Pliny The Younger | Russian River Brewing Company

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Pliny The YoungerPliny The Younger
3,225 Ratings
Pliny The YoungerPliny The Younger

Brewed by:
Russian River Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: American Imperial IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.25%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
Pliny the Younger, the man, was Pliny the Elder’s nephew and adopted son. They lived nearly 2,000 years ago! Pliny the Elder is our Double IPA, so we felt it was fitting to name our Triple IPA after his son. It is almost a true Triple IPA with triple the amount of hops as a regular I.P.A. That said, it is extremely difficult, time and space consuming, and very expensive to make. And that is why we don’t make it more often! This beer is very full-bodied with tons of hop character in the nose and throughout. It is also deceptively well-balanced and smooth.

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,225 |  Reviews: 973
Reviews by Maxwell1226:
Photo of Maxwell1226
5/5  rDev +6.4%

More User Reviews:
Photo of Bouleboubier
4.36/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

(combination of samplings consecutive days at City Tap House and Monk's Cafe, respectively)

I'll just start off by stating that this is one of, if not, the most well-balanced, elegantly-crafted hoppy ale(s) I've come across. A true example of brewing art. That said, the taste is quite fine but perhaps a bit underwhelming for more seasoned hop heads.

The liquid is a fiery orange hue with a jewel-like glow, faint haze, and nearly pure white, sticky-cottony foam that stands for a bit before being overcome by lip oils and/or the alcohol level. Looks nice, but nothing out of the ordinary.

The smell is somewhat, somehow restrained, but has one of the most well-defined, 3D aromatic representations of a handful of newly-dried hop cones in the palm of one's hand - dirty/earthy with a ghostly, subtle, spirit-lifting, mildly-mineral, tonic alcohol delivering it to the sinuses... mild orange-citrus undertones... once again, nice, but requiring a few healthy, deep inhales to take it in.

The flavor is ridiculously refined - it is easily seen that this is PtE, attenuated, flattened-out. Tastes about the same, just the depth and definition found in PtE is lacking in this. One would guess, however, that the alcohol would jump out a bit more in PtY and, yet, it doesn't at all. It's amazing how well-hidden it is, though a sense of quiet warmth rises by the last couple sips. Perception of bitterness is minimal, if at all a factor. Extremely well-balanced, but nearly brut-champagne-like in its dryness - the hops (flavor) and malt are too quiet.

Where this beer really captured my attention and imagination was in its absolutely feather-light body. It's as if the carbonation was the only thing that indicated to my senses that I had beer in my mouth. I wouldn't be surprised if this beer finishes at down close to 1.002-1.004. While I attempted to savor it at CTH, at Monk's (owing partly to the excellent special draft list) I powered through it in 3-4 sips. Sooo easy to drink. Dangerous.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
5/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Received from the BA's BA, RedwoodGeorge, as part of his recent Home Bottling Project. Thanks a million George for bringing smiles to this hoppy beer lover, along with many others.

Electric tangerine with juicy pineapple edges. The French vanilla canopy is three fingers in height and looks incredibly thick, rich and creamy. There's been very little deflation in the several minutes since the pour and it appears as if the head will last forever. I don't have forever, though, because I'm dying to take a sip. It eventually melts just enough to reveal a thick, sticky coat of lace with a few dots of visible glass. I prefer dirty, hop-flecked DIPAs, but this one is more than superb.

The nose is, without question, one of the best in all of beerdom. I was pretty sure that it would be pure hoppy bliss... and it is. And then some. There's an incandescent, brain-filling explosion of the sweetest, juiciest hops imaginable each time I venture anywhere near the glass. Thankfully, the malt is buried without a trace, allowing the hops to work their incredible, lupulinirific magic. One of the best of all-time.

Pliny The Younger is a gorgeous, unbelievably delicious Double IPA. There's no question in my mind that this style should be all about the hops. Those that favor the caramel malty, more balanced side of the DIPA continuum, edging into barleywine territory, miss the opportunity to brew transcendent, explosively hop-centric beer, the likes of which is sitting before me right now. Make no mistake, this one is all about the hops. And hops. And more hops.

