Pliny the Younger: a beer that inspires people to camp out overnight in a line that stretches several city blocks. In the rain. Really. The triple IPA is a signature brew for Santa Rosa’s Russian River Brewing Co., and they only release a limited quantity each year. Lucky for hop heads, Russian River gifts a couple of kegs each February to some of the finer beer bars around Los Angeles. But because the beer causes people to lose their ever-loving mind, you’ll most likely have to jump through some hoops to kiss Pliny’s ring.
Before we get to the guide, however, a moment of real talk. There are more than a few beer experts in Los Angeles that refer to the brew as “Pliny the Overrated.” I agree with them to a degree. It is an amazingly rich and finely crafted triple IPA. But it isn’t the only one of its kind. Russian River’s done a good job of playing the supply-and-demand game. They satisfy only a fraction of the thirst for the Younger each year, which only creates a larger appetite for it. There are people who want it simply because they cannot have it. It’s kind of like the Furby of beer.
If you’re not into lines, might I suggest Hops of Fury from Beachwood or The Maharaja by Avery? (This injection of real talk has been brought to you by my inability to wait in line for extended periods of time.)
OK, back to the regularly scheduled programming. Here’s your guide to Pliny the Younger 2015:
Beachwood BBQ and Beachwood BBQ & Brewing, Seal Beach and Long Beach
Remember those hoops? Get ready to jump. Beachwood runs a raffle each year to deal with the Pliny rush. You can buy $5 tickets at both locations until 10 p.m. on February 21. On February 23, 130 tickets will be drawn at random. Each ticket represents a pint of Pliny the Younger. Beachwood will let you know if you are among of the chosen few, and then it’s on. You can redeem your golden ticket at one of the two locations (they’ll let you know which one). All proceeds go to melanoma research.
Mohawk Bend, Echo Park
This is one case where it’s OK to drink before noon. At 9:30 in the morning on Saturday, February 21, Mohawk Bend will start giving out a set number of tickets to patrons waiting in line at the bar. Then, at 11 a.m., the bartenders will tap the keg, and each ticket-holder will get a six-ounce pour of delicious breakfast brew. People might not camp out overnight, but I’d hop in line early if you want to score a taste.
The Bottle Room, Whittier
The Bottle Room in Whittier will start pouring Pliny the Younger at 10 a.m. on February 28, according to staff. First-come, first-served.
38 Degrees Ale House and Grill, Alhambra
A line will form early outside 38 Degrees on February 21. Once there are enough people in line, a staff member will start handing out tickets for a flight of Russian River beers including a pour of Pliny the Younger. Doors open at 11:30 am, one flight per person.
Verdugo Bar, Glassell Park
Doors open at 6 p.m. on February 26 at Verdugo Bar. Bartenders will start pouring Pliny at 8 p.m. As with the other announced events, a line will begin to congeal early. So if you want a shot at the Younger, maybe knock off work a little early.
Tony’s Darts Away, Burbank
According to staff, Tony’s will quietly tap Pliny the Younger one day in the next two weeks. If past years are any indication, they’ll do it on a Saturday or Sunday.
Barbara’s at The Brewery, Lincoln Heights
Barbara’s is also sneaky when it comes to Pliny the Younger. You can call ahead to see if they’ve put it on yet…Just hope the bartender is feeling generous with the information. The distributor has already delivered the kegs to all the bars in question, so it could be any day.
Library Alehouse, Santa Monica
Library generally taps their Pliny goodness on a weekday. The bar has a tap takeover with Avery Brewing Company on the 26th, so if I had to guess (and I do have to guess) Pliny the Younger will go on some time in the next week.
Father’s Office, Santa Monica and Culver City
Same drill as Barbara’s and Library. No word as to when they’ll have it, but Russian River encourages bars to tap the kegs as soon as possible. Pliny the Younger is not a beer for aging. Both locations of Father’s Office will have it on tap.
Lucky Baldwins & Lucky Baldwins Trappiste, Pasadena
According to staff, Lucky Baldwins will host a Russian River event featuring Pliny the Younger near the end of the month or at the beginning of March. They might or might not announce the event in advance. Both Pasadena locations of Lucky Baldwins will get a keg.
Boneyard Bistro, Sherman Oaks
Boneyard Bistro is stingy with Pliny details. But like the other bars who want to skip the mass hysteria, Boneyard will start pouring the Younger sometime in the next several weeks.
The Surly Goat, West Hollywood
The Surly Goat has hinted that they’ll announce an event on their Facebook page soon. They just announced a Bell’s Brewery (!) event on the 23rd, so my guess is that they’ll tap their keg of Pliny the Younger after that.
The Daily Pint, Santa Monica
The Daily Pint will tap their keg of Pliny the Younger on Wednesday, February 18. They tweeted on the 16th that you needed to get tickets that day if you wanted a pour of Pliny. But if you show up, perhaps they’ll give you a mercy pour?
If not, there’s always next year.