Monday’s ad is for Pabst Blue Ribbon, from 1950. This is from a series of billboard ads from around the same time I stumbled upon, though I’m sure the originals in color are more spectacular, though in case I’m a little glad it’s in black and white. In this ad for Pabst, they’re advertising with two lads — bellhops? — a beer on a silver tray, with the tagline “finest beer served … anywhere!”
Sunday’s ad is for Pabst Blue Ribbon, from 1951. This is from a series of billboard ads from around the same time I stumbled upon, though I’m sure the originals in color are more spectacular, though in case I’m a little glad it’s in black and white. In this ad for Pabst, they’re advertising with a giant burger and a beer, asking “what’ll you have?,” a popular tagline of Pabst, along with this statement: “finest beer served … anywhere!”
This is exciting news. Pabst is bringing back the iconic Ballantine IPA, one of the few ales made by a bigger brewery, and one of the only examples of an India Pale Ale before the 1980s. There were, I believe, maybe a dozen or so American IPAs after prohibition, though by the 1960s Ballantine was the last man standing. I’m not sure when they stopped making it initially, sometime during the 1970s I believe, although they did bring it back briefly in 1995, only to discontinue it again. But beginning next month, it will be back again, brewed at Cold Springs Brewing in Minnesota. That’s actually good news, I think, because they’ve been brewing the canned 21st Amendment beers, so they’re already familiar with making hoppy beers. Also, the Pabst brewmaster, Gregory Deuhs, used to brew for Redhook at their Woodinville, Washington brewery.
When I first started drinking beer, Ballantine Ale was around, but I never had the IPA, sad to say. I remember talking to Michael Jackson about his memory of how the beer tasted while sharing a cab from an event back to our hotel at GABF one year in the 1990s. He recalled it fondly, though it was probably closer to what today we’d consider an English-style IPA, in his recollection of it, though I believe he thought it was around 45 IBUs. It appears that the new version will be 7.2% a.b.v. and 70 IBUs, which is at the upper end of the BJCP guidelines, making it more like a modern American-style IPA. I may be wrong about this, but I’d be surprised if it was like that in the 1970s, not even Liberty Ale, which was (pun-intended) revolutionary in 1975 when it was released, was that high. Liberty Ale is 5.9% a.b.v. and around 47 IBUs.
Apparently, the new Ballantine version “uses four different malts and eight different hops, as well as hop oil to finish it off. American oak chips are used in the process, harking back to the oak and cypress barrels used for the original beer.” I’m certainly very interested to try it. It seems like a great move, given that IPAs are such a growing category, for Pabst to revive it now when interest in them is at an all-time high.
From the press release:
First brewed in 1878 by P. Ballantine & Sons Brewing Company in Newark, NJ, Ballantine India Pale Ale was the only American-made beer that successfully continued the tradition of the 19th century IPAs once Prohibition ended. This was due in large part to the brewery’s steadfast commitment to ‘Purity, Body, and Flavor” — as exemplified by the three interlocking Borromean rings found on every bottle.
Ballantine’s brewers were meticulous about ensuring that the beer’s gravity, alcohol content, IBUs, and hopping rates remained consistent well into the mid-20th century. Another unique method that characterized Ballantine India Pale Ale was a hopping process in which the distilled oils from a hop-and-water mixture were added to the brew, giving the beer an intense hoppy flavor that was quite distinct from its competition. P. Ballantine & Sons was also rumored to have matured the India Pale Ale in huge wooden vats for up to a year in order to help develop the ale’s original flavor.
In order to replicate the original recipe as closely as possible, Pabst Master Brewer Gregory Deuhs reverse-engineered the beer, ensuring the robust heritage and quality of the 136-year-old brew was properly reflected in the 21st century version.
“I began this project with a simple question: How would Peter Ballantine make his beer today?” said Master Brewer Deuhs, adding, “There wasn’t a ‘secret formula’ in anyone’s basement we could copy, so I conducted extensive research looking for any and all mentions of Ballantine India Pale Ale, from the ale’s processing parameters, aroma and color, alcohol and bitterness specifications. Many brewers and craft beer drinkers would be impressed that the Ballantine India Pale Ale of the 1950s and ‘60s would rival any craft IPA brewed today.”
