Pliny The Elder | Russian River Brewing Company

3,659 Reviews
Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder

Brewed by:
Russian River Brewing Company
California, United States

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

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Reviews: 3,659 | Ratings: 14,229
Photo of MikeSJbeers
5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Its become trendy now to start hating on Pliny (well, not hating perhaps, but talking about how its so overrated).

This has been one of my favorite beers for years, never got around to giving it a real rating, before, but I absolutely love this beer. It is the perfect double IPA. Very strong hops, explosion of crisp flavor in the mouth, yet it never gets too heavy by the end of the glass. Truly fantastic beer and the epitome of the style in my mind. The look, smell, taste, crisp feel; Its all fantastic.

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

I've had Pliny on tap, from a bottle and a growler which is the same as tap I guess. Anyhow, on tap is the perfect blend of freshness, coolness and taste. It encompassed everything you want in a beer; taste, high ABV and did I mention taste? Perfection in a glass. The color is a beautiful orange with a bouquet of hops. The taste is a perfect balance of well, just about everything. "Just get it".

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

A: Nice bubbly amber, not much head due to soft pour. Bottle is a riot " sit on eggs not on pliny" humm wonder if i should age this one? LOL

S: Hops, hops and a little malt backing.

T: Wow this is a VERY nice double. the taste is spot on! Nothing overwhelming just perfect balance.

M:All the hops you'd want in a world class double, leaves the mouth dry and waiting for next drink.

D: A damn fine i2pa. The 8% is so well hidden. I am very pleased to be finding this and the pig all around the bay area!

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Photo of pat61
5/5  rDev +8.7%

Opens with malt and herbal, citrusy fruity hops on the nose. Pours brilliant gold with a snow white finely bubbled foam cap that persists and leaves thick lace. A big malt backbone supports luscious hop flavors, especially melon, citrus and a dash of mint on the finish. A touch above medium body, medium carbonation. Very well balanced.

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

Had this at the Urban Tavern in the Hilton Union Square in San Francisco a few weeks ago. Very easy to drink. Hints of pine and citrus with a perfect balance. This I felt was a medium body work of art. Appearance is a fire orange. A must have if you can find it.

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

Appears a pale copper slightly hazed body with a nice sized off white orange tinted head. This stuff appears to be super fresh bottled on 10/08/10, poured from a 500 ml bottle that gives a message about not aging this beer, duh. Head retention is great lacing is chunky and left behind in uneven patterns on my imperial pint glass. I was digging the history lesson about Pliny on the label, nice touch all hail the man who dubbed the hop plant.

The nose of the beer is like hop perfume, I didn't even raise the glass to my nose and I was smelling was pure grapefruit/citrus peels, floral, and pine accented hop bursts. The pale malt base is subtle and is just there to support the blasts of hops coming at me, probably the best smelling beer ever.

I served this one up slightly chilled, well let's see Fed Ex dropped it off about 20 minutes ago and it was already chilled from mother winter. I did put it in the freezer for about ten minutes just to make sure I was starting cold enough. Flavor is barrage of hop flavor and bitterness but it's got finesse to it, it blends the sweet and bitter brash flavors perfectly. A spicy floral, super citrus peel, brash pine and earthiness come through in the hops with just enough pale malt sweetness to make the hops pleasurable still.

The feel is of course a bit resinous with hop oils, but body is a full medium that simply glides across my palate and down the gullet without much effort this glass is disappearing. Carbonation is appropriate very natural and smooth nothing tickles the back of the throat, no harshness this is all love. I do have back up bottle for myself and a bottle each for my brother, Dante and brother from another mother, Kolby. Those will be shipped out today to beer it forward, South Bay Drugs has this stuff right now call Joey if your craving some West Coast IPA/DIPAs, they will deliver.

Overall drinkability and experience stands on it's own, outside of the hype of trying one of the best beers in the country. This one really stands up to all of the hype and allure behind it. I paid four dollars a bottle plus shipping costs, and that was well worth this experience. By far my favorite DIPA, but other versions of the style are more accessible for me and fulfill the hophead cravings. This is a must and it definitely makes me want to do a Santa Rosa pilgrimage in the future.

