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Pliny The Younger - Russian River Brewing Company

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Pliny The YoungerPliny The Younger

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891 Reviews
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Reviews: 891
Hads: 2,787
Avg: 4.67
pDev: 13.06%
Wants: 5,990
Gots: 332 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Russian River Brewing Company
California, United States | website

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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 891 | Hads: 2,787
Photo of yuichituba
4.08/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I got this on tap at Pi Bar here in San Francisco.
I had to try me some and find out what all the rave was about.

SO ya, pretty darn good! Some strong citrus and pine action happening to this beer. The booziness is more apparent in this beer, but that is somewhat expected in a 11% beer. Overall (if you're a hop head) a very smooth, drinkable beer.

I personally wasn't blown away with though, honestly. My personal opinion as far as why this beer is highly rated is due to how scarce it is, the hype people create from it, as well as how its older brother Pliny the Elder has left a legend in craft beer history pretty much. Don't get me wrong, this is an excellent double/triple IPA, but I think Pliny the Elder is better and enjoyable to drink.

Beer Tuber: youtube.com/BeerichiTuba

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Photo of alohaC
4.1/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at the Toronado. After drinking Pliny the Elder too many times to count, I finally came across the much heralded and harder to find Pliny the Younger on tap. Like the Elder, the Younger pours beautifully with a clean, coppery orange and a nice two-finger head. The smell is pungent with citrus/grapefruit hops, but with less of the sweet pine and floral character you sometimes find in the other good IIPAs. Not a bad thing - just different and you know this one is going to hit you big time with the bitter end of the hops. Flavor is dominated by grapefruity bitterness, but kept in check with a biscuity malt. Mouthfeel is medium and fairly smooth for such a big beer. My only real complaint is I find this beer to be a little more astringent and hot with alcohol on the finish than I like. Where the Elder is the epitome of balance for me, I find this one a bit unbalanced. Some like this, but to me it makes this a "have a pint and then I’m done with it" kinda beer. Another excellent effort by Vinnie, the Yoda of IPAs, but I’d rather hook myself up to an I.V. of the Elder for the night!

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Photo of mpensworth
4.97/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Beautiful in the glass, nice and golden orange with a slight white foam head. The lacing was perfect in my glass as well.

S: Powerful citrus and pine aroma, makes the knees weak.

T: Ka-pow! My palate didn't know what hit it. Lots of pine and grapefruit flavors here, super fresh on the hop taste.

M: Good bitterness, feels pretty light for the amount of hops and alcohol.

D: Amazing flavors with a light balance makes it hard to have just one. I was lucky and got 3 glasses... and definitely felt like I had 3 glasses of it.

Overall it is an incredible beer. I don't think it would be so popular if it were readily available every year. But honestly, part of the enjoyment of this beer was the hunt... and kill.

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Photo of UAhobbes
4.9/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I've been about the hype for two years now...learning about the Younger releases last year and missing my opportunities. After striking out twice already this year, my opportunity came this morning (2/22/14). After the hours of driving, parking, waiting, holding in a coffee dump, waiting, making small talk, waiting, finding a quick spot for said coffee dump, waiting, taking pictures, waiting, and more waiting....my snifter was poured and the deliciousness was before me.

It's an odd feeling, seeing 6 ounces in front of you and realizing that each ounce equated an hour of your life. It's an odd feeling, having what you've "dreamt" over, researched, and hyped over to be in front of you. What do you do first?

Smell: It smells like heaven, or what I hope "heaven" to smell like. To me, it's smell is the liquid brother of bacon smell. The aroma coming off this thing was amazing. Super piney with hints of citrus.

Taste: I sipped too quickly. I don't know if it was the hours of waiting or the general anticipation of it all but I sipped before it had a chance to open up. The first taste, to me, wasn't worth the hype. It wasn't until five-ten minutes went by that I realized just how delicious this beer tasted. The longer I waited, the better it became. The Younger went down so easily, especially for it's 11 ABV.

