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Pliny The Elder - Russian River Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder

Educational use only; do not reuse.

3,406 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 3,406
Hads: 12,816
rAvg: 4.59
pDev: 7.41%
Wants: 6,525
Gots: 3,094 | FT: 91
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: 3,406 | Hads: 12,816
Photo of bluemoonswoon
4.72/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Big big thanks to BrewerB for hooking me up with not one but two of these bottles.

500mL bottle with some instructions, though more along the lines of demands, to drink this beer fresh and I would say that I am giving it a pretty good shot at this beer was bottled on 7/30 of this year.

A: Pours a clear amber copper and topped with a creamy inch and a half of pure white head. Little flecks of yeast float here and there. After a bit the head settless into a ring but about a half inch of head can be brought back with a swirl of the glass. Some lacing but not much.

S: I swear this beer and Dreadnaught must be related because they smell so wonderfully similar. Rich ripe magno, fresh grapefruit, lemony pine all brought together under a gloriously rich candi and slightly medicinal bittersweetness. To say this beer smells amazing would be an understatement there is something almost magical about the way this smells, and it seems to smell a little different each time I go back to the glass for another sniff.

T/MF: Very strong pine to begin with, I mean like water that was strained through pine needles strong, midway through a mixture of lemon and alcohol play together and as the first sip closes I am left with a strong medicinol and herbal hop character. Subsequent sips reveal a dense piny nuttiness backed by seriously bitter and sticky hop goodness, there seems to be absolutly no malt character to this beer, I mean I feel like this beer is playing tricks on my mind, there is a kind of nutty almost earthy sweetness that I want to imagine as maltiness but I don't think that is right, I think that the hops are doing everything in their power to grab a hold of your tongue and not let go. Mouthfeel is thick and full bodied and has the absoulutly perfect amount of carbonation to keep things from getting too boring. The finish is insanly long and leaves the tongue coated in a thick layer that smacks of hop resin. While this beer might smell like Dreadnaught it certainly tastes like a different animal and given time to warm the smell changes as well. Things become ever more piny and but there is coupled with this an undercurrent of grapefruit and orange and lemon rind that provides an incredible complexity to this beer. This is certainly one of the most interesting beers I've ever had the privilege of tasting.

D: The bitterness on this beer is off the charts. I normally think of myself as someone who can handle just about anything that you can throw at me but I think this is just about the bitterest thing I've ever tasted, not bitter like a pickle is bitter but a sour, back of the throat kind of bitter that is unrelenting. In terms of style it is unparalleled, it is like nothing I've ever tried before, the further I get into this beer the more it changes, I keep wanting to go back again and again for another sip just to try and pull out more flavors. There is a grainy kind of taste that I think is a result of how bitter this beer is and it is slightly off putting but I've tasted it in other DIPAs before. This has been the hardest beer for me to judge. I'd say it lives up to the hype but unlike the Dreadnaught I think I'd be okay with just a bottle of this while I could drink the Dreadnaught all night long. But then again this beer is like nothing else I've ever tasted before, incredibly fresh and incredibly tasty. (3,365 characters)

Photo of emerge077
4.3/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Finally, the illustrious Elder sits in the glass in front of me...

Orange body with more yellow-orange tones toward the base of the glass. Micro sediment hangs in suspension. Bits of spotty lace around the edge, with a good skim of foam, nice retention.

Juicy citrus aroma, sweet cotton candy, juicyfruit gum. Some resiny hop oils in the back. Nothing but rich fruity hops in this one!

Initial sips are bitter, some floral hop and grainy malt notes, tropical fruitiness, with a long earthy finish. Maltiness is huge, which performs a balancing act with the large hop load. Alcohol is slightly perceptible. Smooth and creamy feel, light astringency that is not a distraction. A fine savory beverage...

Dreadnaught is still my #1 DIPA, but PtE is a close #2.
Huge thanks to Jason for the trade! (798 characters)

Photo of Avalon68
4.79/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Review #1. Hopefully they will get better in time.

I was lucky enough to get a hold of a few bottles from the West Coast. I am(or at least wasn't) a big IPA fan, but after trying this I may be converted.

A: orange and extremely clear. I can't speak to the head as I was puring into small 5 oz sample glasses.(I took a few bottes to a local bar for an impromptu tasting)

S: Pine cones and grapefruit. The aroma on this one is amazing. The smell alone brought people over from the other side of the bar.

