Beer: Pliny the Younger
Brewery: Russian River Brewing
Style: Triple India Pale Ale
Pliny the Younger of Russian River Brewing, a rare find in the world of beer, made another appearance at Tria Taproom in Center City Philadelphia Thursday, March 3. Upon hearing the news that Tria Taproom would be hosting this unique beer tasting again I knew I had to go. I tried Pliny the Younger for the first time last year at this same location, read more about my first experience here.
I found out through the Tria email newsletter that they would be opening ticket sales to reserve a glass of Pliny (shout out to Michael for forwarding me that email). I would be in Center City that night to catch up with a friend, Alex, and suddenly it was clear where we would be grabbing a beer. Simple, right? Reserve our tickets, show up during business hours, drink Pliny for the second time – this would be Alex’s first Pliny – and enjoy it greatly.
After work that day I began the process of reserving our tickets through Tria’s website only to find out the site had crashed. The rest of my evening amidst going for a run, making dinner, and preparing for work the next day I continued to refresh the broken page in the hopes of getting through. I did this for three hours. Eventually I was able to make it as far as the checkout page. Then, eyes widening with excitement, the page froze and I was back to where I had started.
Despite all of this confusion leading up to the event, Tria handled the site troubles extremely well. They worked hard to make sure everyone who wanted to reserve a ticket got one, and eventually Alex and I got our tickets too. All of the time spent refreshing and on the phone was worth it. How can you be unhappy with a great beer in front of you and the proceeds from it going to a good cause? Yup, proceeds went to the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.
As we approached Tria Taproom the next evening the excitement was full-force. The taproom was packed, Alex and I started out standing near the entrance, inching our way closer to the bar as fellow beer drinkers slowly rotated in and out. A friendly waitress greeted us and, proudly, we showed her our tickets for our pre-paid Pliny the Younger. She went to retrieve them, seemingly excited for us. It is great to be in a taproom just as excited about what they have to offer you as you are to try it.
Before we knew it a glass of Pliny the Younger was gently placed into our hands. “Cheers,” said the waitress. The warm, amber colored Triple IPA settled in our glasses as we held them.
The first thing I noticed this time was the nose to it – a beautiful floral scent and notable hops. I took a sip, and many more following, and was quickly reminded why I loved this beer so much the first time. As many of you know, I’m not a huge fan of IPAs. I’ve probably said that more times than I care to count but this Triple IPA balances the flavors perfectly.
It is a warm, amber color – almost has a golden undertone – and pours a thin head. The lace around the glass was light, barely present. The flavor of hops hits your palate immediately but in a nice and approachable way. It is sweet, the sweetness you get with a triple of high alcohol and goes out smooth rather than continuously hoppy throughout. The flavors are well-balanced. The hops do not overpower the beer but rather enhance the other more delicate flavors (floral and citrus sweetness, combined with hops, makes for a smooth ale), creating a complex and enjoyable beer that has far exceeded my expectations every time.
This unique beer is only released once a year in the spring time, making it difficult to find. I was skeptical at first, wondering why it’s rarity made it so special. Having tried it I now understand – it’s not the rarity that made the beer special but rather the complexity of the beer’s flavor itself. It is a must try for any craft beer enthusiast, even just once.