(OK, before you read this I’d like it to be known that this is NOT a knock against Russian River or Pliny the Younger but the hysteria that surrounds it. I freaking love Russian River)
I’d like to start this off by saying I will, more than likely, be enjoying multiple glasses of Pliny the Younger this year. That being said, I think a few things do need to be addressed about the consumer response to this highly sought-after beer. If you’re reading this outside of California, Philadelphia, and a few other states that are distributed Younger you may not find this interesting but I’d urge you to read on because it’s still probably applicable to the beer industry as a whole.
Pliny the Younger is a triple IPA (10.5%) brewed with a ton of different hops by Russian River Brewing Co out of Santa Rosa, CA. Pliny the Younger really started to garner its attention when it was rated as one of the best beers in the world by users of BeerAdvocate and RateBeer. Frankly, it is a damn good beer and I haven’t had anything that comes close to tasting like it. Trust me; I’ve tried to find the Younger killer. (recommendations always welcome!)
Younger is released at the Russian River brewery every year and a select (read: tiny) number of kegs are sent out through their normal distribution network. Philadelphia happens to be one of them.
So, this is pretty much what it looks like at least here in Philly: bars will begin announcing their “events” in February each year; beer nerds begin to sweat uncontrollably, and line up at ridiculous hours in the morning just for a taste. You end up paying roughly $8-12 for a 6oz pour of the beer while being boxed out by other eager imbibers. I’ve literally walked into pubs in the Philly area, saw that the bar was 5 people deep, and walked out. No offense, but your body odor conflicts with Younger’s nose — (might be my mild agoraphobia but seriously, shower before you come out).
To me, the hassle is now just not worth it. I also think that there are a fair number of craft beer drinkers who are starting to agree with me. Believe it or not, there used to be a time where you would walk into a bar Pliny the Younger on tap and there would be no lines, no hype, and no ridiculous prices. You would be able to enjoy a few glasses with your food and move on. How times have changed so quickly. Also, we may be headed back that way…
There is a silver lining though. A few bars have decided to set up these events for charity rather than profit. The bar knows it’s going to sell out of Younger in a matter of hours and they do have to shell out a fair amount of cash for the quarter keg (~$450) but they will earn thousands off of it. Rather than pocketing those funds they send all the money to charity. That’s cool.
What do you think? Is Younger worth the lines, hassle, high prices and such or do you enjoy the communal “hype” surrounding it? What have your experiences been like?