Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Quest for Pliny The Younger

What do you think of when you hear the name Pliny the Younger? For some it takes them back to history class and back 2000 years to the time of 79 AD when he wrote about his uncle and adopted father Pliny the Elder saving those from the destruction of Mt. Vesuvius. For other it brings to mind one of the top rated and one of the best beers in the world. For me this was a quest to taste one of the most sought after beers there is today.

I have only recently been into drinking beer. I was one that would have the occasional Coors Light and more recently Hangar 24's Orange Wheat. My husband decided to try beer again as he could taste some of the best beers in the world at a fraction of the price of the best wines in the world. We started attending beer and food pairings at our local craft brewery Hangar 24 located in Redlands, CA. In doing this my eyes and palate have been opened to a whole new world.

With the new knowledge and taste I became one to try some of the more unique and highly rated beers. We found a local market that would get small quantities of some of the great beers in the world such as Russian River's Pliny the Elder and Blind Pig as well as the genius creations of Mikkeller the nomad brewer. With these beers we would try out some of our own pairings. During this time we also started going to beer tasting parties where we would have anywhere from 20 to 40 beers to sample from all over the United States and the world.

This brings you up to date a little of my beer history. As you can see it is a very short one, but one of quick learning and appreciation of the fine crafted brews. I discovered during this time I like pilsner's, wheat beers, scotch and brown ales, boozy strong beers that taste more like liquor than a beer. I can appreciate a good IPA even a double IPA if it is paired well and not overly hoppy. I am not a fan of the overly bitter and hoppy tastes.

Through Facebook I had seen a posting from Eureka Burger, a local restaurant that brings in some of the finest beers, this simple message PTY. Having heard of the legendary beer I knew what they were saying and it was confirmed in later postings that Pliny the Younger would be coming to Redlands. They didn't say when other than soon. This posting was HUGE in the beer world especially in Redlands where the other known place to try PTY was in Northern California at the Russian River Brewery where this beer is created. The posting appeared toward the end of the week right before the President's Day holiday weekend.

A little history about PTY. Pliny the Younger is a triple IPA, yes I said TRIPLE! It got its name after the Double IPA Pliny the Elder. Pliny the Elder the man lived 23-79AD and in brewing notes is contributed for writing about hops and the brewers at Russian River sought it fitting to name the Double IPA they were creating after the man who wrote about such an important ingredient in the beer world. When they created this Triple IPA they could not name it anything but Pliny the Younger after the son of this man.

I continue now with my quest for PTY. My husband, who had wanted to try this beer, was out of town and I told him that The Younger was coming, when I did not know, but hopefully it would be after her returned on Monday, President's Day, from his trip. Facebook had been quiet about the PTY other than speculation on the postings when it would arrive all weekend. That takes us to Monday. Eureka Burger posted again. This time with the cryptic number 2. All the post was the number 2. What did that mean? Two hours, two days? WHAT???? Once gain the comments were nothing but speculations. Until, someone posted they called and were told 2 o'clock we would have PTY.
This left me with a dilemma; do I go without my husband or not go? I talked to Doug and he said for me to go. So our daughter and I went to Eureka Burger for a late lunch. We got there just before 2 and the place was packed. People inside jammed the bar area and every seat was taken. We put our name in and were told 60 to 75 minutes. Okay, I could do that. I'm starving, but I can do that, I just hope they don't run out the beer before I get in. 

We ran into friends outside while waiting and they told me to expect hoppy. Hoppy? Oh no I do not like hoppy beers, but I am here and I am going to do it anyways. We patiently waited and after 30 minutes our name was called. That wasn't so bad. First thing I did when the waitress came I told her I wanted the sampler. They were only pouring the beer in 5 ounce pours and in a 4 beer sampler. I can't honestly tell you if they were serving it alone since I never asked. In the sampler you received some of Russian River Brewery's finest beers, Pliny the Younger, Pliny the Elder, Blind Pig, and Damnation.

Russian River Brewery's PTY, PTE, Blind Pig, & Damnation
My sampler came well before our food did, but I dove right in. My first sip of Pliny the Younger was not what I was expecting. I did not know at the time that this beer was a Triple IPA, but I would never have known it was an IPA at all because it was creamy. Did I call a Triple IPA creamy? I did. It was so smooth and well balanced that it just glided over my tongue. And at that point I know I had done it. I had tasted one of the beers thought to be the best in the world. I also did this with a bit of sadness as I couldn't share this with my husband. 

The other three beers were good, but not as good as The Younger. Was it the hype that made it taste better or was it actually that good? I cannot tell you for sure, but I could taste the hops in The Elder and Blind Pig. I enjoyed Damnation more than the other two, but not as much as The Younger.
My husband got back the following day and we decided to head over to Eureka Burger just on the off chance that there was some left. Once seated and we talked to the waiter he told us the two kegs of PTY was gone in 5 hours. The Elder was also sold out. I felt a little regret that my husband missed such a chance, but he was happy that at least one of us got to try it and there will be another keg or two next year.

Pliny the Younger with it's father Pliny the Elder 
Here is to all of your beer drinkers out there. To the quest of great beers and bottoms up. Sláinte!

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