Pliny the Younger Hits Philadelphia: 2012 Edition
If you’re a beer person in Philadelphia or the surrounding area, it’s no secret that we are now knee-deep in Russian River‘s Pliny the Younger season. It is the brief few weeks in which our fair city—the only city east of Colorado to get it—is scattered with a handful of sixtels that pop up seemingly at random and usually only for those “in the know.”
Last night, fortunately, I was one of those in the know. I was messaged around lunchtime and told the Grey Lodge would be handing out tickets at 7:00pm and serving at 8:00. It was known that they had a sixth of a keg of the beer, but no one was told when it would be pouring or how much it would be, or what kind of fanfare would come with it. And this is where Scoats, iconic owner of the Lodge, did everything right.
Now, I’m not knocking places like Monk’s—I have a lot of respect for a bar that receives a half keg, absorbs the cost, and sells the entire thing for charity. They could make a lot of money from half a keg of Pliny the Younger, and instead they decide to give it away. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that (or with the raffles they’re doing for charity), and many bars decide to go that route.
But with Grey Lodge, there was no fanfare. Word made the rounds by text and private messages, everyone passing along the information telling the other to keep it on the down low. This would be an event for beer lovers. People who wanted to have a drink of one of the hardest-to-get, highest-rated beers in the world without standing in line for six hours and being crammed shoulder-to-shoulder with 500 sweaty people desperate for a taste. People who wanted to experience the beer and flavor it brings.
And the golden-amber beer packs a lot of flavor. An intense citrusy hop flavor assaults your palate on the first sip, the above-average viscosity of the beer coating your mouth. But then, the hops flow into a sweetness that balances everything into one perfect package; no one flavor dominates, and nothing is left behind. As I said last year, the absolute balance is what makes this beer perfect. The balance, however, won’t be around forever—you need to get this beer as soon as you can. The hops will begin to fade—have already begun to fade—and by the time the two or so weeks it is in the city are up, it will not be the same beer that was served at the Grey Lodge last night.
If you’re looking to find Pliny the Younger in Philadelphia this year, Foobooz, Eater, DrinkPhilly and Philly Tap Finder are all keeping tabs for you. Hopefully, they keep it contained to a few spots so you, as well, can have a relaxed and intimate experience with your Pliny the Younger. You’ll appreciate the lack of crowds and the not having to stand in line for hours on end. But, most importantly, you’ll be able to appreciate the beer.