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

On tap @ Russian River Brewpub

Out of the tap, this is the best beer I've ever had. Ever. I even compared this to a bottle that was only 1 week old and the tap version blows that out of the water. Pours a straw color with a tick, rocky head.

Citrus and grass in the nose. Like you're mowing a grapefruit tree and you put your face in the grass collection!

So amazingly bitter and fresh. Citrus juices, piney flavors, grassy notes. Just perfect. PERFECT!

I easily finished a growler's worth of this stuff over two days. There's just no way anyone can make a better DIPA than this... but that doesn't mean they should stop trying!

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Photo of HopAttack3
5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Made it Russian River on 1-30-13, 2 days before Younger was released, the most well balanced beer I've had, it was so dank on tap, I'm in love with it and have some being shipped to me now...thank god for friends that love beer as much as I do...trying to see if I can get to Philly to try younger...

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

Thanks to Augustgarage for popping my Pliny cherry and introducing me to the kickass world of California IPAs!

Poured into a dogfish head snifter- about 3 fingers of head that lingered for about a minute before residing into some intricate lacing on the glass. Smell- hardcore pine, grapefruit, big citrus flavors on the nose. I'm already aware that I'm not worthy of the beer nirvana I'm about to experience. Taste- big beautiful bitter hops hit my palate on the front, some nice brutal hop burn here. The bitter hops quickly makes way to a nice big malt backbone that evens out this hop monster. Mouthfeel- I noticed some really nice carbonation here, also nice silky finish.

This really lives up to the hype, period. Thanks again Augustgarage for the experience.

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

They put the blindfold on early in the evening, told me to trust the darkness, to follow my nose through the forest, to let my bare toes lead me along the damp floor towards the sunset...

Never let it be said that I blindly believe the hype. Any hype about anything. But every now and then something comes along that is so amazing, so perfect, so filled with wow, you just have to stop for a minute and thank God that you can't afford to fill your bathtub with it...

This is that now and this is that then. Wow.

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

Pliny is by far one of my top favorite Beers! The color is perfect, pours excellent with a beautiful white creamy head! The nose is just amazing with it's citrusy, piney, earthy amormas with hints of herbs. The taste is nothing short of a hop party in your mouth! Starting of with sweet honey mixed with citrusy hoppy undertones moving into a multitude of barley and malts mixing with the taste buds in my mouth bringing me to the pinnacle of Imperial IPA ecstasy! 'nuff said! It's a real Hop Heads dream! Kudos Russian River! Cheers!

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Photo of RBassSFHOPit2ME
5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On tap at the source. Russian River Brewing Company

Started with a Mortification as I've been drinking a schitt-ton of PtE for the last 6 or so years. One IPA / DIPA I'll never grow out of.

Moved onto PtE and after the first sip, I just started laughing to myself and was reminded again of, and said out loud to my wife: "This is the best beer I've EVER had."

I won't elaborate on whats already been said in previous reviews... but at the source it's the best. I drink it at Toronado at least once a week and have a couple bottles every week. (Yes, batches vary some)

It's IPA perfection, I can find no flaws and wouldn't change a thing. True craftsmanship. Crisp, bright, clean...such a clean beer and every sip keeps you wanting another. So packed full of fresh cut grass, dank, tangerines and almost a faint strawberry-ish pineapple if you look for it underneath the tangerines. At a loss for words almost while drinking it.

Dangerously drinkable. Stays crisp and freshest of hops tasting, I could drink this all day into the night. Doesn't become sweet after a few like many of this style do. Body is a bit thicker on draft than in the bottle which to my preference is great because the bigger the PtE the better in my mind! Can't wait till Feb for PtY.

For the record, my first perfect 5 scoring. And well deserved.

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Photo of dowen17
5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a perfectly clear golden hue with a beautiful creamy off white head. Holds at two fingers and leaves hug spots of lacing all the way down the glass.

