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Pliny The Elder | Russian River Brewing Company

3,588 Reviews
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

For Trade:
User Reviews
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Reviews: 3,588 | Ratings: 13,812
Photo of jpiper
4.75/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a wonderful orangish-yellow with a thick head which is retained for quite some time. Pillowy off-white head which leaves foamy rings as the beer is enjoyed.

The aroma is amazing - so much floral hops. Some fruit, but its dominated by the hop profile.

The flavor too is very hoppy and floral with just enough malt backbone which is in no way sweet... seems to be there just to balance. As the flavor dissipates, the bitterness catches up - it's there, but not dominant. There is citrus fruit on the palate as well it lasts all the way through. It makes the bitter end taste like grapefruit rind/pith. A very clean, balanced flavor.

The beer is well carbonated and very clean feeling. So much of the carbonation is used to build the head, but there is enough remaining.

This is an incredibly drinkable beer. It's quite enjoyable after a day's work in the yard, and it's perfect for an introspective evening of beer enjoyment. Right now, I'm enjoying it as a session beer during the Brown's game.

I'm lucky to have picked a case of this up while in the Bay area a few weeks ago. I'm keeping it cold and enjoying it this winter. It's a good enough beer to cut into my normal winter beer menu, which doesn't see tons of IPAs.

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

A - This one pours a darker color of gold with some orange highlights. The white head topped out at just under half inch and ends up a white / orange cap after a minute or two. Lacing remains very nice for the duration of the brew.

S - Hops are dominant and have both citric and pine qualities. Seems to lean a little more toward pine. Citrus is bitter like grapefruit. Some sweet sugary aromas round it out and I swear I got a hint of cookie dough. Alcohol is barely noticeable through the hops.

T - Citrus starts it out with hints of orange, grapefruit, and mango. Hints of pine sap and grass quickly follow the fruitiness. Some sweeter flavors linger briefly (hard candy and syrup) before giving way to a wall of bitterness and alcohol. That is pretty much it for the flavor. Good, but I was expecting more.

M - Medium bodied with a carbonation level that works well. Smooth overall with a long, dry, bitter finish.

D - This one is very easy to drink. The alcohol does not get in the way at all. Once the taste buds are destroyed by the bitterness it just starts drinking very smooth for the style. I would gladly have another one of these brews. Russian River has brewed a very nice beer in the Pliny the Elder. This is an easily recommemded beer.

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Photo of beerhappy
4.63/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

So... here we go with the Lafite Rothschild of the DIPA style (according the fanfare surrounding this beer). Purchased 2 bottles from Hi Time in OC. Both were bottled on 10/2/08 making each 64 days old when consumed. The bottles not only contain a freshness date but also encouragemnet to drink the beer before it turns: "respect your elder: keep cold, drink fresh, do not age! Pliny the Elder is a historical figure, don't make the beer inside this bottle one!" and so on...

Opened the first bottle and I suspect that something went awry with this particular bottle during the bottling process because not only did I not get any "pffft" sound upon application of my trustworthy opening device, but absolutely no head either (on a rather strong pour). This circumstance did not deter me though... & all I can say is WOW!! this beer, even though apparently succumbing to some oxidation, still smells... wonderful! Unbelievable! I was expecting the worst and Pliny delivered an explosion of hoppy, citrusy, piney goodness! Mindjarring! in a "bad" bottle... really?

The wonderful flavor is an extension of what the nose had originally suggested... I'm not quite sure what kind of hops the brewer used here as I'm not well versed on that sort of thing, but it seems to be a superior quality of hops, or perhaps, just a superior brewing method than most other craft brewers are offering. Grapefruit, citrus... bitter and sweet in perfect combination.

The second bottle was opened with a familiar sound and it seems to have not suffered the same fate as the first. The pour contains a wonderful head that perfumes my senses immediately, from a distance, with the same wonderful smell that the first bottle had provided only at close range except a bit more pine. The taste is the same barage of hop wizardry. I think I'm in love. masterful... even though I lowered the score for the appearance and mouthfeel of the first bottle.

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Photo of coldmeat23
4.79/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

GLASS: Over-sized Wine Glass
TEMP: Cellared @ approx 45 degrees
Fresh Vintage (11/04/08 Bottling Date)
Thanks to RodBurg for this one!