Overall: Worth it. The combination of how delicious it was, coupled with the camaraderie one creates with other beer nerds makes for a wonderful experience. I'm glad this isn't an everyday beer for it gives us something to yearn for throughout the year.

Long story short, enjoy the process and let it breathe.

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Photo of whitefire
4.3/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Stood in line for 1.5 hours before getting in to the brewery an immediately finding a seat at the bar.

A: Pours a beautiful honey, hazy orange with very little head. In fan]ct, looking across the bar, there are no heads at all on the youngers being poured... slightly disappointing!

S: Very pleasant, lots of citrus.

T: Well balances, good carbonation, hides the alcohol well thought it's present.

O: This is an excellent beer, a must try if you can. In my opinion though, I prefer the elder.... IMO, This beer is a little too boozy and misses out on some of the aspects that I really enjoy about the elder. Still a great brew though.

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Photo of oddb0d
4.37/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I might be one of the few who at least from the 2013 batch of PTE think that it wasn't as good as other beers that I have had. The beer reminded me of a apple or cider after taste. It wasn't as hoppy as I personally would like and it's very smooth. Reminds me of a cross of Apple Cider and Chardonnay and an IPA.

I have heard that 2013 was different from previous years. I prefer Pliny the Younger. Glad I got to try it at Russian River Brewing.

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Photo of Fweezle
4.33/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sampled at a local tasting in St. Louis, big thanks to hooliganlife for bring 2 growlers.

A - Pretty typical of an IPA/DIPA, yellow-orange in color with a tightly dense white head that faded after a minute or so, a peek through the glass showed little hop chunks, awesome.

S - Huge grapefruit and citrus, but pretty one note. Best described as mild grapefruit juice.

T - Great DIPA, lots of citrus like the nose, good amount of malt, maybe some honey like flavors, little bit of pine and black pepper. What stands out to me the most about the beer is the bitterness, alot of DIPA are too syrupy and can't hold back all that sugary sweetness, this one stikes a good balance.

M - Mild mouthfeel, not too watery but has enough body to hold up to the taste.

D - Great great drinkability, hides the 11% perfectly although I was good at one glass.

I gotta say, I'm glad to have tried it. I was really hoping for a life changing event, but alas it was just a really good DIPA and nothing more, I'd be happy to try it again, but at least I know not to get all worked up over future releases.

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Photo of whiskeysoda
4.13/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I got to try this for the first time in my life amidst a mass of beer geeks clambering over the taps at Blue Palms in Hollywood like brokers at the New York Stock Exchange. Luckily I was able to try it again 2 days later at Father's Office in Culver City where it was CONSIDERABLY lower-key, and where I easily got to order 2 glasses (the Blue Plams keg kicked in 7 minutes) and found a seat where I could sit and sip in peace.

It was hard trying to be unbiased considering the enormous hype surrounding the annual release of this "Triple"(?) IPA, especially considering my pre-existing love for overly-aggressive hops in beer. So bear that in mind regarding my write up and rating:

Served in a 14oz tulip glass (dang, just realized 2 glasses of that was a good amount of hooch!), PTY pours with a very attractive, hazy gold-yellow hue and a fine, robust and slightly frothy head.

The NOSE was - not surprisingly - chalk-full of pine, bright grapefruit and white pepper that almost jumped up and tickled your nose.

As far as the TASTE is concerned...11% is not supposed to be this refreshing. The punch-you-in-the-mouth hops and citrus are prominent on the front end. It's safe to say that the characteristic yet subtle caramel/malty balance that most DIPA's share is easily muted, here (not gone, just being wallflowers...they know their place), making the finish seem more like you were drinking a fresh-hopped, 7% rather than what you KNOW you're drinking...

Unlike most high ABV IPA's, Pliny the Younger has a very crisp, lightly carbonated and effervescent MOUTHFEEL that's not at all sticky, aside from a slight residual resiny tinge and a robust, lingering herbaceousness in the FINISH that is reminiscent of having taken a hit off of an ice cold cold bong about 30 minutes earlier. Seriously...there are a lot of hops in here.


