Between 1951 and 1953, P. Ballantine and Sons Brewing Company, or simply Ballentine Beer, created a series of ads with at least thirteen different writers. They asked each one “How would you put a glass of Ballantine Ale into words?” Each author wrote a page that included reference to their beer, and in most cases not subtly. One of them was C. S. Forester, who’s best known for his Horatio Hornblower novels.
Today is the birthday of Cecil Louis Troughton Smith (August 27, 1899–April 2, 1966), who wrote under the nom de plume Cecil Scott or “C. S.” Forester. He “was an English novelist known for writing tales of naval warfare such as the 12-book Horatio Hornblower series, depicting a Royal Navy officer during the Napoleonic wars. Two of the Hornblower books, A Ship of the Line and Flying Colours, were jointly awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction in 1938. His other works include The African Queen (1935) and The General (1936).” His Ballantine ad ran in 1952.
His piece for Ballantine was done in the form of a letter reminiscing about first beers he’d tried doing his travels, including Ballantine the first time he came to New York City:
There’s always a first time for everything, and I still remember my first Ballantine Ale.
I had ordered my first “kleines hells” in Munich, my first Bock in Paris. As a rather bewildered young man in New York, I did a two-hour sight-seeing tour before being shipped to Hollywood, and in the half-hour before my train was to go, I had my first Ballantine Ale.
So my first recollection of Ballantine is linked with the Port of New York, the Empire State Building, and Grand Central Station. All of them were different from anything that had ever come into my experience — and all of them great.
Even then, I realized that the flavor of Ballantine Ale was unique. I thought it better than any brew I had met in Europe’s most famous beer gardens. I still do.