Ballantine’s three rings are an easily-recognizable symbol of the brewery and the rings represent purity, body, and flavor.
Ballantine Cuff Links
I once worked with a man who had been an employee at the Ballantine brewery in Newark during the 50’s. He worked in the lab, which essentially meant that he drank beer for a living. What a job!
Around that same time period, Ballantine’s owners Carl and Otto Badenhausen created a special beer as a holiday gift for distributors and retailers. I recall finding an article about a single bottle of this holiday brew surfacing and auctioning off for about $6,000. Apparently, there were only six known specimens at the time. I showed this article to my co-worker and he was in shock. He told me that he remembered pulling buckets of this beer off the bottling line “for testing” and that he had filled his own refrigerator with this particular beer.
One day, my co-worker surprised me with a gift. A single cuff link and some other Ballantine collectibles. Can’t seem to find any “links” to any values for Ballantine Cuff Links.
A little about the history of P. Ballantine and Sons Brewing Company. The brewery was founded in 1840 and at one time was the nation’s third largest brewer. The brewery was based in Newark, NJ until 1972 when Ballantine was sold to Falstaff Brewing. In 1985, Falstaff sold to Pabst Brewing. Pabst revived Ballantine Ale as part of their “craft beer” assets in 2014. Two months after the relaunch, Pabst sold the Ballantine name to Blue Ribbon Holdings Company for $700M. It seems that Blue Ribbon Holdings has lineage to Pabst and the move may just be moving money from one pocket to another.
Oh, for those that don’t know what a cuff link is, a cuff link is used as a fancy alternative to a button. A cuff link closes and secures a shirt’s cuff. It’s considered a men’s “jewelry” accessory.
In 1976, Schmidt’s released a series of beer cans commemorating our Bicentennial. I was taken by the artistry of the packaging and those particular cans began my interest in beer can collecting. To collect, I subjected my father to buying and drinking the worst beer. I would also spend hours walking along roadsides with friends that collected looking for old finds. Surprisingly, we found some pristine cans. I would also buy and trade cans along the way. Today, my collection sits in can totes in my attic.
I thought it would be interesting to post a photo here and there of some of my special cans.
This Krueger beer can was given to me by a friend just the other day. He is a contractor and while doing some demolition, he found this can in a wall cavity. A collector likes to see a can be opened from the bottom for ideal display. A 1957 builder unknowingly obliged by opening it from the bottom with what looks to be ten-penny nails.
In case you didn’t know, Krueger was the first brewer to put beer in cans. It was 1935 and canned beer was launched from their Newark, NJ brewery. Like today, canning made sense because it was easier to transport, chill and preserve.
Krueger brewed in Newark from 1858 until they were purchased by rival, Ballantine (my father’s brand) in 1961. They went through numerous ownerships and I was surprised to read that the Krueger Brewing name still lives on. They seem to contract brew at a couple of breweries. One of which is Buckhorn Brewing in Colorado. I think I have a Buckhorn can somewhere. Anyway, here’s a link to the brewery’s current incarnation:
A little double entendre in this brewery’s name. Brix, as in the scale used to measure the specific gravity of beverages like wine or beer and then there’s Brick City, as in the nickname for the city of Newark. For those not from these parts, in the early parts of the 20th century, Newark was the brewing capitol of New Jersey. At one time, the city was home to macro brewers like Kruger, Ballantine and Pabst. Today, the city remains a regional home of Anheuser Busch. I have not been to the brewery but I’m told the decor includes old photographs of The Brick City.
I’ve had Brix City’s Porter Authority on draft (sorry, no review) and thought it was a nice example of the style. My friends are love or hate on this beer and it’s probably time I picked it up and judged for myself. Just Another IPA gives me some yeasty clove, off bitterness and stale malts. Not really much else to say about this beer. My negative experience could very well be the result of old beer but no canning date was found. As I usually do, I call them as I see them. 70 points from me.
Tasting: July 28, 2012 Style: Barley Wine ABV: 11.7%
2004 Thomas Hardy Ale
I worked with a man who was an employee of the Ballantine brewery in Newark back in the 1950’s. He worked in the lab, which means he drank beer for a living. He was my hero. I recall showing him an article about a special beer made during that same time period by Ballantine brewmaster, Otto Badenhausen. Apparently, it was made as a holiday gift to distributors and retailers. It seems that a single specimen of this holiday brew surfaced and had auctioned off for about $6,000. My co-worker nearly passed out at that bit of information. He remembered pulling buckets of this beer off the bottling line and how his own refrigerator was packed with this particular beer.
I never thought that beer could age for what was then thirty years. A few years later, I learned about a barley wine called Thomas Hardy Ale. It was made to age like a fine cognac and reportedly could age gracefully for at least twenty five years. I bought four bottles of the 2004 vintage for the outrageous price of $8 each. Right there on the label age it said that it would age up to twenty five years. I recall drinking one right away and not really thinking much of it. I had completely forgot about the other three bottles until I moved a small wine refrigerator a couple of weeks ago. I really thought it empty but I heard a weird rattle inside. Wow, I really may have struck my own gold. A quick ebay check and I see only one example of the same vintage that sold for $30.
From my glossary: Barleywine: Barleywine is an odd name for a style of beer – it’s made from grains (hence – barley) and is typically high in alcohol to be comparable to the alcohol content of wine. Its roots are in England
Eight year-old ale, I don’t know. I did some quick reading and people are still drinking this barley wine, as recently as last week. They report that it’s mellow with raisin/prune notes. Most of the reviews I read were giving it nearly perfect scores. I guess if I get past the first sip…well here goes nothing. Pours a very dark brown with really no carbonation at all. First sip (yikes) – wow, this is absolutely incredible. It’s rich with a thick mouthfeel that coats the palate and clings. It’s a blast of warming alcohol with a wave of dark fruit, raisins, prunes and dates with a nice underlying molasses. Certainly more sherry/port like than a beer. I’m thankful that I was ignorantly patient with this one. Truly a classic. I’ll put it at 96 points. I’ll cherish the other two bottles… as long as I remember I have them.