By next week (give or take a few days), some "lucky" local beer-forward establishments such as Toronado and Hamilton's Tavern will receive their extremely limited supply of Pliny the Younger, a triple IPA from Russian River Brewing Company that's been voted the best beer in the world several times over.
If you're willing to wait in line for hours (or even weeks) for the mere chance of tasting the most overhyped beer in history, you seriously need to re-evaluate your life's priorities. And if you're one of the beer hoarders who used to fill up as many growlers of the Younger as you could and immediately list them online for a 300 percent markup, thanks for ruining it for the rest of us. This is why we can't have nice things.
It's not that I dislike Pliny the beer. (Actually, I do, but that's irrelevant.) What I really dislike is having to deal with the crowds who heard that "at noon, Toronado is going to tap Pliny!" and commence loitering around the bar, not even bothering to enjoy any of the several dozen outstanding beers they've likely never tried. And despite the fact that Pliny the Younger basically spearheaded the hop craze that California is now famous for, 12 years later it's starting to become harder to see where the quality stops and the beer chase gimmick begins.
This annual rare beer release turns craft beer fans into the worst parodies of ourselves. There are so many equally good, if not better, beers to try. Instead of demeaning yourself in a five-hour line with no guarantee of even a sip, why not expand your mind and opt for one of these?
· Any other beer from Russian River. They're one of the most incredible breweries in the world, so why should your experience be pigeonholed to chasing PtY? Blind Pig is an out-of-control delicious IPA with a much more palatable hop bite than Pliny. Even the most extreme hopheads are sure to enjoy.
· Any beer that doesn't use Comic Sans on the label.
· Literally anything else. Try something local. Something new. Don't only dip your toe in the craft beer game for the biggest and baddest release of the year. If you're a serious beer enthusiast, every pint should be an opportunity for a new experience.
If you can get the Younger this year with little to no effort, by all means enjoy a glass. If you're going to a tapping where all the proceeds go to charity, even better! Just don't seek it out for street cred. Craft beer shouldn't be about bragging rights. It should be about appreciating the artistry as well as the experience.