Thursday, August 2, 2012

[A Beer a Day] Pliny the Elder Double IPA | Russian River Brewing | Santa Rosa, CA

Tearing off the day-old sheet of my Cat Facts desk calendar, I'm informed by a Chartreux that today is something called "IPA Day".  Interesting.  Never heard of it.  So, like any bewildered and unqualified American would, I plan to completely embrace it by celebrating another fictional drinking holiday with excessive pomp and cavalcade.

This is also fortuitous for those of us at [An Avenue] Cellars, as we have been trying to unload the IPA inventory for some time now, and its taken longer than expected.  The goal is to relieve the old guard of its duty in the fridge as IPAs have a very conspicuous shelf life as luminous, crisp products, yet worthy of having their own day to keep an appointment with.  This is the Big Dig of beer excavation from the cellar, a style with a Boston Red Sox-like level of passionate followers, given its ability to offend even the most prolific beveragers and gourmands -- and therefore making the imbiber an edge-cutting connoisseur of all things inaccessible to the masses.  IPAs are like loving a band that hasn't even been invented yet.  Hipster beer, if you will.  But I don't discriminate because some of my best friends are Hipsters.

My day with an IPA will not, unfortunately, include a kiss on the lips from the Juliet on the left.  Russian River, regretfully, does not ship its wares to Texas, and even if they did, it would be unlikely to walk into any kingly establishment and emerge with a single bottle of Pliny the Elder for home consumption.  It is a difficult hunt, even within the 50 mile radius of its kinda-home in the Bay Area region.

Therefore, procuring one of these beer basters is pretty special for anyone, proximity and familiarity notwithstanding -- and coupled with the instructions demanded right on the bottle: Drink Fresh. Do not Age!, its presence is both revered and ever-fleeting.  This particular bottle pictured, was pimped to us Johns by a local Austin brewer for the sake of a bottle share at The South Austin Trailer Park.  There will ALWAYS be a Pliny the Elder at a bottle share.  Its like a traditional opening ceremony of sorts to announce the commencement of drunkery and sport-gorging.  That day, for example, brought to light the glory of Pliny the Elder and Torchy's fucking Beef Fajita taco, together in arranged matrimony, but living a life in the highest of castes.  Goddamit.  Why can't it be IPA and Taco day?

You may have heard, but I kind of like Double IPAs, like, alot -- even more so than single IPAs -- and one in particular, Bell's Brewing Hopslam, really spikes my nodes to maximum amplification.  Writing about these hop strategists from Bell's and Russian River is like Yelping about Ferran Adri√† at elBulli; there's a humor in its ambition, and frankly they are beyond non-expert critique.

Pliny the Elder has been rated at or near the top of any Google-able World's Greatest beer lists and it does (it does!) live up to its accreditation, despite one's resistance to give in to another's subjective opinions.  It just does.  The most stringent of non-believers and hopeful-haters have personally texted me from San Fransisco to Pliny-bomb me with delicious photos.  But its hard to be annoyed or upset when you know someone out there has personally found meditative absorption and has become one with the planets.  The beer is just that good.  It just is.

Tasting notes are irrelevant here for this piece.  Like religion, Pliny the Elder means lots of different things to a lot of different people.  Its an experience that will either capture you or -- or something that is the opposite of that, of which has yet to happen in the history of ever. 

So, cheers to you and yours on this very important holiday.  And why not eat a fuckin' taco too while you're at it?  Next year, I'm doing a write-in for "Sport-Gorging Day" on my Cat Facts.

ABV: 8.o%
Acquired: Brewers always seem to have one on hand, go find one to drink with. Or a Hipster.

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