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Pliny The Younger - Russian River Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Pliny The YoungerPliny The Younger

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BA SCORE
100
world-class

2,589 Ratings
THE BROS
95
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,589
Reviews: 891
rAvg: 4.69
pDev: 8.96%
Wants: 4,973
Gots: 213 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Russian River Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial IPA |  11.00% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: xlperro on 01-27-2005

Pliny the Younger, the man, was Pliny the Elder’s nephew and adopted son. They lived nearly 2,000 years ago! Pliny the Elder is our Double IPA, so we felt it was fitting to name our Triple IPA after his son. It is almost a true Triple IPA with triple the amount of hops as a regular I.P.A. That said, it is extremely difficult, time and space consuming, and very expensive to make. And that is why we don’t make it more often! This beer is very full-bodied with tons of hop character in the nose and throughout. It is also deceptively well-balanced and smooth.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,589 | Reviews: 891 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by tomserio:
Photo of tomserio
4.75/5  rDev +1.3%

More User Reviews:
Photo of Bouleboubier
4.36/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

(combination of samplings consecutive days at City Tap House and Monk's Cafe, respectively)

I'll just start off by stating that this is one of, if not, the most well-balanced, elegantly-crafted hoppy ale(s) I've come across. A true example of brewing art. That said, the taste is quite fine but perhaps a bit underwhelming for more seasoned hop heads.

The liquid is a fiery orange hue with a jewel-like glow, faint haze, and nearly pure white, sticky-cottony foam that stands for a bit before being overcome by lip oils and/or the alcohol level. Looks nice, but nothing out of the ordinary.

The smell is somewhat, somehow restrained, but has one of the most well-defined, 3D aromatic representations of a handful of newly-dried hop cones in the palm of one's hand - dirty/earthy with a ghostly, subtle, spirit-lifting, mildly-mineral, tonic alcohol delivering it to the sinuses... mild orange-citrus undertones... once again, nice, but requiring a few healthy, deep inhales to take it in.

The flavor is ridiculously refined - it is easily seen that this is PtE, attenuated, flattened-out. Tastes about the same, just the depth and definition found in PtE is lacking in this. One would guess, however, that the alcohol would jump out a bit more in PtY and, yet, it doesn't at all. It's amazing how well-hidden it is, though a sense of quiet warmth rises by the last couple sips. Perception of bitterness is minimal, if at all a factor. Extremely well-balanced, but nearly brut-champagne-like in its dryness - the hops (flavor) and malt are too quiet.

Where this beer really captured my attention and imagination was in its absolutely feather-light body. It's as if the carbonation was the only thing that indicated to my senses that I had beer in my mouth. I wouldn't be surprised if this beer finishes at down close to 1.002-1.004. While I attempted to savor it at CTH, at Monk's (owing partly to the excellent special draft list) I powered through it in 3-4 sips. Sooo easy to drink. Dangerous.

Photo of Treyliff
4.82/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

On tap at Monk's Cafe Mad Monday, 6 oz pour into a small wine glass

A- Pours a slightly hazy golden color with a small creamy white head that reduces to a small layer, leaving a touch of lace behind

S- citrus explosion with lots of grapefruit, orange peel, cantaloupe, guava and passionfruit. I could literally smell this from about three feet away

T- raw danky hops are front are so clean and showcased, to a degree that i've only experienced in a few DIPA's. A clean malty sweetness compliments perfecty, hemp and fresh clean mint close it out. The finish is very similar to Elder, only a bit hoppier

M- medium body and mouthfeel leads to a creamy mouthfeel and a clean hoppy finish. Alcohol is hidden nearly perfectly

O- this one lived up to the hype for me, it has many characteristics as Pliny the Elder, just more hoppy goodness packed in. I had to stand in line for a long time to try this, but it was worth being able to say that I've sampled this legend.

Photo of Micros32
4.88/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Easily the best triple IPA ever. Very smooth and not overpowering holiness. Can smell Pliny the younger from 5ft away. Get your hands on it. Lives up to its reputation.

Photo of socon67
4.42/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured at Monk's Mad Monday event.

A - Golden pour with a clear look. Foam head settled fast (*these were poured rapidly for 100+ people). Slight lacing rides down the glass.

S - Strong scents of pine, some pineapple & mango tropical fruit smell, and hop resin that gives some lingering tobacco notes.

T - Rich flavors of tropical fruit at the front. There is an intense malt presence that keeps the high IBU's tempered. It is not a hop bomb at all.

M - This cannot be any better. Balance on a triple IPA can only be matches, not improved. The body of Younger feels rich on the palate.

