The cult surrounding Pliny the Younger from the Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa is well-known in the beer world, and it's the kind of cult that'll have people waiting six hours just for a pint. For those who don't know: the Younger is a triple IPA, created via a fiendishly difficult process with spectacular results that are released once a year.
You can only taste the Younger during February, on draft and at select locations. One location to host the event was the beloved Hollingshead's Deli in Orange, and the crowd yesterday was as orderly as a mass of beer lovers could possibly be.
It has been hosting the triple IPA for years, and fans know what to expect. "The first person got here at midnight, and the second at 4:30 in the morning," a patron said. Even then, the kegs always get tapped out before closing time, and some people wait in vain, drowning their sorrows in the hundreds of other beers Hollingshead's sells.
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The Younger is a perfect microcosm of the craft-beer movement, in which a drink is respected for its taste and creation process before its alcoholic content (although, the Younger does ring in at just less than 11 percent). Kenny Hollingshead, the store's proprietor, gets really excited about this sort of thing. "We're living in the greatest renaissance of microbrewed beer in the history of suds!" he exclaimed. "It's amazing what's happening."
Thankfully, one female taste tester was kind enough to let me sip her beer, because she "just came for the glass anyway." It's a damn-good brew: extremely crisp and refreshing at the first sip, it then mellows into a smooth, well-rounded finish uncommon in many IPAs. We'll see you next February, Pliny!