Wednesday 6 May 2009

Plin Love

Just a midweek quickie about a brief love affair I had with a gorgeous Californian babe. I’ll never forget her. Although I’ve heard that her Younger sister is pretty tasty too...

Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger were top of the ‘I want these beers’ list I gave to my mate Lee when he went to San Francisco. To my supreme delight he managed to get me a Pliny the Elder and soon became my hero. I opened the beer a few weeks ago and oh-my-goodness let me tell you this: it was one of the finest beers I’ve tasted.

It’s 8%ABV with a deep gold colour and a beautiful oh-so alluring aroma-vault of juicy citrus, tropical fruit, pine and grapefruit pith. The balance over the palate is what makes this beer special: it’s so fruity and this dives quickly into the bitterness - the sappy dryness of pine, loads of citrus, loads of tropical fruit - but beneath all of this freshness is a huge malty base of biscuit, bread and caramel; a sweet buffer for all that quenching and clinging bitterness. It’s so smooth to drink too. Fizz pisses me off and I have a low threshold for it, but this was just brilliantly, elegantly clean. My tasting notes are peppered with superlatives, ending with ‘an amazing beer’.

While we’re here, Pliny the Younger is currently the 2nd best beer on the BeerAdvocate best of list (PtE has risen up to number 8! And PtY is pretty high up Rate Beer's best too). Of course this is because so many drinkers have rated it so highly, but why is that? It can’t just be because it’s such a good beer, can it? Look at the rest of the list (Westvleteren 8 and 12, some Dark Lords…) and you’ll see a mystique surrounding a lot of the beers. But why PtY? Well, I read over at The Beer Nut’s place, in this post, that the Younger was only released on draft this year. Ah, now I see why. This means that drinkers have to go in search of it which instantly raises their anticipation of it (hunter-gatherer style) – it is coveted. Add to this that the hype is already huge (the hype is very affecting) and the fact that an 11% IPA is going to leave you feeling pretty happy (the fun-time/drunkenness/remember-the good-stuff-and-make-it-better proportional scale) and I think you get the drift. Although, if it’s anything like the Elder - only better! - then I totally get why it’s there in that position.

Oh, and I also got Russian River’s Blind Pig IPA. A 6.0% beauty along the same lines at the Elder. It’s a glass of orange, pine and grapefruit, fresh and juicy but dry and bitter. The malt isn’t in-your-face which means it isn’t cloying, but it still has a mouth-filling thickness which is addictively moreish. It doesn’t get top billing in this post but it’s still a super beer.

I really hope Russian River start shipping beers to the UK soon…


  1. But export and the increased availability will severely damage their ratings, and no-one wants that...

  2. Haha, true. That's the vicious suck-you-in trouble with the rating sites - I'm interested in what beers achieve but there's so much other crap surrounding them. I use wikipedia but do I trust it...?

    I've learnt about a lot of beers from BA and) but at the same time I've learnt nothing. There's a whole string of posts in the argument about the rating sites.

    And they could at least export a few Elders over this way, it might help them leap up the rate beer list a bit more :)

  3. Go Liam Go!! I haven't had Blind Pig IPA in a bottle yet, but on draft it's awesome. Good to see someone paying attention to West Coast beers.

    I'm off to see the Angels play tonight. It's bobble head night, and the seats are near field level!! I'll try to remember to bring my camera.

  4. Wurst, I got up early enough to catch the bottom of the 9th. 13-1?! Ouch! I've got Aaron Hill in my fantasy team so I'm glad he did well :)

    Whose bobble head night was it? Did you get any Proper Real Keg? I forgot to say, I had an excellent pint of PRK BrewDog Punk IPA at the weekend - it was better than the cask stuff.

  5. The Beergeek(s) promised me a bottle of Pliny the Elder and Blind Pig this July. After reading your and TBN's descriptions I'm really looking forward to them! Although I'll be in San Diego the week before the Beergeek comes to Germany, so if I'm lucky I may get a chance at them closer to local turf.

    AFKA Wurst, any insider tips on brews local to SD, other than the obvious Stone of course? Been seven years since I was in SD.

  6. Adeptus, there's a ton of beers down there. AleSmith, Ballast Point, Green Flash, Port Brewing, Alpine, Breakwater, Coronado, etc. Check here:

    Liam, Proper Real Keg was in full force with Firestone Double Barrel. Bobble Head was Ervin Santana. You probably saw Scioscia getting thrown out. Check APRK later for a special post.

  7. That's bloody perfect. Thanking you! Now for some planning...

  8. I am jealous of the both of you, San Diego is high up on the list of beer places I'd want to visit. I want to try more stuff from AleSmith. Adeptus, if you can get anything from Russian River then do it, I've heard lots of good things and if the two I've tried are anything to go by then there's some excellent beers over there.

    And Wurst, you wanna be going to see the Dodgers, not the Angels - at least the Dodgers will win at the mo!!

  9. Yeah, The Dodgers are playing great ball right now.

    Adeptus, if you come out here, let me know. My lady friend and I will join you in a pub crawl.

  10. I really want to try the Russian River brews. They sound VERY good. I haven't been able to find them here in Atlanta yet. My guess is they aren't distributed here at all. I guess I'll just need to make a trip out West to get them along with a lot of other beers that I want to try.

  11. Mark, keep a look out, they are superb. So good that I even want to make a trip out West!! Especially if I could get the Younger too as well as a few of their other bottled delights, namely all the ones ending in -tion.