Pliny The Younger | Russian River Brewing Company

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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: 945 | Ratings: 3,054
Photo of luisfrancisco
5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Tasted the beer at the bar. I had to wait in line for about one hour and a half. I then just proceeded to drink two 10 oz younger glasses in almost no time at all. It is really exceptional how easy drinking the beer is for its size.
I later ordered an Elder and a Younger to compare then side by side.

Appearance is fantastic. A hazy orangey color, just a tad more copper than the characteristic yellow of pliny the elder. Under some lights they seemed almost the same color, but when held up, you can clearly see that Younger is a bit more orange. Very nice. It is a little hazy, but I guess it goes with the style and the amount of hops. Not a very large head but it really doesn't matter, the beer was very nicely carbonated.

Smell is wonderful. Piney, citrus hops. I swear this has got to be the best smelling beer ever. Perhaps I like the smell of the Elder just a tad better, just because it is a bit dryer. Nonetheless a LOT of hops and a delicious smell.

Taste is just fantastic. It is impressive how the Younger can make the Elder seem not as good. It really has a nicer, maybe a little more balanced taste. Not as dry, and just as much hop flavor.

Everything was amazing about the beer. The only bad thing is they only make it once a year and I had to travel FAR to get it.

Drinkability is excellent. I would have had more, but did not want to get home without a brain.

The best beer I've had hands down. Really hard to express how this one makes the Elder seem like a normal beer. Although we all know the Elder is also great. I hate to give out a perfect score, but this one just plain deserves it.

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Photo of kiddwhiz
4.75/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

The chase is over and let the hype finally have some perspective. My finish line was a newer joint in NW Denver called Hops and Pie. A little place that does two things great: pizza and craft brews! No fiasco, no attitude, and no worries. Hops and Pie poured off their 5.5 gallon of Younger within 45 mins with no stress.

I was able to snag a 8-10 oz pour of Younger in a mini pint glass. With the delicate pour I procured very little head but what I received was frothy white that receded to delicate white lacing.

The aroma of the Younger is really wonderful. Piney hops, hops and more hops. It exemplifies what a West Coast DIPA is and should be. Not a chase for IBU's but a pursuit of the exceptional.

The Younger tastes like it should. Smooth hoppy, hoppyness with over/undertones of grapefruit, citrus, and lime. Wikipedia is in the process of updating their definition of "smooth" to this beer. No alcohol flavor is apparent but reveals itself later on...

Younger is full bodied and smooth. It coats the palate with bitter, hoppy fruit resins that lingers beyond the norm. Drinkability? I chatted with a H&P patron that we would peg this beer as a 7% ABV if not to know better. This is an exceptionally drinkable beer that you would never know is high ABV.

And we come full circle. The hype? probably too much. The beer? as expected and a total treat. Worth the effort? not something I will stand in line for but when presented with an enjoyable opportunity to taste this fantasticness I will take it every time. Cheers Russian River!

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Photo of K4550
4.45/5  rDev -4.7%
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 calir1
5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5


Tasted again for the 10th time during the last release. I loved every bit of it. Wish there was more to go around.

The hugeness of the aroma and flavor is such a blast to the senses. I loved it.

Way to go Russian River, Please make more next year.

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Photo of stuckonhops
4.95/5  rDev +6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On tap at Devil's Den in Philadelphia. My first visit there and certainly not my last.

A-- Pours a bit hazy deep to mild orange depending on how the lighting is. Nice creamy head that lingers for a while. Great sticky lacing.

S-- smells of pineapple, grapefruit, pinecones and all the resiny goodness you would expect from a high alcohol DIPA. Malts peek there head out to say hello then disappear until the beers has a chnace to warm a bit.

T-- mmm...hops...first sip gives me a great taste of grapefruit that almost compares with hopslam's grapefruit character but not quite. The hops also have a pine and pineapple flavors in this bad boy. alcohol adds some fruity esters which is very nice. malts once again come in to help out in keeping this beer drinkable..a bit bready from malts...very very delicious...

M-- smooth and a little sticky...goes down really easy...

D-- had 3 of these with now problem at i believe was a 11 oz pour...could easily of had a few more without passing out or anything close...great beer...just dont chug it...i will kick you if you chug this beer...

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Photo of bobjonesSD
4.68/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On tap at O'Briens.

Incredibly well balanced with sweet hops, herbyness, skunk goodness, honey and citrus. This is 11 percent? It goes down so easy. Reminiscent of a blend of the best parts of our other favorite IPAs without the parts holding them back. Delightful.