There's a solid, sugar cookie-like maltiness that lays down an unshakable base and provides support for whatever tonnage of hoppage that may be thrown its way. The trick is in laying off any hint of toastedness or caramel-like flavors that would dilute or mask the citric hoppiness. Lightly (and I do mean lightly) brown sugar-crusted candied grapefruit peel abounds, along with a blissful bitterness that is unrelenting in its pithy intensity.

I may be able to appreciate the slightest hint of bitter orange, but white grapefruit is front, center and side-to-side. I'd love to know what varieties comprise the hop bill, but it's pretty obvious that the best hops in the known universe (one or more of the 4-Cs) are represented in a major way. I just can't get over the liquid candy-like, sweet and bitter, unalloyed nature of the hoppiness. Pliny is everything that you've heard it is and is everything that I hoped it would be.

It's nearly impossible to completely bury a 10.5% ABV, but Russian River has given it a Hurculean effort. I'm not sure that I'd want the alcohol to be completely absent since it provides a power and presence that lets you know that this is a serious beer that must be respected. Hell, I repect it for the flavor alone. Maybe it's my elation at the out-of-this-world taste, but I'm halfway through the bomber and I'm barely feeling it. This is the most drinkable 10.5%'er ever!

The mouthfeel is simply perfect. Mouthfillingly full with an incredible lasting stickiness after the swallow. Lushly sappy is my favorite sort of DIPA mouthfeel and this beer fits that descripton to a 'T'. When it comes to the carbonation, I have to give credit to RedwoodGeorge for the amazing re-bottling effort. I had some qualms that PTY would be over-carbonated, but that hasn't been borne out in the actual drinking. It's perfect: enlivening without being the least bit spritzy, fading to muted by the second half of the bomber.

I held off on contacting RedwoodGeorge for a trade that would have brought me a growler of Pliny The Younger because I knew that I would love this beer more than any other that I've ever had and wanted to experience it in Santa Rosa, as it should (ideally) be experienced. When the opportunity came my way, however, thanks entirely to George's incredible generosity, I just couldn't turn down the chance to try one of the world's best.

Before cracking the crown, I told myself that there was no way I could give perfect scores to a beer that had been re-bottled from a keg, no matter how outstanding. I'm glad to report that I was wrong. Pliny The Younger is a remarkable beer that transcends any attempt on my part to put its magnificence into words. I still plan to make it out to Santa Rosa some day. When I do, I'm going to ask the Alstroms to come up with a rating scale that includes sixes, 'cause I'm gonna need 'em.

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Photo of Treyliff
4.82/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

On tap at Monk's Cafe Mad Monday, 6 oz pour into a small wine glass

A- Pours a slightly hazy golden color with a small creamy white head that reduces to a small layer, leaving a touch of lace behind

S- citrus explosion with lots of grapefruit, orange peel, cantaloupe, guava and passionfruit. I could literally smell this from about three feet away

T- raw danky hops are front are so clean and showcased, to a degree that i've only experienced in a few DIPA's. A clean malty sweetness compliments perfecty, hemp and fresh clean mint close it out. The finish is very similar to Elder, only a bit hoppier

M- medium body and mouthfeel leads to a creamy mouthfeel and a clean hoppy finish. Alcohol is hidden nearly perfectly

O- this one lived up to the hype for me, it has many characteristics as Pliny the Elder, just more hoppy goodness packed in. I had to stand in line for a long time to try this, but it was worth being able to say that I've sampled this legend.

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Photo of K4550
4.45/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Went to the tapping at the South Philly Taproom in Philadelphia. Full blown blizzard, everyone was out of work for the day. The line wasn't too bad, only about 30 people at 930ish for a 10am tapping (the line grew a ton in the last 10 minutes however). Pours were $10, first come first serve, keg was kicked in 19 minutes. Color was a beautiful orange-y gold, head was thin. Served (unfortunately) in a skinny taster glass so I couldn't get much in the way of the nose (or maybe it was because I waited outside forever in the freezing cold). Taste was a little dank, but with some citrus. Sticky but had a fresh bouquet of hops on the back end that balanced everything out. Was tasty and I can see what the hype is about, but I don't think I'd be willing to stand in line for more than an hr to get a pour. Definitely a bucket list/BA Top 250 experience though for anyone who hasn't tried it yet.

