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Pliny The Elder - Russian River Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder

Educational use only; do not reuse.

3,441 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 3,441
Hads: 12,959
Avg: 4.6
pDev: 15.43%
Wants: 6,595
Gots: 3,204 | FT: 97
Brewed by:
Russian River Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial IPA |  8.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 08-24-2003

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Pliny The Elder Alström Bros
Reviews: 3,441 | Hads: 12,959
Photo of bwd110
4.65/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Received this in trade from jadamski1 (thanks josh)

Have had the elder on tap in the Philly area a bunch of times now, good to sit down with a bottle relaxing at home...

on label: bottled on 04/07/09
500ml bottled poured into DFH snifter

A: Golden straw color, somewhat murky. Nice fluffy pearl white head. Somewhat short retention, yields way to sudsy lacing.

S: Just beautiful. Sweet citrus and grassy pine notes dominate. Hint of breadiness suggests good malty balance in this brew. A delight to sit back and breathe this in.

T: I'm ready to move to California. Wonderful citrus and tropical fruit notes mixed nicely with grassy, resinous pine hops. The blend of the hops and malt is perfect. No real sweet or caramel notes from the malt, just a nice earthy balance to the intense hop flavor.

M: Perfect carbonation, medium body, covers the palate well. The perfect finish. I'll say it again - creamy smooth, then dry bitter crisp and gone in a heartbeat. Perfect.

D: You couldn't pry this out of my hands. Why doesn't a Russian River pipeline to my home bar exist?

There's nothing else to say about this beer that others haven't. Damn fine beer, wonderfully crafted.

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Photo of HalfFull
4.17/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Unimpressed by Blind Pig on tap I gave it a chance from the bottle. It failed but I thought I'd do the same for the Elder. Decent on tap but not overwhelming, I've found a sample bottled all of 7 days ago. Fresh is best they say, doesn't get much fresher.

Poured from a 500 ml. bottle into a large wine glass, this guy pours a similar golden honey in color yet offers a nice half inch of medium density slightly off white head which leads to some nice lacing, eventually just some scattered surface bubbles remain.

Smell too is improved in the bottle vs. the tap. The same blast of hops is there but a bit more complex. Improving as it warms to offer some ripe fruit and occasional pine notes.

Taste is interesting with some citric notes initially, a hop oil flavor in the middle, finishing somewhat coarse and bready. At first this hit me a bit too hard and had a smoky flavor, becoming more balanced with a little exposure. Somewhat creamy on the feel as the carbonation settles a bit too swiftly exposing the malt underbelly and segueing to the thinness of it's tap version. Still highly drinkable, particularly given the strength, and I can now see some association to the Younger in this bottled version.

Surely better than the tap glass I had and surely much fresher at 7 days old. I might have confused this with Pure Hoppiness, though perhaps a bit more viscous and buttery. Yet in the end good, quite good, but not great.

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Photo of richtersf
4.62/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Requested this at the Co-Op in Moscow, Idaho and was very pleased when it came in due to its reputation. Was a little sad to see it priced at over $6. Whatever, picked 2 up and brought them home to find myself very happy with the beer.

A- an orangy brown with pure almost guiness white head

S- medium to heavy hop scent with hints of orange

T- heaven. Tried the first beer freezing cold but found more flavor waiting as it got warmer. Great hop mix blended well with notes of orange, perhaps pine, and definitely grapefruit. Tastewise, has the complexity I wish every beer did.

M- good carbonation, a bit heavy on the texture for me, but still a good medium texture

D- a little on the filling side but still couldn't get enough

Overall, a fantastic beer tastewise and in my top 5 ipas. Wish it wasn't so expensive but it's understandable. Cheers!

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.2/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Jerk44 for this one.

A: Orange colored with a good head and plenty of lace.

S: Lots of hops, backed up by some nice citrus and tropical fruits.

T: Much like the smell, with the hoppiness taking over a little bit in a good way.

M: Medium-bodied with a good amount of carbonation. The alcohol is barely present.

D: All around a very good beer. Absolutely cannot wait for August to get out to California and try this one on tap.

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Photo of Yesac
4.02/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to supermanjace for trading me this 500ML bottle with a bottled on date that is 3 weeks old. Umm fresh Pliny.

