Pliny The Younger Is Overrated, Or: Why I Won't Be Lining Up Next Year
This beer cost $5
Photo by Charles Lam
Let me preface the rest of this post with this: I like Pliny the Younger. For a triple IPA with an alcohol content above 10 percent and triple the normal amount of hops, it's amazingly light and multi-layered. It's a pretty beer and smells divine -- a mix of lychees, pine, and the other fresh IPA-y smells you're used to, but unlike the other hopped-up IPAs that've been making the rounds, it's delicate.
Like, I said, I really, really like this beer. It honestly might be one of my favorites, if I kept track of that kind of thing.
So, that being said, and now that Pliny season is over (okay, it was over a little bit ago, but I went to a late tasting, so don't sue me), I can finally say this: Pliny the Younger is an over-rated beer, and I'm not going to be lining up for it next year.
It's not even Pliny's fault that it's overrated. If it were any other beer, limited release or otherwise, it would shatter expectations, but it's not. It's Pliny the Younger. It's the most famous limited release beer in existence, and that makes for horrible experiences.
There are tons of amazing limited release beers in the County and elsewhere (several of which were at my Pliny tasting, actually). People line up for those releases, sure, and they can err on the more expensive side, but they're still reasonable. You wait in line, and you get more than a 5-ounce or 8-ounce or 10-ounce taster.
That's not true with Pliny the Younger.
With Pliny, you'll wait in line not only with the diehard fans, but also with people who are barely into beer at all and are there just to be able to say that they've had a taste. And that's what you get at the end of your wait -- just a taste.
What way is that to drink a beer? Doing a tiny taster might feel special, sure, but it's no way to actually enjoy something. A taster is enough to learn about Pliny on its own, but what about how the beer plays with salty foods or how it cuts greasy food? Some of my best beer experiences involve pizza or barbecue or curry, and with Pliny the Younger, you'll almost never get that. (Maybe you were lucky and won a pint from Beachwood Barbecue's raffle. If you did, I'm jealous.)
Pliny the Younger is a great beer, but after waiting in a however-many-hour-long line and paying $1 per ounce, I'm worried that a good chunk of the enjoyment people get of it is just because of sunk cost. And by word of mouth, that cost is just going to grow as years pass by.
So no, next year, I'm not going to wait in line for Pliny the Younger.
But hey, that's not to mean I won't be drinking it, because my favorite bar sells tickets, and I don't have to wait too long for that.
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Orange County dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.