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Photo of Micros32
4.88/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Easily the best triple IPA ever. Very smooth and not overpowering holiness. Can smell Pliny the younger from 5ft away. Get your hands on it. Lives up to its reputation.

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Photo of ChristianAlexander
5/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Ooo baby. Watch this guy strut. Pliny the Younger's man-parts walk into a room and commands the attention of all the occupants a good five minutes before the man himself arrives. It snaps and yells and gets everyone to stand up in salute, looking astute and respectful as the man himself is about to enter. And the man? He himself is just a bunch of man-parts stitched together with the precision of the best cosmetic surgeon ramped up on the stress and the pressure of knowing his (or her) creation is set to be on every adult website one day. Looked at in high-definition 4k, 8k, retina display, 180-degree SBS VR technology. Gawked, ogled, eyes-gaped by thousands in the privacy of their home doing to themselves things in ways only they know they enjoy. The work has got to be perfect and indeed it is. Pliny the Younger takes no prisioners, makes no promises, and yet is promoted again and again to high legendary status. Some scoff at the hype, deeming themselves too cool for truth, banishing themselves to lesser beers deluded into thinking they still have their pride. Pliny the Younger strips these hip-types to the nude and laughs at their single excuse for a man-part. You can't even please men with those parts, he says. Your women must thirst for more every night, he goes on, waking you up at all hours in disbelief that it's over. They want more says Pliny the Younger. And when they get their heads on straight your women, he says, come to drink from one of my many abundant man-parts all stitched to me like a Picasso meets Rembrandt. And he laughs and laughs, bellowed out from deep inside, hearty and foul putting Santa on the naughty list and driving Satan to the hills of heaven. That's Pliny the Younger. And it's number 1.

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Photo of DavidR_9
4.7/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

So smooth and so intense - lupulin galore. First sip was so intense and smooth at the same time, makes your throat tingle from the obvious density of flavor and amount of ingredients going into this brew.
Pineapple and pine, grapefruit, flotal character, and a definite heavy presence of alcohol but it comes across as heat instead of a ethanol flavor component.
Amazing thick mouthfeel without feeling syrupy. Hop oils fall slowly off the tongue. Finish is long, citrusy, and slightly sweet with a bready maltiness that helps carry the abv heat.

Drank every drop of my 3 10oz. servings I was allotted.

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Photo of WickedBeer
4.96/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

A President’s day Miracle! On draft at LadyFace Alehouse, Agoura Hills, CA.

Pours a slightly hazy deep golden yellow. Nice creamy white head with sticky lace retention.

Amazing balance on the nose. Pine, citrus, malt all coming together for aromas that aren’t too sweet but aren’t too bitter.

This is bursting with citrus and malt right away, with an even piney, floral hop presence on the backbone that rings powerfully throughout. The model for all West Coast styles to strive to be.

Nice light-medium body, medium effervescent carb, slightly sticky finish. Resinous.

And that’s it. Pliny the Younger. So incredibly hyped up, yet not typically a let down for anybody lucky enough to try it. I’m going to put my phone down now and enjoy this sucker. I’ve heard I’m not allowed to rate this below a 5, so call me a rebel.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.66/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Russian River Brewing Co. "Pliny The Younger"

Well this is interesting. After much ado in recent days about Pliny The Younger's return to Philadelphia, where I chose not to go because of the crowds and having to wait in line, I came across some old notes from 2010. I don't remember where I had it, but it was on tap, and I had the Redemption and Sanctification as well. I think it might have been at the now closed Resurrection Ale House. Anyway...

Notes: Clear deep gold body beneath a short head of white. Very fine bubbles can be seen steadily rising which suggests that there's some body to it. Good head retention, but better lacing - it left a solid ring at the outset, and then spots throughout the glass. The aroma is resinous as in hop resins, not pine resin, but it's also softly piney. It's tropical/citrusy with what I think of as orange peel, and some peach, apricot, pineapple, and mango. Some grassiness as well. The flavor is honeyish with a tangerine note, and a little bit of everything suggested by the aroma. It's full bodied, and the dextrinous golden malt is rich, but not sweet. It supports the hops and balances the bitterness, or vice versa. It's a solid bitterness, but not brash. It's actually very refined. The alcohol plays a part in the flavor profile but doesn't stand out on its own. So much richer and fuller than the Elder, and more about balance than "wow".

