Pliny The Younger | Russian River Brewing Company

3,066 Ratings
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Pliny The YoungerPliny The Younger

Brewed by:
Russian River Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: American Double / 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.

Added by xlperro on 01-27-2005

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Reviews: 946 | Ratings: 3,066
Photo of ArrogantB
4/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the Falling Rock $7 per 1/2 pint, wow. Served in a wine glass, nice orange color, smells amazingly hoppy like Pliny the Elder. Tastes bitter, hoppy, stronger. Honestly I think the Elder is better. This didn't seem to add hoppy value, only alcohol. A delicious IPA but the elder is better as far as I'm concerned.

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Photo of oggg
4/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at O'Briens. Served in 10oz glasses. (2nd batch)

This beer had a tiny layer of foam that receded quickly, as expected for such a huge brew. Deep golden color with a touch of haziness. Lots of citrus in the nose but I would call it moderate -- less than the aroma I get off the Elder. Crisp on the tongue at first, there is a moderate hop bitterness of grapefruit, citrus, and something different from Pliny the Elder. Hmmm... Can't describe it. Malt is present but again doesn't knock my socks off... unlike the alcohol, which did. Rather, I didn't taste the alcohol but I certainly felt it very quickly.

I really need to try this again. It was somewhat of a letdown, but then again, 1) no beer could live up to the hype that this "triple IPA" got, 2) small glass may have limited aroma dispersal, 3) I developed a bad headache after drinking it, possible from being dehyrdated and then going for a highly alcoholic beer (I doubt it was a reaction to the Younger), and 4) I've been on such a double IPA spree lately that my tongue was probably a little dead to the hoppiness of the Younger. Regardless, I owe the Younger another chance.

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Photo of memory
4/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on tap. Appeared copper color with a grapefruit smell and taste. The alcohol wasn't overwhelming at 11 percent and I considered it very drinkable. .
Advertised as a triple, I wasn't blown away though. There are local tripals in my area of SE Pa. that are on par with this in my opinion. I don't think it is that far above them. However, this is very nice to drink. Is it possible to give a review after drinking just one?

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Photo of Professor_Yeesh
4.01/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Tried it on tap at a local event. First impression was that the aroma was lacking. Maybe it was an older keg (2-3 weeks). The taste was overly sweet, which was unheard of from Russian River's beers that tend to be balanced nicely.

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Photo of drummstikk
4.01/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

2011 Pliny the Younger: Pale yellow, medium body and carbonation. Smells like pine and grapefruit. Your taste buds are totally shot after tasting this. Intense earthy hop flavors: marijuana-like and resinous. Probably lots of Columbus hops. Not as citrusy as 2010, but the same de-emphasis of hop bitterness and emphasis on hop flavor. Less bitter than Pliny the Elder. And again, the alcohol is masked by the intense hop flavors. Pretty tasty beer -- hard to explain the hype (especially when you think about all the other delicious double IPAs out there), but one of the best.

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Photo of CommanderOfAwesome
4.01/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

Had during SF beer week at Bobby G's in Berkeley CA. Had with a PtE side by side.

A: Pours golden color with great clarity. 1 finger white fluffy head.

S: Mango, pineapple grapefruit, sweetness lingering with hops.

T: Hop forward, very sweet citrus fruit. Hides the alcohol well behind a well balanced malt backbone.

M: Well carbonated medium bodied with a bitter dry sweet finish.

O: A good beer that is no where close to the hype. I waited about an hour for this beer which is on the low end, and honestly I would much rather have a TIPA from Knee Deep over this one. Glad to have it once and say I've had it but for this to top in the top 10 beers is all hype based IMO.

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Photo of corby112
4.03/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampling this live right now at Capone's.

Pours a dark golden orange/tangerine color with golden orange hues when held to a light source and a two finger fluffy, soapy white head that has amazing retention, only slowly fading into a lasting cap. Soapy chunks of white lacing are left behind.

