This is the 9th year that Russian River Brewing has made their seasonal Triple I.P.A. Pliny the Younger, and the fourth year since it blew up into a huge event in 2010. I’ve been going every year since before then, and it’s been fun watching this event grow organically. This year was no exception, and was great fun. Oh, and the beer was pretty good, too.
Each year since they were caught off guard in 2010, they’ve made changes each year to streamline the day, make it easier for more people to get a taste of Pliny the Younger and keep the event from spiraling out of control.
When I arrived around 10:00 a.m., the line already stretched down the block from the brewpub entrance and turned the corner, running back to the beginning of the parking lot in the back of the block.
The first people in line this was a trio from San Rafael, who started waiting in line at 3:00 a.m. the night before!
Vinnie Cilurzo giving a last minute pep talk to the brewpub staff before opening the doors.
Then the entire staff drank a beer shot of Pliny the Younger to prepare themselves for the onslaught of thirsty patrons about to fill the brewpub.
Pliny the Younger 2013. This year’s version weighed in slightly higher than last year, at 10.8% a.b.v. The hop bill changed, Vinnie dropped Columbus, reduced the Tomahawk and stepped up Warrior, using it as the primary hop in the 30 day dry-hopping. Overall, Younger used Amarillo, Centennial, Chinook, Tomahawk and Warrior. He also changed the fermentation temperature, the dry hopping schedule and used even more hops. The result was an even smoother taste, amazing balance and terrific hop character. Big and bold. Vinnie believes it’s the best Younger yet, and it’s hard to disagree.
The first customers of the day, having waited in line 8 hours for this moment. There were about 325 people in line when they opened the doors around 10:30, half an hour early.
Vinnie Cilurzo, enjoying the day.
One fun moment during the celebration, on stage, with Bell’s Hopslam. Last week, John Mallet from Bell’s Brewing came for a visit and left a case of their Triple IPA, Hopslam, and Vinnie and Natalie promised that they’d drink some of the beer on Pliny the Younger Day so Bell’s could post it on their Facebook page. [NOTE: So just to be clear, this is NOT Younger in bottles. There is NO Pliny the Younger in bottles.]
Vinnie and Natalie slamming some Bell’s Hopslam. What did Mallett have to say about this year’s Younger? “It tastes like the rub table at hop selection.”
By lunchtime, the brewpub was packed, and the line stretched down the block with people waiting for their turn to come in all day long.
Back in the brewery, a final moment toasting with Natalie and Vinnie. Here’s to Pliny the Younger 2013.
As I left the brewpub, relinquishing my spot for the next lucky person, I surveyed the line outside one last time, and noticed two artists capturing the spectacle in paint.