March 2, 2010
Pliny the Younger
Since getting in to craft beer over the past year, there are some beers that I constantly hear about. Pliny the Younger is one of them. It started over the summer when I wrote about Pliny the Elder. I received comments that if I liked Elder I had to search out the Younger. At the time I didn't realize just how rare Younger is. Actually, I never really gave much thought to the distribution or availability of any beer since those I was used to drinking (Miller Lite, Amstel Lite, etc) were available anywhere, anytime. I'm much smarter about things now.
Anyway, yesterday was a banner day for this beer drinker. Philly has been lucky enough to receive a number of kegs of the Younger. I know it's been tapped at a couple of places, and it kicks within minutes. I learned that a keg was going to be tapped at 11:30 Monday morning at Monk's Cafe. I'd heard that there would be a line, but I figured it was a Monday morning, people had to work, it wouldn't be too bad. Work seemed to be an afterthought for the folks who were lined up by the time I got there, a little after 11 am. The line wasn't too bad, though, and the doors opened promptly at 11:30. People piled in to the small front bar. It was packed, but the crowd was composed. All waited patiently for their chance to order a beer. And patience paid off when I was handed my first (and what would be my only) glass of the elusive Younger.
I was a bit worried that the beer wouldn't live up to my expectations. After all, this is the top-rated beer in the world! I'm happy to say it was all that I hoped it would be and more, starting with the pour. A beautiful golden, amber. And the smell - ah, the smell. An amazing hop smell that had me sniffing over and over again. Citrus, pine, it was all there. And the taste followed. Grapefruit, pine, and some sweet malt coming through to balance it all out. This is a big beer (11% ABV) but it is so well balanced that it's extremely drinkable - almost dangerously so. Funny side note, I was talking to a guy standing next to me and asked what he thought the ABV was. His answer? "Probably about 5 or 6%". I almost laughed out loud. Maybe I did laugh out loud. Really? A sessionable DIPA? Ha!
I was about 1/2 way through my beer when word went 'round the bar that the keg had kicked (about 30 to 40 minutes after it was tapped). I didn't think I was going to have another one (it was, after all, such a big beer) and I was so glad that I'd gotten my first taste. There are other events featuring the Younger throughout the next few weeks, so I'm hopeful to get another taste before it's all gone.
Another interesting note - it wasn't just the Younger that was tapped that morning, and that wasn't the only beer that brought the crowd. There was also Supplication, Temptation, and Consecration (barrel-aged sours) that had people swooning, and those all kicked before the Blind Pig or Pliny the Elder, which was fine with me since I had a Blind Pig to follow up the Younger. I've said it before and I'll say it again - Russian River does no wrong!