All I can say is this: this is a fantastic DIPA in it's own right, but by no means would I call it "The Best." There are more balanced IPA's out there; even those that showcase hops better. That being said: I have to admit that, in lieu of the drikability vs ABV quotient, I'd have to say this is the best/most dangerous high-alcohol IPA I've ever tried. Huge alcohol without being overly sweet or boozy. You've been warned.

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Photo of rudeboy916
4.97/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into an eight ounce glass. It appears medium bodied gold with only a thin layer of white foam.

I get an herbal grapefruit like smell to the beer. There is a bit of a grassy pine like smell as well. All you can smell in this beer are strong fresh dank hops.

It tastes initially very citrus like. I get a bit of a grapefruit flavor. There is a strong pine like dank flavor. There is a grassy hop flavor as well. I detect almost no malt presence in this beer. Hops are the star of this beer (obviously). The beer attacks the palate with a strong but pleasant bitterness. The herbal, slightly citrus, pine like and bitter quality of the hops all linger on for quite a while. This is a very clean and smooth tasting beer. In many ways this beer shows constraint and is not over the top (though the craziness surrounding this beer is).

The carbonation is moderate. There is a crisp mouthfeel to this beer.

The drinkability for being 11 percent is pretty good. It goes down quite easy but due to how flavorful it is this beer is a sipper. I could drink a few glasses of this if given the opportunity.

Overall a nearly flawless beer. I think the hype surrounding this beer is insane but the beer really is amazingly good. The cleanest, most flavorful (yet restrained) double/ triple IPA I have had.

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Photo of E1337JERK
4.92/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Amazing beer. cool I got some only wait a little over 3 hrs with good company. Like having my mouth ran trew a forest and calling me back for more best beer ive ever had.

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Photo of Gerad_12
4.96/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Stood in line back in February at Samuel Hornes in Folsom, Ca. The 2 hour wait was well worth it. Amazing IPA. Great nose, feel, and taste is incredible especially considering the 11%

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Photo of xdopiex
4.85/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Waited 3 hours in line for this gem. Had I come 30 minutes earlier, I could've been in with an hour wait. Le sigh.

On tap. 10oz glass

A: Clear amber, thin head that leaves little/no lacing on the sides.
S: Decent amount of citrus, very reminiscent of PtE. Little bit of pine.
T: Grapefruit malty front end giving way to a brutally fantastic hop that sticks in your mouth. Medium body that made you feel you were drinking something substantial, and again that lingering sweet flavor that bows out to reveal a great hop backbone.
O: I found myself admiring the beer and thinking about it the more I drank it. The contrast with PtE was surprising and it's easy to see why this pulls out ahead as the superior IPA, since the hop profile is more aggressive. Absolutely astounding.

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Photo of Shane94941
5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had it on tap at the brewpub on release day...in a word unbelievable. One sip and my perspective of IPA's was changed forever. Completely destroyed my taste buds. Sticky and chewy in the mouth. Today (2 days after release) I just opened a growler and it is just as awesome. It is IPA perfection. Floral hop scent, good head, a little cloudy. The hops resonate in my mouth and the bitterness removes all saliva. If you are a hophead this is the pinnacle of beer.

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Photo of BOLTZ7555
4.95/5  rDev +6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks to Sparky27 for the tip on this. Tried at Hollingshead Deli along side it’s older brother. Let’s just say that it’s good to be young!!! This rating would be insignificant but it is my 50th rating in the top 100!!! What a beer to mark being half-way there!!! Bright orange peel, lemon zest, and floral aroma with hints on evergreen. Huge 2-inch tight white foam with an amazing blaze orange body. Lacing clinging mightily to the inside of the glass, a fond memory of the sip that just transpired. Flavor is incredible...definitely more aggressive and profound than it’s older sibling. Orchard fresh nectarine, Ponderosa pine, and a bit of grapefruit rind tartness in the finish. Coating yet not cloying mouthfeel. AN INCREDIBLE SPECIMEN!!!

