Notes from the Younger – Sparkling Hop Wine At Its Finest

By now, you know I don’t like to review beers in a blog form. Why? I’m actually not a fan of reading beer reviews. However, when I insert a beer like Pliny the Younger into my supple, furry body, sharing tasting notes is a must. I actually do keep notes on most beers I sample, whether it be on untappd, on a napkin, or scribbled on a bathroom wall and photographed.

I’d like to first start off and say that Selma’s RSM had the best Pliny the Younger roll out. They chose to invite all of their regulars via facebook, create a list, and open it to the public after that. As it was tapped, I merely waved my wrist-band at the bartender and received my pour. No waiting, no lines, no raffle. Rewarding regulars was smart!

8oz was poured into a standard white wine glass at optimal temperature. The insane amount of hops on the nose is euphoric and hypnotic. I found myself sniffing and sniffing, goosebumps on my arms, boner gently creeping down my leg like a tree snake going in for the kill. I picked up on mainly citrus, pine, and floral notes with a hint of malty sweetness.

My first taste: total disbelief how long the hops last. One sip lingers at least ten full Mississippi seconds before leaving quietly. Calling Pliny the Younger a Triple India Pale Ale almost doesn’t do it justice. Younger is a sparkling hop wine! Swirling around the glass, the sticky resinous hops create some nice lingering legs. The head quickly dissipates into a light snow-like dusting. Zero lace is to be expected with this oily hop load. The mouthfeel is very vinous and the 11% ABV is hidden very well with only a slight tinge of burn, similar to wine. The carbonation was adequate, cleansing without stinging.

On the pour, a snow bank of foam clings briefly to the sides of the glass.

Often times you hear the term “malt backbone” in a review. My impression of PtY’s malt backbone? Picture a kilo brick of hops sitting on a box of Hostess Twinkies. The malt is there, much like a picture hanger is to the Mona Lisa. The clarity and color of this brew is surprising as I expected to see some residual cloudiness from the quadruple dry hopping and at least a slight copper tinge. Pliny the Younger has none of that. Its clear honey-golden color reveals nothing of what’s in store for your taste buds.

As there is so much hype surrounding this beer, it’s easy to forget its purpose. Anyone that says “it doesn’t live up to the hype” perhaps built it up too much. Russian River goes above and beyond all with this release, totally perfecting what no one else attempts. In that regard, it is truly outstanding and must be tried.

Great thanks to the team at Selma’s Chicago Pizzeria and Taproom in Rancho Santa Margarita! Last chance in OC to sample the Younger is at their new Ladera Ranch location on 2/27/12. Check their facebook page for details. Also thanks to Joslyn Ellstrom and Justin from Beerventures for sharing their table!

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