Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Pliny the Younger, 2013 Release at Russian River

The morning of Friday, February 1st, 2013, a crowd of beer lovers was lined up outside the doors of Russian River Brewing Co. in Santa Rosa, CA. The enthusiasm, and anxiousness could be felt in the air as the wait was finally over... Pliny the Younger was about to be released to the public. According to the Facebook posts by Russian River, the first group in line arrived at the Russian Rivers doorstep at 3am!

The magic happens behind this glass...
5th in line, I made some great friends here!

The hardworking, friendly bartenders at Russian River

Early Sunday morning, February 3rd, I stood in line from about 6am. Was I crazy for standing in line in the misty cold? ...Probably. But at least I was in good company (about 100 other “crazy people” by 9am). Finally, the first group was given wristbands and proceeded to see a hostess. As we were guided in past the front doors and seated down at the bar, the barkeep graciously asked, “So, what’ll it be?” He was obviously joking while all six of us laughed and in almost perfect unison yelled, “Younger!”

It has been a long time coming for me, as a beer enthusiast. I finally held, in my hands one of the best beers in the world. There are few words to describe this moment in the picture below; one of those moments that I will recall for years to come.

Finally! If the Holy Grail exists,
this must be what it feels like to hold it!

What is it about Younger that makes this beer so magnificent? Is it the fact that it is only available for two weeks? No, that is a logistical reason due to amount of the time, space, and ingredients it takes to make Younger. Perhaps the 11% ABV? No, there is an abundance of brews available with an ABV close to or over 11%. Then what is? Well, for starters, I will have to make a point that you must have Pliny the Elder before you try Pliny the Younger. In my opinion, that is what makes Younger so special: comparing Elder with Younger.

When compared, the resemblance in uncanny. Yet, they each boast a special quality that sets them apart. For those of you that have yet to try Elder, I strongly encourage you to get your hands on some fresh bottles or find a pub with it on draught. I will try to make some comparisons in my review below.

Appearance: Bright, golden-pale with an orange highlights. Soft, white head that fades leaving a thick lace on the glass. (Elder: Eerily the same...)

Smell: Pineapple and pine from the crisp and fruity hops. Think tropical fruits.

Taste: Not what you would expect! Soft, pleasant hoppiness with plenty of tropical fruit (pineapple, mango, anything citrus) and a soft warming feeling as it goes down.
Mouthfeel: Medium-body, silky-smooth with an aftertaste that has plenty of legs! (Elder: Lighter in body and the back-palate is toned down)

Overall: I am afraid to say it, but.... Perfect! One of the best I have had up to this point in my beer-drinking career. Elegance and muscle in perfect balance.

This beer has become legendary in the beer culture. There are other great beers that share the status of one of the greatest in the world, and for good reason. Although it is a matter of individual beliefs and opinion whether or not it deserves the praise it receives, one fact is undeniable: Younger has an aura that few beers can only dream of achieving. What are my thoughts on Younger? I can answer that with this simple statement...

There are few things in life that makes a group of total strangers that have enough enthusiasm to stand in line for hours for something they have passion for, yet there are people that do not understand the ones that do and make no attempt to. There is something to be said about a person, a place, an artifact, an event, or in this case, a product that has so power to bring people together for the same reason. That in itself makes Pliny the Younger one of the best beers in the world. The taste is only secondary.


-Gilbert C. Perez