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Pliny The Elder | Russian River Brewing Company

3,570 Reviews
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Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder

Brewed by:
Russian River Brewing Company
California, United States | website

Style: American Double / Imperial IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 08-24-2003

User Reviews
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Reviews: 3,570 | Ratings: 13,710
Photo of kdoc8
4.8/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had this on tap at the Bier Stein a few times as well as in a bottle. It tends to taste differently each time I have it on tap which is weird. Served nice and chilly with a white bubbly, foamy head. Great smell of floral and fruity hops. Clear and deep golden with an amber color. The taste is great, but can change depending on when/where you have it. The best I've had was actually from the bottle - a great refreshing taste of strong floral hops up front, then the fruity hops hit your palate, followed by just the slightest hint of well-covered, crisp alcohol. Very refreshing and drinkable for a double IPA.

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

Everytime I drink this one I enjoyed it more than the previous. The fresher the better!

I've yet to have Younger, but I've had most of the other "major" IPAs and this is the most fragrant and tasty one I've enjoyed so far. So, so fragrant, like sticking your face right into a pine tree.

More pineyness and floral flavors on tastes, an explosive hops sensation, beautiful balanced, delicious.

A smooth, smooth mouthfeel, even for a fairly big boy this goes down as easy as a flat macro. I could drink these all night. Unfortunately, living on the east coast, I rarely get access to PtE. Actually, maybe that's a fortunate thing. I'd certainly abuse it like a crackhead if I could!

Can't wait til I one day get to try this on tap straight from Russian River.


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

Glass- Tripel Karmeliet Tulip

Temp- 49 degrees

A- The head is tight and cream colored, about 1/2in. It is a nice golden raw honey color and unfiltered.

S- The first thing I get is citrus and pine! It starts out grapefruit and pine needles that transition to pine and tangerine. Awesome!

M- The mouth feel is very nice, it's not too light, actually almost creamy.

D- Great carbonation that has a piney, peppery and hoppy finish. It is a wonderful dry finish that allows you to enjoy this great IPA without the expected heaviness.

Ironically this is not my favorite of beer but happens to be my first review. I am now a fan!

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Photo of VaTechHopHead
4.47/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled 5/13/09

A - Caramel/light brown, slightly unfiltered with an average head and great lacing

S - VERY fresh hops, earthy aroma with a faint sweetness in the background. Very clean, dry and in your face woody hop cone aroma!

T - Again, hops all over the place with hardly any sweetness at all. Taste varies a bit from the aroma with piney, sap-like, toasted, and almost peanut-butterish aftertaste. Very long aftertaste that lingers forever and no alcohol flavors.

M/D - Medium body with a rough texture due to high carbonation and finishes very dry. Easy to drink, not too heavy but the alcohol sets in quicker than expected.

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

I had this on-tap at the Drafting room for brunch, leftover the west coast brewery night.

Served chilled in a goblet.

A -Gentle hazed dark golden color w/ slight greenish tint and very thin light head. The lacing clings to the glass tenaciously and the bead is pin sized.

S - Great scent w/ a blend every grapefruit you can think of ruby red, pummelo, and pine needles w/ sweet orange blossom and valencia notes

M - Crisp dry feel w/ only the slightest malt sweetness. drenched in hop oily texture and high amount of bitterness w/ low astringency. The texture is resinous w/ floral feel and has a dry, acidic warm finish

T -The pleasant bite of citrus grapefuit tanginess and acidity w/ piney hops sharp edge and more resinous pine flavor w/ mild lemony sweet orange notes. The taste has a light sugar tinge w/ floral elements and a finish that is dry and spiced hop taste similar w/ warmth similar to a jalapenos kick

D - A fantastic Imperial IPA any way you slice it. The originator and the one that sets the standard for the west coast style w/ great drinkability - worth any hype -this gives hops the glory

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Photo of Casey10
4.5/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Wow very good, cool looking bottle ,great tasting beer.

