Pliny the Younger: Is It Worth the Wait?

Pliny to the people: Monk's back bar filled to capacity with Pliny the Younger enthusiasts. Photo: Collin Keefe

Pliny the Younger, Russian River Brewing Co.s limited, once-a-year release triple IPA, has caused a bit of stir last week and this in the citys otherwise mellow beer nerd circles. As in years past, its arrival is met with an almost fanatical response, prompting some of the few places to actually get the stuff in to hold lotteries and make drinkers stand for hours in long lines, while anxiously awaiting their first sips of the golden nectar. But is all this fuss really worth it? To find out, Grub stopped in at Monks Cafe yesterday while the bar hosted its annual Mad Monday Pliny the Younger tapping that raised upwards of $15,000 for Alexs Lemonade Stand. Keep reading to see what that thirsty masses had to say.

Tyler Flynn, Ardmore:

"Im a college professor and I am supposed to be working, but I came down to this instead. Technically, its my spring break, but I have some writing work to do, which I guess Ill get to tonight. I only waited in line for, like, five minutes, but it was really crowded and I had to push my way through. Im not a hop head. I was encouraged to come to this. But nonetheless, its a beautiful beer. I thought it was a six percent (ABV) beer, but then my buddy here told me its a 10.5 percent. Surprisingly, its smooth, and the color is light for a beer that strong. Its kind of neat. It was worth the wait and the crowds, because theres just so much energy in here and so many great people."

Kevin Ratkiewicz, Newark, DE

"Between traffic and finding a parking spot, it took us about 45 minutes to an hour to get here. We waited about two hours in line to get in here this morning. We got here at 9:30 a.m. (laughs). It was like 35 degrees out. Weve never had Pliny the Younger before. We were in California last summer for our honeymoon, and went to the Russian River brewery and drank all kinds of beers, but the Younger is only available one time a year. Its very good. Its similar to the Elder, however a little bit more, I guess, alcohol taste to it. A lot more hops. And its not as strong on the end of the palate, I suppose. It was totally worth taking the day off. We don't normally do this. Its not like every two weeks, or anything. This is more, like, once every couple of years."

Ryan McGeehan, West Chester

"Im actually working. My boss hes right here let me take a couple hours off to come do this. There wasnt much of wait or anything when we got here at 11:30 a.m. This is my first time trying Pliny the Younger. I thought it was good, and I would definitely drink it again, but to be honest, Im a bigger fan of the Elder. Its not as strong tasting as the Younger. Unbeknownst to me, I go for the hoppier beers."

Justin Ricahrdson, Levittown, PA

"We got here around 11 a.m. and only had to to wait, like, 15 minutes before they let us in. It didnt take that long at all. I was already off today, so I didnt have to call out or anything. This is the first time Ive had Pliny the Younger. I thought it was awesome. I dont think its that much better than the Elder, but its a lot more smooth with, like, a more of a grapefruit or citrus character to it. I wouldnt say its my favorite IPA, but still it was awesome to try it. Theres definitely other IPAs , like Bells Hopslam, that I would choose over this one. Still, its a rare beer I think it might be Beer Advocates number one so, you know, why not?"

Renee Sarao, Philadelphia

"I didnt have to wait in line at all when I got here at 11:30 a.m. I wasnt working today, so I didnt have to take time off. Ive had Pliny the Younger a few times over the last couple years, and I had some last week at Grey Lodge. Its pretty good, but I dont think it tastes as strong as you think it would be for being a triple IPA. I think I enjoyed it more last week, because I had it while just sitting at the bar. Here its crowded and it kind of got warm. I think its fun to come out and support a good cause. I love the fact that Philadelphia is only place out here that gets it, and you can taste a lot of other really great hoppy beers side by side while its on tap."

Earlier: The Pliny Madness Reaches Fever Pitch