1 22 oz bottle, $?, 9% ABV

Purchased at the Brewery on my behalf by my secret Relic Mole

ballerFirst things first. (Because how could it be any other way. What a stupid phrase that is. And now that I’ve added this parenthetical, the first thing actually isn’t the first thing now is it?)

First things second. “L’Ballerine?” While “ballerina” is ballerina en francais, it would be La Ballerine. But this is a Belgian style wheat wine, and in Belgium they speak French AND Dutch AND Flemish. I can’t find any reputable Flemish sources, so maybe they do use the L’ convention.

In Zulu it’s ”umdanso ibhaleyi” which is just nonsense.

This beer, however, is not nonsense. Beer? But I just called it a wheat wine! Yes. Yes I did. And Barleywine is a beer too. Do you want to fight about it? No? How ‘bout a dance off? Better yet, a ballet off!

I’m going to spare you the derivation of why wheat wine beers are called wheat wines (you’re welcome), and I’ll just leave it at this: Wheat wines are wheat ales that use a buttload more wheat. They are higher in alcohol than your typical wheat ales and fortunately for us, they often impart much more flavor and creativity than boring ol’ wheat ales.

And Relic has done a good job with this one, making it sort of unique with the extra addition of some of my favorite hops.

Relic Says:

Belgian style wheat wine brewed with wheat malt, pale malt and Nelson Sauvin hops. Fermented with a Belgian golden ale strain for a clean spicy ale.

This is not a standard beer. Nor was it a standard release party either. While I couldn’t make it, I did see the pictures and heard the stories. There were ballerinas. Real, live ballerinas in tutus and everything.

In addition, the labels for this limited release (144 bottles in total) were created by one Emily Sauter. Each bottle bought that night was signed by Em – and most were even given a personalized saying or cartoon.

And as a graduate of the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, Vermont, she can cartoon on my bottles anytime. (For more of her work and as it relates to beer, please check out her site, Pints and Panels. On her site, she reviews beers in a unique and creative way, so I feel a kinship with her. Gentle fist bump.

CaptureWhat I find most interesting about Ms. Sauter is that she works for Two Roads Brewing down in Stratford. I may have it wrong (or it may change), but I believe she handles their social media – among other things. Probably.

This is “A Ballerina” by Belgian artist Wilhelm Zéguers. She has no shirt on. Which is pretty sexy.

Which means that we’ve tweeted at each other! Hi Em! (I don’t know her at all, but I think she goes by “Em.”) I’ve always be very impressed with Two Roads’ marketing and use of social media. It’s funny, when Mark at Relic started out as the most nano of nanobreweries, he really used Twitter and Facebook to great effect. He more or less built a fanbase, so to speak, through social media. For free. It was pretty cool to watch and be part of as it happened.

Two Roads, though, is the king of social media marketing in the world of Connecticut brewing. So Em deserves a lot of credit for that. (I think.) Now if only some of that marketing and cartooning genius would rub off on the brewers of Road Jam and Roadsmary’s Baby, life would be grand.

Why? Why can’t I just be nice?

Okay, now I’ll be nice. I was a bit hesitant about L’Ballerine. I mean, what the hell is it? Mark hid the 9% very well, especially in a beer that doesn’t have much in it to hide the ABV. At no point while drinking this beer, from the nose to the back of the throat, did I say, “bah, just another wheat ale.”

But I also didn’t call it an IPA or pale or anything. It’s just… it’s just L’Ballerine. So why not use some uniquely (probably) incorrect European punctuation? I get it now! Genius. Take that, Two Roads marketing gurus!

I liked this beer. And it’s NOT a style I’d normally like. I can only handle so many Belgian-yeasty-farmhouse ales. That lingering flavor profile wears me down… but this one was clean and crisp, with a little hoppiness, a little spiciness, a little wheatiness.

It was interesting. Unique. Impossible to nail down. But very possible to drink down.

Overall Rating: B
Rating vs. Similar style: A

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