Breweries "Visited"

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Ahab vs. the White Whale

Day #463  Pliny the Younger / Russian River Brewing Company, Santa Rosa, CA
Previously from this brewery: all the Supplication, a huge sampler, another huge sampler

It's Sunday, which means yoga and errands, and hopefully some quiet time to relax before the work week begins again.  Seeing how I have some free time this afternoon, allow me to spin a yarn about a white whale I recently hunted down.

There are a number of rare beers in the craft beer kingdom that inspire fanaticism, devotion, and dogged pursuit from loyal fans.  Usually, these beers are only produced once a year (or often less frequently than that), have exceptionally limited amounts available, and quite frankly, are delicious in ways ordinary beers - even ordinary craft beers - just can't compete with.  Like the un-catchable white whale from Moby-Dick, beers like these can drive you mad in their pursuit.

One of the most famous annually available white whale beers is the mythical Pliny the Younger, from Russian River Brewing Company.  As you may recall, Russian River was the winner of my Brewery of the Year award from the 366 challenge, so you know whatever they produce is going to be liquid gold.  Released every February in extraordinarily limited quantities, Pliny the Younger is a rare near-Triple IPA.  I had been watching Twitter and Facebook for a few weeks to see if and when TJ's or Teresa's Next Door would tap their keg.  Fortune was on my side, as I received notice and was able to cut out of work immediately to race to TND in enough time to get my pour; within 75 minutes, their supply was wiped out.

In the glass, this beer is a bright, clear dark copper color.  Your nose is greeted with a blast of grapefruit and pine aromas - right off the bat you know this beer means business.  When you take a sip, there's ample citrus fruit, although you pick up grapefruit most frequently.  It's dry and bitter throughout, but the bitterness definitely roars up in the finish.  I'm sure there's some malt in there somewhere, but clearly it's cowering in fear from the hop goodness and citrus warmth.  This beer tastes incredibly fresh and "green," as if it was just sitting outside on a spring day, with a warm, pleasing breeze blowing through.

Pliny the Younger is a potent 10.5% ABV, but that alcohol is well hidden behind the amazing taste.  Perhaps it's a good thing I was only able to get one on draft.
Blurry and hard to see, just like a photo
of the equally reclusive Bigfoot!
Many bars in the Philly area had a line out the door and around the corner on the day they tapped this beer.  I can't say that I would stand in line for many things these days at my advanced age, not even beer.  Is it worth all the fuss?  Is it worth the insanity?  As I was standing in an obscenely over-crowded Teresa's Next Door at 3pm on a random Wednesday, it struck me that I was experiencing what moms must have felt back in the 80s when they were beating each other up in shopping malls to get their hands on Cabbage Patch Kids dolls.  It doesn't make much sense, all the chaos for something that probably doesn't warrant that level of insanity.  Make no mistake, this beer is wonderful and definitely in my Top 25, but will I go on the search again next year to hunt like a craft beer version of Captain Ahab, doomed to sail the world in search of a Triple IPA Moby Dick?  Time will tell.  Who knows where I'll be or what I'll be doing next February, after all.  Might be on a whaling boat for all I know.

Thing to Think About Today:
I've already shared my fondness for Moby-Dick in this space, and I've also shared what unfortunately happens to beached whales every now and again.  In the continued consideration of whales, let's wrap up with indie band Freelance Whales and their song, Generator ^ First Floor.  They remind me of a mellower Mumford & Sons with a xylophone, if you're into that sort of thing.  Check it out....

No comments:

Post a Comment