that knows craft beer should know by now that what we call an American
IPA in the 21st Century bears little resemblance to the original British
IPAs of the 18th and 19th centuries. That doesn’t stop breweries from
making and marketing beers that claim to be old school as Pabst has done
with Ballantine India Pale Ale. It’s clear this beer is inspired by
some of the most popular mainstream examples of the current style with
its citrusy hops and big body. I highly doubt this is based on an old
recipe, but for a new brew it’s not bad at all (especially considering
who makes it).
I poured a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass. It was bottled on 10/22/14 and cost $2.45 ($0.20 per ounce).
Appearance: Extremely hazy shade of dark orange/rusty brown.
Particulates can be seen floating in suspension. Pours to a large,
beige, frothy head which laces and retains pretty well.
Smell: Yellow lollipop sweetness plus orange juice concentrate. Some pine needles.
Taste: I could probably list off a dozen IPAs that have a similar
palette to Ballantine India Pale Ale. It’s pretty traditional for the
style: an emphasis on citrus aroma with a distinct malt presence.
There’s actually a lot of malt here, so much so that there’s genuine
sweetness. It reminds me of lemony yellow lollipops, though that’s often
an indication of oxidation. Little in the way of specialty malt except
for some toasted notes and caramel. Otherwise, the hops dominate with a
strong presence of orange. Light piney/earthy flavor on the backend is
also nice. The bitterness is dry through the middle and finish, which
isn’t surprising considering the beer is 70 IBUs. Alcohol also plays a
role here; it does seem a bit under attenuated. As a straightforward
IPA, this beer succeeds.
Drinkability: I was surprised to see the 7.2% ABV indication on the
label, as I figured a macro brewery making a supposedly vintage recipe
would be much lighter. The weight of the brew is present throughout; the
mouthfeel is tepid, chewy and warm from the alcohol. It goes down
smoothly and the hops do linger and leave a dry, pasty aftertaste. This
would be a good beer to experiment with food pairings, and considering
the price it wouldn’t be much of a risk to do so.