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Photo of justmebro
4.78/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Waited over 4hrs to sample this almost mythical brew, I was not disappointed. Contrary to my thoughts about triple the hops, this is a very smooth beer. It had a very creamy mouth feel and a smooth follow. Worth the wait

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Photo of session1979
4.87/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

3/1/08: What a day here in Denver. We spent our time outside enjoying the 74 degree winter heat, had some friends over for a barbecue, threw some darts, drank beer, played basketball with the kids, could it get any better? Yes, yes it can. The mailman delivered a package, not just any package, this was beer mail. Ladies and gentlemen, Pliny the Younger is in the building!

Appearance: Poured a beautifully clear and brilliant light honey orange. A frothy thick 2 finger head adorns itself at the top of this nectar from god. It dissipates leaving a sticky lacing around the glass.

Nose: After letting the head settle I give a little swirl and bury my nose deep in the glass. I am greeted with big grassy hops, almost the same as when you were a kid and you would chew on a piece of grass while playing in the yard. Sweet crystal sugars, fruit - tangerine, and a slightly bready malt buried in the background. The alcohol is noticeable for a quick moment but then gone, hidden by this enormous nose.

Taste: Seriously, how? The first thing that comes to mind is how balanced and drinkable it is, almost like it has been slightly aged. Intense fruity hops, bold in nature but not overwhelming or one sided, followed by sweet hard candy sugars, doughy malt backbone, but the hops win out with a long bittering finish.

Mouthfeel: Full, initially sticky and sweet quickly followed by warming alcohol. Only light carbonation, overall a surprisingly thick and coating mouth, especially for this style.

Drinkability: You would drink this until you passed out or you ran out.

Overall: Last May I had a beertopia experience when I received a growler of the Elder in a trade. It was by far the best beer I had had until now, and while I can't say that the Younger is leaps and bounds beyond that of its uncle, the incredible complexities and balance give it the nod. Honestly, I would take either over any other beer on the planet, any day of the week. You drink this and you feel like you are experiencing a work of art. You understand that a true craftsman created this masterpiece, revealing it slowly one sip at a time. I am simply in awe, thank you Russian River.

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Photo of HipHop5
5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

There is no doubt in my mind. For all the talk and trendy tales about this beer, now I understand this to be one of the greatest IIPA ever crafted.
Life's mysterious abundance, got me in the doors of Father Office in Santa Monica right before the mob, and a long quest was finally ended few feet from the bar counter(for an other year:).
Very much a replica of the Elder in the aroma profiles, the color takes a darker copper orange red tones here. Clear and crisp appearance with a impeccable inch head that is the gift that keeps on giving. Releasing complex Citrus,pineapple,caramel pine essence into your nose, just to prepare you to what I will call "A religious experience" has your lips come in contact with the tulip.
Smooth yet extremely strong mouth feel at the same time. A balance that would make any scale blush. Full body,Average carbonation, inviting hop bit up front but magically metamorphose on your taste buds to open up a vast field of complex hop flavors.
Definitely more intensity than with the Elder, and great sweet caramel silky consistency that lace down the glass as you watch your new lover disappear sip after sip. I had four in one hour. Just that good and I couldn't resist. Watch out though. 11% is a quick reminder that this one is a triple IIPA.

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Photo of witschen
4.83/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Late review - tasted at Toronado in 2013. Blown away by mellowness of this high abv double (triple?) IPA. Hops are big but not overwhelming. Lives up to the hype.

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Photo of BlackDog
4.97/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

After calling Russian River, the distributor, and driving over an hour in Philly, I finally experienced the Younger. The hype, travel, and effort were well worth it.

Appearance: Nice, golden, white head, but it lacked a little bit, could have been thicker and had better retention.

Smell: The perfect smell. Strong hop aroma with hint of grapfruit, pine, lemon, citrus

Taste: Perfect. Such a nice hop taste, but so perfectly balanced that it isn't overpowering, but still enough to give it that great hop taste. Nice and crisp, medium body.

Mouthfeel: Again, perfect. Carbonation was right one (not sure what happened with the head, though), medium body was perfect.

Overall: Again, head lacked a tad. Aroma was perfect, taste was perfect. This is a very hoppy IIPA but is so perfectly balanced as to not overpower, giving it the perfect taste.

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Photo of mattmarch
4.74/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

I was fortunate enough to be visiting friends in the Bay area so drove myself up to RR for the first morning of release. 3 Hour Line around the block but very worth it. Easily the best IPA I have had so far. So well balanced, the fresh hop oils are my favorite part, and just an excellent mouthfeel. Very resiny but the high abv is hardly noticeable. I very much enjoyed every drop of all 3 pours.

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Photo of LocestLXCX
4.72/5  rDev +1.1%
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 mykie73
4.22/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Horsebrass

A - Apricot in color, and very transparent.

