P. Ballantine & Sons

1860 - March 31, 1972

Ale Brewing:
Front, Fulton, Rector Streets

Lager Beer Brewing:
Freeman, Christie, Oxford, East Ferry & Bowery Streets


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Newspaper Articles

September 4, 1881 - A Heavy Team Plunges into the Canal
1883 - Peter Ballantine
1895 - John H. Ballantine

From “Newark and Its Leading Businessmen” 1891

If the testimony of the great majority of competent physicians, and the results of practical experience, are to be regarded as conclusive, then it may be stated as an established fact, that the reasonable use of pure malt liquors is as healthful as it is agreeable.  The demand for such liquors has increased with phenomenal rapidity of late years, and some idea of its present magnitude may be gained from a few figures concerning a representative establishment engaged in their production - that of Messrs. P. Ballantine & Sons.  The business conducted by this firm was founded some forty years ago, and their productions have long held their present leading position in the market, being conceded by the chemists, by expert brewers, and by consumers in general, to have few equals, and no superiors, either in this country or elsewhere.  There is certainly every reason why they should be equal to the best in every respect, for the firm have exceptional facilities, use the choicest selected material, and make it a rule to have every detail of the various processes incidental to production carried on by experienced workmen under close and skillful supervision.  The premises utilized cover an area of about ten acres, and a number of substantial buildings, from four to eight stories in height, are made use of, the ale and porter brewery being located at the foot of Fulton Street, while the plant employed in brewing Ballantine & Co's famous "export lager beer," is located on Freeman Street.  Fine XX and XXX ales and porter, stock, India pale and Burton are produced at the Fulton Street brewery, and average of 1,200 barrels of ale being sent out daily, while 7,000 barrels of lager beer are sent to New York every day, besides a large number distributed among other cities.  Employment is given to about 1,200 men, and thought 200 horses are owned by the firm, and used to convey the product to the railway, a large proportion of that work has to be done by hired teams.  In spite of its great magnitude, the business has by no means reached the limit of its growth, for orders are rapidly and steadily increasing, and will probably continue to do so as long as the firm maintain their present policy of keeping the product at the highest standard of excellence.

"Newark - The City of Industry" - 1912:

The THREE RINGS are known the world over as the trade-mark of P. Ballantine & Sons, Brewers and Maltsters, Newark, N. J., U. S. A. This trade-mark was adopted in 1879 and was suggested by the chief characteristics of the product of their breweries -- purity, strength, flavor.

The nucleus of the great business of the Ballantine Breweries was formed in Albany, N. Y. in 1826, by the late Peter Ballantine, who removed to Newark in 1840. The lager beer brewery was started in 1879. To meet the needs of the rapidly growing business, the corporation of P. Ballantine & Sons, embracing the ale, lager beer and malting business, was formed in 1883. Since then the annual output has increased steadily until it now amounts to over half a million barrels yearly. Several years ago the manufacture of Ballantine cereal syrup for the use of bakers was inaugurated, which product is used throughout America and has met with constantly increasing success.

The ale brewery, malting, elevator and cereal syrup buildings of the Ballantine plant are situated on Front, Fulton, Rector streets and the Passaic river; the lager beer brewery and bottlery are located on Freeman, Christie, Oxford, East Ferry and Bowery streets, Newark. all these buildings cover twelve acres of ground, are equipped with the most modern and model machinery, and contain great storage capacity necessary for the enormous output and insuring the thorough ripening of the Ballantine products. The entire brewing and bottling plant is subject to the supervision of the United States government.

As Ballantine resources are ample, as Ballantine capacity is enormous, and as Ballantine Ales and Beers are never made from anything but the very choicest grain, barley-malt and hops, the purity of the Ballantine products is beyond the veriest shadow of doubt. Expert brewers constantly supervise every process, and absolute cleanliness is observed in every operation. All Ballantine's Ales and Beers are thoroughly matured and fully ripened in order to perfect their condition and retain the distinctive flavors at their very best. No preservatives are ever used in any one of the Ballantine products. None is needed.

There is no necessity for argument as to the superiority of brewery bottling over that done elsewhere. Ballantine's Ales and Beers are all bottled at the brewery in a specially designed bottling house, equipped with the best modern machinery. The beer is conveyed to this house in bright copper pipes, under the supervision of U. S. Government officials, and is stored in glass-lined steel tanks. The latest bottling machinery thoroughly cleanses, sterilizes, fills and seals the bottles without the possibility of contamination. The beer does not once come into contact with air in its passage from the brewery storage vats through the pipe line and the bottling machinery into the bottles in which it is hermetically sealed. Purity of product is thus absolutely assured. Every sealed bottle of Ballantine's Beer conforms in all respects to the requirements of the United State Pure Food Law. Finally, handsome labels and careful packing complete the attractive presentation of this perfectly made and valuable product.

From Pete Bruno:

The company was founded in 1840 in Newark, New Jersey, by Peter Ballantine (1791–1883), who emigrated from Scotland. The company was originally incorporated as the Patterson & Ballantine Brewing Company. Ballantine rented an old brewing site which had dated back to 1805. Around 1850, Ballantine bought out his partner and purchased land near the Passaic River to brew his ale. His three sons joined the business and in 1857 the company was renamed P. Ballantine and Sons. The name would be used for the next 115 years, until the company closed its brewery in May 1972. By 1879, it had become sixth largest brewery in the US, almost twice as large as Anheuser-Busch. Ballantine added a second brewery location, also in Newark, in order to brew lager beer to fill out the company product line. Peter Ballantine died in 1883 and his eldest son had died just a few months earlier. His second oldest son then controlled the company until his own death in 1895. The last son died in 1905.

In the mid-1960s the company went into decline. It was losing market share to lighter lagers with less alcohol content. In 1972, despite advertising efforts to revive the company, the owners agreed to sell the brand, the company, and all their assets to the Falstaff Brewing Corporation in 1972.

The new owners closed the original brewery in Newark, started brewing elsewhere, and did not strictly adhere to Ballantine's recipes. The general consensus is that, under the stewardship of Falstaff, the beers remained faithful for a time to their original flavor profile. But Falstaff was doing poorly financially and was eventually sold to Pabst in 1985. This sale meant more breweries being closed and more restructuring. At an unknown point during these changes, the original recipes were lost.

Pabst continued to brew some of the Ballantine portfolios throughout the late 1980s and 1990s. They stopped brewing the IPA in 1996, and gradually all of the beers were discontinued the exception of the flagship Ballantine XXX Ale. Throughout the 2000s and into the 2010s, Pabst continued to brew Ballantine's signature ale, but the recipe changed several times. Despite all the ownership changes and recipe changes, many tasters seem to agree that it retains at least some hint of its original character. The most notable changes are a markedly lower bitterness, lower alcohol content, fewer hops, and in general a much less assertive aromatic character. One big contributing factor is the discontinuance of using distilled hop oil until 2014 when Pabst Brewing Company relaunched a new version of Ballantine IPA