M: Crisp with good carbonation.

T: A lot like the smell. Pine needles and grapefruit up front with a bit of lemon and a slight hoppy bitterness towards the end. Extremely dry and tasty.

D: Excellent. If it were in my area I would make it a regular in my rotation. Smooth and crisp. No alcohol taste at all.

As stated earlier this beer may have converted me to IPA/DIPAs. I've tried many, but this one just seems to be right for me. I am very impressed by most of RR beers. (983 characters)

Photo of jamesm7485
4.8/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance is a translucent golden amber with a thin white head with 6 or 7 fingers of lacing.

Smell very similar to green flash ipa my nose is clogged sue to allergies so sadly i cant rate well on this.

Taste Very fricking balanced especially for a dipa, not much up front hop bitterness, but a lovely after bitter that lasts for quite some time!

Mouthfeel, Very creamy and smooth mouthfeel for a dipa

Drinkability Easiest drinking dipa ive had by a very long shit, the abv is not noticeable what so ever (509 characters)

Photo of bort11
4.27/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to jtrockchalk for sharing this at a tasting at the Foundry in Westport.

500 ml bottle poured into a highball glass. Nice tan colored head, though minimal lacing. Color is a sharp orange, with a nice clarity.

Smell is a bright hops explosion. Very piney and has a sharp wood resin aroma. Taste is a strong pine resin up front but finishes with a grapefruit citrus flavor.

Medim body and leaves a solid hops after taste. Definitely for the hop-heads. A solid DIPA to be sure. I love how the label says this should be enjoyed fresh and not aged. (558 characters)

Photo of BradLikesBrew
4.97/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

After years of waiting, a Russian River brew is finally in my glass.

From the Russian River website:

Pliny the Elder was a Roman naturalist, scholar, historian, traveler, officer, and writer. Although not considered his most important work, Pliny and his contemporaries created the botanical name for hops, "Lupus salictarius", meaning wolf among scrubs." Hops at that time grew wild among willows, much like a wolf in the forest.

a: Orange body, very clear. Creamy white head with little lacing.

s: Could be the best IPA nose I have encountered. Oily hop esters, resiny, sweet, pungent, sublime.

t: A seamless melding of hops and malt, incredible integration. I cannot detect where one ends and the other begins. I do know that after swallowing, I am left with a wonderful latent bitterness on my palate. Super piney, citrusy, oily, resiny alpha acid karma. Grapefruit, lemon, and a hint of pineapple. All of the complex deliciousness you could ask for from hops.

Wow, I just found my favorite beer.

m: I have never had a beer this hoppy be this smooth. Despite the monster hop bill, it had no real hop bite, just pure goodness.

d: I have been building this up in my mind and was worried I would inevitably be let down. Instead, my expectation have been surpassed. Buy this if you can. If you can't, I will trade, but damn it, if you have not had this beer, you need to, now. I guess I know what my Staff Pick will be at work. (1,436 characters)

Photo of corey0212
4.84/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Got this in a trade with Georgiabeer!!

Pours a relatively clear light-copper/orange color, foamy off-white head loosely forms and fades pretty quickly, leaving a thin layer of foam with some bigger bubbles around the edge of the glass, nice patchy lacing. This is probably the most pine hop aroma I've encountered in a beer....piney hops just leap out of the glass, and pretty much dominate the nose, though there are some sweet malty aromas as well. Taste is just explosively hoppy....spicy, sticky, resinous pine taste, bitter grapefruit, tangerine, and some delicate caramel sweetness. The mouthfeel seems a touch thin for an Imperial IPA, but in the context of the flavors in this beer, it's perfect, with a slight stickiness, and lingering bitterness that doesn't overpower you. So glad I got this in a trade, and this is a beer that'll stay permanently on my "wants" list. Should Russian River ever decide to distribute in MA, this would always be in my fridge. A glorious IPA! (984 characters)

Photo of slayer3604
4.47/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this kid at my friend's house, we had a 10 hour, two beer brew day and he had some plinys at his house WOOT!

A- Poured a flawless 1 1/2 inch head that sat upon a light orange honey colored body, and after a couple minutes, the head subdued to a 1 inch head.

S- A rush of everything citrus that includes grapefruit, orange peel, and ground up lemon peel. It touched on sweet as well, there was a grip of wildflower honey, and subdued red licorice as well.

