Beer

Pliny the Younger Rips Through L.A. Like a Tornado

By Joshua Lurie | February 22, 2010 17 comments
Pliny the Younger Rips Through L.A. Like a Tornado


The Daily Pint sold out of their keg in only four minutes. At Blue Palms Brewhouse, it took a mere seven minutes to hit bottom. Verdugo Bar co-owner Brandon Bradford had to console despondent customers who didn’t get a taste. There might not be another beer in the U.S. that can inspire so much pandemonium, but when the brewer is Vinnie Cilurzo, the brewery is Russian River and the beer is Pliny the Younger, it has the makings of a perfect hop storm, and that’s what tore through L.A. in tornado-like fashion over the past week.

Pliny the Elder was a Roman philosopher and author who provided the original botanical name for hops – Lupus Salictarius (“wolf among scrubs”). In tribute, Cilurzo named a double IPA for the man, and it promptly set the industry standard. Pliny the Younger was Pliny the Elder’s nephew, a Roman statesman who was accomplished in his own right. In the beer world, thanks to Cilurzo, he surpasses his uncle’s legacy, clocking 11% ABV as a triple IPA that’s pretty much the envy of the beer world.

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This year, only five L.A. beer bars were able to score rare five-gallon kegs of Pliny the Younger: The Daily Pint, Blue Palms Brewhouse, Verdugo Bar, The Surly Goat and Library Alehouse. It was in Santa Monica, at Library Alehouse, when I finally encountered Pliny The Younger. It was Double’s Night, a showcase for double IPAs. On any other day, a lineup that includes Pliny the Elder, Avery Dugana and Port Mongo would draw a crowd, but today, the crowd was initially interested in just one beer: Pliny the Younger, a beer so persuasive that the brewery is convinced “Lupulin Threshold Shift may occur.” No, that isn’t a Star Trek expression, it’s the idea that “a once extraordinarily hoppy beer now seems pedestrian.” In case you don’t know, humulus lupulus is the technical term for hops, and yes, Lupulin Threshold Shift did occur.

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Library Alehouse owner Dave Lackman and sustainability manager Tom Kelley were basically providing a public service by pouring 10-ounce glasses of Pliny the Younger for only $6. After my first sip, it was clear that the beer would have been worth twice the price, easily. The golden nectar packed plenty of hops and clocked 11% ABV, but was a dangerously balanced beer, with a sweet body and just enough hop finish to inspire repeat sips. It became increasingly clear why Pliny the Younger is so revered, and why just about everybody in the bar had a golden goblet in front of them.

Pliny the Younger appears every February, like a fleeting specter. Next year, when the famed IPA returns to L.A. beer bars, make sure to rearrange your schedule to get a goblet of your own.

Comments

  1. Jimbo Jones says:

    Pliny the Younger on tap TODAY at Father’s Office Culver City at 5 p.m.

    • Jimbo, thanks for sharing. If I was in front of a computer, I would have gladly spread the word on Twitter. Did you make it to Father’s Office? If so, how would you compare this year’s Younger to the 2010 version?

  2. Great information! I’ve been looking for something like this for a while now. Thanks!

  3. Temporary Threshold Shift Tinnitus « Tinnitus Retraining Therapy says:

    […] Food GPS » Pliny the Younger Rips Through L.A. Like a Tornado […]

  4. Seth says:

    yes, beer cancels out any given problem with a unique double-negative effect.

    Commutes are the first exception. Running out of beer is the second.

  5. Seth says:

    At Fathers Office those two guys from DC looked like they had won the lottery when they found out that Supplication was on.

    It has been a very memorable drinking week for me! The next day I opened a Vertical Epic ’09 that I had been aging since roughly Sept 9th (it really mellowed the tangerine peel, emphasized the cacao), a friend opened Fuller’s vintage ale ’05, then over to Surly for Old Rasputin XXI. But Sunday initiates a new week on most calendars so i’ve already filled my current quota.

    But once I’ve switch to ‘great beer drinking days’ then it has become a problem…

  6. Ian says:

    Oops…I’m now a follower.

  7. Seth says:

    I was in the eye of Blue Palms’ tornado and left dry despite the much smaller pours. I’d guess that barely the majority of the crowd was served in those frantic 7mins. On friday I stumbled upon Father’s Office-1 where Supplication & Perdition were very discretely put in addition Elder. I’m following @fathersoffice as of now haha

    • Seth, Even if you didn’t try Pliny the Younger this year, Supplication, Perdition and Pliny the Elder are a serious consolation prize. So’s Dreadnaught 2001 Doggie Claws and The Shit. Not a bad beer drinking week for you.

  8. Ian says:

    Oh and, while I’m a hop junkie and The Elder might be one of my favorite beers made, I absolutely cannot take more than 2 Youngers in one sitting!

  9. Ian says:

    I didn’t have time to deal with the masses this year but stalked Father’s Office last year for my taste of the Younger. Not only did it go under the radar, but it lasted long enough for me to come back another day for some Younger goodness! Say what you will about their table policy, but you’ve got to hand it to FO for not succumbing to all this social networking madness…

    • Ian, interesting to hear you say that about Father’s Office avoiding social media. They just added a Twitter account @fathersoffice to alert followers about rare beers. They actually did tweet about Pliny the Younger on February 21, but they haven’t built up enough of a following yet to lead to pandemonium.

  10. Megan says:

    Father’s Office also tapped Pliny the Younger at both locations. Unlike the Daily Pint, which served 14 ounce pours from a 5 gallon keg, leaving hoards of drooling patrons Pliny the Younger-less after patiently waiting for the clock to strike 7, FO served 10 ounce pours (much more reasonable for a beer with 11% ALC) and had a healthy 15 gallon supply. They also relied purely on word of mouth rather than twitter and facebook announcements, so the bar did not become a grumpy mash pit. Well done FO. They did it right. Everyone got to enjoy the Younger – wasn’t that the point?

    • Megan, thanks for the Pliny the Younger update. Father’s Office managed to stay under the radar with their coup. Kudos to them on getting the beer and keeping things under control.

  11. Why don’t they serve it in other months? Is this beer that seasonal? I tried Pliny the Elder last week and I thought it was quite good, if a bit too hoppy for my tastes.

    • Matttatouille, Russian River only releases Pliny the Younger one time a year. It’s even more limited than a seasonal. Actually, even though Pliny the Younger is a triple, and Pliny the Elder is only a double IPA, Pliny the Elder tastes hoppier.

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