If you're within a day's drive of the Philadelphia area and you musthava, gottahava world's (allegedly) bestest beer, then you'll queue up outside of TJs in Paoli and then, after inside, watch NCAA basketball (way to completely blow the last month of basketball, Villanova) and wait on Pliny the Younger. Obviously.
I began my day with a dry-run (so-to-speak) of the run that I'll be conducting from TJs in two weeks (yeah, that one that I told you about a few days ago). After a six mile run, I returned to TJs to find about 30 people lined up to get their name on the list. At 12 noon, everyone filed all politely and such into their seats to begin the wait. I've had PtY enough in the past to not be there exclusively for it today. I was there more for the spectacle that is a PtY tapping party, or whatever you'd like to call it.
Brilliance on the part of TJs management to get folks to come and eat and drink for 4 hours prior to PtY being tapped. Once it was tapped, an even 70 glasses were poured from the sixtel and most everyone seemed at least mildly pleased to have had a sip of this beer. And, with TJs well-prepared organization, it all went off very civilly and like clockwork.
Truth be told, though, most any of the beers on the tap list for the day could have/should have commanded the kind of attention that PtY did. I said on a few occasions today that you could've told me that there was no PtY for me today (not a big deal, really...and I noticed at least a few people leave early because they had their fill of what they came for, non-PtY) and spun a random wheel to choose my beer for me, and I would've been happy enough.
Seriously, did you read the list of beers today? Tell me, how many beer bars in this country---how many markets---can put a keg of Pliny the Younger on tap next to a keg of Dogfish Head World Wide Stout? Yes, my friends, please never forget just how privileged we look around these parts to many others around the country. This is to say nothing of the many other beers that can stand very, very well on their own.
The beer geekerie, I'm here to report, is alive and apparently doing very well and thriving. There were many faces that I, and a few others that I ran into, didn't recognize. Presumably, some of these folks drove from quite some distance to TJs for the first time to attend this event. I've never run around quite the way some of the folks in attendance today do to find some sort of so-called greatest beers on the planet. It was, how shall I say, mildly bemusing to hear people pick apart PtY. "Oh, it's not as good as 'XYZ'." "It was better last week at such-and-such." "It's dropped off a bit...just a little bit...but a bit...of course, it's still good, but..." "We'll have to see how it's held up at 'ABC' next week."
It's helped me put a little more clarity into my thoughts about these such beer events and chasing of these type of, uh, "cult beers." I'll have something brewing on this subject to write about and share in the upcoming weeks.
It's really unfair to bury what I consider my most revealing and enjoyable moment of the day (and it had nothing to do with Russian River...oh wait, the Supplication was near perfection too!...but, now I'm rambling) way down here at the bottom of this posting. But, please take my advice from this observation. Brooklyn Monster Barleywine (a beer we see way too little of on tap around here). TJs Wild Mushroom and Smoked Mozzarella Burger. Medium Rare. Perfect Together.
Oh, and finally for my overheard quote of the day...
TJs staff (outside the front door): "Name please?"
Customers #14 & #15 in line: "Why are you taking names?"
TJs: "For a chance to drink Pliny the Younger today."
Customers: "Oh, we're not here for that!"
Imagine, when they pulled up for few bites. They must have thought that queuing up to get in to TJs for a Saturday lunch is they thing of typicality!