T- Bouquets of floral hops, ceder, pine, incredable balance of dry acidity thats counter ballanced by a rush of malt depth thats hard to find these days.

M- big bodied, bold, and fat on the pallet. AWESOME example of an IPA.

D- Good price, not very rare around here I guess, saw it in a couple stores. Will be visiting this guy again. (798 characters)

Photo of AndrewCrestline
4.69/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I was lucky enough to go to the release dinner for Denver and taste some fantastic beers. This is a must have for any hop head.

O.G 1.073
ABV 8.0
IBU's 100

C- Dark Copper (listed as a "light copper" the only reason not a 5)
A- Incredible hop aroma
T- Right on the brink of IBU taste limit - Strong bitter and Flavor profiles
F- strong and lingering- Just the way it should

Must Have!!! (388 characters)

Photo of srroos
4.05/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 500mL bottle (dated 7-30-08) into a pint glass.

A: Clear orange-amber with a thick, off-white head. Leaves a lot of lacing on the glass.

S: Loads and loads of piney, resiny hops. A hint of sweet pineapple as well.

T: Slightly sweet and malty up front, but mainly piney hops. Tasty and enjoyable without being too harshly hoppy.

MF: Medium-full bodied. Resiny and oily. Highly bitter, but not extreme.

D: Quite good, but again not as good as Younger.

An excellent brew, but not my favorite Russian River. I actually prefer Younger and Blind Pig. (564 characters)

Photo of ArrogantB
4.5/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

First off, this beer looks great. Clear orange, nice. It smells seriously hoppy and tastes very hoppy, bitter and piney but is not overdone. It is super hoppy without being tacky about it. It has a slight dryness to it but doesn't seem astringent. The label is entertaining and I have to agree with the sentiment...

update 11/04/08 bottle date

Smell is awesome, resin, pine, hop essence. Taste is every good as bit as I remembered from the last one I had a month or two ago. (476 characters)

Photo of brentk56
4.85/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Pours a clear honey color with a rocky ecru head that sticks well and throws a few shards of lace around the pint glass

Smell: Really juicy tangerine with a dash of lemon and mint

Taste: Citrus elements appear at the outset and build through mid-palate, with floral tangerine and hints of balsa wood; after the swallow, an intense bitterness rules the day with just a hint of residual sweetness

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: No big sticky malt backbone here -just a hoplover's dream (539 characters)

Photo of brewandbbq
4.47/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle date 7/10/08

Pours hazy, pale gold with a two inch head of porous white. A few dots and streaks cling to the glass after the retreat, and a partial skim coat remained.

Aromatics are a pungent blend of fruit, pine, alcohol, and malt.
Spruce bark, peach skins, mango pulp, orange zest, and sugar-dusted grapefruit.
Mild malt notes mingle with a slight alcohol waft.

On the chewy side of medium bodied, with a sticky, almost sappy mouthfeel. Still very dry and crisp though.

Bitter citrus fruits and light malt lead off the pallet. Grapefruit, pine resin, orange rind, and mangoe pit.
Somewhat earthy and leafy, with a persisting, drying bitterness.
A grapefruit at the foot of a pine tree.

Finishes with some warming alcohol stepping through the lupulus, and lingering, drying bitter citrus.

Incredibly drinkable and very dry. The biiterness is right at the threshold of cutting back on the drinkability.
Great to see this fine brew in bottles.

More mad props go out to RblWthACoz for such a great trade! (1,017 characters)

Photo of cannabanaceae
4.8/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Finally after waiting to try this for some time it hits home in SEATTLE!
Poured from growler to pint glass. The look was orange yellow, with nice head retention. Also, very nice lacing down the glass..
Smell was fruity with grapefruit notes, some sweet malt. Not what I expected.
Taste was light bitterness in front palate, then slightly sweet in middle with a bready toasted yeast strain that had old character to it. With a nice lingering bitter finish. All blending well together, Very balanced.
Mouthfell was very smooth. This beer was worth the wait, it is very easy to drink and not a tweaked hop bomb I expected. Thats ok though, this beer kicked ass. (660 characters)

Photo of Phocion
4.97/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

500ml bottle poured into glass a golden-amber with a massive frothy white head that doesn't quit. Thick, sticky lacing throughout.

Nose is filled with huge citrus hops: predominately grapefruit, and also pineapple. Also a hint of pine and just a touch of grassiness.

