Ah, this beer has a long and ultimately sad story, which you can read about at http://www.falstaffbrewing.com/ballantine_ale.htm.
We ourselves first hear of Ballantine in the 1990s when we were reading Hunter S. Thompson’s The Great Shark Hunt.
Whenever we pop up to New York City, we head to a bodega and find 16-ounce “tall boys” of Ballantine for sale for $10 or $12 for a six-pack. It is not, for sure, good beer. Some reviewers have absolutely panned its current incarnation.
We, have a soft spot for it, although we will freely admit that this beer tastes bad as it warms. And for those beer drinkers who are used to ale being a full-bodied, hoppy drink, well, Ballantine is more akin to the standard thin, yellow, American beer. So what do we dig about it, beyond the retro packaging? The very peculiar taste. It’s very hard to describe, but in a blind taste test, nobody could mistake Ballantine for, say, Budweiser. (It’s like Heineken in that way.) Anyhoo, life is short, so give a bone-cold Balllantine a sip before your time passes. (Rating ***)