On the nose is wonderfully fresh citrus. Huge, fresh grapefruit. Mango and tangerine. Lemon zest. Just wonderful. Huge hop nose with some earthy tones beneath the citrus.

Taste mirrors the nose. Massive grapefruit tones and wonderfully bitter hops. Lemon zest and tangerine come through on the middle of the taste. Just fantastic. Crisp, clean finish with a big bitter punch on the back of the tongue. As I let the beer warm, some spicy notes begin to appear from the hops. Very complex and delicious IPA.

Mouthfeel is light with creamy carbonation. Really keeps the flavors moving and alive in your mouth. Delightful and refreshing.

What a beautifully brewed DIPA. Would absolutely drink again. Definitely worth seeking out.

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Photo of beerfan99
5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Growler from Russian River consumed later on the same day.

A: Amber/orange color with a faint white head. Carbonated well to leave a lasting head. White lacing on the glass tracked my progress.

S: Incredible hop aroma. Bursts of Simcoe hops filled the air as soon as the growler was popped.

T: Hop flavors match the aroma. Perfect balance between hops and malt. Alcohol is difficult to detect.

M: Very pleasing to the palate. Hop bitterness leaves a dry feeling, which only makes me want more.

O: This is the gold standard for a double IPA. I am looking forward to returning to Russian River today for Happy Hour Pliny the Elder.

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

A - Huge, frothy, perfect white head (possibly an overly aggressive pour). Pale golden straw color, fairly translucent; looks like a lager. Nice bubbling and incredible lacing. Good head retention.

S - Strong, strong whiff of grapefruit, balanced with some sugar. Peel, light toast.

T - Strong citrus, slightly sweet, very mild peel. Lightly breaded malts with hints of caramel, but impressively smooth. Slightest hint of alcohol, and instead of an aftertaste, the citrus slowly fades. Definitely some impressive bitterness, mild astringency, but not unpleasantly so. Some slight...passion fruit? Tropical sweetness? Not exactly sure.

M - Lovely, creamy mouthfeel. Medium body, no sting, no foaming. A beer that invites you to savor it. Back of the tongue bitterness takes on a slight citrus peel flavor, but it's extremely minor.

O - I'm always worried when the hype runs wild about a beer, but the hype is well-deserved. I'm looking for places to subtract points with this beer, and...I'm not finding them. Certainly, it's a big, bitter DIPA, and that might not be for everyone's palate.

Bottled 6/17/13 (1 month, 3 days).

Special thanks to JayORear for the bottle!

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

There are some really, really good double IPAs on the market.

This one is still the best.

Crisp, clear, wonderful aroma, excellent taste.

It is the standard by which I judge all others.

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

This was my first rare/extremely exciting double IPA. I never reviewed it when I went out to the Santa Rosa brewery and experienced it for the first time. Oh, to go back again after having so many world class IIPAs like Heady, SoS, Trillium, Abrasive, etc. But drinking Pliny now reminds me why it is so highly regarded. To date, this is the most balanced and wonderful double IPA I have ever had. It has all the elements of a double that are done so well. There's no overwhelming malt liquor sting and the hop balance is so perfect. Ugh this is such a dream beer. I'll review it now that my uncle brought me back 6 bottles.

As I sit here in my girlfriend's coffee shop, I pour a 500ml bottle of pliny into my trillium tulip glass. Solid head, wonderful clean crisp yet hoppy citrus smell bursting out of the pour, the head retention is so perfect. Creamy, holds up very nicely. First sip is so nice, unlike NE hops, it's not overwhelmingly hoppy on the nose, it takes its sweet time. Finishes clean, crisp, bitter and dank, resinous yet somehow a bit dry. From start to finish this beer is a doggone treat.

I keep thinking I want to send a thank you note to Russian River for making this beer and introducing me to the world of what beer CAN be. So I'll thank them here. Thanks RR - you guys changed my life & it was wonderful to revisit this beer and give it the attention it deserves. 5's all around.

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

This was bottled 5/27/2013. Poured into a DFH/Sierra Nevada IPA Glass.

