Beer: Pliny The Younger
Brewery: Russian River Brewing
Style: Triple India Pale Ale
This made me happy. Let me elaborate a little, the amber-golden ale that was placed in front of me at Tria Taproom this evening made me wish I could have more than one glass. It was that good.
I’ve heard a lot about Pliny the Younger, a beer released once a year and hard to find at times. I’ve heard that once you try it, it will be the best beer you’ve ever tasted and nothing will compare to it. On the other end I also heard that if you’re not a huge fan of hops there’s a chance you won’t like it. In-between reviews of this beer are rarely found so I found myself wondering, which side will I be on? I’m not desperate for hoppy beers, I prefer something a little less bitter. Though there are some really good one’s I do enjoy, I wasn’t sure where my opinion would end up on Pliny the Younger.
I first heard that Tria Taproom was offering this scarce brew from Michael, who is also a subscriber to their email list (thankfully or we may have missed out on this). We had to purchase a ticket in advance, they were $10, and half the ticket went to charity (Fair Food Philly) while the other $5 paid for our highly anticipated 5oz glass of Pliny the Younger. It allowed one glass per person who wanted it in the hopes of allowing a larger quantity of people to try it. We walked over to Tria Taproom, down Walnut Street on this (finally) warm and sunny day.
We got a table outside and showed our waitress the tickets on our phones. Just like that she was off, weaving through the crowded bar area to get our beer. The line to get into Tria was out the door. When she came back she was holding two glasses of amber-golden ale. It glistened in the sunlight as it was placed in front of us, or perhaps I was just having a moment. I smelled it first, the hops immediately evident. It smelled wonderful, and let me tell you – it tasted wonderful too.
I was afraid Pliny the Younger might be too hoppy for me but I was wrong. When I took my first sip the hops were the first thing I tasted but then it faded into a smooth and almost a little sweet note. Almost. That’s why I liked it though. The hoppy beers I don’t like are the ones that practically punch you in the face with hops and stay that way consistently, not showing a complexity of flavors just showing one really strong one. Pliny the Younger had notable hops throughout but after the initial impact, it let other flavors shine through.
On Russian River Brewing’s website they say that it is hoppy but also “deceptively well-balanced and smooth” and I couldn’t agree more. It is full-bodied yet well-balanced, something I can really appreciate. This beer is complex in flavor and I loved it. I loved having it be the only thing I tasted in that moment. No other drink or food to distract me from the flavor. I mean it’s rarely available, might as well make it an exclusive experience for my taste buds when I have the chance.