Celebrating 20 Years of Pliny the Younger: A Legacy Brew

Celebrating 20 Years of Pliny the Younger: A Legacy Brew

Russian River Brewing's Pliny the Younger, a revered triple IPA, marks its 20th anniversary this year, encapsulating two decades of brewing excellence and craft beer innovation. Available exclusively at the brewery for a mere two weeks annually, this cult favorite not only showcases the pinnacle of brewing artistry but also carries a rich tapestry of history, from its ancient Roman namesake to its roots in the early West Coast craft brewing movement.

The Origins of a Craft Brewing Legend

The story of Pliny the Younger begins with Vinnie Cilurzo, a pioneering figure in the craft brewing scene. In 1994, amidst the picturesque Temecula wine country, Cilurzo launched Blind Pig Brewing, a venture that would eventually lead to the creation of the first double or Imperial IPA, the Blind Pig Inaugural Ale. Despite its success, the brewery was somewhat ahead of its time.

Seeking new horizons, Vinnie and his wife, Natalie, ventured to Sonoma County. Their brewing dreams took a significant turn when they partnered with Korbel, a sparkling wine producer keen on tapping into the burgeoning microbrewery scene. This partnership birthed Russian River Brewing, and by 2004, the Cilurzos had opened their own brewpub in downtown Santa Rosa, laying the groundwork for their future successes.

The beer list at Russian River Brewing is a homage to their journey, featuring names that resonate with history and craftsmanship, including the Blind Pig IPA and Pliny the Elder, a homage to the ancient Roman naturalist whose work hinted at the existence of hops.

A Special Winter Brew: The Birth of Pliny the Younger

In the brewery's first winter, seeking to invigorate beer sales during the slow season, Vinnie Cilurzo crafted something extraordinary. He enhanced the recipe of Pliny the Elder to create a triple IPA, Pliny the Younger, named after the Elder's adopted nephew, a Roman lawyer, and author known for his eyewitness accounts of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

The 20th-anniversary label of Pliny the Younger features this cataclysmic event, paying tribute to the historical significance and the vivid descriptions penned by its namesake. Released in 2005 with modest expectations, the brew was an unexpected hit, leading to its limited annual release each February, culminating in an enthusiastic frenzy in 2010 when the entire stock was depleted in just eight hours.

A Cult Phenomenon

Year after year, beer enthusiasts have queued up outside Russian River Brewing, eager to savor the limited release of Pliny the Younger. In response to its overwhelming popularity and to curb illegal resales, the brewery has since limited orders and ceased growler fills, ensuring a fair opportunity for all to enjoy this exceptional beer.

This year, the tradition continues from March 22 through April 4, celebrating not just the anniversary of Pliny the Younger, but two decades of unparalleled brewing history, innovation, and community.

Russian River Brewing's Pliny the Younger is more than just a beer; it's a celebration of craft, history, and community, embodying the spirit of innovation that defines the craft brewing movement. As we raise our glasses to 20 years of this exceptional brew, we also toast to the future, eagerly anticipating what the next chapter holds for Russian River Brewing and the craft beer community at large. Cheers to 20 years of Pliny the Younger

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