A- Very clear orange in color. Small bubbly white head.

S- Big freshly cut grass fresh hop skunk smell.

T- Along with the smell.. fresh cut grassy tones.
Very sweet bold bitterness from the hops. Piney. Punget fresh hops cling to the palate and taste is residual in between sips. So where is the balance? Ninja bready malt notes rise up at the very end. There is malt here indeed. This brew lacks complexity.

M- Thick bodied. Great coating of taste evenly layers the palate. Medium/high carbonation.

D- Hop heads dream in a bottle. Easy drinking. I love the freshness. I think overall the bitterness is just a tad over the top.

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Photo of YonderWanderer
4.3/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a clear, clean copper with a thin layer of foam on top. It fades quickly leaving slight rings of lace.

S: Big pine hops lead the way. Hints of resin, and a bit of citrus around the edge. This is one hoppy f'n beer.

T: Taste follows suit. Huge pine hop flavor with an edge of resin on the side. A tinge of citrus lasts throughout as well. Malt is there to provide balance, but doesn't really impact flavor. Alcohol warms a tiny bit, but is hidden by the hops.

M: Crisp, smooth, and proper carbonation. Nice dry, hoppy finish in this one.

D: This is a powerfully hoppy brew, and one sure to destroy your taste buds with its hoppy goodness. Great brew for a hophead. I could drink 'em all the time.

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Photo of amneziak
4.57/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Like Russian River's other IPA, Blind Pig, Pliny the Elder pours a bit lighter than one would expect of an IPA. This one is a slightly cloudy pale orange color with a very nice amount of lacing that coats the glass. There is not a severe amount of head, but enough to really help carry the aromas and open the beer up in the mouth.

Smell: The smell is one of the truly remarkable elements of the beer. I don't think I've smelled an Imperial IPA that is this clean before. The hops are very bright here and smell just like you'd want them to smell. It doesn't take on too much of the pineapple and mango qualities as much as it does peach and mango. This is definitely one of the more supreme smelling hop beers I've tried.

Taste: Along with the aroma, the taste of this beer is very clean and hoppy. There is a fair amount of bitterness that does take over the flavor. I'm surprised at how light this tastes, but that is one of the great things about Russian River - they always make clean and intensely flavored beers. I'm really loving just about everything that's hitting my mouth right now.

Mouthfeel: I would say this is medium bodied just bordering on being light. As I said, the bitterness is very nice and the light nature of the beer makes this very enjoyable on the palate. If this were something I could get on a regular basis, this would be my BMC of choice. Very drinkable indeed.

Overall: As with most people outside the small distribution area of Russian River I had really high expectations for this beer. I can tell you that my expectations were met and maybe even exceeded a bit. I had previously had the Blind Pig, which seemed very subtle (yet well-made), and the same can be said about Pliny. While it is definitely more intense than Blind Pig, it's not as big as some of the other greats (Dreadnaught, Hop Stoopid, Hopslam, etc). It is, however, worthy of all the praise it gets and deserves to a place in the ring with the others.

The Grand Ole Hopry

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Photo of nanobrew
4.67/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A - Has a golden/orange hue with a strong off white head. There is a constant flow of carbonation bubbles flowing to the top. Film left on the glass follows the beer as it lowers, the head does dissipate after a while.

S - oranges and pine

T - There are definite pine notes from the hops, but well balanced with malty sweetness. The hops bitterness tingles first, followed by the smooth sweetness of the hops. There is a slight refreshing burn at the back of the throat, either from the hops or the alcohol.

M - Crisp, slightly burning from the hops, but smoothed by the malt.

D - easily drinkable for all occasions, especially with the relatively high ABV.

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Photo of Duhast500
4.85/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

My 150th review:

Poured from a 22oz. bottle into a pint glass.

The color a light yellowish orange, hazy with a great amount of foamy and bubbly white head.

The smell is very piny. The floral hops are very evident here. It tickles your nose and gives you a preview of things to come.

Finally the taste, the taste that has been building for months and it is good. The amount of hops is pushing through all other flavors. Being an IPA it gives you just the right amount of hops, floral and some citrus hops as well.