Uber fresh dank oily hop aroma that is very floral with a lot of sweet citrus notes balancing out the earthy pine. Slight malt presence and a somewhat strong alcohol character. The high ABV is noticeable in he nose and takes away from the hops a bit.

Chewy full body, especially for the style, that is bursting with uber fresh earthy piny and sweet citrus hops. Very floral with lots of lemon peel and grapefruit as well as some tropical mango and pineapple. There is a slight malt backbone providing some balance but this beer is all about the hops. There is a good bit of alcohol heat that takes away from the hops a bit too much for my liking but overall the ABV is decently masked. This beer is still dangerously drnkable but I wish that it had a little less heat. I've had this beer several times and I love it but I still prefer Elder.

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Photo of tewaris
4.04/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4


On tap at Russian River, poured into a 10 oz nonic pint glass. 2012 release.

Amber colored with some haze that disappears with temperature, and an off-white head with good retention and great lacing. Looks and feels very sticky and sugary, but taste is a different story. Aroma is sweet tropical fruit, with some sweetness lent by alcohol.

Taste fruity but very restrained in its sweetness, with a tropical profile and high bitterness, especially towards the end. Very clean for its huge body, mostly because of its hoppiness. A long and very bittering (pleasantly so) finish. Smooth and silky, clean but not crisp, with the alcohol very well masked. Very good, if not the most aggressive DIPA.

4.5, 3, 4.5, 4.5, 4

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Photo of James_Michaud91
4.05/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Big hop aromatics are the star of the show for sure. Just a touch too sweet and syrupy for my taste. Especailly considering what it takes to get a scant 4oz pour of this beast I'll take the Elder any day of the week.

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Photo of BradfordStuckey
4.06/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.25

A great beer. Great floral and citrus scents. Dry finish with overall low boosiness. Great marketting makes this beer highly sought after. I have tried it three times 2015 being the best.

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Photo of IHeartE30s
4.07/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

The release of the Younger the last two years was fun; waiting in line with good friends, bars having special food and "IPA tap takeover." That was the highlights though, the Younger is good but I wouldnt wait for it alone especially at 6$ for 4oz's.

It has a lot of complexity and doesnt have that west cost IBU BOOM but it just wasnt for me. At the bar we went to this last year they had plenty of other IPA's I enjoyed more, some of which were very rare in California, like Sculpin Habenaro IPA and Dogfish 120minute on TAP! If it were something readily available like the Elder I could see myself buying it every now and then but I probably wont be waiting in the long lines for a taster any more.

I'd say, its definitely worth a try and find a pub that has an event for the tapping. I wouldnt rank it in the top 25 though.

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Photo of PalatePilot
4.07/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

First pour into my glass at Boulder Strong Ale Festival at Avery Brewing

A- Golden, almost orange. not a lot of head.

S- Piney, strong citrus, and slight alcohol

T- Great Malt bill for the hops, i found the hops to be a bit astringent. A really unique flavor, I guess thats why its so popular, I have never had a beer that tasted like it. It was different, but I cant say I loved the flavor. A little Resinous.

M- a little syrupy, chewy. I tried to love it. tried to see what it was all about. found the mouthfeel average for a IIPA

O- I just don't get it, I guess. It was a great beer, like I sai, very unique, just not the best IIPA I have ever had.

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Photo of yuichituba
4.08/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I got this on tap at Pi Bar here in San Francisco.
I had to try me some and find out what all the rave was about.

SO ya, pretty darn good! Some strong citrus and pine action happening to this beer. The booziness is more apparent in this beer, but that is somewhat expected in a 11% beer. Overall (if you're a hop head) a very smooth, drinkable beer.

I personally wasn't blown away with though, honestly. My personal opinion as far as why this beer is highly rated is due to how scarce it is, the hype people create from it, as well as how its older brother Pliny the Elder has left a legend in craft beer history pretty much. Don't get me wrong, this is an excellent double/triple IPA, but I think Pliny the Elder is better and enjoyable to drink.