Nice, clear, golden honey color. Small one-finger head of white foam. Minimal retention. Decent lacing, slightly better then minimal.

Okay, I've not detected hops 'evil' cousin in the nose of a beer before, but this one is it. This smells like some mighty fine weed! If I thought that I could dry this out and smoke it, I'd try to. Very 'green' and earthy smelling. Pine resin and grapefruit, with a hint of citrus, mostly orange. Nice floral presence. This has got to be one of the best/nicest smelling DIPA/IIPA's that I've ever had.

Wow, the taste is much smoother than expected. Based on the hype and the nose, I expected to pucker-up with this one. Not the case, at all. Very nice citrus/floral balance, here.
Sure, there are a ton of hops in this. There is also a nice balance provided by a nice bed of dry malt flavor.
A good grapefruit showing mixed with tangerine sweetness and the zest of pine needles. A good counter balance of caramel malt sweetness. Excellent balance. No bitterness, no over-the-top sweetness.

Very nice. Truly a crisp, clean brew. Light and refreshing. Just slightly too thin for me to rate it a 'perfect' 5.0, though. 4.5 is pretty close.

I could drink this by the barrel-full. Although, I'd probably choose something that was bigger, thicker, and maltier. That's the only reason it misses the 5.0 rating on drinkability. Just personal preference.
Overall, I must say that I am impressed. This one truly lives up to the hype.

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Photo of Douglas14
5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is like a religious experience. It's one of those beers that you drink and you get thrown back in your chair in awe and say "Holy shit!" because you didn't know you could still be impressed this much by a beer. It only happens every-so-often, and it is no doubt what I equate into a "leveling-up" in your beer enlightenment...the way you just thought about beer just changed (hopefully again), and it hit you HARD! I live for moments like these with beer.

On to the review...

Pours an golden color with immaculate clarity. The head is full, thick, white, and absolutely beautiful. The retention is incredible and it leaves awesome and plentiful lace. The aroma is phenomenal; it's super hoppy (obviously), but it's like no other hop aroma you have experienced. A tad but of resin, some pine, some outdoors. Nothing hidden and perfectly balanced. As for the taste...where do I begin. The only way I can describe the taste is that it is the most perfectly balanced DIPA (or even IPA) I have ever had. I'm in awe in the of the hop utilization in this beer: the best I've experienced...I don't know how they did it...simply awesome. The mouthfeel is ridiculously awesome. To say I could drink this all day long is a gross understatement.

Do whatever it takes to get your hands on a bottle.

For your own good, if you are going to trade for it, get it from someone who can get it close by to the source so they can send you a fresh bottle. It would be a shame to not drink this as fresh as possible. Can't wait to move to the Bay Area.

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Photo of mynie
4.72/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Half liter bottle dated 2-25-08.

Pours firm, nicely unfiltered and hazy with a big, soapy white head. Very nice pour for a Double IPA.

Smells very nicely hoppy even 9 months after its bottling date. Huge hop complexity, no off nodes, no sense of it being excessive for the sake of being excessive, nice sweet malt backbone. Wonderful palette, wonderful balance.

Tastes nearly as good as it smells. Starts off with a strong balance between the bittersweet, dry malt and the citrusy, piney hop profile. Malt is pleasantly buttery, not like diacetyl, more like a Ritz cracker. Really nice, and it's its unique malt profile--not, surprisingly, an especially complex hop profile--that makes it so tasty.

Very big, bitter hopGoes down remarkably smooth, considering all the hops and alcohol.

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Photo of dondeez21
5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I received bottles from 2 different trades w/ JamesCrames and Bbothen and was blown away. This is one of the few beers to truly live up to all of the hype. The appearence is a light golden yellow with a very nice thin lacing. The aroama hits you as soon as you open a bottle. Citrus hops can be smelled from a few feet away. The first sip is truly amazing. With so much hop aroama you would think the beer would be way to bitter. It is the total opposite. This beer is extremely balanced with just the right amount of bitterness. Overall I think this is one of the best beers I have ever had the chance to drink and would recommend it to anyone even people who wouldnt consider themselves hopheads.

