Pliny Schminy / Younger Schmunger

First, I love all the Russian River beers that I have tried. No doubt, they are trend setters and way ahead of the curve in regard to stretching boundaries compared to most breweries. A flat out pilgrimage to their brewery is a must do for all beer lovers. I would love to experience the full line up, and fresh, in their natural habitat.

BUT, I have to admit, while both the Pliny’s are very good, I just can’t buy into the hype.

Pliny Pliny Pliny Pliny Pliny Pliny

Is Pliny the Younger really sooooo incredible, tasting / unique / different, that it basically requires people to stand in line and be issued a ticket for the privilege of purchasing one 8oz portion? There are, most definitely, a few local products that we all enjoy more. It’s just that we have ready access to them most of the time. Even the special, seasonal, limited release stuff that get’s to the market is fairly easy to obtain, and then horde if it is something that you really enjoy. You might have to do a little research and planning, but, you would actually be able to purchase an amount that you might actually enjoy.

My thought is scarcity, hype, and the social aspect of the tasting event are the real drivers of this phenomenon. The product is very limited, scarcity: check. That scarcity combined with the quality (did not say unbelievable greatness) has driven the hype: check. The sampling events are created by the other two drivers being accentuated with the “collector” mentality of most beer conisseurs.

We simply love to say “I’ve had it.”

Let’s be honest, those events are great because of the combined energy generated by the people attending. Like an extremely small and focused GABF. Everyone is there for one reason: love of great beer.

Basically, thinking in musical / band / concert terms, it’s like a Grateful Dead, Phish, or Widespread Panic show (just identify with a band depending on your age). The sets at every concert are not that different, throw in a rarity or a tease here and there, and the requisite always talked about covers. So is it the show or the people?

It’s the people, and in an event there are more opportunities to re-connect with old friends and make new ones. Alcohol is THE social lubricant, that is why there are bars, pubs, taverns, saloons, etc. We all have a pretty good idea of who we are going to see when we go to one of these events, so the randomness of just stoping by for a beer is taken out of the equation.

Specifically focused social driver: check.

Every brewery and bar can do a much better job about promoting the fantastic products that they offer, especially in terms specialty products. It’s just about building up the hype and gathering the tribe, and throwing a party.

I hope to see you all at a party in the very near future.

About Justin Lloyd

Justin believes that Beer, Tacos, and Cookies are the perfect foods, as long as one of them is spicy. He prefers interesting to boring, and has no patience for people that are simply taking up space and wasting air. Most of the time you can find him at the bar he owns and operates, making cocktails and friends. You should go meet him.

  • Mama Monroe

    I might be wrong but can’t you buy sixers of the stuff? I remember picking up a bunch of it last year at Mayfair Liquour (a local, independent liquor store at 13th & Krameria that I highly recommend…)

    • PJ

      Elder, ya. Younger is the rarer release.

  • Jake

    I totally agree. Younger was great, but I certainly don’t put it out of the ranks of, say, Maharaja, Slap Yo Mammy, or Gubna.
    It’s the hype machine, and it’s a powerful one. Great beer from a great brewery that is loaded with hops? Of course it’s gonna get attention.

    • Jess Hunter

      I completely agree about Younger. I’d prefer Maharaja to it.

      I continue to go to these events because I respect the brewery and its product. But hype is what it is. If it bring more people over to craft beer, then I’m all for it.

  • Mama Monroe

    Whoops. My bad…

  • CONK

    I couldn’t agree with you more, that is why I continue to go to the Pliny the Younger events even though I’ve already tried The Younger. I enjoy catching up wit old friends and meeting new ones with beer as the bond.

    Speaking of Maharaja, I think I forgot to mention that we tapped Maharaja at Euclid Hall few days ago.

    • Jess Hunter

      Maha. Yum.

  • Plinius

    As someone who has it regularly, and also ‘had it before it was big’, I must say I still like it more than almost any other hoppy ale. I’ve got no reason to brag about it, and it’s my tastebuds that keep me going back for more, not my ego. However, there’s no reason to stop sampling everything else!

  • Kevin Burke

    I am biding my time for a bar to get all of the planets to align at once and serve Maha and Pliny side by side, they’re both incredible examples of the style and are nearly perfect examples (except for poor attenuation etc.) Such an epic orgy of sticky hops would be one for the record books.

  • Adam Dunbar

    For the record, Encore will open with a case of Maha, among other things, on the 5th of April. Just sayin’…