There’s one beer that always seems to stand out among a shelf of others. Its simple green label, featuring a bright-red dot, is almost as iconic as the Target logo. And when you spot Russian River Brewing’s Pliny the Elder, you grab a bottle, maybe two, if there’s no limit.
I’ve seen grown men walk into a store, pass up rows of excellent beer, ask if there’s Pliny, then storm out if the answer is no.
Some places simply put up a sign so you don’t even need to go inside: “Pliny is out.”
Others make the pilgrimage to Russian River Brewing Co.’s Santa Rosa headquarters to buy cases to bring back for beer trades.
When the company brought online its new 85,000-square-foot brewing facility in Windsor, I knew there was a strong possibility of seeing more of that iconic red dot inside local coolers—and oh, boy, was I right. Places that typically never had it now suddenly do. It’s almost like rabbits multiplying. I was recently in three stores, and each one had Pliny on shelves, with more in the back. I watched grown men gasp as if they were kids opening a PlayStation on Christmas morning. One even said, “Squeee.”
A classic double IPA, Pliny the Elder has a lot of competition in local stores these days, where even the latest brew craze, Hazy New England IPAs, are slowing down in popularity. Will seeing more Pliny the Elder on shelves cause its popularity to dwindle? I don’t really mind either way. . . . I’ll be over here, sipping on one.
Greg Nagel has been writing about beer since 2011, is an avid homebrewer of wine, cider, and beer, is a certified Cicerone Beer Server, level 1 WSET in Wine, a podcaster with the Four Brewers Show, and runs a yearly beer festival called Firkfest happening this June!