I am sorry for being a douche here but I had Pliny The Younger today. And it was as perfect as it ever was.
Totally was not expecting to have it. I knew it was in town but I wasn’t in the mood to wait in line then not get any, so I didn’t put it on my radar.
But, so, I met a friend at Out Of The Barrel to exchange some beers. He was on his way to meet friend at another local beer bar, Goldstein’s, to see if he could get some Younger.
I said “oh geeez, okay, what the hell, I go with you!” Thinking it will be pointless but at least I can say I tried.
To my surprise, I walked right in, went to the bar, immediately got someone over to ask what I wanted. I was feeling embarrassed because surely they no longer had the Younger since they tapped the keg an hour ago, but I asked anyway
Me “You don’t happen to still have any Pliny the Younger do you?”
Bartender “Yes, we do!”
Me (Slightly shocked and excited) ”Oh my gosh… um I will have one please.”
And so it came to be. I politely and unceremoniously walked into a Fresno bar and had one of the most sought after beers in the world.
It was amazing as always. The aroma brought back all the great times I have had with beer. I am very thankful to have had it in my town. I hope all beer lovers get to have it one day.
The right beer to go with your pizza is not hard to figure out. That doesn’t mean we can’t help each other get better at beer and pizza.
You don’t need me to tell you, but, Pizza and beer is a thing. Maybe the biggest thing in the genre of pairing beer with food, and pizza with… well, anything.
Beer and pizza, while they may be two of the greatest things in the world, take up valuable calorie real estate.
So it is essential these calories are used properly. We want the optimal experience.
A Simple Guide To Pizza and Beer
But, before we go further with this post, here is a quick infographic that craftbeer.com has created, to get you quickly into your perfect pairing:
Alright, now get cheesier with me and keep reading…
Beer and pizza pairing is serious.
Don’t go into your eating and drinking all willy nilly. Stay focused while enjoying all the goodness and comfort that beer and pizza provides.
The thing to keep in mind is finding a balance.
If the pizza is mild, bland, basic, then you go big, flavorful and spicy, on the beer.
If your are gorging on spicy pizza, you get a beer that is simple and mellow.
Here are five basic pizza styles to match up with the proper beer:
CHEESE PIZZA: Red Ale.
Alternatives include Wheat Beer. Ambers. Pilsners. Pales are good in this situation as well.
This is the best use of a red beer. In fact, I really don’t care to have a red without pizza around. I feel like it is a style that needs pizza or needs something else.
A red ale is like salsa. I suppose it is fine on its own but I need something to eat with it to actually enjoy it.
Maybe the best known red out here on the West Coast is the Karl Straus Red Trolley Ale. Well, best know if you have ever gone to Disneyland: California Adventure, that is and found the Karl Strauss Beer Cart.
A magical cart it is. Find a slice of cheese pizza in the park and you are all set.
I had no idea Russian River had a tribute beer called Happy Hops IPA. Glad I found out.
A friend from work spent some time in Santa Rosa recently (I like to call it “Pliny Town”) and went to Russian River Brewing every day. Dude isn’t even a big beer geek but he likes good beer, so of course, he went there as much as possible.
He surprised me when he came back with a bottle of Pliny the Elder (of course). Awesome because that is my all-time favorite and I don’t get to have it nearly enough.
But I quickly brushed it aside because next to that Pliny bottle was another Russian River bottle with a label I did not recognize. A new IPA from Russian River!?
A NEW beer!? Give that shit to me right now! Typical asshat beer geek.
That new beer is called Happy Hops IPA.
It is not totally new though. As the bottle states, Happy Hops is a tribute beer. A brewery in Santa Rosa called Grace Brother’s Brewery, made this beer in 1944. Unfortunately, the brewery closed in the 60s.
But RR brought this one back as respect to Santa Rosa brewing past. A pretty cool thing to do. I love when breweries do this kind of stuff.
Does it taste like an old IPA?
I know what you’re thinking because I was thinking it too: An IPA from 1944? It’s going to be malty AF! There is no way this could be up to my ever raising beer snob standards.
But Russian River, yo.
It’s good. Of course, it’s good, it’s freaking Russian River. Very clean. Not what I expected. Definitely would not consider it malty. That’s probably because Vinny from RR said (in a recent interview) that they blended some new world hops and tech to even things out.
Here is a brief video of me having a taste:
The hops used for Happy Hops
I could not tell you which hop is more pronounced but I feel like Amarillo is the one that gives it an updated feel.
Get this beer on your next trip to Russian River
While there won’t be a linefest anytime soon for this beer, it is definitely worthy of putting on your list of beers to try for your next Russian River pilgrimage.
Good news is they say that once the new production facility is up and running in Windsor, they will be making and packaging more of Happy Hops!