I made mention in this month’s Session post about Russian River Brewing‘s Pliny the Younger making an extremely rare appearance at The Abbey Pub: a single five-gallon keg, tapped at noon on Saturday the 5th, with 10-ounce glasses for $8.50. One of the very few kegs, I’m sure, to make it north of the California-Oregon border, and quite a coup for Geoff (owner of The Abbey) to pull off.
I made it to the Pub by around 11:45, and it was already nearly standing-room only. I met several co-workers (and later ran into another friend), and the mood in the Pub was loud but jovial and friendly. When it was noon, Geoff started handing out the tulip glasses of Pliny that he’d been pre-pouring, and ended up blowing the keg in 24 minutes.
So how was the beer? One of the most coveted beers in the entire country? The current number one, “top beer in the world” according to BeerAdvocate?
It was delicious, of course: intense and fragrant and floral and thickly sweet and aggressively hoppy and boozy, piling on all the fresh hop character (though not as in “wet hop”) of Pliny the Elder and, naturally, amping it up to 11.
But for all that, I have to admit, I didn’t find the beer itself to be earth-shaking, or revolutionary, or even the best beer I’ve ever had. It was very very good, and carries the mark of an extremely talented and experienced brewer. But, in the end it was just beer.
What it is, though, isn’t so much the beer as it is the experience. I found the experience is what makes this beer: enjoying a glass of the coveted beer with friends in a packed pub full of people who were just happy to be there. That’s what made it special.