Sunday, June 21, 2015

Ballantine XXX Ale

3.3
   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 13/20
Chad9976 (1379) - Albany, New York, USA - JUN 21, 2015
There are certain beers that have been around forever that I’ve never actually drank (much less reviewed) until now - Ballantine XXX Ale being one of the most notable examples I can think of. This beer has always been lumped in with the cheap adjunct lagers at every beer store, bodega and corner shop in the country – but it’s not a lager, or even a cream ale. It seems to be just a generic golden/blonde ale and it works as such. It’s got a little flavor and it’s easy to drink and nice to look at – that’s passable, eh?

I poured a 12oz bottle into a mug. It had an expiration date of 6/29/15 and cost $1.95 ($0.16 per ounce).

Appearance: Pure golden color with crystal clarity and persistent effervescence. Pours to a two-finger, white, foamy head which laces and retains quite well.

Smell: Because it comes in a green bottle it’s quite skunky. Perhaps a faint trace of corn or lemony hops. Otherwise quite mild, but mostly inoffensive.

Taste: The palette of this brew would be best compared to an adjunct lager – pils malt seems to dominate with a significant corny taste on the second half. Not much in the way of subtle or even distinctive flavors here, though I do find it to be remarkably sweet for the style. Hops are quite reserved, if they’re even noticeable at all. A mild palette indeed, but I will say there’s nothing off-putting about it (which is impressive considering how old this bottle probably is). The skunky aroma does not carry over to the taste, and it finishes clean. I do like that minor sweetness through the middle. I’d think with a little more hops and some specialty malt this could be quite good.

Drinkability: This beer was brewed to compete with lager, so it’s no surprise that it looks, smells and tastes like lager. It drinks a little better than your average fizzy yellow brew, though. Well carbonated to be sure, though the texture is a little softer and smoother – no abrasive effervescence. At 4.85% ABV Ballantine XXX Ale is arguably sessionable, though I’d need more flavor to want to do that with this beer.

Score: 6/10