A - orange, amber color

S - citrus, pine, orange

T - Tart, yet smooth oranage flavor really good.

M - orange,grapefuit very tart.

D - Would love to drink many, very good.

I could drink a lot of these slowly, Great bottle with a unique taste !!!

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Photo of AVDeuph
3.85/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500 ml bottle courtesy of ironlung via trade, bottled 4-29-09.

A: Pours a peachy-orange color with pink undertones, a lot clearer than I was expecting. Solid all-white head and leaves great sticky lacing.

S: Piney piney piney hops with a faint background of grapefruit.

T: Follows the nose, with an addition of a little bit of meaty/bready backbone. Hard and lasting bitterness.

M: Each sip inadvertently takes a while to swallow. This beer is so coating for me that it takes a couple gulps to get the entire sip down (maybe it has something to do with what I just ate) Medium-low carbonation.

D: Hmm, hard to say for me. With some good food I would love to have several of these, but alone honestly I don't think I want more than one (I feel like I need a change of pace).

I have to say that I am just a little bit disappointed. I know there is a huge debate about this so take it for what it is worth, but I would have liked some other flavors to be present here balancing (somewhat) the hops taste. I like the complex character of 90 minute, Double Crooked Tree, and Hopslam too much to really think this is wonderful.

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Photo of farrago
4.07/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a moderate one finger head of off-white, mixed bubble size foam, some stickiness to the lacing whereas the head mostly gone in about a minute or so. Light golden-yellow in color with a metallic orange tinge which brightens more than darkens, comes extremely close to transparency. There's a certain bluntness to the nose, like it kicks there door open and then just stands there unmoving in the door way, thick pink to white grapefruit, tangerine citrus notes resonant yet not juicy nor zesty per se, in turn the floral notes more citrus blossom than well-rounded "musk" and the peach, nectarine, pineapple, papaya fruit scents present more thrust than expansiveness, not insanely hoppy nor grassy but sufficient enough to put any malty scents way in the background. Medium-bodied, too tightly wound as well as aggressively carbonated to really get full-bodied. Peppery mouth entry, quite spicy, forestalls the grapefruit, mandarin orange citrus component for a tick or two. Pine resin clearer here, florality a little more hidden. Doesn't come off as that dry, hence more juice in the peach, nectarine, mango fruit and less tropical bite. Sweet tea leaf oils accrue with time and at the very end you can tease out some cocoa powder. Can't say it's not balanced but when you don't risk many agile dance moves, hard not to be. (Bottled 04/07/09)

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Photo of bennetj17
4.8/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bottled 5-26-09, thanks to FMetzger for bringing this one back from the brewery fresh. Hazy appearance, color is halfway between copper and gold. Half-inch, off-white foam holds steadily, leaving a sudsy lace. The hop dominant aroma leads with pine notes, as citrus fruit stays more in the background.

The taste begins with a wonderful orange/grapfruit tang, balanced decently by the toasty malt. Solid bitterness, but less than I expected. The finish is excellent as the dry pine notes leave you wanting more. All aspects of the flavor agree nicely, and nothing gets too intense/harsh. The overall taste is nearly perfect, it seems effortless. Medium body, moderate carbonation, very nice mouthfeel.

Overall a world class IPA. Always best fresh. Wish I could buy it in Arizona, maybe someday...

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Photo of aggiearcher13
4.66/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

On tap at Falling Rock.

A: Best looking IIPA I've ever seen. Lighter than I expected, it's a golden-orange with about an inch of head on it. The head really stuck around on this for a while, it was quite impressive. I was about half way through the pint and there was still a thin layer of foam. Beautiful lacing on the glass.

S: Not as much of a hop punch as I was expecting, but I had rather high expectations. Pine, citrus, floral. It's wonderful.

T: Wow, as soon as I had it I knew it would be the only beer I was going to drink all night as moving to anything else would leave me disappointed. Pine, citrus, wonderfully bitter and well balanced by the malt.

