It’s hard to avoid this thought from creeping into your head while waiting in line for the elusive and supremely heralded Pliny the Younger:
It’s Beer Week in Sactown. There are beer events all over the place. Why the hell are we waiting in line just for six ounces of one beer?
Because you can’t unstick it from the roof of your mouth for hours, that’s why. Such is one of many allures of Russian River Brewing’s bellcow triple IPA, annually available only in February at the Santa Rosa brewpub for the first two weeks of the month, and thereafter as one-and-done kegs at select locations in what has become an annual triple hop treasure hunt for beer aficionados – or anyone that just wants to know what all the fuss is about.
It’s hard to reconcile the taste of any one particular beer with the hype that surrounds this special brew, which has been rated the best beer in the world by Beeradvocate.com. You almost have to wonder if people really want the beer itself, or more just want to wear the badge that says “oh yeah bro, I’ve had the Younger!”
Either way, the stuff will smack your taste buds around while you drink it, and make you beg for more…but even begging wouldn’t get you another pour on Saturday afternoon at Streets of London.
Every place that’s lucky enough to score a keg of PTY (usually about a half dozen or so in the Sacramento region) has their own approach to how they distribute it. Some do a simple first come first serve, others line in up with other hop-tabulous ales in a tasting rack, and some try to gouge the general public and violate the whole point of that this beer is all about.
Streets nailed it.
Folks began lining up before 2 p.m. waiting for the 4 p.m distribution of numbered tickets which would ultimately get you your pour. By 3 p.m., the line was wrapped around the corner of J Street and going down 18th. At 4:00, tickets were handed out to those who were waiting, with the keg being tapped at 5:30. $4 for a six-ounce pour of liquid victory. More than fair price. Great system. Nice job, Streets.
What’s fun about what Pliny the Younger has become – and one would assume this is exactly how the folks at Russian River would want it – is that it breeds an inevitable sense of community amongst folks who are willing to spend their afternoon waiting in line for one beer. That certainly was the case on J Street on Saturday – didn’t anyone else want to sing “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket” when they got their tickets, too?
Then again, there’s always a couple of “that guys.” So, a couple of memos:
That Guy #1: Do not shake down the people in front of you in line to find out if they’re holding spots for other people, and then disguise your actions as just looking out for everyone behind you. Especially when you’re only about 20 spots back from the front of the line. Don’t worry bro, you’ll get your Pliny. They have a keg of the stuff, not a paint bucket.
That Guy #2: When the staff brings out a surplus of beads leftover from Halloween to hand out simply as a marker of who has been in line the whole time and who hasn’t (pretty awesome move actually), and they did it on the fly pretty much just to appease your hissy fit, you should probably actually be present in the line when they are being distributed. You know, just a thought.
It’s pronounced “Pliny,” not “whiney.”
Who knows if there were more “that guys” out of my earshot, but fortunately, just about everyone else was having a great time making new friends and basking in a true treasure of the Northern California (worldwide?) beer scene.
Is it worth the wait? You decide. There are at least three more kegs of Pliny the Younger out there in Sac and waiting to be tapped. Here is a list of where you can find it throughout beer week:
Nope. Not happening. Go find them. That’s the fun part!