O - Now that this is ticked on the bucket list, I can say that PtY is a work of brewing art. Vinny made an inspirational beer that seems less impressive as more heavily hopped & well balanced beers are made. This is the original, and still iconic beer.

Photo of simcoeluv
5/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I have been attending the Pliny the Younger release for several years. I have never rated the beer before. It has always been very, very good.

2015 is the most balanced Younger I have tasted.

It is great. There are no competitors.

Period.

Hint - ask for a tulip glass, pour the Younger in it and let Younger warm for 15 or 30 minutes - it will be better than you even imagined.

Photo of MisSigsFan
4.54/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A really really well made and balanced TIPA. The hype kind of ruined it for me. It was good, but there are many "triple" IPAs that you can get that are just as good or better. Simtra, Hoparillo, and RuinTen come to mind immediately. Younger might have been the first of its kind, but these days there's not much to separate it from the rest of the crowd. Like Elder, it showcases a similar piney/grapefruity character and honestly if I didn't know it was 10.25% I wouldn't have known. The sweet malts hint at the higher ABV but there is no booziness to it at all. I think I waited about 30 minutes to try it, and I'm glad I got to try it, but probably not worth it again.

Photo of bluz4frank
5/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Can I say anything more about this beer than has already been published? Sat next to Vinnie during the day we were there. He mentioned he thought it was the best batch so far. I agree. My fourth year attending and it was definitely the best. A good friend is a photographer for the Santa Rosa Press Democratn who has done dozens of stories about Vinnie and his beer. Even HE said it was the best batch ever.

Photo of jakewatt135
4.65/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

This and the elder side by side made the elder seem like it had no hops it in. Amazing beer. Super light body, not painfully malty like you could expect at 11% and honestly not crazy hoppy either.

Photo of 31Sam13
4.75/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Worthy of the hype...the alcohol is apparent but seems part of the overall package that is not overly anything...bitter, but not too much so....well balanced...good hop kick with fruit notes from many angles...tropical comes to mind...

Photo of DudeBeerYaBro
5/5  rDev +6.6%

smell: like a brighter version of elder. hops up front, giving way to more hops...residual sweetness.
taste: booyah. piny, earthy hops up front. quick burst of citrus fruit in the middle, finish long and dry with a pleasant balanced bitterness.

Photo of Benempt
5/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Drank at the bar at Russian River on superbowl Monday! The wait on Sunday was eight hours, Monday night I walked right in and sat at the bar.

Tasting against Pliny the Elder, Pliny the Younger is crisp, somehow light?, and just delicious. It is amazing that it has so much alcohol. Compare too against the syruping, nearly chewy 120 minute Dogfish head IPA - Pliny the Younger is clear and good and just so, so drinkable.

Photo of BuckeyeNation
5/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Received from the BA's BA, RedwoodGeorge, as part of his recent Home Bottling Project. Thanks a million George for bringing smiles to this hoppy beer lover, along with many others.

Electric tangerine with juicy pineapple edges. The French vanilla canopy is three fingers in height and looks incredibly thick, rich and creamy. There's been very little deflation in the several minutes since the pour and it appears as if the head will last forever. I don't have forever, though, because I'm dying to take a sip. It eventually melts just enough to reveal a thick, sticky coat of lace with a few dots of visible glass. I prefer dirty, hop-flecked DIPAs, but this one is more than superb.

The nose is, without question, one of the best in all of beerdom. I was pretty sure that it would be pure hoppy bliss... and it is. And then some. There's an incandescent, brain-filling explosion of the sweetest, juiciest hops imaginable each time I venture anywhere near the glass. Thankfully, the malt is buried without a trace, allowing the hops to work their incredible, lupulinirific magic. One of the best of all-time.

Pliny The Younger is a gorgeous, unbelievably delicious Double IPA. There's no question in my mind that this style should be all about the hops. Those that favor the caramel malty, more balanced side of the DIPA continuum, edging into barleywine territory, miss the opportunity to brew transcendent, explosively hop-centric beer, the likes of which is sitting before me right now. Make no mistake, this one is all about the hops. And hops. And more hops.

There's a solid, sugar cookie-like maltiness that lays down an unshakable base and provides support for whatever tonnage of hoppage that may be thrown its way. The trick is in laying off any hint of toastedness or caramel-like flavors that would dilute or mask the citric hoppiness. Lightly (and I do mean lightly) brown sugar-crusted candied grapefruit peel abounds, along with a blissful bitterness that is unrelenting in its pithy intensity.

