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.
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.
I got enough in my first order to tide me over for an hour or so…
I invited a couple friends, who made sure to get enough to last them as well. The picture below shows the nice lacing.
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.
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.