Sunday, March 5, 2017

Russian River Pliny the Younger (2017)

(Pliny the Younger Review -- 2015 Release)
(Pliny the Younger Review -- 2016 Release)

Beer Name: Pliny the Younger
Brewery: Russian River Brewing Co. (Santa Rosa, CA)
ABV: 10.25%

How sold: Only available on draft; usually one glass per person due to the hype.
Where bought: Saraveza (Portland, OR)
Price: $6.00 for an 8 oz pour

Date Kegged: January 2017
Date Tapped/Drank: February 28, 2017

What's on the Website: "Pliny the Younger, the man, was Pliny the Elder's nephew and adopted son. They lived nearly 2,000 years ago! Pliny the Elder is our Double IPA, so we felt it was fitting to name our Triple IPA after his son. It is almost a true Triple IPA with triple the amount of hops as a regular I.P.A. That said, it is extremely difficult, time and space consuming, and very expensive to make. And that is why we don't make it more often! This beer is very full-bodied with tons of hop character in the nose and throughout. It is also deceptively well-balanced and smooth." Click here for more!

When brewed? Seasonal beer. Only released in February.

Where distributed: Russian River does NOT bottle this beer and only ships Pliny the Younger in kegs to four states to put on draft. Pliny the Younger is released at the brewery first in early February, then gets distributed in late February to early March to very select places in California, Oregon, Colorado, and Pennsylvania. Generally, the same places get the beer every year, and it is up to them how to sell it. Some places hold publicized ticketed events, while others place the beer on tap with no fanfare -- and very lucky individuals get the chance to drink it if they see it on the menu. Not surprisingly, if the latter is done, the beer will NOT be announced on social media and will likely not even be put on the taplist menu. Those sneaky businesses....

Appearance (5%): Poured clear golden into a glass. White head. Some lacing left on the glass. 4.5/5

Smell (25%): Basically dank tropical. Getting citrus, grapefruit, and some stone fruit. Again amazing. 4.75/5

Taste (40%): Wow. The 2017 version remains an extremely dangerous Triple IPA. You'll get tropical, some malt, and a bit of dank, and at the end of the day, the flavors in of itself aren't necessarily sticking out as legendary. However, there's almost no way that you'd think this is 10.25% ABV if this was a blind taste test, even if you've had other beers at or near that number. The drinkability (we're talking ridiculously easy drinking for the ABV stated) and the reputation this beer has built up over the years make people return year after year for this, myself included. I had to remind myself to slow down even a tad to savor the experience. 4.75/5

Mouthfeel (10%): Medium to medium-full bodied with good carbonation. Some bitterness, not dry on the tongue, and amazingly balanced. 4.75/5

Overall (20%): A world-class Triple IPA. Yes, I return with a much more critical rating of Pliny the Younger, but make no mistake, it's still world-class. As of March 2017, Pliny the Younger remains #6 on the BeerAdvocate Top 250, and has the second-most reviews of any beer in the Top 15 (only Heady Topper has more at #9). Overall from what I recall, it's pretty much the same delicious beer I had in 2016, so you can check out my 2016 review there (but as you'll see, I went much more gaga over it back then).

In a rare moment, I had the privilege of drinking Pliny the Younger alongside Pliny the Elder. I also did that one other time: last year at Hop & Vine, but I actually remembered this year to take some notes. After comparing the two again side by side, it gave me a much greater appreciation for Pliny the Younger. While Pliny the Elder remains an awesome American Double IPA that has helped set the standard for the category, Pliny the Younger has virtually that same drinkability to me, but with a higher octane. I definitely stick with last year's rating of Pliny the Elder, but it remains inferior to Pliny the Younger.

If you're an IPA fan and especially seek out the higher ABV beers, Pliny the Younger is definitely a bucket-list beer to check off the list. 4.75/5

Final Weighted Rating: 4.738/5

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