In gatherings with friends I always like to acknowledge the passage of time, the changing of relationships and interactions. “To old friends and new,” comes from a particularly quaint Titus Andronicus song sandwiched between raucous bombasts and stadium-level ironies. It used to feel foolish, like I was the guy wearing a funny hat that I couldn’t see, but now it’s sort of just become second nature. Of course we can’t possibly commemorate all of our old friends in one saying, but it’s nice to try.
A few weeks ago I got a package in the mail. Underneath layers and layers of bubble wrap I found a bottle of Russian River’s Pliny the Elder mailed from California. To date, two friends have brought me multiple Russian River beers from the Golden State. It’s gifts like these that keep me looking back at all the interesting people I’ve had the pleasure of spending my time with. As for the Russian River beers, I’ve loved them all, but none quite as much as Pliny the Elder.
I had big expectations from a beer sent from California bearing the name Pliny the Elder, the Roman natural philosopher (my second profession behind data architect). The beer itself comes off both sharp and sweet, containing a certain amount of freshness that you just can’t seem to get from hops outside of California. As a double IPA, the taste grows and grows as it warms.
Limited in supply, Pliny does not lack in hop flavors. The four different hops join and engender the beer with sophistication worthy of its title. This double IPA pours smooth and doesn’t give the slightest hint that it may be 8% ABV, mainly because of the balance and malty backbone.
Best enjoyed: In Big Sur. The Kickapoo or Wisconsin River serves as an adequate substitute.
Best paired with: Geez, I’ve never tried pairing a double IPA with anything. Burgers? Too easy. Pizza? Way too easy. You know what, I’m going to go on a bike ride and think about it.
Find it: Only from those people who are nice enough to think about you when they come across it. Also in California. And Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Pennsylvania? Whatever.
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