Beer Tuber:

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Photo of Oxymoron
4.09/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

We are, we are...youth of the nation. On tap at O'Brien's in San Diego. Poured a somewhat hazy orange color. A good head when poured although did dissipate during the tasting. Some viscous sticks to the glass when you swirl it.

The nose is citrus hoppy with mostly grapefruit and oranges. A fantastic nose that shines of Amarillo, Summit and other "C" hops. To compare with Elder, the nose is much more hoppier and sweeter.

The taste is punch in the mouth hops. Sure it's a crazy west coast hop bomb but both hop, bittering and finishing, and hop to malt are so far out of balance, especially if you compare it to Elder. To start, the hops have a strong bittering bite that last through the finishing taste which overpowers the finish hop flavors. There are some piney and citrus finish but it plays second fiddle here. There is a sweetness to the beer that really is off for me as well. Feels like its under attenuated although there really isn't much of an alcohol or estery flavor at all. As your taste buds adjust the malt flavors come out but really limited with some sweetness and stickness.

The body of course is big. Carbonation is light, maybe to bring out the hop flavor. With the sweet syrupy finish leaves a blah aftertaste. Overall this is an ultimate hop bomb, but with my money give me an elder every time. I suppose I would have to say respect your elders.

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Photo of Phishyninja
4.1/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wait was 2 1/2 hours, weather was perfect (as usual) and we got seated right away on the patio. I got an Elder to taste side by side, and was surprised to find Elder to be a better beer in every way. And Elder isn't even the best IPA on tap every day! Still, I had a great time and probably will too. Just don't expect to have your mind blown, Younger is good but this is an over-hyped release that owes its weeks of long lines to those who suffer from FOMO.

Row 2 however, is the bomb.

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Photo of DoubleSimcoe
4.1/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4.25

Pliny the Younger on tap at Monk's Cafe in Philadelphia, fifteen dollars for 6.5oz, cash only for Alex's Lemonade charity. for charity, 10.5% ABV

App: ½ finger head, some floaties, soapy bubbles. Low retention. Orange-tropical color.

Smell: Intoxicating! Citrus, tropical aromas, pineapple juice, dank and sticky. Pomelo bitterness and lovely tartness. Fresh-squeezed OJ.

Taste: More of that pepperiness, super spicy, pineapple cake, piney. Don Limpio. Orange rind. Aggressive hops, lip-smacking. Oily, resin, like licking sap.

Mouthfeel: Medium body and low carbonation, could use more bubbles. Dry, sticky finish, need water! Spicy, peppery all around- not too pleasant.

Overall: Very drinkable! Like water, poundable. World-class? Not so, but delicious. Worth trying once or twice, but I wouldn’t go crazy or stand on line for it. There are many wonderful Triple IPA’s out there these days… (Knee Deep is making some killer ones!).

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Photo of alohaC
4.1/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at the Toronado. After drinking Pliny the Elder too many times to count, I finally came across the much heralded and harder to find Pliny the Younger on tap. Like the Elder, the Younger pours beautifully with a clean, coppery orange and a nice two-finger head. The smell is pungent with citrus/grapefruit hops, but with less of the sweet pine and floral character you sometimes find in the other good IIPAs. Not a bad thing - just different and you know this one is going to hit you big time with the bitter end of the hops. Flavor is dominated by grapefruity bitterness, but kept in check with a biscuity malt. Mouthfeel is medium and fairly smooth for such a big beer. My only real complaint is I find this beer to be a little more astringent and hot with alcohol on the finish than I like. Where the Elder is the epitome of balance for me, I find this one a bit unbalanced. Some like this, but to me it makes this a "have a pint and then I’m done with it" kinda beer. Another excellent effort by Vinnie, the Yoda of IPAs, but I’d rather hook myself up to an I.V. of the Elder for the night!

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Photo of MichaelPhiladelphiaBeer
4.1/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wine glass on tap, pre purchased to avoid crowds.

