It was something of legend. Something others talked about and mocked you for never even seeing. Whispers of perfection and starry eyes of recollection from all my Upright family inspired me to seek out this Moby Dick of a brew, by any means necessary.
Luckily for me, Russian River Brewing Company out of Santa Rosa is well within the reach of my drunken will whilst visiting my family in California. So the plan was laid out and the day was set. I will be visiting the source of the alleged brew behemoth to experience beer nirvana.
The ride, the best I can describe, was like riding in Santa’s sleigh to the North Pole. With the exception of looking for and finding my 120 Minute IPA, this was the most excited I have ever been going to get a particular beer. It could’ve been the Emerald City with the elation I exuded in my gallop to the door. Upon quickly seating I did not hesitate to order a flight of the entire chalkboard displayed menu, with the emphasis on that old sumumabitch Pliny.
This is not a review of the plethora of other brews that were available at the time, as much as I adored the entire lineup, this is and always has been about the one. After finishing the entire flight I ordered up a full glass of the man, the myth, the Pliny and proceeded to sip my way into a hop induced coma. The name of the game with this gem was freshness. When a beer has not had the opportunity to spoil and the finest ingredients are used then one SHOULD expect greatness, and they deliver quality on so many levels. It is a double IPA that has a lightness about it, almost carefree to the point that if you are not careful you will be the Horizontal Drunk. While of course it is hop forward, as you get deeper into your pint the bitterness tends to mellow and becomes undeniably enjoyable. I’ve had IIPA’s with higher ABV (this one is 8%) or seven different hops, or three different breweries on a collaboration, but many, even the majority of them lack that balance, the completeness of Pliny the Elder. With its complexity ultimately coming down really to its simplicity in method, and factoring in the journey, the legend and of course the payoff of living up to the hype, Pliny the Elder comes in at a 9.5/10 of the UrD scale.
Your journey will eventually lead you here. Its a bucket list kind of brew that you must check off. I was lucky enough to get it straight from the teet but out of the bottle is just as good in my opinion. Next obsession for me will probably be Pliny the Younger, but thats a new level of crazy I am not sure I can allow just yet… maybe.