I may be able to appreciate the slightest hint of bitter orange, but white grapefruit is front, center and side-to-side. I'd love to know what varieties comprise the hop bill, but it's pretty obvious that the best hops in the known universe (one or more of the 4-Cs) are represented in a major way. I just can't get over the liquid candy-like, sweet and bitter, unalloyed nature of the hoppiness. Pliny is everything that you've heard it is and is everything that I hoped it would be.

It's nearly impossible to completely bury a 10.5% ABV, but Russian River has given it a Hurculean effort. I'm not sure that I'd want the alcohol to be completely absent since it provides a power and presence that lets you know that this is a serious beer that must be respected. Hell, I repect it for the flavor alone. Maybe it's my elation at the out-of-this-world taste, but I'm halfway through the bomber and I'm barely feeling it. This is the most drinkable 10.5%'er ever!

The mouthfeel is simply perfect. Mouthfillingly full with an incredible lasting stickiness after the swallow. Lushly sappy is my favorite sort of DIPA mouthfeel and this beer fits that descripton to a 'T'. When it comes to the carbonation, I have to give credit to RedwoodGeorge for the amazing re-bottling effort. I had some qualms that PTY would be over-carbonated, but that hasn't been borne out in the actual drinking. It's perfect: enlivening without being the least bit spritzy, fading to muted by the second half of the bomber.

I held off on contacting RedwoodGeorge for a trade that would have brought me a growler of Pliny The Younger because I knew that I would love this beer more than any other that I've ever had and wanted to experience it in Santa Rosa, as it should (ideally) be experienced. When the opportunity came my way, however, thanks entirely to George's incredible generosity, I just couldn't turn down the chance to try one of the world's best.

Before cracking the crown, I told myself that there was no way I could give perfect scores to a beer that had been re-bottled from a keg, no matter how outstanding. I'm glad to report that I was wrong. Pliny The Younger is a remarkable beer that transcends any attempt on my part to put its magnificence into words. I still plan to make it out to Santa Rosa some day. When I do, I'm going to ask the Alstroms to come up with a rating scale that includes sixes, 'cause I'm gonna need 'em.

Photo of RoyalT
4.59/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance – This one came out a deep, rich orange in color with a monster head that just refused to go down.

Smell – Oh, shit, this is da hop bomb. I’ve had some pretty big hoppy beers before, to include The Chunks that requires a strainer to drink, but this thing was just huge.

Every hop, and I mean EVERY hop, that I have ever had is in this nose. The grapefruit, the citrus, the rare Simcoe, East Coast Amarillo, giant PacNW pine sap, huge monster citrus, big floral, and anything else you can think of it in this bouquet. Oh, and there’s a huge, monstrous super-sugary caramel malt sweetness here as well.

Taste – This is a sledgehammer made of hops striking down on the head of the barstool-affixed patron. It’s not unexpected though, because this is one of their best-selling beers.

The complex hops from the nose hit hard and mercilessly at the taste. This really is like liquid hop syrup, and if you’re a hophead looking for the next, biggest hop fix than the buck stops here. It really doesn’t get any bigger than this.

Mouthfeel – This full-bodied hop bomb is a meal in itself. Interestingly, the huge sugary caramel-infused malt balance keeps this one from being extra bitter, although significant bitterness is present.

Drinkability – If The Ruination is a delicate ballerina floating on the DAIPA stage, this is a steroid-using 260 pound female bodybuilder whoopin’ your ass. But man oh man is this good. Somebody tried to take a sip from my glass but I knocked them out into the street. I think it was my mama.

Comments – Vinnie the brewer said that he can’t run Pliny The Younger with Pliny The Elder because The Elder tap gets stale. The Younger is the clear patron’s choice.

He gave me the run down on the hopping of this beer, but I can’t begin to remember it all. He adds a complex mix of hops at four different stages of the brewing cycle then dry-hops the beer four times with varying mixes of hops. There’s an emphasis on Amarillo and Cascade, but he has everything in here from Centennial to Simcoe to all else in between.

The beauty of this concoction is that he got it so hoppy. He did it in “stages”, because at some point you can keep adding hops but the IBUs don’t change and you can’t really taste them. It really is a work of art and an amazing accomplishment from an excellent brewer. Cheers!

Photo of pbsmooth
5/5  rDev +6.6%

Photo of ricke
4.42/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2009 vintage.

Pours a golden orange with red hues and a small off-white head.

The aroma is a bit shy at first, but looses up after a while. fruity exotic hop notes of grapefruit, peaches and mango. Then, a more peppery and piny hop character with hints of tobacco takes over. Quite a lot of caramel malts is present, as well is a hint of alcohol.

The flavor is big and intense. A wide range of flavors are present: sweet and sticky caramel malts at the base, and lots of layers of fresh hops. Exotic fruits, pine-needles, grass and resins. The finish is spectacular with a quick flare of warming alcohol, lots of bittering hops and hints of grass and peaches.

