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.
THE INDUSTRIAL INTERESTS OF NEWARK, N.J., “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apart, and they have very largely superseded imported brands in the American market.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.
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
--- 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
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.
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.
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 (Badenhausen0
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 e able easily to
supply himself and his guest with the new Canadian ales. On these ales
(Badenhausen) 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
conveyers 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
--- 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
--- 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
"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.
"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