The flavor is filled with hops, but not overpowering. The malts are pretty well masked, though a touch of caramel peeks through, and the citrus provides for just a little bit of sweetness to make this thing exceptionally smooth.

Smooth is the only way to describe the mouthfeel on this bad boy. It somehow manages to feel soft and velvety yet crisp at the same time, with decent carbonation and a fairly heavy body. This is an awesome DIPA, I only wish I'd be around SoCal for a few days longer to find some more. Definitely lives up to the hype. (817 characters)

Photo of treyrab
4.27/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Jw347 for this tasty brew

A: Pours a semi-hazy light copper with very minimal head. This is not opaque by any means, but has a slight chill haze. Laces nicely.

S: Plenty of citrus in this one. Vast amounts of grapefruit, orange, and lemon. The hops smell amazing in this one, very abundant.

T: The taste is immaculate, but I can't say this is better than many other DIPAs I have had. Tons of citrus in the flavor from the hops. The malt is hidden by the vast amount of hops, so the malt backbone doesn't really show too well, the taste is all hops.

Overall, this is a good DIPA, but not spectavular. (613 characters)

Photo of PatronWizard
4.57/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Huge THANKS to OlieIPA who, instead of hording this treasure all to himself like any sane man, decided to share with a brother in need.

So I got this yesterday. The bottle clearly states do not age, drink immediately. I waited all the way until lunch to crack it open. One long ass wait, I tell you what!

Of course it pours a beautiful clear golden light orange with nice white head and wispy lacing. Looks great!

This puppy has aroma! Filled my dining area before I even tried to sniff. I'm trying to take a few notes on appearance and this sucker is socking me in the nose. Powerful scent of really, really, expensive marijuana. Like imported from Hawaii or Jamaica marijuana. Just speculating! What can I say... that's what it smells like! Do a side by side if you don't believe me. Also smells like a pine forest, an alpine camping trip, smells awesome.

From the smell, I expected a little more hop flavor, not that its lacking. So this is what balanced means. I taste pine, hops, maybe grapefruit. Tastes great, but to be honest, smells even better.

Smooth, full, without a doubt one helluva beer. I would definitely get this anywhere it was served (security would have to escort me out) and if I ever see it on a shelf I will buy every bottle. Not to be selfish, I would drink half and spread the other half all through the land.

Overall: lives up to the hype, can't wait to get my paws on the younger! (1,415 characters)

Photo of Matty1918
4.35/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tried it on tap at The Hop Yard in Pleasanton.

A nice orange/amber color with a 1 finger frothy head.

Aroma was of grapefruit, pine and sweet fruits...possibly pineapple. Very nice.

I've been wanting to try this beer for a long time. The first sip is very nice indeed. Grapefruits up front that give way to a buttery, sweet finish. A nice dry bitterness that I didn't think was overpowering. A true delight.

Nice mouthfeel.

Drinkability...well I had 2 on an empty stomach and I could feel them after the 2nd one. You could drink 3 or 4 of these but it's a sipper for sure. Glad I had the chance to try it. (610 characters)

Photo of SaucyA
4.25/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Oh, Pliny... how I've longed to try thee.

A - Looks awesome in my snifter. Great 1 finger frothy head, with a glowing orange/gold body. Fine lacing.

S - Piney, west-coast hops abounds. Pliny the piney. Grapefruity undertones. Wonderful in this department. True DIPA.

T - For what it's worth, the taste is slightly a let down. Wonderfully well-hopped, but not quite as bitter as I had anticipated or hoped. Well-balanced if not a little underdone. I have a feeling on-tap this is a grand slam, but as it is right here, it's "just" a home run.

M - Medium bodied with a decent amount of carbonation. On the thicker side of things.

D - Pretty stellar drinkability. Almost as easy as a standard IPA.

Notes: Mad thanks to Carlos for this as an extra (can you believe it??)! For all the hype surrounding this brew, I think it left me slightly underwhelmed, but then again, this is/was one of the most hyped brews out there.

To put it in beer perspective, if it was this or Hopslam, i'd definitely have a hard time choosing. I might give the edge to Hopslam strictly for the price. If it was this or Big Head, I would reach for the Big Head. I'm a homewtown boy :) (1,165 characters)

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

500ml bottle poored into a pilsner glass. Thanks to Rick for sending this one my way.

