year and continues to grow every day..."

---Editorial, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 25, 1938

"The reasons for Ballantine’s success lie in Carl (Badenhausen’s) original strategy.  Foreseeing the aimless rush to market, he decided that he must have a product sufficiently different from all others so that he could advertise it heavily and command a premium price.  Whatever other brewers were to do, he must do something else.  If they were out to cultivate the proletariat, he would cultivate the sophisticates.  If they were plugging beer, he would plug ale.  Ale already had a certain following in the upper stratum, owing in part to its English associations, and it had a general market the New England states.  But ale was traditionally a heavier drink than German beer, and (Badenhausen) knew that despite any distinction he might get from the name of ale, a heavy drink would not do.  The whole trend of American taste was toward light, bland food and drink... 

Already, before prohibition, there had been a trend toward light ale, continued during our prohibition period by rapid success of certain very light Canadian ales that had delighted U.S. visitors and had seeped across the border as special delicacies on the tables of the knowing.  (Badenhausen) himself, with a cabin at Moosehead Lake, Maine, was close enough to the border to be able easily to supply himself and his guest with the new Canadian ales. On these ales (Badenhausen's) new product was modeled..."

"It was Badenhausen's desire for a light drink that brought his ale making so close to German beer. Ballantine's ale has a slightly higher alcoholic content, 4.2 by weight, than the customary 3.7 for beer, and this content, which figures out at a shade over 5 per cent by volume, just clears the regulation of the Federal Alcohol Administration requiring all brews labeled ale to have at least 5 per cent alcohol by volume.  Other than this, there is little difference between the beer and ale, except in the all-important yeast."

--- "Ballantine's Ale", Fortune, June, 1938

"The most sensitive of the ingredients is yeast.  Some brewers secure it from commercial laboratories or other sources of supply; others grow their own from pure yeast cultures. Years ago Ballantine imported a selected strain of yeast which it has coddled and kept in a special room where the air is not only maintained at fixed degrees of temperature and humidity but at a slightly elevated pressure so that contaminating substances will be less likely to filter in through invisible cracks and pores in the walls.  Ballantine officials speak of their yeast as pedigreed, which is the fact, for its high quality is insured by selecting some of the liveliest cells – formed at the height of fermentation – the ferment each succeeding batch of wort."

--- "Malt Beverages", G. S. Garsten, DuPont in-house magazine, 1938

“…Ballantine climbed from sixth to fifth with a sales rise from 1,285,000 to 1,322,000…(from 1938 to 1940) Ballantine sold about 200,000 barrels more…In these three years, Ballantine has become an important “shipping brewer” ---selling and advertising throughout the country.”

--- “Largest Brewers Strengthen as Nation’s Beer Sales Decline”, Sales Management, 1940

"The Badenhausens were free of brewhouse fetishes, and any concessions they made to tradition were pragmatic rather than  sentimental.  Otto, for example, was of no mind to prostrate himself  before a hip-booted brewmaster who was more cook than chemist.  At Ballantine’s the brewmaster is but one member of the “technical committee” - Otto and the chief chemist are other members - which passes on all matter pertaining to the brewing formula and process.

"And though it would doubtless be an exaggeration to credit the Badenhausens with any special technological wizardry, they did embrace eagerly the advanced techniques that the older brewers adopted somewhat grudgingly and piecemeal.  Whenever “instinct” and rule of thumb could be replaced by absolute chemical control, they were.  When ever conveyors could substitute for handwork, they were installed forthwith.  Ballantine’s became, in the brothers’ own words,“a laboratory controlled manufacturer.”

---"The Brotherly Brewers",  Fortune Magazine, April, 1950

"Before 1948, both Pabst and Ballantine were very much in the race for the top spot...Record growth in the World War II period enabled Ballantine to get the third place ranking in 1946 and the second place title in 1948.  The best year of Ballantine was 1949 when production of 4,514,000 barrels was reached.  However, the sales declined steadily and finally it lost the third place to Falstaff in 1957."

