Wednesday, July 01, 2009


…and I still don’t get it. Very good, very strong, very hoppy mega-IPA, well-crafted and all that. But why, people? Why this one over the other ones? Is it the RUSSIAN RIVER “halo effect”? I can understand that – those guys are heroes. Yet PLINY THE ELDER isn’t even the best IPA made by this brewer (that would be BLIND PIG IPA) – and having never tried Pliny The Younger, it may even be their third best beer in this style. I’m done with ordering this beer in hopes of an epiphany. It ain’t happening. In the meantime, get a real life-changing epiphany and try a SOUTHERN TIER GEMINI. I had my second the other day, and realized that true IPA perfection has been reached. I implore all Pliny freaks to give it a go.


Ethan Prater said...

So true.

It's a very good beer, but what about this one grabs people like no other does? Because it was first? Is it the piney-ness, where others tend to lean more toward citrus? Because it's dryer than most in the style?

If you like dry and lean, then just locally Lagunitas Hop Stoopid is better, IMO. And much cheaper.

If you like fruit, then just locally El Toro Deuce is better.

If you like "balanced", then just locally Marin White Knuckle is amazing. Though with the highly inconsistent batches and egregious recent price increase ($10.99 for a bomber? Come on!), I wouldn't recommend it unequivocally.

Love Russian River for what they've done. Love the sour beers. Love Blind Pig and certainly like Pliny. Just given the alternatives in the DIPA category, not sure why PtE continues to reign supreme.

Anonymous said...

The thing that sets Pliny apart for me is a pineapple or maybe papaya flavor that I taste in there, which makes it unique to me. I rate it the equal of Blind Pig, but both come up short next to the mighty Pliny the Younger. But, to be fair, they are just a few of many great IPAs coming from California these days.

Damian said...

I concur. Well put Jay and Ethan. In fact, the super hopped DIPA craze is something I don't understand in general. As a homebrewer, I don't understand where the art and craft is in dumping so much of anything - particularly hops - into my otherwise well balanced beer. The hops literally overwhelm and suffocate most of the beers other attributes. I liken it to the craze in energy drinks to add more more and more caffeine - just for bragging rights. Moreover, you can't really explain consumer behavior. The lemming/mob mentality holds a lot of sway. We buy things and buy into things BECAUSE they are different and for no other reason. Merit often has little to do with the decision. And if people will buy it, the commercial brewers will make it. The Big-3 beer companies are a testament to that. Hell, there are millions of people out there that buy into the idea that they need their beercan to tell them when its cold enough to drink.

Derrick said...

Try Southern Tier Mookah if you haven't already. It's an outstanding "desert" beer. Give Russian River kudos for creating a mystique about their beer, and keeping supply below demand.

Rational Realist said...

I really like Pliny the Elder, and it is one of my favorite IPAs. I have not tried Southern Tier's Gemini, however. Is PtE worth the hype? Maybe not, but it is still better than most IPAs I've tried over the past year. I fell into the Pliny the Younger hoopla earlier this year, and to me Elder is a more enjoyable beer. Like Derrick said, Russian River keeping supply below demand, and not bottling on a regular, widely distributed until about a year ago has added to the hype. I don't find Pliny the Elder too strong or too hoppy, unlike some of the big sticky IPA like Maharaja.

Dave said...

I'll agree with you to a certain point that it might be over hyped a tad but Elder is still fantastic in my book. I do like Blind Pig alot thought and it I need to revisit that when I go to San Diego this summer. But Gemini to me is on another level. It is terrific. I need to change my review that I did a while back because I recently had one and it was just so good.

Wörtwurst said...

It's Budweiser with muscles I tell ye!

BJR said...

Well, I guess I'm gonna take the bait.

But before I get started I should mention that I do not judge Pliny from the bottle and actually don't even buy Pliny in the bottle any more. The best Pliny bottle I've had fell far short of the best pint I've had.

Pliny is one of my favorite IPAs, rivaled only by Sculpin, Duet, and Nelson. For me, an IPA should showcase the hops, have very little sweetness and only just enough malt to support the flavor and bitterness of the hops.

This is exacytly what a good pint (and I've had at least a couple pints that were not good) of Pliny has going for it. A huge hit of grapefruit jumps from the glass and follows in the taste (and only a little pine) , and it finishes bone-dry with moderate bitterness. It is by no means an accident or the result of haphazard "dumping" of hops.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Ethan, you mentioned three of my least favorite hoppy beers in your compare & contrast up there! Personal taste I guess. I really enjoy Pliny - though I think Sculpin is my favotite.