Its an orange straw colored body topped with an electric white creamy head that last and is a lace monster. The smell is simply dynamic. Its crazy pine and like every citrus fruit you can think of with a highlight on the sour ones, incredibly strong smell. The taste is more of the same with a sweet malt backdrop that is there if you pay attention. There are also some piney and grassy hop notes especially on the finish. Medium/full body with some hop oil. Well its pretty much all its cracked up to be, which is tough when there is so much hype. (635 characters)

Photo of ckeegan04
4.77/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Dark orange-brown color with a thick foamy off-white head. Excellent retention and lacing.

S - Strong citrusy hop aroma with hints of grapefruit and pineapple. Hop heads dream in the nose.

T - Lives up to the hype. Strong citrusy/tropical blast of grapefruit and pineapple just like the nose. Light malty sweetness lies underneath to provide just a little balance which is exactly how I like them.

M/D - Medium to full bodied and such high resinous hop taste that it just coats your mouth and leaves you with that bitter cant wait for me taste. (553 characters)

Photo of hiikeeba
4.15/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours up an amber yellow with a thick, dense head that lasts forever.

S - Smells like I opened a bag of hops for brewing. Very fresh. Mostly Cascade, I think.

T - Tastes exactly like it smells: Hop juice. It is almost overpowering. Leaves a bitter ring around the back of my throat but it doesn't linger too long.

M - Mouthfeel is the last thing you notice because of all the hops, but this is a full bodied beer.

D - Not sure I would order a second pint. It's good, but strong. (487 characters)

Photo of OlieIPA
4.87/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I picked up and tasted this beer at Hollingshead's Delicatessen...which I might add...is an awesome place to visit for all those who get all giddy when it comes to the sight of quality beer. Anyways, let me get to the review...

Appearance: Dark-gold to light-amber color with good head. Lacing was also excellent.

Smell: Had a very complex aroma....incredible balance of malt and hop smell.

Taste: Probably the most balanced Imperial IPA I have ever taste. Just like the smell, the taste was exceptionally complex. Again, had malt sweetness and hop bitterness....neither dominated each other...but both were apparent.

Mouthfeel: Moderate carbonation...very easy on the mouth and throat.

Drinkability: The easiest to down and most enjoyable Imperial IPA I have enjoyed.

Overall: The thing I enjoyed the most about this beer is the balance and complexity it had. Almost perfect. (883 characters)

Photo of brdc
4.25/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks ricand for this one. Bottled 07/29/08; so again, as fresh as I will ever get; shipped overnight. Medium sized capped bottle, poured into a tulip.

Quite dark golden, near brown, good white head with decent lacing and retention.
Intense, fruity hop aroma, but this one has a nice caramel maltiness coming along; not as one-sided as the blind pig felt just before. Citrusy, oranges again, piney, grapefruits and a lot more. Nice caramel comes and goes.
Similar taste, medium to full bodied, mostly hoppy and bitter just like the aroma suggested, but caramel and bread make some appearacnes to balance it a bit more. Nicely done, better balanced than the blind pig; both quite good, this one close to dreadnaught. Body is a bit lighter, not as much depth, but that also enhances drinkability. (798 characters)

Photo of kkipple
4.19/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I was holding out on ole review #300 for something special, and I suppose this'll have to do. Poured from a new 500ml bottle hauled back from Cali.

A. Rich hazy copper, low white head that leaves some lace. Still and quiet-looking. Not bad at all. Looks almost exactly like Blind Pig.

S. Oh my. An immense hop punch to the nose. Extremely fresh, bitter hops practically leap out of the glass. Resiny and dank, almost... ok, rather a bit ganja-like. Both pungent and eye-opening. Further in I get notes of orange and citrus, wrapped into a pleasing sweet malty undercurrent. The hops reign supreme here, and promise greatness. Superb nose.

T. Alas, after such a superlative smell, how could the taste hold up? Sadly, it doesn't, but there's still a fine beer here. It's obviously hoppy and bitter, with complex grapefruit / grass / herbal flavors blending around a rather thin and unassuming mildly sweet malt base. It's good, to be sure, but lacks "oomph", if you know what I mean.

M. Thin and a bit watery, finish is lightly dry and wonderfully bitter. Carbonation is medium-low, and lends to easy drinking.

Qualms aside, I honestly wish I had more of this. It's a fantastic smelling, "lite" Double IPA that is easy to put down. At 8% it'd make a killer mini-session beer. Pity it's not more available. Big thanks to Barronkr for sharing! (1,344 characters)

Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 3,406 ratings.