A Year of Beer 2009 #22 - Russian River Pliny the Elder
Another part of our (hopefully) year-long video project, A Year of Beer. looking at the idea of beer and seasonality - how different styles of beer are more appropriate to different seasons, weathers, festivals and so on. There will also be a bit of beer and food matching thrown in because, hell, we love to eat as much as we love to drink.
This week: Russian River Pliny the Elder
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Russian River Pliny the Elder
Russian River Brewing Company is based in Santa Rosa, California. They brew a very good beer called Pliny the Elder, along with a load of other very good beers. Pliny the Elder is very hoppy and fresh-tasting. Brewer Vinnie Cilurzo used to be a winemaker.
These are the facts.
Of course, the facts never tell the whole story. You can't fully communicate the absurdly fruity, resinous rush of the aroma up your nostrils. It's hard to describe the cleanliness of the palate, the delicate but forceful hop character, the lightness of the beer but the clean flavour punch that it packs. And that's what the laughter is about. The laughter is my brain doing somersaults, unable to fully understand exactly what is going on.
The laugh when I smell the beer is the sound of cynicism vanishing, of hype being justified, of fears being calmed. That laugh says "my god, this is a great beer. I'm going to really enjoy this. I'm loving this beer, and I haven't even tasted it yet"
The laugh when I taste the beer is a realisation that whatever I say isn't going to adequately convey the sheer sensory pleasure of this beer. The laugh is admitting to my detractors that talking about beer can seem a bit pointless - I don't agree with that (obviously), but talking about this beer is a waste of time. Everything I want to say about this beer is in those two laughs - two involuntary outbursts as I realise that this is an occasion where I can't come close to articulating what is going on in my head.
This beer is absurdly good. It has just moved California several notches up the holiday destination-ometer. In fact, the blowout 40th birthday trip combined with a 10 year anniversary seems likely to revolve around the west coast IPA in its natural habitat. If I can just get the wife through her driving test in time, it could be the best holiday ever.
Of course, there is a downside - there always has to be. Every beer I've drunk since this bottle of Pliny (there have five so far) has tasted like substandard, soupy mush. I think I might have peaked, and it's all downhill from here.