M: Mouthfeel is good, it didn't blow me away, but there's nothing I would change about it.

D: I had five of them before/during the hockey game, it was all I wanted to drink. Dangerously drinkable.

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Photo of beerman207
4.82/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I've been waiting a while for this one. Special thanks to my wife who brought this home from her trip to Washington.

A - Reddish gold look - 2 fingers of head leaving behind some nice swirling and lace on the glass.

S - Pine, grapefruit very pronounced also some sweetness coming through.

T - Very crisp. Grapefruit and pine comes through in the taste. It has a bitterness and also a bit of sour to it which was an excellent balance. The beer is quite complex and the taste is what I was hoping for.

M - Almost perfect in terms of carbonation and the feeling I get in the finish - it has a nice sour/bitter finish with just a little warming from the ABV.

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Photo of nyrangerfan
4.8/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

WOW, what a great beer! Poured into a La Fin Du Monde tulip, it was a really nice golden color with a short tight head. Two weeks old and it was very fresh, hoppy, citrusy, piney & crisp. Very easy to drink. Carbonation was the perfect amount. This is easily my new favorite IIPA/DIPA. Great job RR. Now I need to get more shipped to NJ!

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

Thanks so much to beerman207 and his wonderful wife who brought this back from a trip to Washington State. Split last night with them and bamadog.

Appearance: Pours into my tulip a light golden color with the slightest hints of amber/strawberry highlights. Skim of white oily lace is left from a 1/2 finger fast-fading head. Slippery, sticky lacing slides around the walls of the glass with the clear, somewhat viscous-looking carbonated liquid.

Smell: Smell is slightly sweet and slightly bitter, some dry, peppery rye or pumpernickel, light piney, oily hops, slightest fumes of alcohol. Really nice and surprisingly mild.

Taste/Mouthfeel: The taste is so impressively mild and well-balanced. Slight notes of many different hop profiles - floral, citrus and pine altogether. The pine shines through with toasty malts, slight stick-sweet and oily. Light bready grains and rye in the aftertaste along with a mild, yet ever-present alcohol vapor. Feel isn't terribly carbonated but really nicely matched with the style. It has some weight to it that fills the mouth well, but doesn't feel too heavy or sticky.

Drinkability: Surprisingly high for a DIPA. Doesn't drink so difficultly, but definitely puts the heat in the system quickly.

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Photo of bmcclure
4.74/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured a golden color with a thin white head. The aroma is amazing, floral, citrus, piney, it is like walking through a hop farm, exquisite.

The flavor is complex, you get some pine from the hop still, a little malt but mostly hop. This is a great beer for a hop head, I can find nothing to dislike about this beer.

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

Thanks so much to bkrefetz for this one!

From notes:

Poured into a pint/table glass

A: Nice clear gold color with a tight head that laces nicely. Looks really deceive, in a good way.

S: Floral hops and sweet malt character combine to create a pleasant fruit/floral scent comparable to The Maharaja.

T: Immediate dirt/earthy, peppery hop flavor. God this is good. It transitions toward a fruity character while maintaining a crisp bite that isn't overpowering in the slightest.

M: Medium yet smooth carbonation wakes up the tongue to the earthiness of the hops showcased in this beer.

D: Despite the abv of this one, it is just way too easy to put back.

Well done, guys. Well done.

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

This is my first BA review. Went on a trip to CA bay area and found this in the cooler in a wine shop in Napa, and had to have it based on all the BA reviews I had read previously.

Bought the 500 ml bottles on 5/28 and noticed they were bottled on 5/26! Unfortunately we only had our plastic hotel water cups to pour into. It did pour a nice head which didn't linger long, and looked to be a deep golden color. (Hard to tell in the plastic cups.)

The smell and taste were very piney hops with undertone of grass and grapefruit. It felt very good in the mouth and had a long lingering bitter, but satisfying, aftertaste. For a high hop beer this is very drinkable.

