The 14 Days of Younger

Posted by | Posted in Beer | Posted on 02-16-2012

Beer: it’s the drink winemakers drink when they aren’t drinking wine, which happens a lot more than some might imagine. There is a phrase in the industry, “it takes a lot of good beer to make a great wine,” but sometimes it takes a lot of wine to make a great beer. Such is the case at Russian River Brewing Company in my current hometown of Santa Rosa, California; at least  for their barrel aged sours such as Temptation — aged in used Chardonnay barrels.

Normally, I’d opt for one of these barrel-aged beers, but not in the first two weeks of February. That would be a total waste at this special time of year known as the “14 days of Younger.” While I typically couldn’t care less about scores, ratings, badges, and the like, I must admit that living within walking distance of the brewery producing the beer currently rated number one out of every beer in the world on Beer Advocate is pretty sweet.

Having heard the hype, I had to swing by on the first day of the 14 to try it out. This was a bad idea. The line was almost literally around the block, and I have a feeling that not many people were going to be giving up their spots at 6 p.m. on a Friday. The next day proved even more daunting. There must easily have been more people in line than living in the state of Delaware. Regardless, I finally made it in at 11 a.m. on Tuesday. And 11 a.m. on Wednesday. This stuff is good.

Now for the beer: Russian River Brewing Company Pliny the Younger (2012 release): The Younger is a triple IPA, none of that wussie double stuff of his Elder equivalent. The nose is pure oranges and hops that smell as if they’d just been picked fresh from the highest peaks of the Cascades. Normally I’m not a huge IPA drinker, nevermind triple IPAs, but the balance between fruitiness and hoppy bitterness on this is astounding. Coming in 10.7% alcohol and IBUs that probably can’t even be measured, balance isn’t the first word that comes to mind. But the Younger pulls it off, and it pulls it off in style.

Unfortunately, today, February 16, is the final of the 14 days of Younger. I can only hope the end of the world holds off until I get to taste the 2013 version, and for anyone who thinks February is a bad time to visit wine country, I beg to differ. Not only was it 65 and sunny yesterday, but early February in Sonoma County is also beer country; beer so good that I forgot about wine for a brief moment, and that doesn’t happen very often.

Comments are closed.