Surprisingly disappointing nose but hard for the beer not to be disappointing given all the hype. Nice, little fruity, not too overpowering.

Mouth feel standard, little less bubbles than average.

Light pretty pour with a small head

Taste was clean - reminded me a bit of heady topper. Couldn't really taste the alcohol - definitely a nice bitter clean ending which somehow reminded me of a stainless steal finished white wine.

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Photo of tjthresh
4.12/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 ounce hand bottle shared by Bobby91w. Pours bright sunny yellow with good whit head. Dank pine and Juicy Fruit nose. Just a big bold blend of hop goodness. Medium body. Balanced finish. Certainly a great beer, I'm just not sure it lived up to my expectations.

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Photo of Rifugium
4.12/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First had: on tap at Monk's, Philly, PA

Does it live up to the hype? Well, kinda. At least it did in 2011 and earlier. Are there local beers that are just as good that you won't wait in ridiculous lines for and pay upwards of $20 a pour for? Sure. Still, no real complaints about PtY here.

2011 batch. Poured a golden peach color, nicely carbonated, with an attractive, fluffy white head that laced well. I expected just a really good IPA here, but no, it's much more. Big hops in the nose, and a medley of light fruits and citrus, with a noticeable sweetness. The hop bitterness and the fruit tastes complemented themselves pretty much perfectly. Lots of floral and citrus hops, juicy fruits of all kind: mango, grapefruit, orange, grapes, pineapples, apricots... Just so much going on here, and all great. Medium mouthfeel, smooth and delicious, and highly drinkable...if you can find it.
Rating: 4.35-4.5

2012 batch....meh....very underwhelming. Notably different. More bitterness, more hype, less fruit, less flavor. Supposedly this lapse was due to a Simcoe/Amarillo hop shortage, and the subsequent replacement of Chinooks in the recipe. Makes sense if true. Still a solid beer, but no better than "okay."

2013 batch. About the same as 2012. I guess they changed the recipe after all. Oh well.

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Photo of william5586
4.12/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Had on tap at the South Philly Tap Room. Served in a wine glass.

Golden orange/yellow with a small fluffy white head on top. The hop aroma of this beer was really great. Very strong smell of floral hops, some citrus, and pine.

Holly hops! I would say that is about the best way to describe the taste of this beer. This one is aggressive. It felt like my mouth was being coated. The beer stuck to the inside of my mouth as if it did not want to be swallowed. It was relatively smooth and left my tongue tingling. There was some pine flavor, citrus, orange, grapefruit. I also found a hint of sweetness. After the first few sips I felt the hops and alcohol in my stomach. For 11%, the alcohol was pretty well hidden until it warmed me up on the way down.

The drinkability on this one is not very high. A definite sipper that I probably would not have more than 1or 2 of.

Overall this is an amazing beer, but after having both the Elder and the Younger I have to give the edge to the Elder. The Elder still has a great hop presence and seemed to be much more smooth and drinkable. That's just my 2 cents however.

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Photo of goodbyeohio
4.12/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

thx george

glowing orange and clear in my brooklyn snifter. cloudy patterns of bubble haze gather and swirl on the surface. lacing sticks all about the glass... romantic in its appearance.

smells harshly of orange liqueur.. oily alcohol and crystalline caramel sugars. opening of the nostrils allows a steady flow of near-noxious ethyl gases. citrusey and sweet but with consequences. rocket fueled ipa for sure.

feels silky and syrupy.. comforting and warming going down. taste is along the line of behemoth BW, but this beer manages to hop itself into next week and maintain the double ipa thing. a new dimension of hops dominated by orange essence does its best to mask the abv. very little tart grapefruity hops.. this is more sweet, sweet, and sweet fruitiness. nice twist on the style with acidic fresh mcintosh apple skin crispness. some elements of the spicing here are extremely floral, rose and honeysuckle accenting the final product.

this is good, but overall way too huge for my current tastes. that said, i can totally respect its uniqueness and think that despite my personal opinions this is a really fuckin good beer.