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Photo of JeffV
3.99/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

It poured a light gold color with a slight tint of red. It was not the color of IPAs and other typically hoppy beers. The head was not especially thick and was characterized by big bubbles. Despite the thin head it was very active in the glass and it retained its head nicely. It had great lacing.

It smelled exactly how I imagined. Hops, flowers grapefruit, pine.

Nice and bitter taste. Floral notes and piny bitterness.

This is no session beer but it is relatively drinkable. It is surprisingly light on the palate and it was legitimately fun to drink.

A pleasurable beer but I must say; What is all the fuss about? It is just one one many hoppy, fun beers.

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Photo of MrFootstones
4.8/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I've had this many times, from a bottle, growler, and on tap.

Pliny pours a golden amber color, with the richest looking head I remember seeing. Very creamy and robust, that is. Not thin or quick to dissipate. Lacing all the way down the pint glass.

The smell is heavenly, what I imagine pure hop extract would smell like. Citrusy, very floral, but not stinging. Even my dad who doesn't drink though it smelled good.

The taste is of course also phenomenal. Along with all the typical hop characteristics of resiny pineyness, citrus, and flowers, I notice for lack of a better word, a very rounded taste, almost reminiscent of cantaloupe or honeydew melon. Despite being so heavily hopped, it is not bitter at all. There is no acrid taste here, and no malty sweetness, pure unbridled hops.

The mouthfeel is nice. It is very luscious and rich. This is where the creamy head comes from. It coats the palate in the most velvety way, and has just the right amount of carbonation to round it out.

Drinkability is pretty good. This is my favorite D/IPA. Period. I must say though that I would never want more than a pint at once. This is a great pleasure to drink but it is no session beer.

When I first went to Russian River, I wanted to try a barrel aged beer or The Younger, but there were none of those to be found. A local said "Get the Elder, you won't be disappointed!" Well there began my love affair with Pliny the Elder, hands down my favorite hoppy beer I have tried.

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

500 ml bottle from La Bodega in Riverside, CA., $5.99 a bottle (I think).

Let me say this one is not getting my standard review of the 5 elements of a BA beer review. It's too good for that.

This is just one of a few classic, exceptional, first rate beers of the world. I think this is the archetypal American Double (or Imperial) IPA, period. Lots of hops with a great perfumy citrus nose (grapefruit and sweet orange) while refusing to be overpowering, great body without being too big, flavor in every direction without being confusing, and huge drinkability even for its appreciable alcohol content. This is one of my top 5 of all time.

I know it now comes from northern California, but this style started in Riverside County, and for that we shoud all be grateful. Cheers to a great beer.

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Photo of LunaChick
4.11/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

3 servings now--3 different meals. Pliny: You nail it on the nose. I've been on a mission to taste as many IPA's as possible to find out what it is about you that everyone loves so much. Are you a good DIPA? sure
Are you better than most? absolutely
Are you the best of the best? No.

You appear as most west coast IPA's. Crisp amber. Thin head. Faint lacing in the glass.
Its the nose, my friend, the nose. A wash of amazing citrus and floral hops. I'm sitting in a grassy field with cute fuzzy animals dancing around me. Your aromoa is fresh and bright. I can smell you in my sleep.
If only...your taste is typical of a west coast brew. A burst of fresh citrus and pine followed by a lingering astringency that makes me want 3 glasses of water. An hour later and I can still feel the subtle puck in in back of my throat.
What makes you different? A very refreshing burst of hops that is mellowed only so slightly by a quiet malt body. No buscuit. No bread. No syrupy sweet. But there, in the finish. There it is. The alcohol. Boom! It warms my throat and will not leave. Yes, Pliny. I can taste your alcohol.
Is your flavor unique? No. No my friend. You are not so special that nothing else compares. You are great. But there are others.
In my mouth a subtle balance. Crisp carbonation? yes. Too much? No. A lingering bitterness and alcohol warmth are your downfall. More than an hour now and you linger. Like a date that needs to end. I do not want another.
Pliny: You nail it on the nose. Few, maybe only one, can exceed the magical aroma. Everything else? Smell is the strongest sense tied to memory. Enough said.

