While driving down to the East Bay for the bimonthly Celebrator tasting Tuesday night, I had my iPod on shuffle. A few years back someone gave me a handmade CD entitled “Music To Drink Beer By” featuring a bunch of cool beer-themed songs. Actually I have three out of four of these, each with different songs. Curiously, many of them start out with an old radio beer commercial before the song starts. Prior to Big Bill Lister’s Blowing the Suds Off My Beer is an unintentionally hilarious ad for Ballantine Ale. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s from the 1950s.
It’s a nice reminder that although it feels like a great majority of people know very little about beer nowadays, we’ve certainly come a long way since the Fifties. In context, I understand that this comes from a time when beer and lager were marketed as synonymous terms and it wasn’t uncommon for breweries to advertise they had beer and ales. So this would have undoubtedly sounded perfectly normal to the ears of people in that time, but it now sounds positively quaint. If possible, in your head imagine a silky smooth deep bass male voice over.
Here’s the transcript I made from it:
Beer drinkers, if you’ve tried every beer there is to try and even the best doesn’t quite make it with you, maybe it isn’t beer you’re really looking for. Maybe you’re ready for beer’s big brother: ale. Ballantine Ale. Oh, ale looks like beer alright and it’s light like beer. But it packs a lot more taste than beer. A clean, dry, tangy taste. The aroma tells you right off. Clean. Dry. Tangy. Here’s the kind of flavor it takes to really satisfy a man. Yet, because it’s light, there’s plenty room for more. Try it. Beer’s big brother. Ale. Ballantine Ale. C’mon. Graduate from beer. Join the ale men.
After hearing that, I know I wanted to join “The Ale Men!” I love how they describe the bitterness as “tangy,” presumably to avoid any negative associations. And the notion that it takes “flavor” to “really satisfy a man” just cracks me up, though to be fair I want flavor, so maybe they were on to something. But be careful the next time you order a pilsner or other lager beer. Big brother could be watching!
Ballantine Ale was one of the few ale breweries that had much impact prior to the 1980s. Ballantine was founded by Peter Ballantine, who was born in Scotland in 1781. It’s flagship pale ale is one of the oldest brands of beer in the United States. At its peak, Ballantine was the 4th largest brewer in the United States. Like seemingly most defunct brands, it is now owned by Pabst, and they have up an “official” website. There’s also some more information at Wikipedia and at Falstaff Fan Page (which once owned the brand, too).