S - incredible and my favorite part of this beer. pine, spruce, and lots of vitamin c.

T - The balance of this beer is quite an achievement. delicious hop goodness. I can for sure taste the elder in there. slight alcohol burn on the very back of the throat but very well hidden...actually amazingly well was very hard to notice.

M - light and well carbonated.

D - Very drinkable, you can get through one fast. But after two, I'd much rather move onto a pale ale. If it was availabe all the time, not sure I would seek it out.

Perhaps a over hyped, but this is due to its rarity and it's unique Triple IPA status. I prefer other Big IPAs but this is an amazingly well crafted beer. I can now say I tried it, and very much enjoyed it, but I will go for something else at any bar with rotating taps...actually, I would order it again.

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Photo of Gargamel92886
4.97/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

At first I was concerned this beer would not live up to the hype. It did.

A: Straw colored, clear with thin white head

S: mild, citrusy

T: hoppy, not overly bitter

M: nice, crisp, fine carbonation

D: very drinkable. The alcohol hides so nicely within the beer, I didn't notice it until I stood up.

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Photo of remingtonsteele1987
4.85/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had the Younger on two separate occasions at the same establishment with consistent results limited to two 5oz tulip tasting glasses. Clear, light amber color with little head. Sweet vanilla, orange and papaya nose with just the slightest, slightest hint of barnyard animal aromas, but in a good way. Creamy, rounded and well balanced flavors of vanilla, citrus and tropical fruit with just the right amount of hops. Had a pint of the Elder next to the Younger for comparison purposes and I can say the Younger is no comparison. Big, big triple IPA with smooth and delicate features. Delicious!

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Photo of HatTrick
4.15/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Was able to do a nice vertical of the Blind Pig, Pliny the Elder, and Pliny the Younger.

A: Nice garnet hue with no head. Swirling it around in my glass - it looks rather thick.

S: Smells sweet and syrupy, reminds me of stone fruit.

T: Nice sweet aftertaste of cherries. Overall it was very sour - you can taste the hops. Unfortunately the bar where I had this has sat on the keg for a few weeks before taping it. When I had this about a month ago in Portland it was really splendid - a nice and fresh taste of hops hops hops! The color was a bit lighter and the aroma very citrusy and fruity. Although it wasn't as fantastic this last time it still was an exceptional IPA.

M: Nicely carbonated. A good balance.

D: Not too bad to drink but the 11% abv was a bit much for me - can't drink too much! But in small quantities for those of us with lighter-alcohol tolerances it was quite grand! Personally I don't adore lots of hops but that is just me. I don't think this is the best beer ever and rather liked PTE don't shoot me for it! But I can see why others think it is a gift from the beer gods. Great beer though!

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Photo of ThoreauLikeAGirl
4.48/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this beer a couple of times at tappings throughout the Philadelphia area.
Review is based off of memory - which I have retained very well due to the amazingness of this beer.

Poured from tap into a tulip glass. About a 10 oz pour.
The color of this beer is amazing. Looks like liquid gold - orange and bright. Not any real head to this. no lacing.

Smell was of very strong citrus fruits, pineapple and whole leaf hops. The citrus was dominating. Very pleasant. Could smell the thing immediately when placed in front of me from 2 feet away.

Taste was glorious. I have NO IDEA how this beer is 11% abv. Dangerous. No real indication of alcohol burn in this, that you would expect from a beer this high in abv. Citrus hops, bitter, but very well-balanced bitterness. A bit of malt in the background.

Overall, this is the best triple IPA out there. Very enjoyable, and mandatory try for any hophead. Definitely worth the hype.

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Photo of Rastacola
4.5/5  rDev -3.6%

A phenomenal beer. A little sweet, but that sweetness carefully balances the beer and the high ABV. This beer is very hyped up and very deserving of it. I'd love to sit and drink multiple in a calm setting rather than a hectic Philly bar.

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Photo of jow_42
4.78/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

8oz pour @ Pizza Port Carlsbad during the Younger tapping

A - Pours a dark amber color. No head on the glass we got since they were pouring and walking them out to us. It had dissipated by the time we got it. Looks very similar to Elder.

S - Sweet hops. Tropical fruits, pine. The 11% is no where to be found.

T - I must say this is the smoothest triple I have ever had. Again, sweet hops up front, lots of pineapple, underneath the sweetness is a piney, resinous, dank note. People say its like Elder cranked up, and I can see that. As it warmed, much more bitterness came out, as well as some candied orange.

O - Did this live up to the hype? Yes. Its delicious. Best triple I have had. Would I wait hours on hours for a small pour of this? Probably not.

