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Friday, March 9, 2012

Pliny the Younger

Younger at Slater's 50/50
So apparently the "cool thing" to do if you have blog focused on beer is to do a review of Pliny the Younger so I figured, why not.  Of course if you are a beer connoisseur (read beer geek) the other hip thing to do is to talk about how you feel Pliny the Younger is overrated.  I don't know if it is meant tongue in cheek and I am very guilty of passing on Pliny the Elder for a lot of other Double IPAs but I love Younger.   Bare in mind that both Younger and Elder are ranked 1 and 2 on Beer Advocates Top Beers - American Double / Imperial IPA. Honestly I've had better Double and Triple (which is technically what Younger is) IPAs but it is definitely up there as one of my favorites.

A quick little history on Pliny the Younger.  The name comes from the fact that the real life Pliny the Elder Pliny the Elder had a nephew (and adopted son) Pliny the Younger.  Once Russian River learned this they knew they had to do some sort of spin on Pliny the Elder and name it Pliny the Younger. When Vinnie Cilurzo first started toying around with brewing Younger he originally planned to make it smaller beer then Pliny the Elder it ended up being a bigger beer. 
... I actually considered going the other direction.  I thought about going from 8 percent abv (Pliny the Elder’s alcohol level) to 6 or 7 percent and raising the hop quantities. The thinking here was that with a lower abv, more hops would blast through the mouthfeel as there would be less of a malt foundation for the hops to sit on. - Vinnie Cilurzo in his article Brew a Double IPA published in Zymurgy July/August 2009
I got my first taste of Younger last year at the Crow Bar in Corona del Mar.  While a couple of my friends lined up at Hollingshead for several hours, I rolled in around 10:30 for an 11:00 opening.  Going in there was a vague idea that they were getting a keg and they only announced it via Facebook the night before.   I was a nice chill experience and I was able to get 2 glasses before it kicked. At the time I thought it was one of the best DIPA I've ever had.  I was really torn between it and Abrasive for the title of best DIPA.  Since that time I've had so many just outstanding DIPAs.

Given that Russian River only brews it once a year there is only a small window to get it and even then you have to contend with the lines.  At this point with so many other great beers out there if you're not up for standing in line for any period of time just skip it.  To me, the line and the once a year timing make it a great annual experience to look forward to.  The days of Younger being on for multiple days outside of the main brewery, which intentionally only taps a few kegs a day, are gone. People online need to deal with it and move on.

This year I was fortunate enough to have it twice, I would have had it more but I missed a text message from my friends that it was going on at one location and was out of town when it his the Crow Bar and it seems every other OC spot.  I did buy some tickets to Beachwood's Pliny Fights Cancer Raffle but came up with nothing as a result.  This year I had it down at Churchill's Renaissance Beer Fest and a week later at Slater's 50/50 in Anaheim Hills.  I thoroughly enjoyed both pours and can't wait to get it again next year.



Younger next to Churchill's Finest Hour
A: It pours an almost metallic orange color that seems to glow in the glass. Pictures do not do justice to seeing this beer in person.

S: Even as a hop head the smell of this beer was insane. I swear I could smell this beer being delivered. Classic IPA smells of citrus and pine.

T: I tend to feel Elder is too dry and unbalanced with its hop bitterness, Younger is the is opposite. This is what DIPAs should strive to be. Despite being an 11.00% ABV beer there was no noticeable alcohol heat. The hop flavor was epic in every sense of the word.

M: Goes down insanely smooth. I had to slow down as I had nearly drained the glass within the first few minutes of getting it and wanted to let it warm up

D: Due to a combination of smell, appearance and taste you are left wanting more when you glass if finished.

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