Photo Cred: Ian Steele
IPAs can be divisive, but there’s no doubt that hoppy beers are unquestionably near the top of the list for most popular craft styles. Taking it one layer deeper, high up on the list of best hoppy beers, is the legendary Pliny the Elder by Russian River Brewing of Santa Rosa, CA. Pliny gets limited releases here and there, and sells out rapidly everywhere it goes. Now, to bid farewell to 2020 and welcome the new year, the brewery has released two new additions to their lineup, one of which is an old classic with a fresh twist.
The Blind Pig Inaugural Ale is an Imperial IPA that was brewed in a super-limited 3.5 barrel batch. This classic recipe from 1994, which is credited as being the first commercially available imperial IPA, was dusted off and used to christen Russian River’s new 5 barrel pilot system in Windsor, CA. This 7.5% Double IPA is a small piece of history, rejuvenated on a state-of-the-art pilot system. Available in (obviously) super-limited quantities, this beer has already sold out.
Now for the nitty-gritty. For the newest variant of the national favorite Pliny the Elder, Russian River has decided to release a new double dry-hopped version of the classic ale. Pliny the Elder Two-Stage is actually a variant of a variant, being a tweaked version of Pliny for President, a different dry-hopped version of the prolific beer. Both weigh in at 8% ABV, but with different hop inclusions for an overall different drinking experience. According to the storied brewing company, Two-Stage DDH is going to be around to stay, and more variants of Pliny the Elder are on their way. The brewery has national limited distribution, in the sense that those bars and liquor stores that can get ahold of their coveted brews will do so as often as possible. With that in mind, keep an eye out moving forward, as the classic American brewery starts rolling out fresh takes on their classics.
Russian River is known for clean, true-to-style beers, as well as complex and rich barrel-aged brews, particularly focused on wine-barrel aging. If you haven’t heard of Pliny, then welcome to the craft beer world, you have a long way to go (lucky you!). Having been fortunate enough to get my hands on Pliny time and again, I can’t wait to try the new IPAs out.