Pliny The Younger Is Overrated, Or: Why I Won't Be Lining Up Next Year

Categories: Hops to It!

pliny_taster.jpg
Photo by Charles Lam
This beer cost $5

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.

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15 comments
highonparanoia
highonparanoia

the last time i had pty was when i split a pitcher of it at hollingshead deli with a friend. i think i waited a total of 4 minutes for it.

emok66
emok66

Like every other delicacy, there are diminishing returns after a certain price point/inconvenience such as the one you just experienced. Part of the experience of some beer is the hype machine, where you need to decide whether or not the boutique brew is worth what you have to go through to try it. Basically you are buying into a social experience, rather than just having a cold one.


I feel the same way about trying to justify Hopslam or Zombie Dust or another East Coast brew that I'd have to pay an exorbitant amount to try in Portland Oregon. Then again, I'm not a $50+ bottle of wine kind of guy either...

Eon RosVive
Eon RosVive

lots of great IPA/DIPAs out there now, to be 'standing in line'......discover new liquid gold!

mhip
mhip

I've had an ass-full of IPAs

BeerSnobieDoug
BeerSnobieDoug

You shouldn't wait in line for PtY, you should let that spot go to someone who is still enamored with the wonderful beer from Russian River. It is a right of passage in the journey of craft beer fans. The people I stood with at Hollingshead's Deli, ages 21 - 61, appreciated the gawking civilians shaking their heads asking, "just for a beer?!" They shared stories of their beer travels and wish lists. People foolishly camp out for iPhones, movies, video games, and deep discounts to the chagrin of others and the media. We all know what we're doing. It is just a beer. And it's fun.

Mathew Humphries
Mathew Humphries

Great write up by the way. Some of the greatest double and triple IPA s come out of California including double jack and this crazy beer called knucklesandwich but they are all the brewers representation of what they can do with their equipment ingredient expertise etc. there is something to the classic gathering or even raffles for charity. But I think the whole thing is an amusement which you pay for so enjoy it for what it is: an opportunity for people to try something new a great promotion for those elite bars that Vinnie graces with his liquid gold all in all it's a bunch of shit I don't care for. I have reasons to enjoy a beer not to avoid a place beer or brewery because others like it. Stone makes an excellent and beautifully delicate dipa called Enjoy By. Certainly a value compared to the exclusive pty.

Matt P
Matt P

it is not overrated. it is over-hyped. the beer is REALLY good. i just won't wait in line for it anymore.

JGlanton
JGlanton topcommenter

I've had the occasional bottle of it and it is fine stuff, but it's beer. We're talking about beer. The last time I bought a bottle of it, the guy would only give one and he carried it out of some hidden trove in the back of the store with two hands like it was the Holy Grail. I gave it to someone as a gift because that's a better use for something so hard to get. I love beer but i won't wait in lines, pay to get on mailing lists, age it, or pay $1/oz for something that I quaff to wash down green papaya salad. Life's too short to treat beer like wine.


vegandawg23
vegandawg23 topcommenter

IPA's are gross. Don't get why almost every craft brewery has more IPAs than the rest of their offerings combined.

moosington
moosington

It is a fantastic beer, but it's not in a league of it's own, anymore. I would say it's still the most well made double-digit/"triple IPA", but just by a hair over beers like Ephraim from Hill-Farmstead, Notorious from Boneyard and even Simtra from Knee Deep. 

blueosmium
blueosmium

You're talking about pliny the elder. Pliny the younger isn't bottled.

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