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

16 oz pour on tap at hollingshead deli in orange county. Waited in line for 2 hours at 8 am in the morning on a monday was well worth it. Drank side by side with a PtE

A- Appearance is a Dark Gold mostly clear of cloudiness from yeast.

S- Piny strong hop presence much like its elder brother.

T- Taste is amazing! makes the elder next to it taste like a coors.

M- Goes down smooth

O- One of the best beers I've ever had.

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Photo of Machinehead
5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I have to say I was very skeptical about this one. I've been to the RRBC several times, and overall arn't a big fan of too many of their beers, including the elder (OK, imo). Maybe it was the waiting in line on a warm california day that makes you appreciated a cold beer more, but I have to say that for the most part the hype is true. I agree with the prev reviewer, it's 11%, and you can't taste the alcohol AT ALL. This a truely DANGEROUS BEER. The best description that I could come up with at the time was that you take the Elder and add the subtle, yet complex taste of a Belgian and this is what you get. I'm not a big IPA fan, but this one is definitely the exception (and I've tried a lot of IPA's looking for one I like, but so far this one is IT).

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Photo of ssuggs01
4.7/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to St. Stephens Green in Phili for my first taste of Younger

A small white head that quickly fades to a small ring that leaves a light lacing on the glass. Great clarity. Pale amber in color. Smell is a conundrum of big fruity hops, underlying honey sweetness. Tons of citrus and tropical fruits. The first sip of this elusive beer was a punch to the face with all sorts of hops. It's slightly sweet, but not what your expeting from a beer with such a high abv. MMM. Mouthfeel is great. Medium carbonation. Long finish with hops being prevalent all the way through. Drinkability is great. I almost chugged my first one in order to ensure I could get a second and did so with no problem. Then I had a third and the Pliny really started to kick in. This is a very exceptional brew and I hope I have the chance to enjoy this one again in the future. Kudos to RR for making this gem and sending it all the way to Phili for us to enjoy.

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Photo of heartofgold
4.58/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I made a 2 hour road trip to Russian River a few days before the 2 week pouring "window" ended, in hopes of tasing the legend. I landed in the brewery by early afternoon and easily found a barstool. Score!

I was poured my 8 oz portion immediately. The color was a gold/bronze with a thin head that quickly dissapated to a thin lacing.

The nose was less than expected, given my PtE experience. The pine was present but not much citrus.

The taste was extremely balanced for such a big beer. It was BIG in hops and malt without being too toasted or sharp. The smoothness ended earlier than the hoppy bitterness, giving this one a bit of a kick at the end compared to its uncle.

The mouthfeel matched the magnificent taste...the hops provided a full experience and the subtle carbonation helped this big beer go down smoothly, something to watch for with a beer this big!

I loved the beer. I had an Elder taste during my session (of 3 8 oz pours) and found that while the nose of the Elder was superior, the overall impact (i.e. Lupluin shift) of the younger made the Elder difficult to enjoy or compare while in its "zone". I will enjoy PtY again if I get the chance. Meanwhile I continue to target PtE with my homebrew efforts.

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Photo of Muthacack
4.86/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I am privileged to live within driving distance to RR brewery. Luckily my dad doesn't like hoppy beers, so he drove. Went last year on a weekday and had a great experience. This year I went on a Sunday so we got there a little early because we expected a line. By the time it opened there were probably over 300 people in line. I had 4 glasses and had a great time once again. I also had it a few weeks later at Tazzina Bistro in Woodland, CA. Each of my beers were 10oz pours.

A- Pours a very pale yellow. Each time I was served this beer there was almost no head, a sprinkling of white around the edges. But it is not what it appears to be.

S- A very inviting sweet floral smell. The pine and citrus round it all out. Clean and balanced yet very hoppy.

