Pliny The Younger

You know the industry has come a long way when one measly beer release is an actual event. When people make the pilgrimage from one side of the country or over oceans to partake in the privilege of waiting in line for hours, just for the chance to taste that one beer, you know that this is more than a passing fancy, this is life. There are two weeks in February that call out to every brew guzzling enthusiast that have caused vacations to be planned around the release of a very special, almost mythological, white whale beer called Pliny the Younger. 

If you claim to be any kind of craft beer connoisseur then you have no doubt heard of his father, Pliny the Elder. Probably have even been fortunate enough to have had a few filter through your liver. But the Younger, very few in the grand scope of the world can say they have braved the chilly Santa Rosa February to imbibe what most would consider beer nirvana. The notion was floated into the air and soon enough a date was set for what would soon be the most exciting brew crusade of them all (or so far)…

At first the thought of waking up at 6:00 am to get ready to go drink some beers seems a little like a problem that people go to meetings for. This is life however, and the early bird gets the Younger. I have made a few trips to the already “dear to my heart” Russian River Brewing Company but this one feels different, and for obvious reasons. With my compadre in tow we found our spot in the all day parking garage and I swear, we skipped and scurried around the corner to the anticipation that sang in our hearts and livers. Met with an intimidating line of like minded pilgrims, we stood like mighty Spartans at the Hot Gates, until of course the hip dude came by and gave us our “first wave” stamp on our hand, then we felt like hoes waiting to get into the club. Hey, if the shoe fits. A wrist band followed and then it was back to counting the frosty seconds until doors opened. Overall, an hour and a half later we were ushered into the warmth of a packed haven for the thirsty and elated. So how was it you ask? Well, let me tell you…


Straight away we order our first round of three and the anticipation is at a nuclear level. The energetic and accommodating staff delivered our 10 oz. pours of what has been considered by many as the best beer in America. At first glance, this 10.25% ABV offspring is quiet and calculating. The color, beer. And I’m not trying to be cute because the Younger is the color of your expectations when you crave your favorite brew. Its a perfect golden autumn that is somehow crystal clear enough to see into the future. Or maybe thats just the delirium from being up since before the Devil. The aromas were tropical and dry like The Elder but with a little more gas that glues your eyelids open and clears your sinuses. First sip is an explosion of malt sugars and a glorious hop variety that manifests itself in a laugh to oneself. After about 10 seconds of basking in the aftermath of that first sip, it disappeared almost completely from my palate. Not in a wave of despair but refreshingly. With other triple IPA’s it is common to take a couple sips and be overwhelmed by the immense hop presence, but that is not the case here. I don’t know how they managed to subdue the lupulin beast, but it allows for continued enjoyment without exhausting your palate. Those of you that have had a Heady Topper, think along those lines only with a bigger smile at the end. 

Before I knew it the entire experience was over. I am better for having gone through this. The search for a beer that defines why we do what we do can be realized when brews like this are labored over with fierce and intense care. I cannot wait to come back and go through this circus again, because its worth for this Upright Drunk is in the weight of a future that I want and will live in. I am inspired, and thats the reason for it all.

And by the way, its a 10 out of 10. Call me a liar.


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