Over the course of two years and over two dozen iterations of five-gallon batches handmade at his home near Milwaukee, WI, Deuhs finally struck gold.
“Unlike recreating a lost brew from long ago, I had the advantage of actually being able to speak with people who drank Ballantine back in the day,” continued Deuhs. “Their feedback was crucial to ensuring that the hoppy, complex flavor that was revered for over a hundred years was front and center in my recipe.”
It will be sold in six-pack bottles and limited-edition 750 ml bottles beginning in northeast market, and hopefully released in wider distribution after that.
Here’s some more info about the new Ballantine IPA:
- Dry hopping and the addition of hop oil has long been credited as the key to the beer’s unique profile. In addition, a proprietary brewing method ensures that every drop of Ballantine India Pale Ale comes in contact with American Oak, effectively capturing the robust flavor and heritage of the brand. With the reintroduction, an entirely new generation of craft beer enthusiasts will experience what made America’s Original IPA so exceptional.
- In the 1950s, Ballantine was the third largest brewery in the country, going on to become the primary broadcast sponsor for the New York Yankees. Despite stiff competition, the IPA continued to flourish as its dry hopping process gave the beer an intense, distinct hop presence, unlike anything else available in the United States at that time.
- In the 1970s, taste preferences changed and American lagers edged out the IPA, a trend that was abruptly reversed with the craft beer movement of the past few years. This increased interest in craft beer gave Pabst the perfect opportunity to bring back America’s Original IPA.
Saturday’s ad is for Pabst, which most sources claim is from 1920 or the 1920s. It’s mostly a simple photo 9or is that an illustration?), but some of the text is priceless. Starting with the “most refreshing thirst quencher on the market this long, blazing summer” (how exactly would you measure that?), to “Its label means exactly what is says” (so that’s “The Brew Of Quality,” I guess), “And you don’t have to remember a ritual to get it” (not like those other beers that require a special dance or secret handshake before you can buy them).
Friday’s ad is for Pabst, from 1939. Set at what the refer to as “Boston’s Swank Copley-Plaza,” which today is part of the Fairmont chain, the ad features a couple dressed to the nines and out for a night on the town. But what really makes this ad a hoot, is how they refer to the beer. “For Keener Refreshment … It’s Lighter … Brighter … Brisk-Bodied, Not Logy!” Whew, well thank goodness it’s not logy. Wait, what the hell is “logy?” Apparently it means “dull and heavy in motion or thought; sluggish.”
Friday’s ad is for Pabst, from 1896. I don’t know if it was intended as an advertisement or something else, but it’s a beautiful piece of art. The only name attached to the image is “rose window,” which is what it resembles, of course, a popular stained glass design.
Thursday’s ad is for Pabst Blue Ribbon, from 1950. The setting for the ad is the archery range, and features archery champion Larry Hughes. According to a History Of Archery By Tom Brissee, in 1941 Hughes used “aluminum arrows to win the American National Archery Championship.”
Monday’s ad is for Pabst Blue Ribbon, from May 1942. This one involves a ping pong, err … table tennis, match and was created by well-known illustrator Albert Dorne. Using the Pabst tagline about 33 to 1, that’s also the score in the game, which sparks a bit of a goofy discussion.
Friday’s ad is for Pabst Blue Ribbon, from April 1942. It’s a bowling themed ad, a popular sport in beer ads, at least up until the 1960s or 70s. The man bowling didn’t convert a split, sailing the ball between two pins, placing his 200 game in jeopardy, apparently. Luckily using some pretty tortured 33 to 1 logic, he managed to make his 200 game and beat the competition by 20 points.
Monday’s ad is for Pabst Blue Ribbon, this one from 1913. It’s a fairly simple ad, with two men (possibly famous? – the one on the left looks a little familiar) clinking some pretty small glasses of beer. They look a lot like modern 4 oz. sample glasses. One thing I am curious about; what was it they were doing that they had to “come back to Pabst?”