Author Topic: Ballantine IPA and oak  (Read 3540 times)

Offline ryang

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Ballantine IPA and oak
« on: October 22, 2010, 10:40:07 AM »
Ok, so you "well seasoned" guys out there...  How much noticeable oak was present in the ballantine ipa?  I've gathered that their oak barrels were american oak (light to medium toast).  I don't have a barrel, but instead intend to use cubes.  I'm just trying to figure out how much to use.  I intend to age it at least 8 months, as they did originally with dry hops, hop oil, etc.

Thanks in advance.

RyanG

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Ballantine IPA and oak
« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2010, 11:32:20 AM »
I was introduced to IPA with Ballantines IPA about 1974 or 75ish.  I don't think my palate was sophisticated enough to pick out the wood from the massive amount of hops (for those days), and strength of the beer (for those days).  I have also read that the tanks were lined with pitch.  What is the truth? 
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Offline ryang

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Re: Ballantine IPA and oak
« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2010, 11:37:43 AM »
From what I've gathered, the barrels were originally unlined.  After each successive move from brewing site to the next, they began lining with different agents to phase the wood character out, until the barrels were lined with wax and the beer had no oak prescence whatsoever.

Offline The Professor

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Re: Ballantine IPA and oak
« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2010, 05:38:52 PM »
I was introduced to IPA with Ballantines IPA about 1974 or 75ish.  I don't think my palate was sophisticated enough to pick out the wood from the massive amount of hops (for those days), and strength of the beer (for those days).  I have also read that the tanks were lined with pitch.  What is the truth? 
[/quote]
From what I've gathered, the barrels were originally unlined.  After each successive move from brewing site to the next, they began lining with different agents to phase the wood character out, until the barrels were lined with wax and the beer had no oak prescence whatsoever.

My experience with the IPA began in 1969 (2 years before the Newark brewery closed).  Suffice it to say that despite the fact it was rather expensive compared to mainstream beers, I consumed quite a bit of the original brew and also the successor brew after its first move when Newark closed.  It was, hands down, my favorite beer.

The wood quality was unmistakeable in the beer, born out by the fact that surviving bottles tasted today (as well as the Burton ale they made) still carry a very distinct note of oak.  As far as the hop character, it was distinctly bitter not only by the standards of the day but also by present day standards and the aroma component of the beer far surpassed the hop aroma of any beer I've tasted in recent years.  That homemade aroma hop oil was heavy duty, and they definitely didn't scrimp on its use.

At Newark, from what I could gather from first and secondhand accounts, the massive aging tanks (not mere barrels)  dating from the 1800's were unlined, which makes sense given the definite oakiness in the beer after its year-long aging.  The long aging beers recieved regular lab testing to make sure they weren't undergoing any undesirable wild ferments during the long time in wood.  I don't think that the phasing out of the wood character in the beer was a conscious effort to do so;  when the brew moved from facility to facility after Newark closed, the aging tanks did NOT follow in the move.  The initial move to the Narragansett  plant in R.I. brought very little change to the beer;  they continued to distill hop oil for the Ballantine  products and already had wooden storage tanks in place for aging of the IPA (the Burton was never made outside of Newark).  After the brand moved out of the 'Gannnsett brewery on  to a Falstaff plant in Indiana, the brew started to become very 'dumbed down'...the ABV and IBUs were reduced, and the hop oil addition was eliminated, as was any trace of real wood character (even though the corny new packaging still touted it as being 'aged in wood').  The aging time was reduced to eight months, then six months, and I suspect finally for 3 or 4 months before the brand disappeared altogether. 

By that time, I had stopped buying the IPA since it had become completely unrecognizeable as a result of its reformulations and production shortcuts, and since there were now alternaives.  Their XXX ale however remained at least somewhat true to its original character until Pabst took over  the Ballantine brand.

It's still so ironic ...the original Ballantine IPA brew (and the XXX too, for that matter) would stand up quite well next to anything brewed today (and the IPA would  surpass a good many brews made today).    Too bad the old Newark plant couldn't hang in there a few years longer...I really believe that their products would have found a following with  the new, growing audience for top shelf old world quality specialty beers.
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Offline ryang

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Re: Ballantine IPA and oak
« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2010, 10:24:37 PM »
Yes, my wording was incorrect.  Massive oak vessels would have been better to say.  I knew it wasn't barrels... well ok really really big barrels.  Any idea on how big the vessels were??  Would be a stretch to try and correlate that down to 5 gal...

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Ballantine IPA and oak
« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2010, 04:33:12 AM »
Professor, I have always wondered how they did not end up with wild beer if it was in unlined oak.  If they were doing lab work on the beer, and found one going off, they could take some action. 

I was a young when I first started drinking this beer, and had never had anything like it.