It has a great feel to this beer. It is a fantastic brew. An IPA for the ages and it really is worth the wait.

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Photo of jake19drinks
4.97/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Ive been fortunate to have had Plenty before and I would definetly have to say not as excited due to the last batch. This one had a light amber ale appearance. The previous one was a much lighter color close to yellow. Still all and all I thought it good representation.

S: The smell is overwhelming of wonderful hops. Highly intense aroma right off the bat. Very pleasing to the nose for
those who love a good wake up call.

T: The first sip I took was wonderful. Immediately covering my tongue with some intense hoppy oil. Not really much of a trace of malt. I mean it's there but that's not what you'll find in front. It's something I can sip on all day and night.

M: Mouthfull is very nice. It's makes me want to swish around my mouth for a while then finish up with a nice gargle before swallowing.

D: This is a no brainer. If I could get this on a regular basis I would be their biggest contributor.

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Photo of drgonzo3705
5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottled 04/07/09

A: It pours a beautiful pale amber color with a thin soapy looking head. Nice sticky lacing left behind.

S: Huge grapefruit up front with some other citrusy flavors blending in. You also get a really big whiff of sweet oily hops.

T: Big on grapefruit and citrus again. Nice oily hop flavors saturate your tongue on its way down. Finishes slightly dry with a very pleasant bitterness.

M: Its actually pretty full bodied, but its not as heavy as some other full bodied IPAs.

D: I love fresh Pliny. Phenomenal example of the style I would drink this beer anytime, anywhere!

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Photo of katan
4.2/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml into a pint

A - Pours an orangy hue of a color. Head formation is fairly strong, but breaks down to a light white film. A bit hazy - not very filtered, but I don't think it is yeast.

S - Ahh - a RR beer, can't miss it. Very earthy spicy hop slap to the face. Reminds me of a field on a hot Iowa summer day - like pollen. I can't detect much more than hops, hops, and more hops.

T - Starts off more sweet than I thought it would be - generous amounts of two-row sweetness here. Mid-stream the bitterness builds very quickly. Finishes with a hard hit of the earthy hops detected in the smell. Aftertaste is more of the same hop bite, but it almost tastes like a malt+hops science experiment on my tongue. By far a hop assertive ale, but not near as out of balance as I found blind pig.

M - I find this beer to be moderate to light in weight for the DIPA style. What is there is built on a creamy body and not really from the carbonation. The alpha acids that this beer is undoubtedly made from leave an oily texture on the tongue.

D - Not sure how to define drinkability here - this beer's abv isn't too bad but at the same time the alpha acid beat down does begin to wear on me. Not filling - so as far as DIPAs go, I can probably handle this one well.

A strange experience - I love the beer but at times I feel like I'm gnawing on a plant while walking beans back home.

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Photo of JamesP123
4.82/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served from bottle. Bottled on 4/7/09 - drinking as I type.

A. A dark yellow hue, not quite an orange or amber color. Half inch of slightly off white head. A tad bit darker color and it would have been a 5.

S. Oh man, great piney scent, grapefruity with a little malty sweetness. Smell is intoxicating.

T. Amazing balance of hops and malt. The flavor is delicate yet powerful, and not over the top. Mildly bitter, just enough to keep you coming back. Not going to eat your tastebuds like other IIPA's.

M. Mouthfeel is smooth with small carbination. Crisp bite rolls across yuor tounge. Not overly thick or resiny as one might expect from all the Hop flavor.

D. May be the most easliy drinking IIPA I've ever had. A truly epic beer that sets the bar for IIPAs

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Photo of seand
4.59/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle (bottled about a month ago, 03/23/09) into a large red wine glass.

A: Pours a semi clear orange amber, with about a finger of near white head. Pretty good lacing.

S: Strong smell, of hops, pine, hints of fruit. Smells great.

T: Much like the nose, hoppy but balanced, great hop aftertaste. All kinds of flavor, and the alcohol is hidden.

M: Good carbonation and smooth, a little sticky.

D: Could keep going and going, but the ABV would eventually put an end to that.

This is a great beer, and you should try it if you can. On tap if you can find it, but from the bottle it's still great.

