Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pliny the Delicious

Behold Pliny the Younger.
 Last Wednesday, February 16, was a day of celebration for some 50-65 (I'm not sure of the exact number) LA Eastside beer lovers.

There is a brewery up in Santa Rosa called Russian River - they produce several beers year round that are all considered very good. One of them is BeerAdvocate's #2 beer in the world, Pliny the Elder. I have several bottles of this and have tried it on tap, and it truly is great. I'm an IPA person, so I'm sometimes asked to describe my favorites, and sometimes even further asked to describe what's different about them. I think what sets PtE apart is that it's a double IPA that has the smoothness and drinkability of top "single" IPAs like Ballast Point Sculpin. In comparison to Stone's Ruination, another double IPA that I quite like, it seems much more well balanced, not like the flavors are overcompensating for the added hoppiness.

That background all serves the purpose of setting up THE EVENT. Which is that every year, in February, Russian River releases the limited batch of Pliny the Younger, which is a "triple" IPA and falls at #3 on BeerAdvocate's list of top beers. It's difficult enough to get at the brewery and in NorCal, since hopheads clamor for it and make pilgrimages to Santa Rosa to try and get it. It's even worse to try and get it elsewhere. In SoCal, Russian River sends one keg each to several respected beer bars including Father's Office, The Surly Goat, Verdugo Bar, and Blue Palms. Some of these bars tap the keg quietly (Father's Office, Blue Palms) and others put the information on Facebook etc about when they're going to open the keg. The Surly Goat tapped it Tuesday the 15th after (apparently) running radio ads, and was greeted with a line around the block at opening.

I went to Verdugo and got in line at around 5:30 PM for a 6PM opening. I'll cut the drama of waiting in line short and merely mention that there was a scare, but that Casper and I were able to get our hands on the magic tickets that were good for a pour of the good stuff:

sorry the picture is horrible.

We decided immediately that an obviously good choice was to get both the Younger and the Elder versions and do a taste test.

Younger is on the left; Elder on the right

What struck me immediately about Pliny the Younger is that it was delicious. What struck me second about Pliny the Younger was how very similar it was in character and balance to Pliny the Elder, despite being 30% stronger in alcohol and dry-hopped twice as many times. The increased hopping should theoretically increase the bitterness, but actually Pliny the Younger is a slightly sweeter beer.

It's really a shame that this is such a limited release (though I suppose we ought to be lucky that we can get ahold of it at all, compared to the #1 beer on BeerAdvocate's list.) It's insanely drinkable with an 11% ABV that you won't even notice until you stand up (whoops!) Fortunately I live within walking distance to Verdugo Bar! This is the kind of beer that will make you a beer-liever.

1 comment:

  1. Whoa, I didn't realize that beer was so exclusive! I was at Father's Office on Monday and a bunch of people were having both the elder and the younger. The stupid bartender kept making stupid jokes about having "both generations."