our love of beer.

Living in Southern California we are rather spoiled to the large selection of craft beers available to us. Although, even with the shelves at Whole Foods and various specialty stores FULL of craft brews, and even with several craft breweries within a short driving distance from us…. there are still several beers that are getting harder and harder to come by.

Lucky for us, we have some “connections” in the beer world and can get our hands on some of the rare ones.

One of THE most sought after beers is Pliny the Elder from Russian River Brewing Co. Ranked #4 beer according to Beer Advocate. Its a fantastic IPA; but the hype behind this beer is kind of annoying. It was just a couple of years ago (before the craft brew & West Coast IPA boom) that Aaron and I were able to buy an entire case of Pliny at a specialty store in Hollywood. I think we purchased a case on two separate occasions and enjoyed having them around. Although, at the time, we had no idea that it would end up being such a sought-after beer. While there are many true beer lovers out there who want to get their hands on a bottle of Pliny, most of the people trying to get it don’t even know what they’re after. They are more focused on the hype of it rather than the fact that its a fantastic IPA. The days of being able to buy a case of it are long gone; but we do try to snatch up a bottle or two if we happen to come across it.

The West Coast has Pliny…. but the MidWest/East Coast has Bell’s Hopslam. And in my personal opinion? I’d take Hopslam over Pliny any day. It is a truly amazing beer. It’s ranked as the #15 beer according to Beer Advocate (although, I believe it deserves to be ranked much higher). I am not at liberty to divulge how I got this beer in California (because its not available here)…. but I will say that I am very grateful for the opportunity to try Hopslam and am hoping to get another shipment of it when its released again next Spring 🙂

[left: Pliny the Elder from Russian River Brewing Co.
right: Hopslam from Bell’s Brewery]
[Hopslam from Bell’s Brewery]


So, while Pliny the Elder is “one of THE” most sought after beers…… I have also had the opportunity to try THE most sought after beer, Pliny the Younger from Russian River Brewing Co.
Ranked #1 beer according to Beer Advocate; it truly is a wonderful beer.
I wrote about our experience going to the Pliny the Younger tasting in Orange County back in February. I hope to make it to another keg-tapping next year!

[from left to right: Pliny the Elder, Pliny the Younger, Blind Pig, Russian River IPA]

[Pliny the Younger]

I didn’t know anything about Pure Hoppiness from Alpine Beer Co. until brother brought us a bottle that he got his hands on. The three of us split it and it was pretty darn good! Not the best IPA out there, but definitely a great beer. Come to find out, its ranked # 75 on Beer Advocate’s list and is apparently quite hard to come by. Which is why I knew such little about it, you definitely don’t see it sitting on the shelves…. you have to know what to ask for as its usually hidden in the back somewhere. Its not necessarily one that I will specifically seek out, but will definitely grab it if I can easily get my hands on it because it IS a solidly good IPA.

Aaron, luckily, grabbed us a bottle today; which are saving for when my dad comes to visit next week!

Like Pure Hoppiness, I didn’t know much about Just Outstanding from Kern River Brewing. I was shopping for some beer for our Thanksgiving camping trip (last Thanksgiving) and the beer guy asked if I had tried it, and I told him no. Knowing my palate he brought a couple from the back (he was keeping it hidden like most of the beer gems out there) and suggested that I try it out. I didn’t even look closely at the bottle once I got home, I just packed it away until Aaron and I popped one open while camping, and… just as the name implies, it literally is “outstanding”! And, to our surprise, brewed in Kernville, CA….right down the street from our campsite! I had heard of Kern River Brewing, but had never seen any of their stuff in person because it doesn’t make its way to store shelves in Southern CA much. Unfortunately, the brewery was closed as we were leaving our campsite, so we were unable to actually stop in and check out the tasting room…. but now Kern River Brewing is on our list to buy if we can ever get our hands on it. Their Stout is fantastic as well, but much easier to get your hands on than their IPA. Aaron was able to score us another bottle of Just Outstanding today! Which, we are also saving for when my dad comes to town next week.

[left: Pure Hoppiness from Alpine Beer Co.
right: Just Outstanding IPA from Kern River Brewing]

One of our good friends is a beer distributor in Chicago; and during our last two trips there we have gotten together and had our own “beer tasting” of some of the wonderful beers he manages to get a hold of. While in Chicago two weeks ago, for the 4th of July, we were able to try an absolutely fantastic MidWest rarity: Frangelic Mountain Brown by Founders.

Frangelic Mountain Brown is, simply put, delicious. I was surprised to find such low ratings of it on Beer Advocate because I thought it was incredible. Its the perfect beer to end a beer tasting with…. or the perfect dessert beer that you can slowly sip on and enjoy its coffee & hazel-nutty-ness.
It was a one-run beer; so extremely limited quantity. Lucky for us, Peter had a bottle and very generously shared it with us! I would most certainly grab a bottle if I ever saw one… but I know the chances of that are slim to none.

[Frangelic Mountain Brown by Founders]

Our love for beer is only growing. So I’m sure this is the first of many posts regarding beers that we can get our hands on!

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