It's Almost Pliny the Younger Season, San Francisco. Brace Yourself.
Another year, another Beer Week, another release of Russian River's celebrated rare triple IPA, Pliny the Younger. The ephemeral spring beer is set to be released Feb. 7-17, and the eagle eyes at Inside Scoop have spotted a whole new page of rules and regulations for the annual Pliny crush at the Santa Rosa brewery. E.g. during the potential 8-hour wait to get a seat in the 135-person-capacity pub to taste it, do not smoke, do not drink, and do not cut in line. Also, you just have to drink it there -- no growlers or bottles.
Anna Roth Pliny the Younger, tracked down last year at Toronado
Luckily for S.F. citizens, a few special breweries in town usually have the ale, if you have the patience to track it down and wait in line. As we reported last year when we went on a quest to find it, Twitter and beer message boards are usually the best bets if you don't have brewing geek friends. This year's recipients have not been released; last year we remember hearing about it at Toronado, Pi Bar, and Monk's Kettle. Generally you have to show up right when the place opens, so it helps to have flexible employers (or just call in a sick day). And if you want to head up to Santa Rosa, you'll be pleased to hear that two hotels are now offering special rates for Pliny seekers.
How could a beer possibly be worth all these machinations? you might be asking right now. Well, it is and it isn't. Pliny the Younger is more than just a beer. As we discovered last year, it's a beautiful, finely crafted brew, with a freshness that you hardly ever encounter, and a surprising lightness considering its 10.5 percent ABV. But as good as the beer was, it was the experience that made the sourcing and the waiting worth it. It was the feeling of participating in something special, it was the communal vibe in the bar, it was the adventure and holiday feel of drinking beer at 11 a.m. on a work day. That's why we'll seek it out again this year, and every year we're able to swing it. That's the Pliny magic.