Best 10 days you may never remember

Or sipping from the ‘fountain of youth’ at Sacramento Beer Week

Pliny the Younger—it’s the most coveted, and most elusive, beer in the world.

Hundreds of Northern Californians waited hours in line at Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa earlier this month to knock back the seasonal beer, “cousin” of popular Pliny the Elder, when it was released on February 3. There are only some 200 kegs in existence—and they’re disappearing fast. This mythic American double IPA, which is the No. 1 rated beer on Earth according to popular website, Beer Advocate, actually crashed the site’s message board this month with more than 3.5 million posts.

Only a handful of men and women know if “The Younger,” as they call it, will make a cameo at the third-annual Sacramento Beer Week, which kicks off this Friday, February 24, and runs until March 4. No Sacramento sighting so far.

But if The Younger does in fact rear its palate-crushing head, I’m determined to sip from the holy grail. This is my crusade—Nazis, Indiana Jones, perhaps a leather whip—and, yes, I will even shoot Sean Connery if it comes to it.

Hopefully it won’t. Plus, there are so many other world-class brews to sample at Beer Week—and only so many excuses for calling in sick to work.

The flagship parties conveniently fall on Friday and Saturday, though: The Art of Beer celebration at the Sacramento Ballroom on February 23, and the Capital Beerfest at Cal Expo on February 25. One is a night of hop-fueled elbow-rubbing with legislators and bearded-brewer types, the other an afternoon of sampling from more than 100 breweries with thousands of your soon-to-be drunkest friends. Get a D.D. And a post-weekend detox regimen.

What makes Sacramento Beer Week truly memorable, though, are the hundreds of smaller, one-off tastings, special beer menus and new-brew launches at local bars and restaurants over the 10 days. It’s impossible—out of the question!—to even scratch the surface of these events.

But don’t give up. Personally, I’m booked at: the East Sac Bike Crawl on February 25, Dad’s Kitchen’s Tent Fest and Pig Roast on February 27; the annual Morant’s Sausage and Rubicon Brewing Co. beer pairing on February 29; Ruhstaller Truck Night at The Flaming Grill on March 1; Shackfest 2012 at The Shack; and the second annual Funk and Sour Festival at Samuel Horne’s Tavern on March 3.

Yeah, I realize that’s more than enough beer. But “more than enough beer” is also an oxymoron: the Stout and Oyster Pairing night at Pangaea Two Brew’s Cafe (see this week’s 15 Minutes, page 51) on February 24; Drake’s Brewing Company night at Restaurant Thir13een on February 29, and River Rock Tap House on March 1; Belgian Night at Bonn Lair on March 3; Hummel’s Hangover Brunch with Lagunitas Brewing Co. at Bows & Arrows on March 4.

You get the picture: beer goggles. And reminder: Nothing’s free, even beer, so study up at Beer Week’s website ( before tipping glasses.

And maybe, you’ll find yourself unexpectedly drinking from the fountain of youth at a hush-hush Pliny the Younger party this year. (If so, you’re dead to me.)