It is that time of the year again! No, not the first hints of spring-to-come but that time of year when every wannabe beer geek starts wondering where they can score a glass of the once a year release of Pliny the Younger! I am no exception aside from the fact that I claim I don’t really care about the Younger as much as I love the Elder (which I really do!) but I still find myself looking to grab a glass every year if I can. I like the way the Daily Pint sets up their Younger release, by selling tickets in advance of the announced release date, each ticket good for one pour. I also like that they have Pliny the Elder on tap at the same time they put the Younger on so if you want to you can drink them side-by-side. That is how I roll, two-fisting Pliny as if I don’t have anything to do later.
Let me just say upfront that i am a huge Pliny the Elder fan-boy, I have loved this beer from the first day I tried and and went, “Whew! Can I get some water to rinse those hops down?” It is a vigorously hopped double IPA brewed with Amarillo, Centennial, CTZ, and Simcoe hops. The hops are well-balanced with the malt, and alcohol, it tastes slightly bitter with a fresh hop aroma of floral, citrus, and pine. It pours a copper/gold with huge hop aroma that you notice long before you pick up the glass. the first sip shows the balance with the malt coming through to offset the hops. I could drink this beer all day, well at 8% ABV I could try anyway! The history of Pliny is on the Russian River website as follows: Back in the year 2000, our friend, Vic Kralj, who owns the Bistro in Hayward, California, decided to have his first ever Double IPA festival. Vic invited 10 breweries, 6 of whom (including us) had to brew something special for him since we had nothing that would fall under this style category. Vinnie had made a Double IPA at Blind Pig in 1994, but was not brewing one at Russian River Brewing at the time. He had an idea for the recipe, but not a name. After much research in beer books, brainstorming, and deliberation, we came up with “Pliny the Elder”. Pliny, the man, lived in the first century- 23 to 79 A.D. According to our brewing references, he and his contemporaries either created the botanical name or at least wrote about Lupus Salictarius, or hops, currently known as Humulus Lupulus. That was a very early reference to an important part of any Double IPA! Pliny the beer has now become one of our flagship brews!
Pliny the Elder was immortalized by his nephew, Pliny the Younger, who wrote about his uncle succumbing to ash and smoke during the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D. while rescuing people. Cheers to the scholar, historian, officer, writer, and Roman Naturalist- Pliny the Elder!
The Younger is the big brother to the Elder (don’t let the name fool you! From the Russian River’s website they tell you why they named it the way they did: Pliny the Younger, the man, was Pliny the Elder’s nephew and adopted son. They lived nearly 2,000 years ago! Pliny the Elder is our Double IPA, so we felt it was fitting to name our Triple IPA after his son. It is almost a true Triple IPA with triple the amount of hops as a regular I.P.A. That said, it is extremely difficult, time and space consuming, and very expensive to make. And that is why we don’t make it more often! This beer is very full-bodied with tons of hop character in the nose and throughout. It is also deceptively well-balanced and smooth. It too pours a copper/gold with the glass I got from the Pint showing a chill haze produced from being newly placed in the cold fridge. It also has a massive hop aroma followed by a heavier more robust mouth feel with the flavor of the higher gravity malt load required to make this 10.5% ABV beer. It is one impressive and massive hoppy IPA that leaves an impression!
I must admit that I personally like the Pliny the Elder more, the heavier sweetness of the Younger is just a tiny bit cloying when compared to the Elder making the Elder the slightly more drinkable beer of the two. With that said, however, BOTH of these beers are worthy of my affection and I bet I will find myself wondering the same thought of where and when next year!