Originally published March 1, 2011 at 7:02 PM | Page modified March 2, 2011 at 5:14 PM

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Serious suds: Where to get 'cult' beer Pliny the Younger

Watch for all the beer geeks to abandon their posts on Thursday: That's when Russian River Brewing Company's Pliny the Younger is released in limited quantities to Seattle-area bars.

Seattle Times staff reporter


Pliny the Younger

7 p.m. Thursday, The Dray, 708 N.W. 65th St. Seattle (206-453-4527 or

• Other bars expected to carry the beer (all in Seattle unless otherwise noted; check before showing up): Bottleworks (206-633-2437 or; Brouwer's Cafe (206-267-2437 or; Collins Pub (206-623-1016 or; Malt & Vine, Redmond, (425-881-6461 or; Naked City Brewery & Taphouse (206-838-6299 or; Quinn's Pub (206-325-7711 or; Roanoke Inn, Mercer Island, (206-232-0800); Uber Tavern (206-782-2337 or; Whisky Bar (206-443-4490 or


One of the best beers in the world has arrived in Seattle, and it's about to be tapped. Beer geeks are probably hyperventilating now. Some will likely — cough, cough — call in sick so they can stand in line and wait for the bar to open.

You haven't heard about this? That's because most bars won't let on that they have this cult beer, Pliny the Younger, from Russian River Brewing Co.

It causes lines around the block and packed houses that would violate most cities' fire codes. Last year, Naked City Brewery & Taphouse in Greenwood blew its Pliny the Younger keg in six minutes.

The buildup got crazier after Beer Advocate magazine last year named Pliny the Younger the world's best beer, supplanting the legendary Belgian Westvleteren 12.

In beer geekdom, there's no other release event this big or this surreal. Last winter, at the Russian River Brewery in Santa Rosa, Calif., hundreds stood in line for four hours with growlers to buy the triple India Pale Ale. Pliny sold on Craigslist and eBay for about $150 per growler (about 4 pints).

About 80 percent of the beer is sold at Russian River. Seattle is one of the few cities that gets a small allotment. Bars receive about 5 gallons, and so you get the lines.

Last year, Jamie Butler, co-owner of The Dray in Ballard, nonchalantly noted on Facebook one night that he would tap Pliny the Younger at 3 p.m. the next day. He ran some errands and strolled in at 3 to find a full house with "people slamming their hands on the bar," he said.

The Whisky Bar in downtown won't announce when it will release Pliny the Younger because, the bartender said, the place would just go nuts. Last year, an Oregon brewer tipped me off. I flagged down a taxi to The Whisky Bar and got a glass 15 minutes before it sold out.

How did it taste? Distinctive and spectacular.

It's a robust, hoppy beer, with piney, fruity and big floral aromas that mask the high 10 percent alcohol.

But lightweights need not worry. Most bars will pour only about a 10-ounce glass or smaller. Expect a one-glass-per-customer limit, though the bigger question is whether you will even get to lick the foam before the keg taps out. Here's a tip: The Dray in Ballard will tap its Pliny the Younger keg Thursday — $7 a pour at 7 p.m.

Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or

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