Our Quest For Pliny the Younger

If you are a beer geek like us, you’ve probably been trying to get Younger, too. Russian River Brewing Company’s Triple IPA Pliny the Younger seems to cause craft beer aficionados to get worked up in a tizzy. Available only two weeks a year, Pliny the Younger is not bottled and has very limited keg distribution. Add to that a perfect rating of 100 by RateBeer and by Beer Advocate, the latter of whom also currently names Pliny the Younger as the 2nd best beer in the world.

Much Ado About Pliny the Younger

Given this sort of cult status, what’s a beer nerd to do but get all bonkers trying to find some Younger? Lines form early at Russian River Brewing and fans have been rumored to wait up to 5 hours or more just to get their 10-ounce pour of this famous Imperial IPA. Don’t believe me? Do a Google search and you’ll find countless news articles and images showing the crowds that flock just for a taste of this beer. The Russian River blog even provides some local hotel tips for the out of town fans that make the pilgrimage to Santa Rosa for this brew. Clearly, brewer Vinnie Cilurzo hit a nerve with beer drinkers who couldn’t get enough hops. Credited for inventing the double IPA, Vinnie didn’t stop there and kept adding hops until the triple IPA Pliny the Younger was born. All hail Vinnie Cilurzo!

Waiting list tickets

In Colorado, we may be lucky because even though only a small number of Pliny the Younger kegs make it our way, the mania isn’t quite as bad as it is in California. This year Colorado had Pliny the Younger delivered to 12 bars, all who posted their tapping details and schedule early so fans could plan ahead to get their taste.

Here’s a fun fact about me: I don’t like to miss out on anything. If I see a line, even if I’m not sure what it’s for, I’m prone to get in it just to see what the big fuss is all about. Add to my predisposition to not miss anything the fact that Jeff is inherently and insanely curious about everything, and you just know we had to get our hands on this beer.

The Younger is coming!
The Younger is coming!

We selected Trinity Brewing Company for our Pliny the Younger experience. Not too far from home, we loved this spot when we visited last year, and a Monday night tapping worked perfectly into our schedule. The only hiccup was the snow that arrived that night, making our typical 40-minute drive stretch out to a slow and frustrating 90 minutes. We arrived and jumped in line at 6 pm, just as they were handing out tickets. Trinity guaranteed the first 40 ticket holders a glass of Younger. We did not make that cut. We were numbers 9 and 10 on the waiting list after the first 40 tickets were handed out, so we could only hope the keg would last that long. When they started pouring at 7 pm, we watched and waited as those around us actually applauded the arrival of their beers. Pictures were being taken, Facebook statuses were being updated, tweets were being twittered – it was awesome! It was also brutal to watch, as it only made us want that blasted beer even more! Luckily, we had some Trinity Flo IPAs to keep us company during the wait. Damn, Trinity Brewing makes some mighty fine beers.

Pliny the Younger 2013 (2)

Finally, around 7:30 pm, we were delivered two fresh and foamy glasses full of Pliny the Younger! Hooray! To be honest, we almost couldn’t bring ourselves to drink them. After all, how could this beer possibly live up to all the expectation and hype? Well, of course, we drank them and of course, it was a damn delicious beer. Our description will likely not do PtY any justice, but here goes: Golden in color with a thick creamy ivory head, intensely fruity hop aroma, and a bitter bite that while delicious, gave me almost immediate heartburn (sad but true.) The amazing flavor masks the 10.5% alcohol very well, so it was a good thing that we were limited to one glass, otherwise, this could be a very dangerous beer! Overall, Pliny the Younger was a really, really great beer. But for as amazing as it was, Jeff and I both gave Younger only 4.5 (out of 5) in our Untappd beer journals. Maybe all the hype was too much to live up to and we expected something magical. Or maybe this is a perfect beer, just not quite our style. Clearly, I am not a hop-head, so I never figured it would be my favorite beer; and surprisingly Jeff likes Pliny the Elder, Russian River’s double IPA, much better. But what the hell do we know?

Pliny the Younger 2013
Pliny the Younger 2013

So for all the hoopla, we are both thrilled that we got to try Pliny the Younger and will probably seek it out again this time next year. If you missed out, know that it is beer to add to your beer bucket list, but seriously don’t fly to California and wait in line for 5 hours for a taste. Come see us, we’ll do our best to hook you up.

Cheers!

Jeff with his PtY
Jeff with his PtY