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Photo of froghop
3.97/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours a semi-clear golden yellow with a small off-white head, very nice lacing.

smell is earthy, hops, caramel, some citrus, and a little pine.

taste is crisp yet smooth, thick on the tongue, hop flavor grows as you drink, caramel, grapefruit, dandelion, and some woodiness, ends nicely bitter.

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Photo of chaz410
4.32/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I had this at a friends place, lets just say I was a little excited to try it. The nose on this beer was very sweet and hinted with hops and wheat notes. It is obvious both in taste and smell that hops are the main flavoring but there's a complexity to the hops that you don't find in many IPAs. The tast is very hoppy but mostly sweet and citrus flavors integrated. It has some bittering notes but just during the swallow, not at the end where IPAs usually get bitter. The mouthfeel is smooth and refreshing. Easily one of the best Double IPAs I've had, I highly recommend it.

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Photo of gdfan47
4.45/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

tryed this one because the menu promised it "is easily the best double IPA in the world"

it poured a wonderful yellow with a white head that hung out for the whole glass

it smells like fresh hops, citrus and some grapefruit

it tastes just like a good crisp west coast IPA

no frills just a textbook example of what this style of beer should be

the only draw back is the abv is a little high for it to be a session beer
I really could drink this one all day

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Photo of Hophead101
4.18/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

drank on 11.28 at home with bro in law Jason.

such a good looking beer. pours a clear light copper, great head, but the head dissipated somewhat quickly. the smell was a buttery and creamy hop smell, very inviting and fresh. citrus in the nose, but mild (and wonderful). pine scent is crazy wonderful combined with the other smells.

the taste is phenomenal. a great buttery, smooth and creamy taste. the hops are so obvious, yet doesn't overwhelm, which makes this a great beer. great balanced flavor, smooth. there is a nice malt backbone, but subtle which combines well with the great hop-tastic flavor.

this is one of the finest hoppy beers. highly recommend.

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Photo of Llewellyn9
4.8/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is it, my first review, and i picked a hell of a beer to start with...

poured from a 500ml (dig the metric from a CA brewery) bottle into a pint glass, freshness date on bottle with repeated, and humorous, reminders to drink this beer fresh!!

rather light in color, this beer pours well. nice fluffy head, great lacing. great appearance overall.

smell is as expected, incredible hop aromas, citrus up the wazoo, supported on a hint of malt.

for all you hop-heads out there, this is a must. beautiful hop bitterness and flavor, but proportioned well with the malt. The taste of this beer is what should be expected of any great IPA. As mentioned in countless reviews, this is a very well balanced beer.

mouthfeel is good, creamy, slightly wet on the palate. very nice.

deadly drinkable, cant set this one down. i love IPA's, and this one is pure heaven.

well, there you have it. one bottle of pliny the elder down, and one review in the can. next i'm going to make a black and tan with the remaining bottle of pliny and an Old Rasputin i had laying around. wish me luck.

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Photo of monkeylovebeer
4.84/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Upon first pour, it unleashes an aroma of floral perfection, and may prove to be the last word on double IPAs.

Pliny the Elder gives a wonderful citrus/grapefruit finish, and in addition to lots and lots of hops, has a good balance of malt.

Talking Bob said, "One of the most-balanced double IPAs I've ever tasted."

Russian River stresses that this beer should be consumed fresh. Once you've tasted your first one, I don't think that storage is ever going to be a problem.

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Photo of mightyhef
4.87/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Drank at Falling Rock Tap House in Denver, poured into a 16oz tumbler...

The nose alerts me this is going to be one wild ride right off the bat...strong citrus with a hint of the bitterness that will balance it out.
The Pliny coats my tongue in a complex way setting off taste buds on both the bitterness and citrus areas....a light grassy finish with a balanced hop oil residue on the sides of my mouth. This has now become my favorite double IPA. Well Done!!

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

Having heard all the raves for this beer, and never had tried it, I was expecting a let down, since it would be hard for this beer to live up to all the hype. To my pleasant surprise, it did.