Very good beer and very drinkable. I will definitely be getting this any chance I get! Haven't found it in AZ yet though.

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Photo of deltatauhobbit
3.95/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks to mlaroche for bringing this over from California for an in-person trade.

Bottled dated 04-07-09

Pours a bright golden/orange color with a good sized head, fades a little fast but leaves a little creamy looking head with some patchy lacing.

Smell is pretty much all bitter piney hops, slight citrus presence but wish for a larger one.

Taste is earthy piney hoppy goodness, fairly raw tasting with a bitter aftertaste, would have preferred a more citrus presence though.

A good tasting DIPA although I can't help but be a bit disappointed considering the massive hype around it.

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

Luckily, found this still available at Capone's this afternoon - 2 days for one keg of Pliny? ... Must be getting blasé

My second pour (yes, MF, I had TWO), was quite heady - about 2F of frothy white head - plenty of sticky lacing, and it was a partially opaque, orange color with some carbonation.

Lovely bouquet of floral, citrus, and piney hop - touch of malt in there as well. No turn-off from the alcohol, which can sometimes make a DIPA a bit scary.

Flavor & Mouthfeel was all-dat-n-more... Punch of west coast hop bite, but so well balanced with a rich, piney sweetness that it just makes you smile.

Drinkability for a DIPA is quite high, as the aforementioned balance keeps you coming back for more.

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Photo of mperrin
4.64/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Appearance - beautiful hazy, golden orange with a creamy white head... nice lacing

Smell - incredible bouquet of citrus - grapefruits, oranges, lemons

Taste - upfront citrus blast with a spicy bite. Back end of a sip settles into a nice, dry, almost mouth-puckering pleasingness. Alcohol is prevalent, but definitely in the background.

Mouthfeel - As I said before, very nice refreshing citrus up front followed with the impending dryness experienced by any IIPA.

Drinkability - Unbelievably refreshing, I could (and probably would if given the chance) drink this until sleep or unconsciousness sets in. The best IIPA I've had in terms of drinkability.

Overall, one of the better IIPA's I've had, though not the best. Overwhelming citrus taste, but lacking the complexity I expected. However, I would drink, refill, and drink again.

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Photo of Backer2004
4.49/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Okay, what a fantastic surprise to see this bottle sitting right in front of me for all to share last night at our beer festival meeting. It took all the power in the world to pay attention and not crack this one open right away. An hour into, however . . . it was very good, but honestly, not the best Imperial IPA I've tried. Yes, loads of citrus hops that were fantastic to the nose and tastebuds, but this beer's reputation was a little higher than what got. Still would love to get my hands on more, however.

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Photo of stephens101
4.67/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

My first RR brew. Highly anticipated, highly legendary, and I'm highly thirsty for some of that addictive bitter elixer called the double IPA. Thanks to jwelsh for the hookup.

Two fingers of foamy and bubbly light tan head sit atop a hazy and visually pleasing bright copper and orange brew. As the head recedes some broken sheets of lacing appear at first, and eventually diminish, turning into small dots. My wife likes the aroma, and that is promising. Or not. An initial whiff reveals some effulgent citrusy hops with some resiny notes mixed in. Upon a second whiff some orange peel, sweet bread and a hint of sweet malts figure into the equation. All the aromatic elements are distinct, yet concerted.

On the palate, citrusy and oily hops, sweet malts, bubblegum, cotton candy and lemon all exist. The taste is surprisingly subtle, and it's not the hop-bomb that was expected. This subtlety is it's genius, and sets it apart, as all the elements are noticeable, but cohesion usurps the extra bitter superfluity many DIPA's strive for. The alcohol is well concealed (although it becomes a bit more apparent as the brew warms) and the drinkability of this beer is stellar, especially taking into account the style. Mouth-feel is a pure medium; not overly heavy, and not overly light.

