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Old 03-18-2012, 02:13 AM   #1
kaz4121
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Default My 2 Year Quest for Pliny the Elder

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I have been happily homebrewing for just about two years now. Before I jumped into brewing my own beers, the only craft beer I really drank was Sam Adams and Wachusett (local MA micro). Like many others on this forum, once I started brewing, I fell in love with craft and micro beers. More importantly, I fell in love with TRYING new beers. I’ve tried 300+ different beers in just over two years now (something I am extremely proud of). I quickly fell in love with all kinds of beers, even styles I used to hate. I became most interested and obsessed with IPAs, particularly DIPAs. The hoppier the beer, the more intrigued I usually am.

Anyway, obviously if you poke around HBT (and BeerAdvocate) for long enough, you will eventually come across one of the “holy grails” of the IPA/DIPA world; PLINY THE ELDER. For just about two years now, I’ve read about Pliny and all of its glory and brilliance. For the vast majority of the time, I realized that I could only dream about having one. I just recently graduated from college (read: broke) and have been working at a medical device company close to home as an engineer, which required little to no travel. In addition, I live in the Boston, MA area and had absolutely zero immediate plans to travel to the West Coast. As much as it pained me to do so, I accepted that I would probably not try Pliny for many years down the road.

That all changed recently, however. In December 2011, I was asked if I would like to travel to Colorado for an orthopedic conference in early March. I jumped at the opportunity to travel for two reasons; first, I have never been west of Chicago, and second, I would be able to get my hands on some Odell brews (specifically their Myrcenary DIPA). About a month before my trip, my boss asked me if I would be interested in traveling to San Diego, CA to meet with some clients PRIOR to the CO trip. I was elated! Forget the weather, the women, and the fish tacos! I was excited because San Diego meant PLINY!

Once I landed in SD, I immediately wanted to seek out Pliny. I checked the locations posted on Russian River’s website for SoCal stores that carried their product. The first night I was there, I didn’t get out of meetings until ~10pm. I drove around to the presumed locations of Pliny. First, Market Bar & Grill in Del Mar. Strike one: they were closing when I pulled up. Next, Del Mar Wine Co. Strike two; they too were closed for the night. With two strikes, an empty stomach, and jet-lag, I decided to call it a night and try and find Pliny tomorrow. The anticipation was killer.

Day 2 in SD and wouldn’t you know it? Meetings all day AGAIN! I was dying. All I could think about was Pliny. The time seemed to trickle bye. 10:00AM. 12:00PM. 3:00PM. 3:30PM. Finally, it was quitting time and I raced to my rental car and was back on the hunt for heaven. This time I drove straight to Del Mar Wine Co for bottles. Would they have any in stock? How many bottles can I buy at once? What if they don’t even carry it anymore? My nerves were getting the best of me. Finally, I burst through their door and my eyes flooded the room to find the single bottle section. A quick scan of the rack from ~30 feet away and I couldn’t make our any labels. As I got closer I could finally see a big red circle on green paper. There it was! PLINY THE ELDER! And PLENTY of bottles too. I bought every single bottle on the shelf (9 in total) and rushed home to my hotel room. They were already chilled, so I cracked one open and immediately poured it into one of the miserable hotel glasses. But I didn’t care. I was so overwhelmed, I forgot to take note of the hop aroma!

My notes from the night read as follows (I'll be the first to admit I am not a good reviewer): pours a golden yellow with 2-3 finger think white foam, which smells intensely of pine and citrus. Tastes slightly sweet, although not necessarily malty, up front, with a gradual zing of citrus, pineapple, and a piney finish. No heat from alcohol and overall an extremely well balanced DIPA. Reminds me of DFH 90, except slightly hoppier, less malt, and with a drier (v creamier) finish. Beer nirvana!

Was it worth the wait? Did it live up to the hype? ABSOLUTELY! Best beer I’ve ever had.

