Annual Release of Rare Ale Has SoCal Beer Fans Lining Up

A rare beer from a Northern California brewery with a nearly cult-like following has ale-lovers across the state lining up for a taste this month.

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Pliny the Younger was poured in half-pints at Tustin Brewing Co. on Feb. 19, 2014. (Credit: KTLA

On Wednesday, in a scene repeated at select breweries and bars throughout California, hundreds were waiting for a single keg of Russian River Brewing Co.’s Pliny the Younger to be tapped in Tustin.

Two side-by-side dads carried babies as they awaited their 8 oz. pours — for $8 — at Tustin Brewing Co., joking that they had given each other the “secret nod” shared by beer-loving fathers.

An even hoppier version of the brewery’s beloved but more common double IPA Pliny the Elder, Pliny the Younger is a 10.25 percent alcohol triple India pale ale that is released each February. The 2014 version marks the 10th anniversary of the sought-after brew, which changes a bit every year.

“It is extremely difficult, time- and space-consuming, and very expensive to make,” states the brewery’s website. “And that is why we don’t make it more often!”

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Beer drinkers awaited their taste of Pliny the Younger in Tustin. (Credit: KTLA)

Some beer aficionados make the pilgrimage to Russian River’s Santa Rosa headquarters to get their glass at the source every year. Hundreds waited in the rain for the release on Feb. 7.

Brewer Vinnie Cilurzo told the local Santa Rosa Press-Democrat that he remained amazed at the annual frenzy the beer had spawned.

“I am flattered and humbled, I am every year, that people would wait this long,” Cilurzo said.

None of the annual brew is bottled, and kegs are only released to a select few clients. Most of it goes to Southern California, Cilurzo told the Orange County Register.

That means those who can’t make it up to Sonoma County must instead buy a ticket and wait in line at one of the limited locations that are able to obtain kegs.

In Orange County, beer-lovers had Tustin Brewing Co. to thank on Wednesday.

A beer blog called The Full Pint was tracking other locations offering Pliny the Younger in Southern California, as was the Los Angeles News Group’s beer blog.

KTLA’s Chip Yost contributed to this article.