When I approach a beer that is this highly regarded across the board I have two initial thoughts. First I think that hype and trend probably sway a lot of folks, and it really can't be THAT good. Secondly I wonder if I might subconsciously rate the beer higher than I normally would, just because of the aforementioned hype, which can be very subconsciously persuasive.

I can honestly say negative to both counts, as this is beer lives up to it's name, and shows us why we rate beers, which is so we can explore our doubts, work through our skepticism and hopefully realize what each unique beer means to us good or bad.

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Photo of GarrisWH
4.77/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

poured from a 500ml bottle into a pint glass. Bottled on 4/29/09.

A - Pours a slightly hazy golden color with about one finger of white, fluffy head that leaves ample, sticky lacing. Nice retention on the head as well.

S - Very floral hops with a slight, sweet maltiness in the background. Complex hop aromas including citrus(grapefruit), some "flowery", and a bit of pine.

T - Quite similar to the smell. Citrus (mostly grapefruit) and pine flavors dominate with a very nice floral, hoppiness that has somewhat of a "flowery" quality to it in the background. Very intense and complex hop flavors with just enough light, sweet maltiness to balance it out. Nice level of bitterness that isn't too overdone.

M - Medium bodied with a fairly resinous mouthfeel. Fairly light on the carbonation. Smooth drinking.

D - For a DIPA clocking in at 8%, this beer is extremely drinkable. Very well balanced and it has so many nice hoppy flavors.

I must admit, I was somewhat expecting this beer to be overhyped, but overall, it is really just VERY well done. My first experience with Russian River, and certainly won't be my last.

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

WoW. This is one incredible brew. It has taken me way too long to try one of these.

500ml brown bottle with a bottled on freshness date.

Mildly hazy golden color, one finer of head leave a nice sticky lace.

Big hops on the nose, evergreen, lemon grass, orange citrus. I feel like there is a bit of pineapple there also but not sure.

taste is big hops up front as well. not too carbonated as evidenced by the look. a taste of yeast as well.

mouthfeel is full but silky smooth. this is a perfectly balanced DIPA IMO. I wish I had bought two of these right now.

drinkability - considering that i am almost finished with my 500ml before i finished the review says it all. I could have one of these a day... for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

cheers russian river

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

Had on tap at the RR Brewpub in Santa Rosa. While not quite up to the standard of its Younger nephew, a damn fine beer. Like the Younger, poured to a light orange-amber color, with thin white head and good lacing. The nose and taste, while a little subdues than PTY, were still strongly citrus hops with a hint of floral, as well as alcohol kicking in at mid-glass. Mouthfeel was dry and bitter, all rounding to a long, somewhat bittersweet finish.

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Photo of BitterPachyderm
4.64/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A huge thanks to Fetus for this one...once again, I will reiterate my not being a huge fan of DIPAs which kind of made me nervous about this brew. I didn't want to fall into that category of people who hate on the Elder.

I read the freshness date on this hop monster, 120508, and again, I have no clue what that meant. I read it as December 5, 2008, meaning...NOT FRESH! But I don't really know for sure...

Poured into my SN pint glass. So far, it reminds me of Blind Pig...two finger creamy head, with some sticky lacing. The body was a bit hazy with a burnt copper color.

The smell is not at all what I expected. It was somewhat simple like an IPA. Mostly spicy hops with some citrus notes. No real malt detected...very floral...lilac???

Taste...WOW!! Good solid hops up front, not faded as I would have expected(maybe I can't read the freshness dates right). There's that sweetness again. Is that a West Coast thing? This is what I call balance. Nice bitterness midpalate.

The mouthfeel is thick, yet smooth. It seems low on the carbonation, but it works here.

Drinkability...the alcohol is well hidden, making this a super refreshing quaffer of a beer!

Overall, is this the best beer in the world? IMO, no, but is it worthy of all the praise? Yes! If I could have one of these everyday, I would!

Rock on West Coast!

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Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 3,570 ratings.