Pliny the Elder has been consistently voted as one of the top, if not the very top, beers brewed in America basically since its debut. Made by Russian River Brewing Company, it is brewed in relatively limited batches and shipped quickly. It is, as the label states, meant to be consumed fresh. Pliny is not a beer for aging. Being a double IPA, the hops are the star. Those hops, Amarillo/Centennial/CTZ/Simcoe, give Pliny an absolutely incredible aroma and flavor. If you have never had the pleasure of drinking a fresh Pliny, and many have not as Russian River’s distro footprint is very small hitting California, Colorado, and Philadelphia only, you are missing out on a near perfect blend of floral/citrus/piney hop aroma and flavor and malt sweetness. The IBU’s are high, as they should be, but the bitterness is not overpowering. While there are plenty of IPA’s and double IPA’s that look to bowl the drinker over with bitterness for the sake of bitterness, though that trend has died down more recently, Pliny has always been about showcasing the various components in their best light. It without question delivers on the hype that surrounds it.
The story of the creation of Pliny the Elder goes that upon being invited to a double IPA festival along with nine other breweries, Russian River had to develop a new brew as double IPAs were not a thing. They had a recipe in mind but not a name. Through research they discovered that the man who gave hops their name was a Roman named Pliny. He was killed during the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius and written about by his nephew, Pliny the Younger. The name he gave to hops, Lupus Salictarius, which means a wolf among willows, was badass enough to convince Russian River that their new beer should bear his name. There is some debate as to whether Pliny was actually writing about hops or not but regardless, the name has stuck and has become synonymous with a world class beer.
Final Fantasy VII has been consistently voted as one of, if not the best, games ever made for the original Playstation. It quite simply, and no pun intended, changed the game. Before FF7, RPG’s were niche. They had their following sure, myself a big fan of the previously available Final Fantasy titles as well as games like Dragon Quest and Phantasy Star, but they were not nearly as ubiquitous as they are today. FF7 floored anyone who happened to see the first demo. In it, a battle was fought and Leviathan was summoned. The graphics for the time were mind blowing. Nothing had ever looked that good and we, the gamers who grew up playing Atari and NES/SNES games, were pretty sure they would never get better. Our hype levels reached unthinkable levels. And then we got the game. We made our way through every nook and cranny. We discovered a story so riveting, we cried. (I’ll admit it, Aeris’ death fucked me up) We discovered a massive world that looked gorgeous. And we discovered summon spells that took our breath away. It was a game that somehow not only lived up to the hype that surrounded it but smashed through and delivered a game none of us could have imagined.
The story of FF7 goes that Squaresoft was originally developing the game for the Nintendo 64. They were disappointed that Nintendo had decided to stick with cartridges for their new system but had always been a Nintendo developer and would stay that way. And then Sony came along and released the Playstation. And with it came the advent of digital gaming. The use of CD-Rom technology meant that games could be much larger and that perhaps most importantly would lift the restrictions that many game developers were becoming increasingly frustrated with. So they jumped ship to the rival upstart. That jump not only meant that Nintendo would lose one of their most popular brands but that Sony was not to be taken lightly. That move, along with a ton of incredible games, legitimized Sony and allowed them to dominate the era. Whereas previously gaming meant NES, from then on gaming meant Playstation. It marked a sea change in the industry. At that moment, Nintendo went from being the place to play everything you could possibly want to being the system you went to to play “Nintendo” games. It is a distinction that exists to this day. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing just the reality of the landscape.
So why these two together? They are some of the rare examples of “things” that live up to the hype that surrounds them. Whereas plenty of things in life get blown up to massive proportions only to let you down, Pliny the Elder and Final Fantasy VII not only meet but exceed your expectations. So grab a bottle, or trade for one most likely, grab a copy of FF7 and experience the deliverance of promise.