Beer lovers know that when February arrives love is in the air.
But this isn’t romantic love, this is all about the love of beer because this is the time of year when Russian River Brewing in Santa Rosa releases its widely popular and highly sought after limited release of Pliny the Younger at local bars, pubs and breweries.
The triple IPA, which has been brewed once a year since 2005, comes in at 10.25% alcohol by volume and is released only at the Russian River Brewing’s Santa Rosa and Windsor locations.
This year’s release is set for March 24 to April 6 and that’s when hundreds of Pliny fans are expected to line up for hours to get the coveted IPA.
“We’re just so grateful that even after all these years people are still so excited about Pliny the Younger, especially with so many new trendy beers out now, but people still love our beer,” said Natalie Cilurzo who co-owns the brewery with her husband, Vinnie.
While many take the pilgrimage to Santa Rosa, the beer is released here in Southern California in kegs in very limited amounts at a few selected bars, pubs and breweries, with each spot maybe getting a keg or two to distribute locally before supplies run out until next year.
“We have a lot of old-time accounts along the L.A. and Orange County and Southern California area that have supported us for decades and continue to support us and those are the accounts that will get Pliny the Younger,” she said.
“A lot of accounts keep it on the down-low too because they don’t want hordes of people coming,” she added with a laugh.
So is it worth all the hype?
Yep, says beer expert Gary Magnone, the founder of Hopped, a website that’s all about local beer and breweries that also lists some of the local spots pouring the beer.
“It came out a while back before beers like that were commonplace,” he said. “Nowadays local breweries are making triple IPAs that are smooth and flavorful, but this one is still at the top of its game. You don’t know that you’re drinking a beer of that size.
“And they only brew it once a year so it’s become this celebration and annual thing that people look forward to,” he added.
Most of these places will have the beer on tap for just one day and tickets for these special events often go fast and even may require some long waits in line. But Magnone recommends checking in on social media with your favorite bar or brewery often or his Hopped LA site for updates.
In the meantime, here are five spots pouring Pliny the Younger this month.
Father’s Office, 905 E. Second St., Los Angeles, 3229 Helms Ave., Culver City, 1018 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; 310-736-2224 or fathersoffice.com
Tickets are now on sale for the downtown location and for $42 you get three tickets, one ticket is good for one Pliny the Younger pour and the other two will be good for other beers from Russian River Brewing on Feb. 15 and 16. The beer will also be available Feb. 20 and 21 at Father’s Office Santa Monica location and Feb. 23-25 at its Culver City spot. Tickets for these other two locations were not yet for sale as of publication.
Hollingshead Deli, 368 S Main St, Orange; 714-978-9467 or hollingsheadsdeli.com
True fans of this beer will want to hit this Orange County spot because not only will they have the coveted release here ready to pour, the people behind Pliny the Younger will also be on hand to talk about their beer. Company owners Vinnie and Natalie Cilurzo will be there starting at 11 a.m. Feb. 20 to talk beer and maybe even throw back a few with their fans. “Vinnie Cilurzo brews a hell of an IPA. He basically invented the double IPA category and this is a triple IPA and they only make it once a year so yeah, it’s very limited and there are not many spots down here where they can get it,” said Michael Hollingshead, one of the co-owners of the family run deli. The line is expected to be long to get into the place, with maybe a 3-4 hour wait, Hollingshead said. Once people get in they will be able to order two beers, but only one can be the Younger, but there will be other Russian River beers on tap.
Selma’s Chicago Pizzeria & Taproom, 30461 Avenida de Las Flores, Rancho Santa Margarita. 949-709-8165 or selmaspizza.com
Wristbands go on sale Feb. 12 at the Pizzeria’s Santa Margarita and Ladera Ranch locations (27702 Crown Valley Parkway).There’s a limit of 4 wristbands per person for $15. Pliny the Younger will be poured for wristband holders starting at 4:30 p.m. Feb. 21 and 22 at the Rancho Santa Margarita location.
Tony’s Darts Away, 1710 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank. 818-253-1710 or tonysda.com
The Burbank beer bar will be handing out tickets starting at 11:30 a.m. Feb. 14. The tickets are good for one 12-ounce pour from noon-8 p.m. on that day only. “If you’re into triple West Coast IPAs this is your jam,” said Andrew Phillip, general manager of Tony’s. He said they expect to have enough for about 160 pours that day. There will also be a wide selection of other Russian River beers on tap.
Tustin Brewing Co., 13011 Newport Ave., Tustin. 714-665-2337 or tustinbrewery.com
Pliny the Younger is being poured at this brewery Feb. 15. The brewery opens at 11 a.m. and that’s when tickets will be handed out to those in line. It’s one ticket and one 8-ounce pour per customer starting at 3:30 p.m.