Here’s Why Pliny is Still the Most Important Name in Craft Beer

Poster for the return of Russian River Brewing to Seattle.
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The triumphant and necessary return of a beloved hero

It’s Pliny Season: Russian River Brewing’s Pliny the Younger Triple IPA has returned to Seattle. It’s a rarity. Only released in limited quantities once per year. If you peruse Facebook and other social media channels, you’ll see that some of the better beer retailers around the area have either tapped their allotment of Pliny the Younger or will soon do so. You may hear about a bar hosting a “Russian River Brewers Night” event (nudge-nudge, wink-wink).

Poster for Russian River Brewing event.

If you’re one of those people who roll your eyes and voice your disdain when you see how excited folks get for this beer, you need to check yourself. It’s been well over a decade, but Pliny the Elder Double IPA and Pliny the Younger Triple IPA are still important beers. Right now, maybe they are more important than ever. This excitement and energy is good for the craft beer industry. I’ll explain why.

When the Washington Beer Blog was born in 2008, there were only about 1,500 breweries in the USA. Over the next decade, that number ballooned to over 7,500. That’s kind of insane. Craft beer consumption over that decade, as a percentage of overall beer consumption, climbed at an equally steep rate. Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger played an important role in that remarkable growth spurt.

When craft beer was beginning to swell in popularity, Pliny the Elder emerged as the first beer to get damned near everyone’s attention. Beer geeks in Boston didn’t know anything about any beers from California, but they damned sure knew about Pliny. At one point, Pliny the Elder earned “Best Beer in the World” status, though I don’t recall exactly how it received that accolade. RateBeer, maybe? The annual release event for Pliny the Younger, held at Russian River Brewing in Santa Rosa, drew huge crowds from far and wide and contributed millions of dollars to the local economy each year. It still does. (Read about the economic impact here.) There was, and still is, nothing else like it.


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Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger were to craft beer what The Beatles and The Rolling Stones were to rock and roll music. Two bands stepped ahead of the crowd and propelled rock music to a place it had never been. Yes, the teenage girls swooned and screamed ridiculously for The Beatles, but that’s because The Beatles were a really, really good band. Even the hardcore musical purists who hated Beatlemania recognized that much. Both Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger are really good beers.

Game knows game. Magic Johnson and Larry Bird engaged in endless trash talk on the court and sometimes berated each other in the media, but it was all meaningless trash-talking. When it came down to it, you never heard Larry say that Magic was not a good ball player. Game knows game. If you’re spitting hate at Pliny, maybe you don’t got game. Say it with me: Elder and Younger are really good beers.


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Being a contrarian and disliking something just because it’s popular doesn’t prove anything about you. At least not anything good. It doesn’t mean you are smarter or more sophisticated than other beer lovers. If that’s you, why do you feel the need to yuck on someone else’s yum? It’s okay if you don’t like it, but there’s no need to yuck on someone else’s yum. It’s like pissing in a pool just because you don’t like to swim. Let people have fun. Let them love what they love.

I’m happy whenever something gets people excited about craft beer. I’m happy Stoup Distro brought Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger back to the Seattle market. I am happy that people are getting a little bit giddy about these Pliny the Younger tapping events. It’s good for the craft beer industry. Lord knows things are dark out there right now, and if Pliny can help spread some craft beer love, then good for Pliny!

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Get on social media and check with the better beer bars around the Seattle area and find some Pliny the Younger.  Just know that there’s not a lot of it. Most retailers will only get a 1/6-barrel keg of it. Once it starts to flow, it won’t last long, and you’ll be left waiting until it’s back again next year.



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