Beer Barons of New Jersey: Aert Teunissen van Putten and Peter Ballantine

Aert Teunissen van Putten

Not a whole lot is known about Aert Teunissen van Putten, New Jersey’s first beer baron. Perhaps his contemporaries didn’t realize the significance of being the first person in New Jersey to start up a brewery.  We do know that Aert was born in 1612 in Putten in the Netherlands, that he married Susanna Jans van Schuenburgh, also from the Netherlands, and that they were among the first European settlers of Hoboken.

New Netherland

New Netherland

In 1640 Willem Kieft, governor of what was then called New Netherland, granted van Putten a lease on the property that is now Hoboken, beginning on Jan. 1, 1641. As rent van Putten agreed to pay “the fourth sheaf with which God Almighty shall favor the field.” (I suspect that means some produce.) The agreement also involved Kieft building a house on the property for the Dutchman and his family. van Putten cleared the land, fenced it in and got some farming going. He brought in cattle, pigs, goats and sheep. And he built New Jersey’s first brewery.

One suspects that this early colonial ale was a favorite in the van Putten household, but it was also trade bait. van Putten offered his brew to the native peoples who inhabited the region in return for furs. Some of these trades took place on an inlet near the Sandy Hook area called Beeregat which translates from the Dutch to beer hole.

So while it appears Gov. Kieft set the young Dutchman up, he also laid the groundwork for his demise. Kieft ordered the massacre of 120 Native Americans in Pavonia in 1643 and in doing so started what has been known as Kieft’s war. A retaliatory strike by the Lenni Lenape killed the 31-year-old brewery pioneer that same year while he was on a trading trek. They also destroyed his land and livestock, but spared Susanna and apparently left the brewery standing although there is no evidence of operations there ever resuming.  Not sure of the exact location but given that it’s Hoboken, there’s a good chance there is a bar on the site now.

Peter Ballantine

Peter Ballantine was born in Ayershire, Scotland in 1791. He came to the U.S. at the age of 29 and pretty much immediately began a career around beer. His first job in the New World was at a tavern in Block Rock, Conn. After moving to Albany he learned brewing at a Troy, N.Y., based brewery and started one of his own in 1830.

Ten years later he headed south settling in Newark. Along with a partner he purchased a brewery on High Street. That partnership lasted five years. In 1850 he built his own brewery on the banks of the Passaic River in the Ironbound section of Newark. In 1857 he brought his three sons into the business and renamed it P. Ballantine and Sons. Later in his career Ballantine decided to expand into lager. His sons were not up with the move, so he bought another brewery (Schalk Brothers) and set up a separate company, Ballantine & Co.

While many of our captains of industry from the 19th century built substantial mansions that still stand, Peter Ballantine was not one for ostentation. He lived in a bungalow on Front Street on the grounds of the brewery. The Ballantine House on Washington Street (photos below), which is now part of the Newark Museum, was built in 1885 for his son, John Holme Ballantine.

Of all of New Jersey’s big brewers, Ballantine is the one that is most known for the quality of its product. While Peter Ballantine’s operation was at one time the third largest brewery in America it in some ways operated like a modern craft beer producer, making seasonal and one-time release brews. It was known for its XXX ale (the XXX signifies the strength of the brew, not pornographic packaging) and is considered by some to be the first commercial producer of an IPA. Ballantine’s IPA was aged in wood for a year. They also produced a Burton Ale which was aged at least 10 years and was used solely as a gift for friends, family and associates.

Ballantine ad

Ballantine’s brewery lasted until 1972. The brand was purchased by Pabst. Last year, in what many consider Pabst’s effort to move into the craft beer market, they made an attempt to reverse engineer Ballantine’s recipe and re-introduced Ballantine IPA.


In my next post, I’ll profile one of Newark’s most successful German brewers and Camden’s “gentleman beer baron.”

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6 Responses to Beer Barons of New Jersey: Aert Teunissen van Putten and Peter Ballantine

  1. Joseph Nebus says:

    I didn’t know that about Ballantine. Next time I’m at a bar — a process that involves me desperately picking a beer basically at random — I’ll see if they do have Ballantine IPA and show some hometown pride.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Beer Barons of New Jersey: Gottfried Krueger and Max Hassel | off the leash

  3. Pingback: Hoboken Brewing Company Prepares to Launch | Jersey Digs

  4. Pingback: America’s first brewery was in Hoboken NJ – Here For you Central!

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