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Photo of alovesupreme
4.42/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in a snifter. It should be noted that the bottle was about 6 months old.
A dark yellow color with a little haze. An interesting head that was not foamy but bubbly and looked like soap bubbles.
Lots of pineapple, honey, a little alcohol and white pepper.
Spiked pineapple juice is probably the dominating feature. Once again honey is present along with orange and a slight hop bite.
Very syrupy consistency, would be nice if a little more carbonation was present.
A fantastic beer. Im sure that when this beer is fresh it is at the absolute top.

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Photo of seaoflament
4.7/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I bought this bottle yesterday at SouthBay Drugs and Liquor. I first reviewed this beer from the tap during the Stone 11th Anniversary Event, back in the summer of 07. Just recently I noticed that I haven't reviewed this beer from the bottle and that tap review doesn't do this beer justice so now I'm reviewing this beer from the bottle. Bottled on: 040709...How is that for fresh!

Into my Pizza Port pint glass it goes. Pours a golden orange color with a rocky two fingers of foam. Great retention with some lacing.

Juicy orange, grapefruit, sweet lemon, and hints of pine with a sweet cracker and caramel malt background. A little more pine and some grass later on. More tropical aromas of tangerine, apricots, papaya, nectarine, peach, and some mango. A bit of orange candy too.

Very similar to how it smells. Starts off with a combination of bitter orange and caramel malt with a bit of toast as well. Medium bitterness with orange zest, lemon zest, caramel malts, toast, and a pine finish. There's also some bitter nectarine, un-ripe apricot, and a fruity alcohol just barely noticeable in the finish. A bit of orange candy near the middle with dry and bitter lemon in the finish. After a few sips I can taste hints of papaya near the end...not a big fan of papaya but I sure don't mind it in my pliny. There's just so much flavor in this beer. There is quite a bit of hop flavor (fruity, citrus, piney, grassy, slightly herbal) and then the light caramel, cracker, and toast malt so perfectly balanced.

So smooth with medium-low carbonation. Truly a benchmark for the double IPA category.

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Photo of mullenite
4.03/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Not a 100% fresh bottle but I won't get to drink this again anytime soon so I'll review it anyway. It's about 3 months old.

8/17/09 - Had a fresher bottle (about a month and a half old) last night so I will update my review as such.

Poured a slightly hazy light orange with a TALL foamy white head and thick beautiful lacing all the way down to the bottom of the glass.

Smell is very strong pine hops, no notable malt character to the scent at all, just pine hops. [Fresher bottle had a slightly more noticeable citrus/grapefruit thing going on mixed in with the pine but not very strong. Scent is still dominated by pine]

Taste is, again, mainly pine hops. Maybe a slight biscuity malt flavor in the background but the pine malt stands out the most. Some grassiness as well with very little grapefruit lingering on the back of the tongue. [The slight malt flavor in the taste of the older bottle isn't there, the beer is not overly bitter but the flavor of the hops is the strongest part.]

Medium body with perfect carbonation and a bit of a sticky finish. The hop taste lingers for some time.

Very easy to drink, I can't imagine how hoppy this stuff is a couple days away from the brewery.

[Overall, having the notes to compare to there was little difference in a 3 month old bottle and a month and a half old bottle, despite what the brewery says this beer seems to hold up just fine for at least 3 months. It's close enough that I don't need to change any of the review numbers.]

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Photo of Nick3
4.38/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Beer has a bottled on date of 030909. Poured into my Piraat tulip, the cloudy apple juice colored beer looks more like an unfiltered hefeweiss than an IPA. 3 cm head fades quickly but leaves some nice lacing. Nose is pure floral hops and it smells great, nothing else there that I can detect though. Taste is very smooth and perfectly balanced. Hops linger from the start to finish but are never over pronounced. Malt balances the beer throughout. Beer is light bodied and it's tough to detect the alcohol, hard to believe we're looking at 8% on this one. I feel like I could session this beer but I'm sure it would catch up to me quickly.

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Photo of MPLS
4.5/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Russian River has clout in my eyes now.

A: Looking extremely unfiltered, hazy bright golden glorious. Nice 3 cm tight head that retains itself for a few minutes. Lacing is like watching clouds in the sky.