--- Shih & Shih, American Brewing Industry & The Beer Market, 1958

" . . . the possibility of existing successfully as a single-plant operation is admirably illustrated by P. Ballantine & Sons.  Brewing only in the extensive plant at Newark and –what is more – bucking the traffic by producing a remarkably popular ale as well as beer, president Carl W. Badenhausen and his brother Otto have elevated the old-established business, which they bought and revived after Repeal, from annual sales of around half a million barrels to a figure well over four million.  Since 1937, Ballantine has been consistently among the top ten brewers in the country, and since 1960 it has been the only single-plant brewery in that exalted group."

--- Stanley Baron, Brewed in America, 1962

"At the last annual Meeting, my first, I told you that the financial condition of our company was serious, and that realistically, you could not expect great improvement in 1967.  I referred to it as a rebuilding year.  The sales decline that has plagued your company since 1961 was and is a serious problem, particularly in the Metropolitan New York City area."

--- Richard H. Griebel, President, PB & S, Report to Stockholders, May 18, 1968

"Ballantine was another interesting brewery. We interviewed one of their people for an engineering position here. One of his jobs had been the maintenance of the wooden tanks and repitching them. The tanks were large, and enclosed. You have to have an open flame to keep the pitch hot enough to paint. Some real interesting safety problems there.

"I visited Ballantine right after some riots they had in Newark during the 1960s. It was a very large plant, and they were set up like an armed camp. They had their own private police force that circled the plant constantly, so that no part of the plant escaped surveillance for more than a few minutes. Supposedly they also had an arsenal of guns stored in the bottling department, kept under lock and key. There were an incredible number of fire extinguishers, mounted just everywhere. Apparently, a local anarchist group had circulated plans for how to disable a brewery, and so the Ballantine management were taking all kinds of precautions. And they were telling me with some relish and satisfaction, about all the steps they had taken to protect the brewery. And I was just thinking, this is no way to live." 

--- F. X. Matt II (on Ballantine in the 1960s) "Maintaining the Family Tradition"                   Modern Brewery Age, March 27, 2000

Mr. Griebel (President of Ballantine since January) said,

“I have a troubled company here and normal procedures might not save this company.”

--- New York Times, Oct. 16, 1968

Dansker said no changes are contemplated at Ballantine's "except to increase sales...We have a fine product and well known name that was once at the top of the list of beers.  Ballantine is brewed locally and we are in the middle of the finest market in the country. We have every confidence we can bring it back to where it should be at the top of the list." 

--- Jerome Dansker, president of Investors Funding, upon buying Ballantine "Holding Company Will Buy Ballantine & Sons Brewery" (AP), May 2, 1969

“But some industry sources content that the decline (in sales at Ballantine) started in 1965 when the company switched from a heavy German-type beer to a lighter, smoother and mellower premium beer more attuned to the modern taste market and people didn’t learn about the change.  Then, too, according to others, something actually happened to the formula 2 ½ years ago..That has since been corrected and the company is making a premium beer again.”

--- New York Times, July 2, 1969

"There were, of course, many other factors involved according to the company, but it was no secret the brewery was losing money when in was sold by Badenhausen and his associates."

--- "Ballantine closing marks the end of Newark era", Newark Star-Ledger, March 5, 1972

"Ballantine, which relied heavily on tavern-oriented blue-collar and ethnic markets, and tried to enhance this appeal through heavy promotion of sporting events, ran into changing shopping patterns and taste preferences.

"The housewife doing the supermarket shopping also picked up the beer, and the American taste turned to lighter and lighter brews.  Ballantine officials decided their product was too heavy, but by the time they changed it in 1965, the company was on its way to a $8.5-million losing year in 1965 on sales of $90-million.

"The board of directors began a series of frenetic moves to try to revive the company that had, as one official put it, “fallen asleep.” Carl W. Badenhausen retired, and Ballantine named a new board chairman, a new president and it tried to acquire a new look."

