“I’m kind of a big deal”
The words may have been spoken by Ron Burgundy, but they could easily apply to the extremely scarce triple IPA known as Pliny the Younger from the good people at Russian River Brewing. If you are an enthusiast of the craft beer scene here in California, you may have heard about it in hushed whispers. It’s the beer with a big reputation, the #2 rated beer on the planet and in a move that only fuels people’s desire for it, it’s only available for a very small window in February.
I’ve had some bad luck in years past, usually not in the right place at the right time. So Pliny the Younger has been elusive, the Moby Dick to my Ahab if you will.
This year, I went into Pliny season with a renewed sense of hope. With my job status currently currently hovering somewhere around none and zero, and my school schedule confined to Tuesday and Thursday, I really believed I’d have a shot at sipping from the fountain of wow.
This past year is really when I first started using Twitter. I’ve always found it a little odd but it has been growing on me. Turns out Twitter has been my best friend for tracking down when and where bars are tapping Pliny. The flip side of the coin was that two bars in my area had announced their tappings about an hour before hand and they did it on a Thursday, just to kick me in the balls a little. Not just any Thursday mind you, but Valentine’s Day. Yup, the wife would love me forever if I ditched school and Valentine’s Day to drive around with the hopes of some Pliny dancing in my head.
Turns out I needed have worried. Toronado blew their keg in 50 minutes and Hamilton’s blew theirs in 16 minutes, according to reliable sources via Twitter. Savages, I tell you.
So Friday morning rolls around and after I finish my work out at the gym, I head to Costco to grab a few things for the house and as I’m walking back to my car with a cart full of stuff, I see the tweet from Toronado, they are tapping another keg at 11:30am. I look at the clock on my phone, it’s 11:00am already. I decide ‘what the hell’ and race up to North Park, groceries in the back of the car and all. I do a drive by, if the line is going to be wrapped around the the block I’m going home. It’s maybe 30 people deep, not too shabby. So I quickly locate a parking spot and hurry to get in line. It’s at that point I notice that I’m still in my sweaty, stinky gym cloths. Oh well, this may be my only shot.
I settle in at a table and take a moment to reflect. I’m a little sad that none of my friends could be here, but texting them and sending pictures to taunt them is almost as much fun.
So how does it taste? Does it meet the mountain of expectations and hype?
It’s hard to say really. A week of reflecting as not really settled the debate in my mind. There is no doubt that it is a great beer, and one of the finest triple IPA’s I’ve ever had the fortune to drink. Would I drink it again? Hell yes. Would I stand in line and wait for it? Maybe. Hard to say for sure, that may have more to do with my aversion to standing in line for anything.
It’s a strong, boozy blend of hops and malt, coming in at close 13%ABV. One of the reason’s I believe in it’s popularity is that fact that this might be the smoothest triple IPA on the planet. It goes down incredibly easy. It’s also great to look at with it’s golden color and distinctive scent of hops and booze.
No doubt it’s a great beer. In fact, if I do find it again this season I’ll be more than happy to drink it with a smile on my face. This is a supreme effort from Russian River and they deserve a lot of praise. I know a lot of people who were delighted with this beer at the recently concluded San Francisco beer week.
So if you find yourself in a position to try some and you never have, I truly believe you should take advantage of that. If you miss out….well, there is always next year. Or just order Pliny the Elder, that is an IPA of excellence as well.
There are still Pliny the Younger keg tappings scheduled for the upcoming weeks, follow me on twitter @hoptologysd and i will keep you apprised as I learn of them.