There are a lot of things to love about relocating from the frozen tundra of Canadian winter to Southern California, but for someone like me, the exclusive beer releases have been the icing on the cake. I’m coming from a place where getting Stone IPA wasn’t exactly easy, and now I live in a world where Stone is just as common as Molson Canadian is back home. So as the excitement built about this years Pliny the Younger release, I knew I had to make it out to taste this legendary beer for the first time.
For the uninitiated, Pliny The Younger is a high-alcohol ‘Triple’ IPA from Russian River brewing. They only release it once a year, only of draft and in extremely limited quantities, so its not uncommon for people to line up for upwards of 6 or 7 hours to get a taste.
Mohawk Bend opted to tap their keg of Pliny the Younger first thing this past saturday morning, and I correctly assumed that the early hour would prevent a huge line from forming. I arrived about an hour before doors open and without much hassle secured a seat at the bar for a delicious breakfast of shortrib hash before they tapped the keg.
Pliny The Younger pours a clear golden color, with a bright white head. The aroma is quite big, with lots of citrus, pine and tropical fruit. I might be crazy, but there was a definite cinnamon or nutmeg aspect to the aroma that screamed ‘egg nog’ to me, but I haven’t heard anyone else use that descriptor, so maybe I’m losing it. The first sip has some nice citrus off the bat, which is followed up by 100% pure dank. This tastes young, with the booze still more apparent than it should be, with a definite (but not overwhelming) chemical taste right in the middle of my tongue. Its strong, but still quite drinkable with its medium body and light carbonation.
Its always a struggle with something that has this much hype. Is this a great beer? Of course. Is it worth the hype? I’m not sure anything really is. But more importantly for me, the experience of lining up and hearing people discuss this beer was a ton of fun. Mohawk Bend really showed their stripes with an expertly organized event that made everything seamless. Sometimes when we get caught up in the hunt for an exclusive beer, we forget the more important thing is great food, great company and great beer. What more could you want?