Pliny the Younger: Is It Worth the Wait?

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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 city’s otherwise mellow beer nerd circles. As in year’s 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 Monk’s Cafe yesterday while the bar hosted its annual Mad Monday Pliny the Younger tapping that raised upwards of $15,000 for Alex’s Lemonade Stand. Keep reading to see what that thirsty masses had to say.

Tyler Flynn, Ardmore:

"I’m a college professor and I am supposed to be working, but I came down to this instead. Technically, it’s my spring break, but I have some writing work to do, which I guess I’ll 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. I’m not a hop head. I was encouraged to come to this. But nonetheless, it’s a beautiful beer. I thought it was a six percent (ABV) beer, but then my buddy here told me it’s a 10.5 percent. Surprisingly, it’s smooth, and the color is light for a beer that strong. It’s kind of neat. It was worth the wait and the crowds, because there’s 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. We’ve 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. It’s very good. It’s similar to the Elder, however a little bit more, I guess, alcohol taste to it. A lot more hops. And it’s 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. It’s not like every two weeks, or anything. This is more, like, once every couple of years."

Ryan McGeehan, West Chester

"I’m actually working. My boss — he’s right here — let me take a couple hours off to come do this. There wasn’t 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, I’m a bigger fan of the Elder. It’s 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 didn’t take that long at all. I was already off today, so I didn’t have to call out or anything. This is the first time I’ve had Pliny the Younger. I thought it was awesome. I don’t think it’s that much better than the Elder, but it’s a lot more smooth with, like, a more of a grapefruit or citrus character to it. I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite IPA, but still it was awesome to try it. There’s definitely other IPAs , like Bell’s Hopslam, that I would choose over this one. Still, it’s a rare beer — I think it might be Beer Advocate’s number one — so, you know, why not?"

Renee Sarao, Philadelphia

"I didn’t have to wait in line at all when I got here at 11:30 a.m. I wasn’t working today, so I didn’t have to take time off. I’ve had Pliny the Younger a few times over the last couple years, and I had some last week at Grey Lodge. It’s pretty good, but I don’t 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 it’s 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