As part of our mission here at Why Daddy Drinks to revel in the humorous lunacy that is fatherhood, and to promote the drinking of quality beverages, we bring you our weekly segment highlighting something that should be in your glass. This is The Drink Of The Weekend.
This week’s Drink Of The Weekend was something that I actually drank a week ago Monday. Thus, it wasn’t on the weekend at all.
But when Pliny The Younger comes to town, everything else stops. Including time.
Actually, time is about the one thing that kept going on and on while I and a buddy of mine bided our time at Ben and Nick’s restaurant/bar in Oakland on Feb. 24, waiting for a glass of the beer that many drinking aficionados call “the best beer in the world.” We can thank the marketing brains at the Santa Rosa, Calif.-based Russian River Brewing Co. for that.
Here is what you need to know about Pliny The Younger:
–It’s a Triple India Pale Ale
–Which is why it has a ABV of about 11%
–It has a surprisingly smooth flavor for being such as “strong” IPA
–Don’t be fooled. Two of these will knock you to the floor
–But you will [probably] never get a chance to drink more than one
–It’s only offered up on tap
–And only at Russian River’s brewpub in Santa Rosa, Calif.
–And select bars and restaurants in the Bay Area [Note: This may not be 100% correct. If anyone has had it on tap elsewhere, please let me know]
–And it’s offered only in February.
–And it’s now March
–Which means that if your local pub hasn’t tapped the [most likely] one keg it got this year, then you are S.O.L. until 2015.
With such a beer, there has naturally grown a cult around Pliny The Younger, so much so that scenes not unlike the lines of weirdos who camp outside of Target and Wal-Mart on the Black Friday after Thanksgiving can be found outside of Russian River’s Santa Rosa headquarters as beer fiends with no pride and a lot of free time camp out for what might be their one chance at a glass of the beer named for an “author, lawyer and magistrate of ancient Rome.”
Now, I will state this in all sincerity: Pliny The Younger is NOT worth camping out overnight and waiting in line for a glass. I’m all in favor of seeking out new and good beers, wines and cocktails. But if you are standing in line overnight for one glass of beer, then you might want to check out your local AA schedule after you leave the pub.
The point is that getting some of “The Younger” requires a bit of planning, and a some luck. The only reason I got a glass this year was because I follow Ben and Nick’s Facebook page and just happened to see a post announcing the bar would be tapping its keg of “The Younger” in two days. But you couldn’t just saunter up to the bar and get a glass. This was not your typical college frat party and “The Younger” is definitely not the Keystone Light that in 1989 you thought was like champagne.
“The Younger” was going to poured beginning around 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 24. If you wanted some of it, you needed to be in the bar by 5:50 in order to purchase one of these Wooden Nickel tokens for eight bucks. And only one per person.
In order to secure some seats for myself and my buddy, Ryan, I showed up early, around 4:30. I had the waitress bring me a plate of fish and chips and a Coke, figuring I should save myself for “The Younger”. This philosophy changed almost as soon as Ryan arrived and we decided to have a Pliny The Elder Double IPA. “The Elder” isn’t available everywhere, but you can find it with a bit of ease around the Bay Area, and it’s available up at Russian River to go for $5 a bottle, and a six-bottle limit for each person. We downed “The Elder”, talked about the Seattle Seahawks victory over Denver in the Super Bowl [Ryan is a big Broncos fan. I took the high road and chose not to give him grief over Seattle’s 43-8 demolition of Denver] and then had a Racer 5 IPA as we finished up our fish and chips and awaited the time for “The Younger” to make its debut.
Finally, the time came. By this point, the bar had become more crowded than the Toga Party/”Shout” scene in “National Lampoon’s Animal House”. But Ryan made his way over to the bar, and more importantly, made his way back without spilling a a drop out of either glass. We toasted our wives, who had given us each this weekday hall pass to enjoy this once-a-year brew. And after all the lead up, we took our time drinking “The Younger” down. We felt it best to savor the 20 minutes we took to finish off our glasses.
Yeah, it’ll be another year to wait until the next pour. Good thing we have Pliny The Elder, and year-round, to tide us over.