T- Hops are everywhere but everything seems so well balanced. It almost seems impossible to fit this many IBUs in a beer and have it be this balanced. The sweetness is also balanced by the citrus and pine notes.

M- Smooth and nice body. The carbonation is there. The pine sits on your tongue and really takes away some of the strong alcohol feel.

O- The most balanced beer I have ever had. Very strong hops that work well together, This beer is never overpowering in any aspect. I would drive for a day to have this beer next year... luckily I don't have to.

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Photo of Dirtstylez
5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

First of all I just wanted to say I am not one of these guys who went to beer college and pretends to know anything about beer. I know what I like and I know that Russian River has a huge hype behind them...But its the real deal. Pliny the Younger has been on my radar for a long time and finally got a chance to get a taste this past weekend at Harrys Hofbrau. It did NOT disappoint. From the second I got the beer in my hand(4oz pour) I swirled it around in my glass for what seemed like 10 minutes smelling the hell out of it. I wanted to stick it up my nose and breathe it in forever...It was refreshing. Its definitely got a huge scent and taste of grape fruit. Super smooth, much more than the Elder but amazing. Well worth the wait in line and wish it wasnt so hard to get...But I see why it is. If this beer isnt on your bucket list revise that list today! Cheers

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Photo of brewbacca
4.72/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

thee triple ipa of the west coast, had it on tap at the toronado's 18th birthday. served in a tulip.

appearance - nice warm golden color, with a decent head that retained it self through the serving ( I drink pretty fast), mild carbonation,

smell: like being in a pine tree forest, with david the nome

taste: amazingly smooth, not as rough as the elder, can't believe that this is an 11% abv, until I stood up from my third glass, I saw pixies fly around my head. It had a great finish that was silky smooth with hoppy tones and some pale malty notes, cabonation was light and didn't effect the taste much

overall, one of my favorite west coast ipa's, would be a great compliment to anything salty. which I was enjoying ribs and buffalo wings at the time. it wasn't to filling so you could down several before the alcohol got to you.

If you get a chance to come to san francisco make the journey north to russian river for the some of the best west coast brews.

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Photo of bluz4frank
5/5  rDev +7.1%
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.

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Photo of kylegillick
4.8/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On tap at Toronado, San Francisco

Smell:grapefruit, pine, a little floral, the hops fill your senses with delight

Taste: Sweet, grapefruit, pine, slight spicy hints. Hops, hops, and some more hops. what was most surprising was the balance. incredible balance. The bitterness takes control of you but does no overpower. Similar to PtE but less harsh. 11% ABV but tastes like 6.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: I could drink this all day, or until the 3rd glass when I fall over due to intoxication. So So drinkable due to the incredible balance.

Amazing brew, definitely the best beer in its class. A must for any hophead out there. Its a shame they only brew it once a year, but im sure my wallet appreciates that...

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Photo of MaddMatt639
4.26/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Tasted on February 16, 2013 (a 45oz. pour at Harry's Hofbrau in Redwood City):

A: A very light amber color and a small head(but it's only a 4 oz. pour).

S: Very hoppy right up front, lots and lots of citrus notes and some pine. A slight malty note in the end.

T: Lot's of hops and citrus notes in the beginning. Very piney half-way through and just the right amount of maltiness in the end.

M: Medium heaviness on the tongue, which switches to heavy after a few seconds. Can taste the hops for a long while after with a little maltiness to it.

O: A pretty damn good beer and nearly lives up to full expectations. Enjoyed the hops and pine thoroughly. Would love to have a full pour in the future.

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Photo of tomakeanend
5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I don't know if this is the 'world's best beer'. But it is the best I have ever tasted. Hands-down.

Smooth, bold flavors, and a refreshing, crisp finish. The two loveliest ladies in my life surprised me by waiting in line two hours to secure the last two tickets for a special pouring of Pliny the Younger, while I was stuck at work all day and none the wiser. It's pretty much the perfect brew. I highly recommend.

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Pliny The Younger from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 891 ratings.