Ballantine's Hops


[BELOW] A Ballantine-contracted Hop Field. 

    P. Ballantine & Sons claimed to have pioneered contracting with individual hop farmers in order to assure consistent hop quality.  The company had growers in California, Oregon and Washington.  Earlier in the post-Prohibition era, they apparently still bought some New York State hops, before that state's hop industry eventually died out.

"...(Ballantine) experts walk among the grain fields and hop vineyards, talking with farmers, finding ways to improve the barley and the corn and the hops." --- THIS IS BALLANTINE

"Ballantine specialists supervise every step in the process (of cultivating their contract hops) - planting, growing, harvesting and shipping.  On arrival at the brewery, sensitive instruments measure each hop shipment by taste as well as by pound."
--- AMAZING BUT TRUE, Fabulous Facts About a Famous Company
Illustration from THIS IS BALLANTINE
circa mid-1960s

    In 1957, some of Ballantine's Brewer's Gold hops were coming from contracted hop ranches near Independence, Oregon, where growers of English hop hybrid varieties Fuggles, Bullions and Brewer's Gold had organized the Willamette Valley Hybrid Hop Growers.

  WVHHG President Eugene MacCarthy harvested only between "a token"
11 and 31 acres of "full-bodied
flavored hops" for Ballantine in the mid-1950s, along with "four or five" other local growers, including Norman Stauffer (who served on the USDA Hop Administration Committee), Gordon Huntley, Gale Prather,  and Eldon Pugh. 

    MacCarthy's family had grown hops since before Prohibition but had slowly converted most of the 240 acre farm to to other crops by the 1950s, claiming that "...t
he Oregon hop industry has been ruined by pale, mild beer".  The MacCarthy hop ranch had first started growing Brewers Gold and Bullion hops when given cuttings by Salem OR hop dealer Tom Livesley.

 According to a local newspaper story in Salem, OR's The Capital Journal, Aug 20, 1957, the Willamette Valley group's growers grew hops for:

"...a particular brewer. They are specialists.
The brewer specifies when they shall fertilize,
irrigate and pick their crops. He produces a
beverage with a distinct hop flavor for
connoisseurs of beers and ales."

    After the closing of P. Ballantine & Sons, in the late 1970s an Independence, Oregon hop ranch owned by John I. Haas sold Brewer's Gold hop to Guinness, while chairman of the Oregon Hop Commission Paul Serres' hop farm near Woodburn sold Brewer's Gold and Bullions to Miller to be turned into pellets or extract used for bittering.  By the 1980s, Nugget hops were replacing Bullion/Brewer's Gold in Oregon.



Ballantine's refrigerated hop storage area in Newark, with a capacity of 1.5 million pounds.


[BELOW] Adding whole flower hops - a 2-man job - to the brew kettle in Newark, 1960s.

[LEFT] P. Ballantine & Son's "hop field" painting ad was part of their early 1960s "Golden Harvest / Golden Mellow" campaign for Ballantine Beer - as seen in the ad [RIGHT], most of the promotional material, including colored magazine ads, coasters and a tray featured barley fields. 

The hops ad did not state which hop varieties were used in the lager beer.

    Two references to the brewery's hops usage from one-sheet - THE DIFFERENCE - OUR ALE AND BEER.  While the varieties of hops used in their ale and lager are not stated, the do say the beer and ale hops are grown in "different areas of the United States". At the time of the article, commercial hop growing was limited to CA, OR, ID and WA.
    Also, a description of the ale's dry hopping procedure (some latter sources have claimed they used hop oil exclusively in place of dry-hopping).

Jahnsen's study of Hop Oil from The Journal of the Institute of Brewing used Ballantine's hop oil distilled from Bullion hops, a "sister" to the Brewer's Gold hop, suggesting Ballantine used both varieties.

Both Wright and Connery were Ballantine employees.