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Photo of LocestLXCX
4.72/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

I went into this thinking it would be good but probably really wouldn't live up to the hype. I was wrong. While the Elder has many peers nowadays, the Younger is still elite. Pretty much what you'd expect from an IPA rated so high. Excellent taste, smell, flavor and mouth feel.

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Photo of socon67
4.42/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured at Monk's Mad Monday event.

A - Golden pour with a clear look. Foam head settled fast (*these were poured rapidly for 100+ people). Slight lacing rides down the glass.

S - Strong scents of pine, some pineapple & mango tropical fruit smell, and hop resin that gives some lingering tobacco notes.

T - Rich flavors of tropical fruit at the front. There is an intense malt presence that keeps the high IBU's tempered. It is not a hop bomb at all.

M - This cannot be any better. Balance on a triple IPA can only be matches, not improved. The body of Younger feels rich on the palate.

O - Now that this is ticked on the bucket list, I can say that PtY is a work of brewing art. Vinny made an inspirational beer that seems less impressive as more heavily hopped & well balanced beers are made. This is the original, and still iconic beer.

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Photo of simcoeluv
5/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5


Younger is different every year, depending on the quality of the hops (growing season, weather at harvest, etc.) and other factors. Over the last 7 years I have been drinking Younger, I felt 2015 was the best I had tasted.

But 2017, this the second week of the release - well - this is different. And I mean different. Two new hops were ADDED this year - Azacca and Comet - for a total of 8. As my friend put it, an East Coast style layered on a Pliny base.

And the result is spectacular. I won't even try to completely describe it. Drinkable. Complex does not do it justice. Flavors everywhere. Smooth. A triple unlike any I have tasted (and I have tasted quite a few) and the best IPA of any level I have ever tasted (even beating out Elder, which remains my overall favorite - after all, Younger is around just once a year).

I think this is a new category within IPAs, not East Coast, not West Coast or any other IPA category - an IPA style all of its own. A 5 ranking does not do it justice. I'm just glad I had the opportunity to get it this year!

2015 - I have been attending the Pliny the Younger release for several years. I have never rated the beer before. It has always been very, very good.

2015 is the most balanced Younger I have tasted.

It is great. There are no competitors.


Hint - ask for a tulip glass, pour the Younger in it and let Younger warm for 15 or 30 minutes - it will be better than you even imagined.

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Photo of MisSigsFan
4.54/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A really really well made and balanced TIPA. The hype kind of ruined it for me. It was good, but there are many "triple" IPAs that you can get that are just as good or better. Simtra, Hoparillo, and RuinTen come to mind immediately. Younger might have been the first of its kind, but these days there's not much to separate it from the rest of the crowd. Like Elder, it showcases a similar piney/grapefruity character and honestly if I didn't know it was 10.25% I wouldn't have known. The sweet malts hint at the higher ABV but there is no booziness to it at all. I think I waited about 30 minutes to try it, and I'm glad I got to try it, but probably not worth it again.

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Photo of bluz4frank
5/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Can I say anything more about this beer than has already been published? Sat next to Vinnie during the day we were there. He mentioned he thought it was the best batch so far. I agree. My fourth year attending and it was definitely the best. A good friend is a photographer for the Santa Rosa Press Democratn who has done dozens of stories about Vinnie and his beer. Even HE said it was the best batch ever.

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Photo of jakewatt135
4.65/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

This and the elder side by side made the elder seem like it had no hops it in. Amazing beer. Super light body, not painfully malty like you could expect at 11% and honestly not crazy hoppy either.

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Photo of 31Sam13
4.75/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Worthy of the hype...the alcohol is apparent but seems part of the overall package that is not overly anything...bitter, but not too much so....well balanced...good hop kick with fruit notes from many angles...tropical comes to mind...

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Photo of Wiskeytango
4.83/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

The hand of god has came down to a certain individual and said make this and you will win. Nothing more to say than this is godsend. 4.75 on the nose cause nothing is perfect.