I don't have a strong nose, but the moment I opened the bottle, I was hit by an orange, citrus aroma with a little pine in it. The 500 ml bottle filled up a tulip glass with a light orange brew, with a centimeter or two of solid foam, which gently clung to the glass as I sipped. It's pretty amazing how this much bitterness tasted this smooth. The flavor had orange and grapefruit citrus character, as well as a note of cream, with a stong bitterness that was smooth and refreshing, rather than simply punching me in the mouth. Mouthfeel was creamy as well. Surprised that at 8%, I really couldn't taste the alcohol. Interestingly enough, as it warmed, it didn't change in it taste profile as a lot of beers do. Great beer drinking experience.

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Photo of likestoswallow
4.22/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

500ml bottle from Beverages 4 less in Santee. Pours copper with a big white sudsy head that has good retention and leaves plenty of lacing. The aroma is relatively strong with loads of citrus (mostly grapefruit and some orange) and a big dose of sweet cotton candy. The taste is more of the same with accent on the citrus, plus biter hops followed by cotton candy on the side and back of the tounge. The mouthfeel is medium malty with a crisp note and the carbonation is lively. The finish is long with biter-sweet hops. This is one of the great IPA's, I'm glad I can get it locally. I absolutely love this stuff, but Blind Pig is my go-to everyday IPA now that Sculpin is impossible to find. Rock on RR.

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

Appearance - pours a clear, bright amber with two solid fingers of cream-colored head, after a bit the head dissipates to a whisper thin layer in the center and around the edge of the glass leaving inconsistent gobs down the side

Smell - hops coming through very strongly, resin and pine, some citrus aromas as well, bit of malt present

Taste - malt on the front end works to balance the strong hop flavors, resin and pine from the aroma assert themselves in the flavor as well, notes of biscuits present as well, balance of malt to hops evens out as the temp rises

Mouthfeel - smooth, slighly creamy, hop bitterness creates a "scrubbing" sensation

Drinkability - very drinkable, would be great with a really fatty meat, would definitely drink again

I was excited to try this one as Pliny the Elder has only recently become available here in Seattle and it did not disappoint. Prior to this experience I was not a fan of IPAs/DIPAs, but Pliny has converted me. I loved this brew. The malt provided a good balance to the hops especially as the beer warmed. Just an all-around amazing brew. I'm glad that Pliny has arrived in Seattle.

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Photo of dalion037
4.6/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I finally got a chance to try this IIPA. The offering was a pint on tap. The beer was a nice golden color with a nice silky taste. It had nice hop aroma and a good bitter bite but not enough of a bite for my liking. It's a highly drnkable brew and obviously deserves the rating it has and a few more localities selling it.

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

Enjoyed on-tap at Falling Rocks Taphouse Denver, CO.

Appearance: Copper-colored with a creamy head.

Smell: Pine, grapefruit, a little grass

Taste: Incomparably smooth for an 8% ABV ale. Loads of hops upfront but not overpowering. I love that there are not a lot of chocolate or caramel notes to mask the spice/bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Creamy but not too thick.

Drinkability: Hold onto your hats! A couple of pints of Elder will have you singing the next song up on the karaoke. It goes down too smoothly to enjoy only one...

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Photo of troutmask96
4.86/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Finally, bottled Pliny! I've sucked back many of these at the fabled Toronado on the Haight, but cracked my first bottle of Pliny tonight. Nothing special to look at, but just wait until the citrusy aroma starts to waft over your nostrils. Pliny is piney, with a nice lingering bitterness. No way this is an 8% ABV! Nice, nice, nice...

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Photo of SShelly
4.48/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a brilliantly clear golden yellow with a thick fluffy white head, moderate head retention with fluffy lacing. This beer calls for you to drink it.

Thick pine and suttle citrus in the aroma, very very pleasant and quite big, actually suprised me a little that as soon as I cracked the bottle I got hit by a wave of pine.

Very complex flavor on this beer, balancing citrusy bitterness, pine flavors, all with a nice malt background, a slight carbonic bite on the sides of the tongue. Alot going on in this beer. Leaves a nice citrusy coating on the tongue in the aftertaste.

Overall Im glad I decided to grab a bottle to review, ive had it in the past and hadnt seen it for a while, now that I know where to find it I will be drinking it alot more often.

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Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 3,588 ratings.