A: Pours a nice golden color and creates a 1.5 inch egg shell-colored head. A little less than a finger's worth of head remains. Beautiful DIPA!

S: I'm a little sniffly unfortunately, but I have had this once in the past on tap at Monk's Cafe in Philly. Very tropical and well balanced hops in the nose. Nothing too overpowering. The aroma is amazing!

T: The best part of the review of course! Up front, I get a solid packed punch of hops and a dry finish afterwards. The hops definitely linger in the most sincere way possible.
Vinnie Cilurzo and RR are killing it with their line up! This beer is very well balanced and true to the DIPA style!

M: Mouthfeel on this guy is very smooth and leaves a dryness on the tongue after each sip. Very smooth for 8% abv. This is certainly not a boozy beer to me.

Overall: Overall, this beer seems pretty close to flawless to me. I love the style and this beer and I would love to get my hands on a case of it fresh down the road! Cheers!

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Photo of Skull40
5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

It has a hazy golden appearance with a nice two finger white head. Once you drink it down a little, you see the nice legs on the glass.

The aroma is mostly piney hops and bready malts. When tasting, I can pull out evergreen, pine cones, honey butter, bread, pear and toward the end I get a slight hops bite with apricots, grasses, pear and orange rind.

I can see through the beer, but the mouth feel is viscous.

This is a great beer. Every part of it seems to be in order. I can't think of a way that it could be better.

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Photo of Mozz74
5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

ALWAYS my first pick. Has the IPA bite, but isn't that what is all about? yay it is! Color is beautifuly set. Taster is is full of depth but not heav. ABV is average to other ales of this type. It sells out at the local Liquor store that has it sometimes. Local pub always has it on tap or some Russian River Beer, which are all gooed in my opinion!

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

Bottled on 3/22/10 (very fortunate to find it very fresh)

Poured into Duvel tulip.

A: Golden/Tangerine color, delicate fluffy 1" head.

S: Pine, Grapefruit, Citrus, A bit of Grass... Exceptional Aroma.

T: Very soft pillowy head yields to soft grapefruit without too much acidity/bitterness - perhaps more pumalo in flavor...pine but not astringent - very clean, distinctive. Hop bitterness is clear, but not overdone. Everything is very well balanced - malt is spot-on.

M: Carbonation is just right, the balance with the malt here just right. Enough backbone for everything happening with the hops. Fresh, clean, distinctive finish. Leaves you thirsty for another.

D: Dangerously drinkable for ABV. Alcohol is completely hidden - Savor... Not session-able without a driver/nurse! Fresh, clean, distinctive, delicate, deliberate... An exceptional, delicious, DIPA - defines the style.

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

I've had PtE from the bottle many times since it hit Seattle on a regular basis. I didn't get a chance to have it on tap until recently. Fresh PtE is definitely a step up from the bottle.

Let me begin by saying that this is my favorite beer, hands down. I would have a PtE anytime, anywhere. I will have some in my fridge at all times, as long as the beer stores are stocked.

It pours a beautiful golden amber with an excellent white head and lacing that holds true.

I remember the first time I cracked open a bottle, poured it in my glass and was confronted with a pine forest aroma and the backing of grapefruit. I was floored. I couldn't imagine that a bottled beer could smell so incredible. It was nothing compared to a fresh PtE from the tap. Freshness prevails.

The taste followed the smell. But what is starkly different in PtE from the tap is the true lack of balance. Bottled PtE, for me, is sweeter --- you can taste the caramel malt. I got none of that from the tap --- a true hop bomb. And I was better for it.

Once I built a tolerance for DIPAs, they've become my session beers. Sick.

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Photo of MisterGone
5/5  rDev +8.7%

Pour from tap at Stone Liberty Station (I mean, if they have it, it isn't a faux pas to order, right?). Sunny day in the bocce court revealed a gorgeous orangey-gold. Exactly the citrus, floral hop notes one hopes for in a DIPA. Pretty much the ideal hop character up front, immediate and sustained. A little alcohol on the finish with an appropriate stickiness to hold the hops until the next sip. Other reviewers with more refined palates can provide the specific hop profiles. Just get some if you can.

