Pliny the Younger Day 2012

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Now fixed as the first Friday in February, today was Pliny the Elder Day for 2012 at Russian River Brewing in Santa Rosa, California.

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When I arrived around 10:30, the line stretched from the entrance of the brewpub to the end of the block. I’m told the first fans arrived at around 6:00 a.m. this morning to wait for a taste of this year’s triple IPA.

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Owners Vinnie and Natalie Cilurzo now set limits on the number of people that can be in the pub at any give time, unlike two years ago, when it devolved into a madhouse. Between that, and the elimination of growler sales, it remained blissfully civilized inside throughout the morning.

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I found a table with some friends, and Natalie brought over a copy of today’s Press Democrat, which featured a story about Russian River’s big day — Credit the Hops — which I read as I enjoyed my first Pliny the Younger of the year.

This year’s version seemed smoother than previous years, and the hops, while monstrously omnipresent, were nonetheless very well balanced and never harsh. This may be my favorite batch yet, particularly because of the smoothness. Plus, it never seemed like a 10.7% beer. The strength was relatively muted behind a rich, thick mouthfeel of full flavors, so that the alcohol never dominated. It seems almost counter-intuitive to use the word delicate for such a big beer, but that why it’s so great, because despite its heft, it’s also complex and elegant; quite recherché.

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Meanwhile the patio outside filled up, too. Here Dan DelGrande (co-owner of Bison Brewing), Steve Shapiro (of Beer By BART) and Stephen Johnson (from New Brew Thursday) enjoy some sunshine and Pliny.

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While back inside, the bar was full, but not overcrowded.

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Eventually, it was time to leave, and hosts Vinnie and Natalie said so long as they toasted another successful Pliny the Younger Day.

Look for Pliny the Younger at select accounts throughout the Bay Area and at their Santa Rosa brewpub for at least the next two weeks. Around 30% more was brewed this year, but you can still expect it to sell out fast, so don’t wait around too long if you’re hoping to get a taste of this year’s triple IPA.

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