Each year, beer geeks everywhere await the release of Russian River’s Pliny the Younger Triple IPA, the famous, extra-hoppy, winter brew that has grown a cult-following in the beer scene. Rather than succumb to the mayhem that is “Pliny Fever,” Beachwood BBQ, with locations in Long Beach and Seal Beach, is transforming the frenzy to philanthropy by raffling it off by the pint.
Pliny the Younger is listed in the top 10 of Beer Advocate’s Top 250 Beers and was awarded the title of “Best Beer in the World” in 2012. Brewing the IPA is time consuming, expensive, and difficult to make, so it’s only made once a year. When it’s released in February each year, Santa Rosa’s Russian River Brewpub can face up to 12-hour lines and only sells the beer by 10-ounce glass due to the high demand. They allot one 5-gallon keg to a few lucky bars in southern California and neighboring states each year.
The craze surrounding this rare and expensive beer causes lines reminiscent of a black Friday nightmare for only a pint. This year however, Beachwood BBQ, will not only carry the famous brew, but will keep lines in check by continuing their annual Pliny Beats Cancer Raffle.
Owners Gabriel Gordon and Lena Perelman founded this philanthropic tradition in 2011, after enduring many riotous and hectic years of Pliny hysteria. “When we first got the Younger, we didn’t know how to deal with it,” Gordon told L.A. Weekly. “If we let our regulars know first, we were chastised by the public. If we opened it up to everyone fair and square our regulars were a bit disappointed.” They decided the mania surrounding Pliny the Younger was taking away from “what beer should be about,” and the Pliny Beats Cancer raffle began.
Each raffle ticket is $5, cash only, and, if chosen, is good for one pint of the cult beer. Yes, a whole pint. Whereas most bars and breweries sell the Pliny in a 10- or 12-ounce glass, Beachwood BBQ serves the IPA the way IPAs are supposed to be sold: in a pint.
“There’s a proper glassware for [each type of] beer, and IPAs are served in a pint,” says Gordon. “Raffling off the Pliny by the pint allows the people who win to come in at their leisure, share the beer with a friend if they want to, and enjoy the beer the way it’s supposed to be enjoyed.
All of the proceeds from raffle sales go directly to the Melanoma Research Foundation, in memory of Long Beach elementary school teacher and friend of Beachwood BBQ, Tony Carbone, who died at age 34 of melanoma in 2008. Last year’s raffle raised over $14,000. Both locations of Beachwood BBQ have been selling tickets since Jan. 20 and will continue until Feb. 21. Raffle tickets are cash only and tickets will be drawn via live webcast on Feb. 20. Each golden draw is good for one pint of the famous cult beer and can be redeemed up to 10 days after the draw.
If you don’t want to donate to cancer — or if you’d rather wait in a crazy line for a mere chance to taste this famous IPA — Russian River will begin distributing kegs of Pliny the Younger to select southern California breweries and bars in mid-February. The official list of breweries and bars that will receive a keg is still to be determined, but the spots that carried the beer last year will most likely receive it again. A few lucky spots this year include Blue Palms in Hollywood, Hollingshead Deli in Orange and 38 Degrees in Alhambra.
Beachwood BBQ and Brewing, 210 E. Third St., Long Beach; (562) 436-4020; beachwoodbbq.com