Full-bodied and sticky with a semi-dry finish.

This is a great beer. Better than Elder? Hard to decide, but the accentuated sweetness in this one sure makes them different.

Photo of DavyJones
5/5  rDev +6.6%

Photo of abeerdude
4.75/5  rDev +1.3%

Photo of Dabeel
4.25/5  rDev -9.4%

Photo of woodchipper
4.75/5  rDev +1.3%

Photo of readicculus
5/5  rDev +6.6%

Photo of AdvocateFan
4.9/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Ap: Hazy straw color, nice white head, fades pretty quickly, but hangs on exceptionally long for an 11% ABV brew. Collar remains indefinitely. Bubbles rise to the surface at a slow pace due to the apparent viscosity of this big brew.

Aroma: Huge resinous, ammonia-amped hop aroma. Fat, deep malts also evident. Fusel alcohol is also evident, but restrained. A gem on the nose for hopheads. Bristling with resins, pine and agro-grapefruit skins.

Taste: Fantastically big hop flavor slams the palate, but still, this is restrained when compared to their IPA or even Pliny the Elder, their double IPA. Vinnie Cirluzo is credited in some circles as the father of the double IPA, and this massive brew is billed as a triple IPA. Like the truly well done bourbons and cognacs out there, this big beer is smooth and quite elegant and deceptively potent.

Finish: Tight, drying bitterness is big, but there is actually a hefty malt backbone that somehow manages to support the huge hop load. Finishes with tons of resinous pine and hop-sap flavors with almost cloying malt and hop sweetness. Beautiful indeed.

Misc: Surprisingly easy to drink considering the hop and ABV content. I paid $26.75 for the original growler (had to buy one to fill), but couldn’t afford the weight on my flight home so had to have it mailed to me for what turned out to be an unexpectedly whopping $60. So, all told, for $86.75 for the growler, I’m taking my time sipping it. Thankfully the growler has a swivel-top clamp that makes for easy resealing. The most expensive brew I’ve purchased considering, but still, I’m gonna say it’s worth it to have this one in my fridge. A true indulgence and an absolute must for the hardcore hopheads out there. Genius in a bottle. I was so ridiculously jealous of the local Santa Rosans who can just walk in and order a 10-oz serving of this beer any time they want (though it's plainly stated that they're restricted to no more than 3 of the higher ABV beers per night). Lucky bastards! Service at the pub was fantastic and the gourmet pizzas were very nicely done.

Photo of newk340
4.97/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Finally got to try after waiting for 3 years! On-tap at Churchill's 3/3.

A: A gorgeous translucent pale gold, a thin fluffy white head and beautiful lacing...

S: Gentle hop aromas grace the nose, nothing overpowering with some hints of lemongrass.

T: Extremely pleasant taste of hops straight off, but quickly fades into faint citrus flavors. A fantastic balance of flavors.

MF/D: Wow, this beer goes down extremely smoothly for the ABV. Faint bubbles dance across the mouth dispersing the flavors equally. Definitely worth the wait and lived up to my hype. Can't wait for it again next year!

Photo of orbitalr0x
4.82/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to RedwoodGeorge for this handbottled bomber, counterpressure filled from a keg and sent off to me. Pliny The Younger pours from the bomber an amazingly clear bright orange/peach color with a half inch of frothy bubbly white head on top. Slow carbonation rises up to meet some sticky lacing. Aromas of beautiful, vibrant hop cones attack my senses with bold citrus, grapefruit and pine needle aromas. A sweet, slighty doughy caramel undercurrent is present as well. Quite possibly hop nirvana. Green, leafy, floral and quite simply enchanting. Wow.

First sip brings a rush of intense piney and citric hop oils across the palate. Bitterness establishes itself from the get go as the resinous hops relentlessly attack the palate. The underlying caramel, mildly doughy maltiness does a good job of holding things together. Such an awe inspiring amalgamation of wonderful hop flavors. Green, intense and vibrant, like sucking on a fresh hop cone. One awesomely hoppy, incredibly tasty brew, no doubt about it.

Mouthfeel is smooth, medium bodied and creamy with the perfect amount of carbonation. This beer is a joy to drink. Honestly, the only hinderance to the drinkability here is the high abv, otherwise I could sit and enjoy this fabulously hoppy brew all day long. A hopheads dream come true, I only hope to have the chance to sample this again someday. Guess it's time to plan that trip to California, so I can sit and adore this one at the source. Russian River strikes again!

Photo of lateralundertow
4.65/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

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Pliny The Younger from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 2,589 ratings.