Russian River ale named world's best beer

Q: What is strong and comes in small portions only, is available in just a few locations, and requires a wait in long lines after many months?

Oh, and you can't buy it now and won't be able to for nearly a year.

If you're a beer lover you likely already know.

The answer is: The world's best beer.

This year, according to BeerAdvocate, it is Pliny the Younger, the Russian River Brewing Co.'s wunderkind craft brew.

The ultra-hoppy, limited edition Triple India Pale Ale is released once a year and sells out in a couple of weeks. The release in February drew hundreds of fans to Santa Rosa from around the country and beyond.

"It's a magnificent beer," said Ken Weaver, a beer writer and author of the "The Northern California Craft Beer Guide."

At the brewery's Fourth Street pub, manager and bartender Gabe Rivera was pleased but took the news in stride.

"This is, what, the third year," he said.

It's the fourth, actually.

BeerAdvocate is a website for beer lovers that aims, among other things, to "wake the masses to better beer options."

Its rankings are determined by a system that breaks down and analyzes the beer reviews posted by people who use the site.

At the brewery's south Santa Rosa headquarters, co-owner Natalie Cilurzo said, "We are totally flattered and honored."

And, she said, the world's best beer is, in a manner of speaking, in the world's best company.

"It's amazing because there are so many other craft brews out there that are amazing and as good as Pliny the Younger, maybe better," she said.

That, said Weaver, is the clear-eyed way to look at the honor.

"There's no such thing as the worlds best beer," he said. "It beat out everything" on BeerAdvocate "and that is what it is, and that is magnificent."

Then there's how CJ Fields, 25, of Petaluma, sees Pliny the Younger.

"Its the holy grail of beer that I'm trying to chase down," she said.

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