In Search of Pliny the Elder

Over the years on my way to becoming more enlightened in the ways of beer, there are a few mythical beers that I’ve been told that are true holy grail type of beers.  I’ve heard about Dark Lord by 3 Floyd’s Brewery in Indiana, where that particular beer is released one day per year.  As much as I’d like to, 3 children will prevent me driving to Indiana anytime soon for it.  Hell, I’m lucky to make it from Overland Park to Martin City without one of my children attempting to kill one of the other ones.  However, I’d love to go one day.  There’s Bourbon County Brand Stout by Goose Island, where I’ve heard that people camped out overnight for this beer.  I’ve hit middle age, so I’m not camping out for anything overnight anymore.  Side note:  I’ve had it before, and it is quite good.  Besides, all husbands know that to camp outside overnight or to drive many hours for beer would not make the wife happy. 
Then of course, there’s Pliny the Elder. 
I read all of the reviews:  It’s historically one of the best (if not the best) double IPA ever made.  They say that the heavens open up and the angels sing as you drink it.  (Note:  I might be slightly exaggerating there).  Of course, this beer is not to be confused with Pliny the Younger, which only comes out for two weeks of the year and is only available at the brewery.  From what I’ve read and heard, expect LONG lines for that beer during its two week release.  Russian River Brewing Company created Pliny the Elder, and they are located in Santa Rosa, California.  Russian River has achieved cult, if not legendary status in the brewing community.  If you want to try Pliny the Elder, you’ll be in luck…if you’re in Southern California, Northern California (though I don’t know where.  When I was in San Francisco, no one knew of this beer), Denver, and Philadelphia. 
                Last fall, my wife informed me that we were going to Napa in March.  I immediately became excited.  I MUST TRY PLINY was all that I could think about.  Y’all, I am not a wine drinker, but I’ll drink it if I’m out of options at a gathering.  Of course, I love me some craft beer.  As a Southerner, it is predestined that I also love bourbon and whiskey.  Red wine comes after these three, and white wine is even further down my list of things I’ll drink.  So, I begged my wife if we could visit Russian River Brewing so that I could try this mythical and legendary beer.  She relented and said yes.  It’s the sacrifices that I make for you, dear readers. 
                We arrived in the late morning during March Madness.  Fortunately, Kansas was playing, and the restaurant was not too packed.  My wife and I along with another couple travelled together to Russian River, and we were starving and thirsty from our long morning of travel from KC.  Of course, I wanted Pliny.  Our server finally delivered the golden nectar of the gods.  I took one sip…and immediately understood why this beer has garnered the ratings that it did.  As of today, it is the best double IPA that I have ever had.  I savored this beer.  Then, I tried the flight.  For those that have yet to have the pleasure of going to Russian River Brewing, they have a beer flight of twenty of their creations.  Each beer is in two-ounce pours, so it is roughly the equivalent of 2.5 beers. 
However, it looks mighty impressive when they bring it out…kind of like you’re in training for Beerfest 2.  (Side note to Broken Lizard if you’re reading this:  Now that you’re done making Super Troopers 2, make Beerfest 2).  While I didn’t finish the beer flight as quickly as this guy, I did enjoy them.  I found the remaining beers to be a bit of a mixed bag.  Some, like Benediction and Damnation, were amazing.  However, I wasn’t as big of a fan of their darker beers in general.  I posted my ratings on Untappd, but here’s the ratings that I gave for my flight.  Note:  if you go, your beers may differ slightly from mine.  They rotate beers quite frequently.
My Untappd ratings:
My Untappd Rating
Pliny the Elder
Blind Pig IPA
Row 2, Hill 56
Key Grip
Ron Mexico
Apical Dominance
OVL Stout
STS Pils
Aud Blonde
Shadow of a Doubt
Scratching Post

                As far as the food went, I hate to talk negatively about a place…but I’ve had better pub food.  Granted, I was there for the beer. However, my companions and I were starving, and we were not pleased with the food.  The four of us rarely complain about the food when we dine out, so it kind of stood out. Maybe it was a bad day for them, but I’ve certainly had better wings.  Regardless, I’ll be back.
                As far as the gift shop is concerned, it was awesome.  They had a lot of beer for sale there, and a variety of things to buy.  Did I buy a Pliny the Elder hat and t-shirt?  You know I did.  I got both for around $30, which I thought wasn’t a bad deal.  If you ever get out there, or if you’ve been there before, I’d love to know what you think.  If you want to follow me on Untappd, email me at , and I’ll send you my info so we can be friends! 
                As for the rest of my trip to Napa, it was amazing.  I loved every minute that I spent there.  The wineries, the food, our hotel…all of it was breathtaking.  I’d move there if I could.  I’ll have to see if Napa Beer Dad is taken as a blog handle, but I won’t be moving out there unless I win the lottery or if I have a rich uncle twice removed out there that I don’t know about.  Until next time, cheers!

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