Is This the Best Beer on the Planet?

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Why you should care

Act fast, or the best beer in the world will be gone before you can try it. 

It lands just once a year and is gone before you know it. On the first Friday in February, the Russian River Brewing Company releases its limited-edition Pliny the Younger, a triple-hopped, high-alcohol ale that is difficult to make and even more difficult to get a taste of.

Some call it the best beer on earth. (It gets a perfect score from the online beer rating site Beer Advocate.)

Worth the hype? Quite possibly. Hundreds of craft beer fans waited all night through the rain in downtown Santa Rosa, California, to find out.

Nelson Rivera and his friends drove up from Los Angeles the night before. After a night spent in camp chairs on the sidewalk by the brewery’s entrance, Rivera’s group was the first through the door and had the honor of taking the first sip of the near-mythic brew. He said the experience was well worth a long drive and a night in the rain.

“This beer back home in Southern California is extremely hard to get,” said Rivera. “While we’re waiting 12 hours here, you might wait just as long for one-third of the amount. Craft brewers have grown a lot, and we’re just happy to be part of it.”

Russian River Brewing keeps a tight leash on the Younger, brewing a mere 200 barrels and reserving half of that for the taps at their brewpub, where they sell the beer for just $4.75 a pint. You can’t take a six-pack of the Younger home, but you can find it in select San Francisco Bay Area bars, in Southern California, even as far afield as Oregon, Colorado and Philadelphia.

However long it may take to taste the beer, for many fans, the line is half the fun. The steady growth in interest in the Younger even prompted brewery co-founder Natalie Cilurzo to get an event permit from the city, with strict rules against setting up tents, blocking neighborhood businesses or having open containers. On launch day this year, Cilurzo estimates that the brewery served more than 1,000 people. Russian River Brewing is expecting long lines of fans every day for the next two weeks.

Want to give the Younger a try? Better act fast; the 2015 edition is only available through Feb. 19.

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