I even managed to pack three in my checked bag and they made it home safe and sound...only to be consumed within hours.

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Old 03-18-2012, 03:12 AM   #2
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Jeez, what did you do with the other seven, lol? That must have been one hell of a night.

Pliny is so piney to me that near the end of a bottle, it sort of upsets my stomach. I really doubt I could even drink two in a sitting. I've had it maybe 3 times (it's something you just stumble upon every blue moon in colorado). I'm not a huge ipa/dipa drinker, though.

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Old 03-18-2012, 03:18 AM   #3
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It's good... but mostly hype. I've had it fresh from Russian River. I actually prefer FW's Union Jack.

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Old 03-18-2012, 03:21 AM   #4
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I did the same thing when I went to San Diego about a month ago. The store I found it at would only sell two bottles per person so my wife and I each grabbed two. I told the clerk that I'm from Michigan and he said "Pliny tastes like piss compared to Bells Hop Slam". I thought that was kind of funny, you always want what you can't find.

I thought it was a good IPA, very well balanced, but nothing overly special.

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Old 03-18-2012, 03:22 AM   #5
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Congratulations on the Pliny score!
I have been home brewing for about a year, and first heard of PTE here. I had been yearning for a PTE for about 6 months when I had a business trip to Oakland. Stayed downtown about a block from Occupy Oakland. About a block in the other direction I stumbled into Pacific Coast Brewing Co. They had PTE on tap. I had 2. A mythical experience! While I do not have your depth of experience on craft brew, it was definitely the best brew I had ever tried. I have assembled all the necessary ingredients to clone it and will give it a try shortly. I do not expect to match it, but even if I get close I will be happy.

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Old 03-18-2012, 03:29 AM   #6
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I got to try a sample the other day. It's a great IPA, but nothing can live up to such hype. It has much more to do with the rarity and word of mouth than the beer itself

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Old 03-18-2012, 03:48 AM   #7
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I bought three 4 packs of Heady Topper ... 2 for drinking and one for trading specifically for Pliny (I am east coast as well). All I can say is that the hype is just that. Heady Topper is so much better! Now as someone who also is a hophead on a quest for great beer I can appreciate your enthusiasm. But us east coasters finally have a DIPA to be proud of. Now make VT your next stop and get some Heady!!

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Old 03-18-2012, 06:37 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrightSpot View Post
It's good... but mostly hype. I've had it fresh from Russian River. I actually prefer FW's Union Jack.
+1......except make it Double Jack. I had Pliny last week. It wasn't bad by any means but it certainly didn't live up to the hype. I would take FW Double Jack.
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Old 03-18-2012, 12:50 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rmmepv
I bought three 4 packs of Heady Topper ... 2 for drinking and one for trading specifically for Pliny (I am east coast as well). All I can say is that the hype is just that. Heady Topper is so much better! Now as someone who also is a hophead on a quest for great beer I can appreciate your enthusiasm. But us east coasters finally have a DIPA to be proud of. Now make VT your next stop and get some Heady!!
To be clear, there are many great east coast IPAs and DIPAs, but there are few "epic" ones. Heady Topper is epic IMHO. Pliny was amazing but as everyone else has said, tough to live up to the hype.
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Old 03-18-2012, 04:33 PM   #10
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@FarmerTed I drank 6 over the span of three days, and brought the remaining three home with my in my checked luggage.


@mikeosoft I have heard that Hop Slam is incredible also. I was in Columbus last month on the prowl for it, but could not find it anywhere. Is is only a seasonal release right?

With regards to the hype, I hear what you guys are saying. When I was drinking the beer, I was thinking to myself:

Is this beer so great that it is ranked #4 in the world?
Or is this beer so great BECAUSE it is ranked #4 in the world?

A buddy of mine tried some as well (huge hophead like me) and he said the same thing. Although I think we can all agree it is an extremely well balanced and delicious DIPA. I also think part of my "quest" and journey in reading/locating/drinking came into play a bit.

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