SF Beer Week Recap – Part 3

The last post is kind of a beer week post, but mostly a Pliny the Younger post.  It is quite convenient that Beer Week and PTY time overlap, further adding to the craziness (PS. I am pretty surprised to still see PTY showing up and Toronado and City Beer Store this week).

PTY releases are announced, subtly or not, at some places, and others are unannounced.  Naturally, the unannounced ones are a zoo, and require significant free time to make happen.

The announced releases in SF had lines building up for hours, with hundred of people in queue.  I cannot say I am surprised.  This is San Francisco, and I am fairly certain 90% of people do not actually work.  Releases at Monks, Toronado etc. were never going to happen for me.  I was confident I would get it somewhere unannounced or not in the City.  My confidence began to dwindle, however, as the week went on.

First Attempt

Rose and Crown had IPA day Wednesday, and explicitly informed of the PTY release (on an aside, Wednesday was chock full of events, that and Thursday would have been the best days to take off, as Thursday would be a recuperation day).

I “snuck” away from work around 1050 am to get to there.  Stupidly, I figured there would not be that long of a line on a Wednesday morning in Palo Alto, as i assumed most Peninsula folk were working (that only happens in SF right? – WRONG). With only a 5 gallon keg, I figured I did not have much of a shot, but wanted to see anyway.  I was there and I was not going to give up that easily.

After waiting a little over an hour and a half I fell about 10 people short.  To be honest, i was surprised I was that close.  It turns out they were doing 6 oz. pours, but it still lasted longer than the line seemed to indicate.  Defeated, I instead got a Pliny the Elder (*note, I was shocked to see how many people left after they announced the PTY was out.  You just waited in line an hour plus, you have earned a beer, and there were plenty of great options on tap).

I have never historically fallen into the Pliny obsession.  I enjoy the beer, but do not fully embrace the craze of getting it (and I actually probably like Blind Pig better than Pliny, and there are a bunch of DIPAs out there that are just as good or better).  That being said, Russian River has done a masterful job of getting people hooked and the limited releases make the hunt almost more exciting than the beer.  After getting denied the Younger I was determined to get it.

However, something about being in line on a killer, sunny Wednesday morning and talking to strangers about beer, while waiting to get a beer, was a really fun experience.  Certainly not something you do too often, and probably only something you can do in a place like the Bay Area in February.  Even though I did not score the Younger that day, I learned about some new beers, an insider tip on where PTY would be the next day unadvertised (and I could not go down to Hayward to next day to get it, but the tip was right), and got to have a Pliny the Elder for lunch.  In the end, the hunt and wait, although deflating, was pretty damn fun.

So, the hunt continued.

 How Not to Get It

After several more days of trying to find Pliny in the new “high tech” way (Taplist, Twitter, Instagram…), and several near misses, a realization I have had in many facets of my life re-emerged.  Sometimes getting things the old fashioned way works best.

Just like connecting with old friends, getting new business, and apparently getting Pliny the Younger, apps and Twitter and the Internet are not the best solution. After missing out at Rose and Crown, I found myself frantically checking Twitter, Untapped, Taplist etc. trying to smell out the next Pliny pour. I messaged bars that I knew were going to get it and did not have much luck. Eventually the Marriot Marquis was nice enough to mention me in a tweet when they were tapping theirs, but I was 30 miles away. A lifetime in Pliny season.

After many near misses that are not worth chronicling, I realized I should just hit the pavement and ask a “friend” at the closest bar to us that regularly gets the Pliny. We frequent this particular spot fairly regularly, and thus are friendly with many of the people that work there and that is all it took.  While enjoying a different beer specially created for SF Beer Week, I asked and I received, PTY on tap the next morning.  With the scoop in hand, the next day I was enjoying several Plinys with little to no wait.

So, How Was It?

I was fearful, and assuming, the Younger would not live up to the hype. How could it? People waiting in line 8 hours at the brewery?!  People camping out in front of Toronado? Me obsessively refreshing my Twitter feed (ok, not that big of a commitment, but still, I was getting anxious thinking I would miss it).

To my pleasant surprise, it was pretty damn good. So good, my wife, who I do not think has ever liked an IPA I have given her, even liked it.

PTY pours a fairly translucent golden orange.  Minimal head, nice lacing.

pliny one

I got enough in my first order to tide me over for an hour or so…

pliny 2

I invited a couple friends, who made sure to get enough to last them as well.  The picture below shows the nice lacing.

MmmMmm

MmmMmm

Nice citrus and tropical fruit notes are present on the nose.  Some light floral tones as well.

Alcohol content is somewhere between 10 and 11.5%, but there is no boozyness in Mr. Younger.