What do you think of some of the recipes that try to recreate it?  BYO had an article by Bill Pierce in the May-June 2010 edition.  I have seen some others on line.   Jeff Renner has made some brews that were to be close to the Ballantines IPA, but I can't rememeber if I have had one of his (we are in the same club).  I am thinking of making a batch, any hints would be put to use.
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Offline k4df4l

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Re: Ballantine IPA and oak
« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2010, 04:46:30 AM »
I'd just like to express my thanks for all of the fine information shared in this and the other threads on Ballantine.....I plan to brew a version of the IPA in the near future and they have been highly informative!

Offline ryang

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Re: Ballantine IPA and oak
« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2010, 10:13:28 AM »
Ok, so I've been wrestling a bit.  At this point, I'm thinking 1.5 oz medium toast, aged 8mo (or until sufficiently oaky).  Sound good?  That will give some big oak flavor to the beer.  I've never oak aged anything but sours and stouts, so it's new water for me on this one, plus not knowing what the original was like.  I'm planning on racking this week, so hopefully someone can chime in for support/revisions.

Pitching a burton on the yeast...

Offline 1vertical

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Re: Ballantine IPA and oak
« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2010, 07:18:45 AM »
Ryang read the oak information on this page it shows some general flavor and
timeline guidance.  You will need to taste this beer as it progresses and stop when IT is ready,
NOT when you think it should be ready.
http://www.countrymaltgroup.com/barrelmill.asp

Have you considered the spirals?

Looks like Six Weeks or so ....not long till you can enjoy the fruits of your labor.
« Last Edit: October 28, 2010, 07:22:55 AM by 1vertical »
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Offline ryang

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Re: Ballantine IPA and oak
« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2010, 07:49:01 AM »
Well I'm fairly familiar with oak in other beers, I'm just trying to replicate the original oak character that was in the bally ipa.  I've seen the spirals, they're just a little more pricey than cubes and probably give about the same profile.  Spending 8mos on the oak is apparently what ballantine did with the ipa, and I'd like to do the same.  The longest I've had a beer on oak was my imperial stout for 7 months with 1.5 oz.  But that's a different beast with all the black malts really covering up a lot of the oak.  I'm thinking that this ipa will have more oak shine through after the aging.

Maybe I'm going a bit overboard on replicating all the little details and need to just brew it to my tastes.  Hell, I wasn't even born when this stuff was popular.

Offline 1vertical

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Re: Ballantine IPA and oak
« Reply #10 on: October 28, 2010, 08:10:18 AM »
I am thinking your ideal of this is not bad at all....I am not familiar with the balantine at all.
1vert....quietly bows out.... 8)
« Last Edit: October 28, 2010, 09:09:09 AM by 1vertical »
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Ballantine IPA and oak
« Reply #11 on: October 28, 2010, 08:48:35 AM »
Well I'm fairly familiar with oak in other beers, I'm just trying to replicate the original oak character that was in the bally ipa.  I've seen the spirals, they're just a little more pricey than cubes and probably give about the same profile.  Spending 8mos on the oak is apparently what ballantine did with the ipa, and I'd like to do the same.  The longest I've had a beer on oak was my imperial stout for 7 months with 1.5 oz.  But that's a different beast with all the black malts really covering up a lot of the oak.  I'm thinking that this ipa will have more oak shine through after the aging.

Maybe I'm going a bit overboard on replicating all the little details and need to just brew it to my tastes.  Hell, I wasn't even born when this stuff was popular.
I think your beer will probably end up over oaked for Ballantine with 1.5 oz for 8 months.  They would have had a lower surface/volume ratio, and since they were reusing the barrels there would have been less oak impact from that amount of oak.  I'm not saying your beer won't be good, but just oakier than Ballantine.

I would do 1/2 oz or less for 8 months.  You can always add more oak, but it's a lot harder to take away.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline bluesman

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Re: Ballantine IPA and oak
« Reply #12 on: October 28, 2010, 09:32:16 AM »
I recently kegged a RIS (9.8%ABV) that was oaked with 1.5 oz of Hungarian Oak cubes (medium) and the oak flavor is "smack you in your face".

I'm sure some of that will age out but if that's an indication of what some oak will do you may want to cut back some.
Ron Price

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Ballantine IPA and oak
« Reply #13 on: October 28, 2010, 12:09:54 PM »
I recently kegged a RIS (9.8%ABV) that was oaked with 1.5 oz of Hungarian Oak cubes (medium) and the oak flavor is "smack you in your face".

I'm sure some of that will age out but if that's an indication of what some oak will do you may want to cut back some.
For how long was it oaked? 
Tom Schmidlin

Offline bluesman

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Re: Ballantine IPA and oak
« Reply #14 on: October 28, 2010, 01:03:06 PM »
I recently kegged a RIS (9.8%ABV) that was oaked with 1.5 oz of Hungarian Oak cubes (medium) and the oak flavor is "smack you in your face".

I'm sure some of that will age out but if that's an indication of what some oak will do you may want to cut back some.
For how long was it oaked? 

Uhh...yes.  That would help.  :)

...4 months.
Ron Price