Jul 4, 2013

"I am going to get yelled at today."

That is what I told my friend, Nick C, yesterday, and that is exactly what happened.  And, if I were working today, which thankfully I am not -- my first time off on July 4th maybe ever -- I would have gotten yelled at again.  Just like last year.

It is such a shame that it has come to this, but it has.  It is a beautiful local guy hero story that has mutated in to an angry cult mob.  Most of the folks that are reading this do not even flipping know about Russian River Brewing, or Pliny the Elder (the beer), so I will give you the lowdown now.  To wit, Vinnie Cilurzo and his wife Natalie were hired by Korbel to make craft bottle and barrel aged beer for their label.  Brilliant! And their cork finished ales are some of the best in the world.  But, they also decided to start making bottle cap IPAs after Korbel let them loose, starting with Blind Pig, which has its' own cult following.  Then, they came up with Pliny the Elder (fantastic name, even if everyone pronounces it wrong -- finally, and for once and for all, it is Pliny rhyming with many, not tiny.) Pliny the Elder is a double IPA, which is all the rage right now.  Our beer set at the store I work at has been completely dominated and overrun by "Super IPAs" as Nick C and I call them.  We have dozens of them, whereas, just seven or eight years ago, IPA was not a hot brand, and the very fine Lagunitas IPA was our best seller.

(Fair warning here now:  I used to love beer.  I used to drink California craft ales.  I loved Red Tail, Lagunitas, and my all-time fave -- which I still love -- Anchor Liberty.  But, right about the end of the Nineties, when I was in a band, and drinking a lot, and much too much for my own good, I found ale too high in alcohol and too heavy for my taste, and switched to lager.  Lager, poor misunderstood ugly red headed stepchild you are today! And, then when I started developing a passion for wine, and learning every frickin' thing about wine that I could, desiring to be a wine buyer for my store, I pretty much swore off grain for grape.  My goodness, my Wife is shocked these days to see me drinking beer, after all those early years of our relationship, drinking tons of lager while playing Winning Eleven on my Playstation 2.)

Anyhoo, when the crash happened in 2008, wine sales took a serious nose dive, and beer and spirits became the serious sales drivers in the booze biz.  And, they still are today.  And, just a few years later, Dogfish 90 Minute IPA became available in California, and Pliny the Elder was unleashed onto the Bay Area.

Pliny the Elder is probably a great ale, if perhaps seriously overrated, but is most def not to my taste.  These dramatically hopped high alcohol Cali styled IPAs, honestly, taste like pot to me.  They taste like the pot I used to eat back in my college days, when I used to do stuff like that, eat pot instead of smoking it.

Anyroad, Pliny the Elder has become a sensation! It is prob the most sought after beer in the country.  Folks buy Pliny and ship it to their friends and family across the country, or overseas.  It has a severely limited production, as is hard to find outside of the Bay Area.  One of the greatest things ever for my regional team, was Benjamin OE setting up a relationship with Russian River Brewing and Whole Foods Market.  Whole Foods Market is your best source in the Bay Area for buying this cult beer.  (And, could we finally flipping, please, quit thinking and saying that beer is only lager, and not ale, as well.  It really gets on my tit! It is like book stores differentiating between fiction and literature.  UGH!)

(Apologies for that last line, that is what my wonderful new kitten, Nora Charles, has to say about this subject.  Actually, I am rescinding my apologies now, because I think Nora has brilliantly encapsulated my feelings re dealing w/ Pliny the Elder cult worshippers.)

Man, as in love with this post as I am, I find that I am constantly getting off track.  How about another,

Anyroad, we get three cases a week of Pliny at my store.  Three cases.  Seventy-two 500 mil bottles.  They normally arrive on Wednesdays.  These bottles sell out in under two hours upon delivery.  We do not hold bottles for customers, and we do not have a limit on how many you can purchase.  It is first come first serve.  The absolute best way you can deal with this crazy cult phenomenon.  It has gotten to the point that we do not even put the product on the shelf.  We put the boxes on the floor and let the customers have at it.

I can not tell you how many times I have been yelled at if a customer was unlucky enough to have arrived too late.  The worst times are holiday times, like this week.  If the holiday is midweek, like this one, then our delivery of Pliny is apt to be a day early.  Thus, I got yelled at yesterday (Weds., the normal delivery day) because we were already sold out of Pliny, as it actually arrived on Tuesday, due to July 4th.

But, Nick C had it worse than me.  He was yelled at by three customers, including one who said, "Well, I guess I just won't be able to drink on the 4th."  Of course, this asshat did not really mean that.  He was simply saying that he was not going to give us any beer business in protest that we did not have flipping Pliny on the shelf for him.  It was gone!

But, even worse to me than the angry self-entitled Pliny customer is the embarrassed Pliny customer.  These are the folks that loiter around our beer cooler, desperate to have a team member ask them if they need help.  These folks are frankly ashamed to be a cult member.  When asked, they do not even ask for Pliny the Elder by its' name! They say something like, "Do you have any of the Russian River ales?" when they are absolutely not interested in any of the fine Russian River cork finished ales, but really only want Pliny.  How pathetic! If you are the flipping member of a cult, be proud of it, and pronounce it!

As much as I love the story of Russian River Brewing, and all the great sours and Belgian styled ales they make, and My Gawd, I am sooooo thankful for their business, and their fantastic relationship with the Food Hole, I am sick and bloody tired of this cult.  I am almost near the point that Vinnie sell off the Pliny label to Anheuser Busch so I just do not have to deal with these losers ever again.

Let me reiterate one more time, that it is not Vinnie and Russian River that I have a problem with, it is the angry embarrassed rude asshat cult worshippers that I have issue with.  Fussing over date labels! It is just fucking beer! Not a first growth or tête de cuvée.

Man, flipping drink a Bud or a Shiner Bock today.  Or do like this Okie Commie Pinko does, and drink nothing but French wine today.

Peace flipping out,

P.S. I really do not want to flame on Vinnie or Russian River Brewing, at all.  They seriously make some of the finest beer in the country.  It is not their frickin' fault they made something so popular that their customers are jerks.  Here is their website. My personal favorite is their Redemption ale.


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