The one thing that is unmistakable about this beer is its balance.  Less malty than the Elder, dare I say perfect bitterness and hops, and smooth as you could imagine.  Crisp and juicy citrus flavors.  Incredibly drinkable.  Does not feel like a Triple IPA as it is not a “hop bomb.”

My personal favorite part, perfectly clean finish with no aftertaste.

99/100 – my highest review ever.  I did not expect this to happen, but it was so damn smooth I had no choice.

Conclusion

Beer week was a hell of a time.  I cannot imagine any city putting on a better one, just because of the size of our city and the plethora of breweries close to home.  Next year mandates that I take a few days off to fully enjoy the entire event.  I definitely need to attend the Opening Gala, and probably the DIPA fest in Hayward.

I am already looking forward to next year, and must thank all the hard working people from the SF Brewer’s Guild for an incredible week.

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SF Beer Week Recap – Part 2

The middle of the week saw a few more events for me and a few more great beers.  I found myself wishing I had taken a day or two off to really immerse myself in the fun, but as it worked out, I had a pretty busy work week and was somewhat limited in the events I could go to.

Rose and Crown IPA Day

Wednesday saw me attend the Rose and Crown event, which was labeled as an IPA Day, but in reality was a battle for the Pliny the Younger.  I headed over to the Rose and Crown around 10:55 and ended up being in line until 12:30 and missed the PTY by about 10 people.  My last post in this series will deal solely with the Pliny hunt/craze/shitshow so I will save that for now.

In the end, I did enjoy a Pliny the Elder as my consolation prize. I have not yet written a review on the Pliny the Elder, so will do an abridged one now. Personally, I have never been as impressed by Pliny the Elder as most people.  It is a solid beer, but the true genius in it may just be the intentional or unintentional marketing and limited availability.  There is a sense of accomplishment when you get one on draft or have a “friend” at a store who will save some for you or let you know when they are coming in.  The beer itself is very good, but the hunt is where people seem to lose sight. Elder pours a deep golden orange.  Limited head that tends to stick to the glass. pliny Nose is strong citrus, pine and pineapple notes.  Flavor mimics the nose with some substantial hoppy bitterness.  Fairly crisp, and the fresher the better it seems.  One fallback for me is it is fairly dry. It is a great beer, but it does not distinguish itself for me as some people suggest.  I actually may even prefer Blind Pig. 94/100

Firestone Tap Takeover at Steep Brew Potrero (Whole Foods)

Thursday was a tough call for me, Firestone Tap Takeover or Ballast Point Tap Takeover at Public House.  I opted for Firestone’s event as I had had many of the Ballast Point beers already.  In a perfect world, or if I did not have to work early the next morning, I would have hit both (cue the boos).

I had the Double Jack and a Sucaba at the Firestone Event.  There was an option to do three samples and a cheese pairing, but I was only interested in one of the beers offered for the pairing.

I have had every iteration in the “Jack” Series (Union Jack, Easy Jack, Wookey Jack, Double Jack) and am thoroughly impressed with all of them.

Double Jack rings in at 9.5% ABV and 85 IBUs. Pour is a nice fairly clear orange with a decent frothy head. jack Nose fills of grapefruit and oranges with a ton of hops. The flavor is piney with full frontal hops, but still balanced and smooth.  Nice sticky mouthfeel with some minimal malty sweetness.

A really quality DIPA. 93/100

http://www.firestonebeer.com/beers/products/double-jack

I also tried the §ucaba, which is a monster Barleywine.  Heavy on the bourbon and boozyness, this is a sipper for sure.

Other Events, Stand Outs

I had intended to cheat on IPA and go to the Almanac and Friends Sourfest at Public House on Friday night, however at 3:30 the line was already 40 deep, and I was in a suit and did not want to wait in the sun for a non-IPA event.  When I went back at 5, there was still a significant line, so headed across the street to Lucky Strike for some Lagunitas.  In two hours at Lucky Strike, the line at Public House never really diminished, so I never made.

I was able to enjoy a few beers at StrEAT Food SOMA the next day, including the Bear Republic Hop Shovel.  Nice, floral beer, and was pretty solid on the hot day that Saturday was.  This event was just “OK”, especially considering a few of the beers sold out pretty quick.  I was hoping to try 101 North’s Heroine IPA but they were sold out by 12:45.

I also tried the Money Paw/Drake’s Special SF Beer Week collabo at Public House, which was decent.  It was very smooth, but also fairly run of the mill.  Nothing that particularly stood out about that one, but it is always cool to see breweries work together.

monkey

A mentioned, to really embrace all Beer Week offers, you have to take a day or two off.  Wednesday in particular was chock-full of events, and would have loved to have Wednesday and Thursday off to enjoy and recover…next year.

I will have one more blog on SF Beer Week soon, with a focus on the unicorn of West Coast craft beer.