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Post from jack | around
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I’ve noted that IPA’s tend to be put on a pedestal by craft beer aficionados, relating it to a sort of enlightenment when emerging from beer cave darkness. Pliny the Elder is a Double IPA–that brainchild of American bravado–and is held in similar regard among its subset, especially in Texas, where it is impossible to obtain unless you or a friend bring it back from California or the Pacific Northwest. Pliny therefore becomes a sort of “white whale” in any IPA discussion. But relative scarcity isn’t the only thing elevating its profile–sites like BeerAdvocate rank it as one of the best in the land for good reason, and tops for its style, outmatched only by its seasonal cousin Pliny the Younger.

Russian River BrewingAs the days have gotten shorter and the nights colder, I’ve sought out the dark malts of imperial stouts like the Clown Shoes Blaecorn Unidragon and the warmth of their relatively high ABV’s. My fridge is currently full of stouts and porters like Deschutes’ Abyss and Ska’s Nefarious Ten Pin. But after an evening at the Petrol Station drinking Double IPA’s like the recently tapped Avery Brewing duganA, I wanted to stick with the style back at home, and the only thing I had on hand was the hallowed Pliny. Ostensibly saving it for a special occasion, I mulled over cracking it open until I glanced at the label which reads, in part, “Do not age! Pliny the Elder is a historical figure, don’t make the beer inside this bottle one!” And, really, who am I to argue?

The beer poured a slightly hazy amber color, with a thick head that clung to the glass as it was consumed. The characteristic citrus notes were immediately apparent, grapefruit forward, with a piny hop bitterness that wasn’t overwhelming, balanced by the malts. Smooth and imminently drinkable, the 8% ABV lurked in the background until I felt its effects toward the bottom of the glass. I was left with a mildly dry finish which left me yearning for another. This truly is the epitome of a Double IPA.

When I logged the Pliny on Untappd, I rhetorically asked whether this was the best IPA on the market. This is obviously an inherently subjective question, but general consensus certainly objectively confirms that its among the upper echelon, and it should certainly be sought out by any IPAhab (damn, I should copyright that one). While the paucity of Pliny certainly accounts for some of its cachet in Texas, it wasn’t among the Top 10 Imperial IPA‘s for 2011 as ranked by the US Open Beer Championship, many of which are readily available here. The Lone Star State has its own worthy contenders like the aforementioned Avery duganA, or their Maharaja which I’ve reviewed previously. Here in Houston, the recently released Rodeo Clown DIPA from our newest brewery, Karbach, is quickly climbing the ranks of my favorite beers, and of course the Divine Reserve #11 from Saint Arnold, soon to be released year-round as Endeavour, can go up against any of the heavyweights.

In fact, I’ve got another Pliny in the fridge with hopefully more on the way, and a stash of DR11′s waiting in the wings. Perhaps a Double IPA Battle Royale is in order.


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