--- "Ballantine Closing Ends Newark Era", New York Times, March 12, 1972

"(In the mid-1960s), according to the industry, Ballantine decided to change its formula.  This change was noticed almost immediately by Puerto Rican purchasers, who had long been strong Ballantine fans.  Puerto Ricans are known for preferring their beer extremely cold (remember Ballantine’s 'Hey, get your cold beer!') and the beermakers considered it unusual that they noticed the change in taste.  When beer or any other liquid is extremely cold, it is difficult to detect variances of taste or flavor.”

---"A Look at Why City Brewery Industry Went Flat", New York Times, Feb. 9, 1974

"In 1871, P. Ballantine & Sons had just built a second ale brewery, and they  had the market pretty well sewed up with their high grades of ales, porter and particularly "India Pale" and old stock ale.  Toward the end of the decade, Peter Ballantine, by then in his eighties, convinced his sons that it was high time to get into the beer business.  The old trend-setter lived to see the new lager beer brewery completed in 1882.

And so Ballantine continued to prosper for the next eight decades, brewing both ale and beer, including even their unique India Pale...You can still find their India Pale in stores that cater to discriminating quaffers, but you'd better look soon.  Here's why.

What has happened is that a big Midwestern brewery gobbler, Falstaff, bought Ballantine out a few years ago.  And although India Pale is still being brewed - apparently under the old formula - we know what happens to products that aren't big sellers, no matter how fine they are."

--- John Porter, All About Beer, 1975

Purity, body and flavor- the three-ring symbol of the P. Ballantine & Sons Brewery in Newark - was once emblazoned on every building in the vast manufacturing complex on the bank of the Passaic River in the city's Ironbound section.

During the heyday of the 40-acre industrial city within a city, 4,500 employees working around the clock could produce 4 million barrels of ale and beer a year.

Then, in 1972, after nearly a century of brewing, the plant shut down for good and the remaining 2,300 employees left to find other work.

Those were dark days for Newark, as company after company either went out of business or left town. The loss of Ballantine's stung even more because Newark had enjoyed a long history as a successful brewing center, and Ballantine was the city's last local beer. Investors Funding Corporation had bought the Ballantine label in 1969 and tried to keep the brewery open. But after losing millions of dollars in just a few years, it sold the label to the Falstaff Brewing Company ... and decided to convert the sprawling site into an industrial park. It began by tearing down older buildings that could not be converted, in the process ripping out two- story high copper beer vats and anything else that could be sold as scrap...

Although most of the three-ringed Ballantine logos have been either stolen or removed from the old factories, a few remain. One is embossed on an elevator carpet and several were engraved on the balustrade of the old brewmaster's house, now rented as office space.

--- “Ballantine Site Again Froths with Activity”, New York Times, Sept. 11 1983

"In 1960...Rheingold, Schaefer and Ballantine each had 30% of the New York market and the other 10% was shared by Piels, Ruppert, Budweiser, Miller and Schlitz.  Each of the big New York breweries were family-owned.  But later, when the families fell apart and sold, management suffered, and the downward spiral started.  First Ballantine, where the poor beers started their decline..."

--- Joe Owades, Address at 45th Brewers' Association of America Convention, 1986.

“They were probably the most fastidious bastards in the business.  They selected the top grade of everything, even more than Anheuser-Busch.” 

---Lee Holland,  former executive director of the Brewers Association of America.
"From 1950 through 1962, the company's market share was fairly constant at about 5 percent.  During this period, Ballantine placed in the second tier.  Thereafter, the company fell into the third tier as its market share and influence on the industry declined...

"One explanation for Ballantine's fall is the fact that it continued to produce some of the darkest and heaviest beers and ales in a period when more and more consumers were switching to lighter beers. For example, Ballantine India Pale Ale had an alcohol content of 6.39 percent (by volume) and 192 calories in a 12-ounce can [sic] and Ballantine beer had a 4.85 percent alcohol content and 153 calories...The company's inability to meet the growing demand for lighter beer and to compete in advertising with the national brewers are the likely reason why Ballantine, like many other regional brewers, declined and eventually exited the market." 

---Tremblay & Tremblay, The U.S. Brewing Industry, 2005