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Photo of HBPierside
4.93/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Terrific triple IPA. Waited in line for as few hours and was able to get three glasses along with Pliny the Elder and Blind Pig. Overall was well worth the wait. The beer looked, smelled and had a very smooth chock full of flavor taste and feel. Too bad the availability is so limited.

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Photo of Benjo87
4.8/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

On tap at tornado, San Fransisco. For an Aussie, this feels like I've hit the holy grail.

Look - looks like liquid gold in a glass. Minimal head. Fairly clear golden colour

Smell - wow. You don't even need to put your nose to the glass. Juicy juicy hops. No alcohol at all present. Smells amazingly juicy.

Taste - smooth smooth smooth. You'd never know how strong it was. So well balanced. Not a dry beer at all. The taste lingers. All in all it definitely lived up to expectation. Amazingly well balanced beer.

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Photo of DudeBeerYaBro
5/5  rDev +6.4%

smell: like a brighter version of elder. hops up front, giving way to more hops...residual sweetness.
taste: booyah. piny, earthy hops up front. quick burst of citrus fruit in the middle, finish long and dry with a pleasant balanced bitterness.

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Photo of PlinyMeNow
4.89/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Finally tracked it down at Tonys Darts Away in Burbank, CA. It is definitely the best IPA I've ever had, and IPA is my favorite style, so I suppose it's the best beer I've ever had.

I wouldn't say it reaches perfection, despite surpassing all other beers--a realization that applies not just to beer, but to all of life. You expect a life-changing experience, and you get reality: an unrivaled, expertly crafted IPA that makes you wonder why they can't all be done this way. It seems so simple and obvious that it fails to be life changing. That's not its fault.

PtY pour a hazy golden with a nice creamy head that leaves sticky lacing behind as it slowly settles. The aroma is strong and fresh, with mango, passionfruit, grapefruit rind, pine, and a bit of caramel malt clearly coming through. The taste is very hop forward but extremely balanced, reflecting the above notes along with a bit of alcohol spice and a nice malt backbone that has both a dry cracker-like quality and some caramel sweetness. It is clean from front to back and finishes with a nice fresh dryness that doesn't linger too long. The body doesn't strike me as full or creamy or syrupy, but solidly medium and slightly resinous with just the right amount of carbonation.

It tastes big, but not TIPA 10.25% big. The hops and alcohol are counterbalanced by a carefully designed malt backbone, and this is where the real art is. It drives me crazy when big DIPAs with high IBUs also bring a syrupy sweetness in an attempt to "balance" the bitterness. The result is a muddled sickening mess. PtY expertly walks a fine line to achieve true balance while maintaining cleanness and celebrating, not muddying, the hops.

I wish I could obtain it every weekend--but then, I suppose, it would lose its excitement and allure. It's probably best just the way it is.

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Photo of Benempt
5/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Drank at the bar at Russian River on superbowl Monday! The wait on Sunday was eight hours, Monday night I walked right in and sat at the bar.

Tasting against Pliny the Elder, Pliny the Younger is crisp, somehow light?, and just delicious. It is amazing that it has so much alcohol. Compare too against the syruping, nearly chewy 120 minute Dogfish head IPA - Pliny the Younger is clear and good and just so, so drinkable.

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Photo of Bum4ever
5/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had on tap at RRBC on 2/9/2017,

L: Clear Yellow with a good amount of head.
S: Orange and maybe mango, some other citrus smells, then definitely hops to finish it off but not over powering.
T: Huge amount of hops up front, but very smooth at the same time. Nice fruit flavors to balance the hops.
F: Exactly how a triple IPA should feel.
O: This is as good as everyone says. Waited 3 hours in the rain to try it and it did not disappoint. This was my first year making the trip, but it will not be my last.

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Photo of a_daniel_life
4.52/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had in Philly back in March. We had an 8oz pour that I nursed for about 45 minutes. This was the 3rd time I had it. The taste does not live up to the hype. After sitting and warming up it became more complex and really developed into a much better beer. If I was sitting down and had to choose between the Elder, Younger, or Blind Pig - Yes I would take the younger but only because it comes out once a year. With that being said I prefer the Blind Pig

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Pliny The Younger from Russian River Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.7 out of 5 with 3,225 ratings