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Pliny The Elder - Russian River Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder

Educational use only; do not reuse.

3,505 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 3,505
Hads: 13,360
Avg: 4.6
pDev: 15.65%
Wants: 6,842
Gots: 3,499 | FT: 98
Brewed by:
Russian River Brewing Company
California, United States | website

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: 3,505 | Hads: 13,360
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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Photo of Beernoisseur
4.6/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Do my eyes deceive me? Is it true? Do I really have a bottle of Pliny in my house?

This is another of the beers that are difficult to come by in Utah, So I hope you'll forgive me my moment of star struck exuberance.

The pour from the bomber into my snifter is a beautiful one. Radiant honeyed gold with a medium white head. Aggressive carbonation keeps it around. Elder laces well.

The smell and flavor are incredibly hoppy, and particularly strong in the pine/citrus arena. There's a thin candy shell of sweetness wrapped around the whole thing, but the chewy center? Hops. Many of them. Angry legions of hop ruffians out to mug your palate and steal your senses. Later on, there's a transmutation toward the finish to a flavor that has at least traces of dough like breadiness. Very, very, very good. traces of florals and fruitiness are found throughout.

The mouthfeel is a solid medium body with good carbonation. The two combine to deliver a wonderful aesthetic treat for my mouth.

Drinkability? Wow. How drinkable is Pliny The Elder? Let me ask you this, my friend. How spendable is $1,000,000?

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

Brash clear golden orange. Nice thick head dissapates to a nice firm sheet of lace. Rings of stickage all the way down. Immense aroma of sappy pine needles, grapefruit, papaya, and faint sweet malts hiding in the background. Entry is much like the nose, with strong oily pine and citrus hops coating the tongue in a most pleasing manner, sticky to a degeree. Malts although present, playing a meek second fiddle. Finish is semisweet malt with orange marmalade and grapefruit fade. I would like to drink this for the remainder of the afternoon into evening, but you just can't. With the some of all it's parts, one would think this would be cloying or over the top after a while, but it's not. The alcohol is extremely well integrated here, to the point where trouble could and would come very easily if one hasn't planned out a safe way home already. Beleve the hype on this puppy. Fantastic stuff. Hate to see this last bottle go.

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Photo of rasta16ry
4.6/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I've been hanging onto this bottle of Pliny since late February, so I figured I'd better drink it before it gets any less fresh. I've had it fresher before, and I'm sorry I didn't just drink it the day I got it, but it ended up being awesome anyway. I poured it into a pint glass, and it was very bubbly and a bright kind of yellow/orange. It had a pretty one inch head, and it kind of sparkles when it's sitting there. Really a nice looking beer.

The smell is great, piney and Christmas and citrus and hops and grapefruit and all sorts of bouncy scents. It really smells and looks great.

Plus the taste certainly matches the smell and look too. It doesn't even taste like an IPA to me, it's kind of its own category. Maybe I'm exaggerating, but I really wouldn't lump it in with any kinda style because I feel like it cheapens it a little. It's more refreshing than an IPA usually is, even though there is some bitterness at the end of it. It really is a hopzilla, and no malt to speak of. But the pine, citrus and other stuff is definitely in there and it helps to make it taste refreshing.

This beer very much reminds me of Christmas, and I think I like it better than the Blind Pig. I will get as much of this as I possibly can, whenever I can. I'll even save it and have it less fresh, because it's still great even then. Win!

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Photo of crazeguy
4.55/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Bottled on 030909. Poured from a 500ml bottle into a Pilsner Glass.

Slightly hazy orange yellow with carbonation still bubbling up slightly. White head.

Smells like a pine tree and a hop garden had baby's. This is that offspring.

Taste is much like the smell, but better balanced. If it wasn't for the lingering aftertaste(which isn't a bad thing) this would be a perfect 5.

Mouthfeel, again that aftertaste comes into affect but its amazing aside.

Drink, I would love to chug this if it didn't taste so damn good.

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Photo of Chelsea1905
4.62/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a beautiful golden orange, with a fully bubbbly head, and small bubbles that move slowly up the glass, often overtaken by racing bubbles that seem to surround everything. The lacing is good, not overly sugary, but still shows where you've pulled.

Smells rather like that Maharajah, in as much as it permeates hops straight away. Some slight sweetness in there that hides the overly citrus hops that hit you straight away. I swear to goodness, I smell something that reminds me faintly of cheese in there....but in a good way. Slightly floral notes in there like those of the Hercules DIPA from great divide.

Tastes like it smells, at first. Hops and wet grass, some tree bark in there too. Then the initial citrus acidic hit of the hops are washed away as the malt takes over. I actually find this beer to almost get more hoppy and acidic as the beer goes down.

Great full to medium mouthfeel with minimum effervescence, just the way an IPA should be.

This goes down well, and masks its 8% well, unlike other DIPA's who's over exuberance in becoming high in abv can lead to an over powering alcohol taste.

A great DIPA and wirth the search

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

16.9 oz. bottle into a Brooklyn tulip. Bottled 03.03.09, so it's still pretty fresh.

Appearance: Slightly hazy peach color with good carbonation and raindrop lacing. I noticed a lot of yeast on the bottom of the bottle, so we'll see how that changes the dynamic of the flavors with subsequent pours, if at all.

Smell: Hugely piney more than anything, though as it warms there's heavy peach nectar and tropical fruit. Lots of resin and sap aromas too. A big spiciness to everything. A bit of a floral and herbal component also as it warms. Big and complex with a lot admire each time your nose is in the glass (which should probably be a tulip, chalice, or snifter, in my opinion).

Taste: What I like is the tropical fruit and peach aromas come through in the taste, but it's still a kick-your-ass DIPA, not one relying on a huge malt backbone. This is definitely for a hophead. A bit of breadiness and nice apple skin as far as the fruit goes. But the bitterness is full on, and very nicely done. Long finish with huge citrus flavors and spiny, spicy hops, along with some juicy apple and ripe peach poking through the bitterness and grapefruit characteristics as it warms.

Mouthfeel: Nice carbonation with both an admirable medium fullness and enough micro-like bubbles to help the flavors come out without being too much on either side. It gets better, not surprisingly, with subsequent pours and as it warms.

Drinkabilty: Hell yes. I'm not sure it's my favorite DIPA, but it's certainly up there, and is worthy of all the talk. They do a hell of a job with this. And for as complex as it is, it's too easy to drink, mostly because there's are so many things to taste and pick out. Which is, of course, awesome, and awful. Worth seeking out for sure.

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Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 3,505 ratings.