F ew beers have prompted more insanity than Russian River Brewing Company's Pliny the Younger, a so-called triple IPA that's got more hops—and hype—than most breweries go through in their entire operation. Bottles don't exist, so the only way to try it is to visit the brewery in Santa Rosa between February 7 and 20, or be at one of a small number of bars at the exact time they get their tiny kegs. Everywhere it goes, long lines and cranky bartenders follow. If all of this sounds like a drag, don't worry; Russian River stopped sending beer to Washington to better satisfy demand at home, making Pliny totally unavailable here.
Fortunately, brewers here are working to fill the 10 to 13 percent ABV hole in local hopheads' hearts and livers. In 2012, Big Time and Naked City offered up the cattily named Whiny the Complainer and Cry Me a River, respectively, and this year, brewers both established (Georgetown, Pike, Black Raven, and Elysian) and younger (Reuben's, Stoup, Populuxe, Spinnaker Bay, among others) will be pouring their takes on the style as part of the Washington Hop Mob Triple IPA Roadshow at several venues throughout February and March (check washingtonbeerblog.com for updates). The triple IPA isn't so much an official beer style as it is anything hoppier and boozier than a double IPA (which already tends to be on the hoppier and boozier side of the spectrum), so expect a variety of potentially delightfully unbalanced drinking experiences.