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

Bottled on 4/1/13
Poured into a Duvel tulip.

Appearance: Pours a beautiful, crystal clear, pale orange with a 2 finger tall pure white head that leaves thick curtains of lace down the sides of the glass as it recedes. Gorgeous.

Aroma: The hops absolutely burst out of the glass with distinct aromas of big juicy grapefruit, pine needles, ripe peach and little bit of pineapple. There is a distinct note of slightly sweet, bready malt to bring absolute perfect balance in the nose of this incredible IPA.

Taste: Huge, juicy citrus to the palate right away; mostly grapefruit and some impressions of tangerine. There is a sizable pine presence that follows up the initial bite of citrus, but the pine soon gives way to a brief note of lemon zest as the soft and chewy biscuit-y malt backbone cushions your palate from the positively explosive hops. The beer finishes very dry with a delightful bitterness that is intermingled with leftover whispers of the clean, crisp malt bill.

Mouthfeel: Very full bodied, moderate carbonation, dry.

Overall: The quintessential double IPA, created by the brewer of the first Double IPA, Vinnie Cilurzo. I've had this beer hundreds of times and every time I drink one, I am continuously taken aback by the balance, drinkability and sheer quality of the hops in this beer. There has been many imitations attempted by many craft brewers, but I have yet to taste a single Imperial/Double IPA that toes the delicate line of balancing in your face hops and bready maltiness. Do plenty of other craft brewers make bigger and hoppier beers? Sure, but none can make me appreciate the finer things in life as much as Pliny does. Every craft beer enthusiast needs try a FRESH batch of Pliny straight from the tap.

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

A - A rich electric orange that's hazy. White sticky bubbly head that laces really well to the glass. This is electric looking.

S - Hops, citrus, honey malt. Fantastic. Clean.

T - This is Blind Big taken to the next level. More flavorful, hoppier, and bigger all around. Yeast. Citrus and pine. Malt. More floral than I detected on the aroma, with some rosemary and thyme and maybe sage. Everything is in ridiculously perfect balance. This beer is so clean tasting. "So fresh, and so motherfucking clean." This is like tasting perfection. This couldn't be crafted any better than it is. I'm blown away.

M - Mouthfeel is everything for this brewing company. They really, really, really understand how to craft a beer so that every part of it is uber complementary. This beer is so balanced it's blowing my mind. Man is this great. Wow.

D - I've been a beer lover for just a little over a year now and I've heard so much about Russian River and Pliny the Elder. My expectations were very high for this beer. That said, this is nothing like I expected this beer to be. I expected this beer to taste awesomely different and be this truly revolutionary thing. What I've realized after drinking it is that it's not that different from other beers - it's just better crafted. In fact, it's perfectly crafted. This beer couldn't be any better than it is and that is truly something that is extraordinary in the context of every other beer I've tried. Including beers like Founders's Breakfast Stout and Troegs's Nugget Nectar. Those beers are great, but it's because they're huge. Pliny the Elder is a pretty simple brew, honestly. But it's better than those other beers because it perfects simplicity. This is a truly perfect beer. If I had advice for people who are just starting to enjoy beer, it would be to not make this your first IPA. In fact, don't drink this until you've drank at least 30 IPAs/DIPAs, because you won't appreciate it. It's not that much different from other imperial IPAs - it's just on another level. It achieves a level of greatness that no other beer does. While other breweries might eventually achieve the level of greatness of Pliny the Elder, they will never exceed it, because this beer can't be any better than it is.

Drinking this makes me feel like I finally understand beer. Pliny the Elder takes my appreciation, affinity, and love for beer to the next level. I take comfort in the fact that I know I won't ever taste anything better than this, because nothing should ever be better than this. This is the absolute perfect beer. I am truly blown away. I am amazed that human hands crafted this. I feel like I should write a thank you note or a note of congratulations to the brewers with a tip. It's amazing.

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Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
4.6 out of 5 based on 14,229 ratings.
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