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Photo of Jbagel1
4.69/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

This was my first time having the Pliny the Younger. We've all heard about how great this beer was, but many of us haven't had the chance to have one.. Some would say its not worth the lines you'd have to wait for a glass or its price. Maybe some would hate on its hype. This beer is worth all its hype! its such a light triple IPA. Nothing like any other 10% beer I've had before. Looks and smells amazing. its darker then I thought it would be. The hype is so real.

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Photo of wesclaypool
4.94/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

After missing my chance at this brew last year and the year before, I finally committed to making a trip to the source. I waited in line exactly seven hours to get in.

A - A golden, yellow color that looks exactly how a great IPA should.

S - Not quite as aromatic or strong as I imagined it would be, considering how Pliny the Elder really has a powerful aroma. Still, you get a strong sense of piney hops and citrus.

T - I don't think a beer this strong could taste any better or go down any smoother. No surprise that this brew is an absolute hop bomb, so if that's not your thing, I wouldn't....well no, even if you don't like hoppy brews, you should still try this one. By the time I got to my third glass, however, the taste of the alcohol began to get stronger and a bit overpowering, so take your time and enjoy the first few you have.

M - Not so thick that you can't drink them quickly, but not so thin that you can pound them down without savoring them.

As I was drinking, I began to wonder if I could be even critical of any beer that I waited in line seven hours for, as it might be too depressing. But no, this beer is deserving of the hype. If you have a day to kill, get there early and bring a book, you don't want to go your whole life without trying this beer.

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Photo of notyourdadsbeer
5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On draught at Oskar Blue's Liquids and Solids in Longmont, Co. Poured into an 8oz snifter.

A: Deep gold with amber hues but more on the bright side of amber then the dark. Solid head retention that fades into a spiderweb like lacing on the glass.

S: Massive piney hops is the first aroma to hit your senses. It's as if you too a wiff of the biggest pine tree in existance and let the flavor wash over you. Touches of citrus grapefruit also take shape behind the chronic and pine notes.

T: Massive pine to match the nose. Comes across somewhat sticky and resinous but the bitter is truly there. Citrus fruit such as mango and pineapple are present but pine and chronic flavors are dominate. The malt is solid and doesn't subdue the hops but instead balances them very well.

M: Because of the prefect malt backbone this beer weighs heavy on the palate. Top of mouth is coated but the bitterness creeps from the back of the palate to the front. Citrus notes linger on the middel of the tongue and the finish just doesn't stop. Almost no booziness present.

D: Having the oppurtunity to taste this beer is up there with getting superbowl tickets. It's worth the time, effort, and money. It's exceptional in all standings for what an Imperial IPA should be. It's not over hopped nor is it over malted, it's perfectly balanced- just like all the beers RR does. I only wish it were made more often or in higher quantities because 8oz's is just not enough.

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Photo of islandboi8204
4.7/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Bishop's Collar.

Pours clear golden orange color, fluffy white head that recedes quickly. Streaky lacing down the glass.

Smells like pine, fresh-cut grass, tangerine, apples, grapefruit, and a little mango, pineapple. A ton of hops with some malt in the background.

Tastes like fresh hops, sweet tropical fruit flavors, but also malt to balance. Alcohol well masked, nice and dry. The finish is incredibly long and lingering. Wonderful.

Mouthfeel is medium viscosity, reasonable carbonation. Smooth and creamy, with a little stickiness.

Overall, this met the hype for me. I had this alongside Hopslam, and while Hopslam had more tropical fruit/pineapple notes, it was way too sweet and syrupy compared to PtY. Very drinkable, so smooth, everything I love about Pliny the Elder but more extreme. I hope to enjoy this again next year.

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Photo of Rfunk
4.92/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Had on draft at RRBC last Friday. Served on-draft and into a 10oz Nonic tumbler.

A- Light golden, but not quite straw colored, and commercial clear, which surprised me for the amount of hops used. (no hop haze) Very impressed with the clarity.

SM- So much going on on the nose. Tons of citrus fruit; lemon, and grapefruit mostly, followed by a resin and piney finish. Little to no malt character is picked up in the aroma.

T- Very good balance between the malts and hops, but the malt flavors are the first to come through. Very light sweet, followed by a long linger of hop flavor and bitterness on the back end of things. Definitely get tons of Centennial and Simcoe in there.

MF- Smooth, crisp and clean. As usual with Vinnie's IPA's...

OA- Was really hoping it would not be a let down, especially after a 2.5 hour drive and then 3.5 hours in line, and it was not. Very clean and refreshing mouthfeel, tons of hop bouquet on the nose with mixes of citrus and pine, and a great malt presence that hides the alcohol and balnces the bitter backbone very well. A must try!

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Pliny The Younger from Russian River Brewing Company
4.67 out of 5 based on 3,054 ratings.
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