S: In your face pine, rose, grapefruit, and sweetness.

T: Great balance of hop and appropriate malt. Delicious and with a bitterness that isn't going to make your cry. Alcohol is cloaked in it's citrus blanket. Prolonged almost orange rind like linger.

M: Nice oily medium body.

D: It's all in the taste and I could sure keep on tasting this IPA.

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Photo of jgap
4.83/5  rDev +5%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bottle brewed 3/23/09. Pours a brilliant amber with frothy white head. Smell is wonderful sticky pine. Very strong smell. Taste is crisp and clean with a good amount of carbonation. It starts with a slight pepper that quickly fades to a bitter pine with some tangy grapefruit. It's the perfect hop balance, light on the peppery centenials or cascades and a hearty dose of floral varieties. There's a caramel plateau with a nice toffee crispness. The taste fades to a mellow hoppiness and leaves a very pleasent aftertaste that leaves your mouth begging for more! Extremely drinkable- an incredible IPA!!!!

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Photo of whoneeds8
4.18/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 3/23/09. Poured into tulip glass cloudy gold with a thick white head. Very good lacing. Smell is very hoppy with good amount of floral hints. Taste isn't as hopped as I thought it would be. I've got to say I'm a little disappointed, but it's still a great taste. Mouthfeel is exceptional, alcohol content is absent which is great because it doesn't take away from the flavor the way most IIPA's do. Over all, this is a great brew, but just not the nock me off my seat great like I expected.

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Photo of seanbhudson
4.49/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy orange color with a large white frothy head that dissipates slowly. A good amount of lacing.
Big hoppy aroma. Floral citrus (lemon, orange), pineapple, pine and caramel.
Similar to aroma. Citrus, pine and caramel malt. A tad more bitter than sweet. There is a wonderful balance to this beer. The flavors a silky smooth and wake up all parts of your mouth.
Medium bodied beer with a creamy texture. Soft carbonation. Finishes slightly dry.
A relatively easy drinking imperial IPA. Hardly notice the alcohol at all.

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Photo of Gavage
4.92/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance: pours a hazy orange color with a 1" head that lasts a bit before breaking into a surface foam. Spotty lacing develops.

Smell: pine, grapefruit, and some fruity sweetness leaps from the glass and is very pleasant on the nose.

Taste: caramel, pine, grapefruit, orange, pears, and a nice bitterness make up a superbly balanced beer. Alcohol is slightly noticeable.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied beer. Crisp to start, crisp and lightly dry at the finish. Aftertaste is long as the pine and grapefruit ride the tongue for a long time.

Drinkability: you can't get a better beer in the style. This beer goes down easy and several pints could be had in a session. Great beer.

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Photo of xhcadamx
4.18/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A - orange honey with a foamy head that keeps to a ring afloat the beer nice lacing

S - Grassy, Piney, Citrusy bountiful goodness

T - delivers a hop punch one is never ready for. Malt background is there just to balance it out. Hint of carmel background.

M - slick and oily and beautiful

D - I love this beer but at 8.0 and the overwhelming taste.... It's like cheesecake. I love it but after one slice...

I enjoy this beer A LOT. It's my last beer every time I go to RR.

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Photo of Gyle41386
4.57/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a bottle into a tulip. Consumed at a tasting with a handful of fellow BA's. Review is from tasting notes.

You can only imagine my surprise and delight to see this at a tasting. Big thanks to wespatrick for sharing.

Pours a clear golden color. Small head dissipates quickly, leaves a small ring of foam, but with plenty of bubbles.

Smells like a citrus grove in the middle of a pine forest. Very nice sweetness.

Pine isn't my favorite. I like to read reviews before trying IPAs, because I'm heavily citrus-biased. That said, I still loved Pliny. The pine isn't overdone; it's not like drinking a glass of liquefied pine needles. The piney finish is actually pleasant for me. That's when you know you have a good brew...when they take a flavor you don't love, yet still make you love it. The ABV isn't at all noticeable. Fairly clean finish.

Pretty light feel with good carbonation. I could easily drink this all night if it were readily available. Just delicious.

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Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 3,441 ratings.