SF Beer Week is officially off and running as of tonight, and with it comes the annual race to track down Pliny the Younger. The cult-favorite triple IPA, made by Santa Rosa's acclaimed Russian River Brewing Company, has earned all kinds of "Best Beer" accolades, and since it's only served in a handful of spots during its February-only release window, fans have gotten a little obsessive about trying to find it. (Last year, waits got up to the 12-hour mark at Russian River's Santa Rosa brewpub—in the freezing rain, no less.) A handful of RRBC's longstanding accounts always get in kegs of Younger, including the Toronado and City Beer Store, but they try to keep their tappings on the DL, to stem the hordes; the only place that'll fess up to exactly when they'll have the stuff is The Monk's Kettle, which always taps one keg a year for charity on the Wednesday morning of Beer Week (and as a result, draws insane lines). Everyone else is stuck with following tweets, Facebook posts, and frantic texts to find the coveted brew.
Now, a married duo of developers have created a website to help the lazy find their Pliny—or any other coveted beer, for that matter. Allison and Brian O'Neill, craft beer aficionados and engineers, teamed up to build Taplist, a service that will notify you when a bar in your area is serving the beer you desire. The service draws its data from the API for Untappd, the most popular beer social network, which allows users to "check in" with the beer they're drinking at a given bar. Set a notification for Younger, and it'll e-mail you as soon as someone checks in with their glass from a nearby pub. (Whether or not you can ditch work to go hunt it down is an entirely different problem.)
The O'Neills originally created Taplist as a means of tracking what was on draft at the Toronado, which didn't publish its draft menu online until last year. But the service works for any bar in the U.S., and any beer listed on Untappd (provided someone checks in, of course). They've stayed relatively underground since then, but were willing to share it with the public in this, the most competitive of beer seasons. However, don't expect to see them next to you in line. "Younger was one of the first triple IPAs, and it really paved the way, but the hype is too much," says Brian O'Neill. "It's a really good beer, but there are other good beers out there. I won't wait in line for it." If you want the Younger experience without the lines, he recommends Iron Springs' Compulsory (a triple IPA that actually beat Younger in a blind taste test at City Beer last year) and Kern River's Citra Double IPA. Both will be available at the Bistro's annual Double and Triple IPA Fest, to be held tomorrow in Hayward, and you can set Taplist notifications for them as well. However, if you must have Younger, here's where to go to set notifications.