Pliny Talks: Adventures in Sacramento Beer Week
Sunday was an “I told you so” day for me. So basically a good day.
Please understand, beer is my favorite food group, especially IPAs. This makes me a very picky, very snobby and very buzzed beer drinker during Sacramento’s favorite holiday: Beer Week (Facebook, Twitter).
But Sacramento has a lot of secret beer snobs, just like me. You can always spot them during Beer Week. They are the ones wearing flannel and Giants hats in line for Pliny the Younger.
Pliny the Younger is an almost true Triple IPA, with triple the amount of hops used in regular India pale ales. Originating in Santa Rosa’s award winning microbrewery, Russian River Brewing Company, the beer is tapped on the first Friday of February and available on the market for just a few weeks. Russian River claims they don’t make the triple IPA often due to time and space commitments (and the cost of hops), but sometimes I wonder if this limited released is just the World’s Best Beer Marketing Trick.
Either way, I’ve fully bought into the rumor that Pliny the Younger is the Best Beer in the World.
Last year, I made the pilgrimage down to Santa Rosa to taste the annual beer at the source. After twelve hours in an impressively long line, we were given wristbands, a two hour time limit and two, 10 ounce glasses of the 10.25 percent ABV drink. We didn’t need more than that.
In Sacramento we are lucky enough to tap a keg or two at a few locations. For 2014, my venue pick was Burgers and Brew.
On Saturday night I texted a group of friends and beer loyalists who wanted to experience the beer I’ve been known to call the Nectar of the Gods. The Younger was scheduled for release at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Naturally, I suggested we convene in front of Burgers and Brew at 9 a.m.
“Haha you’re kidding, right?”
“I’ll come at 1 p.m.”
“Yeah right. I’ll show up at 12 p.m. But I’ll bring you coffee.”
Despite these reactions, I showed up at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday morning. A line of around 30 people had already formed in front of the closed bar. I joined their numbers and soon discovered that 50 lucky people would receive tickets for Pliny the Younger and excused from standing in line for the next several hours.
I called everyone I knew, explaining the urgency in the necessary dramatic terms. I could only get one ticket, and I was going to be drinking my Pliny the Younger with or without them.
Only one person woke up in time to join me in line.
To help out our friends, the two of us had to transition into the Line of the Unlucky and wait until 2 p.m. to see if any of the Younger was left over after the Lucky 50 received their share. I might be snobby, but I’m a good friend.
I waited in line for the latecomers in exchange for one or two of the other amazing beers on tap. What does it say about me if I’d already had a burger, fries and two beers before 11:30 a.m.? Lucky.
As our crew expanded and friendships and alliances formed, I realized how bonding a good beer can be. In line we saw high school friends, old college roommates, ex-boyfriends and commuters from Elk Grove or Monterey, all hoping to taste the infamous beer.
By 2 p.m. the excitement and tension was palpable. The lucky ticket holders went to the bar to collect their bounty: one Pliny the Younger and one Pliny the Elder (for comparison purposes).
When the Line of Unlucky started moving, we collected our beers. We were thrilled to an inane point just to be holding that coveted 5-ounce glass of alcohol.
No one could say they didn’t like the beer. All the Unlucky had put so much time and effort into the act of attaining the Younger that it started to taste like Anticipation and Victory. Plus, any haters would probably have been invited to leave.
But most of my old friends, new friends and in-line-friends determined that the hype around the beer was true: strong, smooth and loaded with hops. Pliny the Younger, they agreed, was a February highlight, a California treasure and a must-taste for 2015.
I’m just saying, I told you so.
For more Beer Week adventures, check out these events over the next few days:
- Tuesday: Mardi Gras at The Shack #FatTuesday
- Wednesday: Local Tap Takeover at Pour House #DrinkLocal
- Thursday: Brown Shugga, Bourbon, Bacon and Beards at The Golden Bear #HipsterSac
- Friday: Ballast Point Day at Low Brau #Bier
- Saturday: Hop Your Face Off at Bike Dog Brewing Company #NanoBrewery
- Sunday: Daylight Savings Beer and Pizza Special at Hock Farm #SpringForward
If you see a little blonde ordering the triple IPA, you’ll know you’re in the right place.