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Photo of aforbes10
4.12/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the Sonoma Wine Exchange (Wine Exchange of Sonoma?). Pours a yellow to orange and transparent, with a nice white head. Sticky, sticky lacing. Clear and gleaming in the light. Smells very hoppy, citrusy, but also very heavy on the alcohol. Some pine notes. Flavor is quite good. Very bitter, very hoppy. Citrus hops dominate, but again there's a pine sap presence too. Hops blow out my taste buds pretty early on. More of a malt profile than the Elder and definitely a more prominent alcohol presence too. The massive hops and alcohol don;t really work to its benefit, imo. Elder is a great beer because of how it manages to cram all that good stuff in and not be overwhelming, while Younger IS overwhelming. Still, its very tasty, just more on the overly aggressive side of things. Full bodied, but also a bit syrupy. Drinks well, but again, i prefer the elder.

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Photo of Holland
4.13/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: viscous looking IPA with some small white head on top

S: pine, citrus, alcohol, and malt sweetness; this doesn't all mix well.

T: more of that odd mixture. The taste of all of these ingredients should be good, and is, but the mixture doesn't come together well enough to be the best DIPA out there.

M: thick even for the style, with decent but somewhat lacking carbonation.

O: misses the mark, though still excellent. I wonder if other batches or having this fresher would have made a difference (it's a month after the release and it just showed up in Philly). Reminds me of a Heady Topper, but doesn't strike the balance right. It's not dry enough, but at the same time there's too much alcohol. This beer just tried to be too big. For all of the negative things here, it's still on par with deliciousness like Simtra, but it's a step below Heady, and probably not as good as the Elder.

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Photo of whiskeysoda
4.13/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I got to try this for the first time in my life amidst a mass of beer geeks clambering over the taps at Blue Palms in Hollywood like brokers at the New York Stock Exchange. Luckily I was able to try it again 2 days later at Father's Office in Culver City where it was CONSIDERABLY lower-key, and where I easily got to order 2 glasses (the Blue Plams keg kicked in 7 minutes) and found a seat where I could sit and sip in peace.

It was hard trying to be unbiased considering the enormous hype surrounding the annual release of this "Triple"(?) IPA, especially considering my pre-existing love for overly-aggressive hops in beer. So bear that in mind regarding my write up and rating:

Served in a 14oz tulip glass (dang, just realized 2 glasses of that was a good amount of hooch!), PTY pours with a very attractive, hazy gold-yellow hue and a fine, robust and slightly frothy head.

The NOSE was - not surprisingly - chalk-full of pine, bright grapefruit and white pepper that almost jumped up and tickled your nose.

As far as the TASTE is concerned...11% is not supposed to be this refreshing. The punch-you-in-the-mouth hops and citrus are prominent on the front end. It's safe to say that the characteristic yet subtle caramel/malty balance that most DIPA's share is easily muted, here (not gone, just being wallflowers...they know their place), making the finish seem more like you were drinking a fresh-hopped, 7% rather than what you KNOW you're drinking...

Unlike most high ABV IPA's, Pliny the Younger has a very crisp, lightly carbonated and effervescent MOUTHFEEL that's not at all sticky, aside from a slight residual resiny tinge and a robust, lingering herbaceousness in the FINISH that is reminiscent of having taken a hit off of an ice cold cold bong about 30 minutes earlier. Seriously...there are a lot of hops in here.


All I can say is this: this is a fantastic DIPA in it's own right, but by no means would I call it "The Best." There are more balanced IPA's out there; even those that showcase hops better. That being said: I have to admit that, in lieu of the drikability vs ABV quotient, I'd have to say this is the best/most dangerous high-alcohol IPA I've ever tried. Huge alcohol without being overly sweet or boozy. You've been warned.

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Pliny The Younger from Russian River Brewing Company
4.67 out of 5 based on 3,066 ratings.
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