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If you stopped into Hamilton’s Tavern recently you may have done a double take, or even stopped to check the date when you looked at the tap list and saw Russian River Brewing Co.’s Pliny The Younger being poured. Release annually early in the year (this year February 5th), Pliny the Younger is a much sought after Triple/Imperial IPA. Beer geeks line up for hours in advance and kegs run dry as fast as they can be emptied into pint glasses. Like most IPAs, it is recommended Pliny the Younger be drunken as fresh as possible, so why was it on tap at Hamilton’s four months after it was release? The answer is pretty simple.

“It wasn’t held onto by design but by misfortune as the keg was mislabeled”, explains Scot Blair of Hamilton’s Tavern. “There was an Imperial Stout keg collar on the keg we were aging… When it was tapped, low and behold it wasn’t Imp Stout, it was a high gravity hoppy beer, under the keg collar was the true entity RR Pty.” Beer drinkers come out in droves when Pliny the Younger is released, so it’s not hard to imagine how a full keg could get misplaced, even of such a sought after beer. I wasn’t at Hamilton’s when they originally tapped it earlier this year, but I imagine it was nothing short of a zoo.

Dennis Borlek, the General Manager at Hamilton’s, who found the keg, did what any curious beer geek would do: he tasted it. And it was still good. Scott explained that there was a slight softening of the hops, but otherwise it was still a phenomenal beer. So they left it on tap, and it didn’t disappoint. The keg was empty less than 24 hours later.

And while I didn’t speak to anyone at Russian River Brewing Co., all is well according to Dennis, “Vinnie [Cilurzo, co-owner of Russian River Brewing Co.] is my old room mate and we started home brewing together back in ’89. He totally understood.”

Anyone out there get to try it? Leave a comment below, especially if you tasted it fresh this past year.

Photo: Creative Commons flickr user D.B. Blas