Pliny The Elder | Russian River Brewing Company

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Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder
14,686 Ratings
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

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 14,686 |  Reviews: 3,723
Photo of ckeegan04
4.77/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Dark orange-brown color with a thick foamy off-white head. Excellent retention and lacing.

S - Strong citrusy hop aroma with hints of grapefruit and pineapple. Hop heads dream in the nose.

T - Lives up to the hype. Strong citrusy/tropical blast of grapefruit and pineapple just like the nose. Light malty sweetness lies underneath to provide just a little balance which is exactly how I like them.

M/D - Medium to full bodied and such high resinous hop taste that it just coats your mouth and leaves you with that bitter cant wait for me taste.

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Photo of hiikeeba
4.15/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours up an amber yellow with a thick, dense head that lasts forever.

S - Smells like I opened a bag of hops for brewing. Very fresh. Mostly Cascade, I think.

T - Tastes exactly like it smells: Hop juice. It is almost overpowering. Leaves a bitter ring around the back of my throat but it doesn't linger too long.

M - Mouthfeel is the last thing you notice because of all the hops, but this is a full bodied beer.

D - Not sure I would order a second pint. It's good, but strong.

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Photo of OlieIPA
4.87/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I picked up and tasted this beer at Hollingshead's Delicatessen...which I might an awesome place to visit for all those who get all giddy when it comes to the sight of quality beer. Anyways, let me get to the review...

Appearance: Dark-gold to light-amber color with good head. Lacing was also excellent.

Smell: Had a very complex aroma....incredible balance of malt and hop smell.

Taste: Probably the most balanced Imperial IPA I have ever taste. Just like the smell, the taste was exceptionally complex. Again, had malt sweetness and hop bitterness....neither dominated each other...but both were apparent.

Mouthfeel: Moderate carbonation...very easy on the mouth and throat.

Drinkability: The easiest to down and most enjoyable Imperial IPA I have enjoyed.

Overall: The thing I enjoyed the most about this beer is the balance and complexity it had. Almost perfect.

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Photo of brdc
4.25/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks ricand for this one. Bottled 07/29/08; so again, as fresh as I will ever get; shipped overnight. Medium sized capped bottle, poured into a tulip.

Quite dark golden, near brown, good white head with decent lacing and retention.
Intense, fruity hop aroma, but this one has a nice caramel maltiness coming along; not as one-sided as the blind pig felt just before. Citrusy, oranges again, piney, grapefruits and a lot more. Nice caramel comes and goes.
Similar taste, medium to full bodied, mostly hoppy and bitter just like the aroma suggested, but caramel and bread make some appearacnes to balance it a bit more. Nicely done, better balanced than the blind pig; both quite good, this one close to dreadnaught. Body is a bit lighter, not as much depth, but that also enhances drinkability.

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Photo of kkipple
4.19/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I was holding out on ole review #300 for something special, and I suppose this'll have to do. Poured from a new 500ml bottle hauled back from Cali.

A. Rich hazy copper, low white head that leaves some lace. Still and quiet-looking. Not bad at all. Looks almost exactly like Blind Pig.

S. Oh my. An immense hop punch to the nose. Extremely fresh, bitter hops practically leap out of the glass. Resiny and dank, almost... ok, rather a bit ganja-like. Both pungent and eye-opening. Further in I get notes of orange and citrus, wrapped into a pleasing sweet malty undercurrent. The hops reign supreme here, and promise greatness. Superb nose.

T. Alas, after such a superlative smell, how could the taste hold up? Sadly, it doesn't, but there's still a fine beer here. It's obviously hoppy and bitter, with complex grapefruit / grass / herbal flavors blending around a rather thin and unassuming mildly sweet malt base. It's good, to be sure, but lacks "oomph", if you know what I mean.

M. Thin and a bit watery, finish is lightly dry and wonderfully bitter. Carbonation is medium-low, and lends to easy drinking.

Qualms aside, I honestly wish I had more of this. It's a fantastic smelling, "lite" Double IPA that is easy to put down. At 8% it'd make a killer mini-session beer. Pity it's not more available. Big thanks to Barronkr for sharing!

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Photo of SolsticeDreamer
4.85/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I can't feel my tongue after drinking this one, you know its GOOD! This is my first time with this brew... oh i am a luck one.

Appearance: Orangey, lovely bubbly head that lines the side the glass as you drink.

Smell: This is were I just lose my self, my nose just wants to live within this beer. An amazing rush of green, citrus, spice... just bombs the nose but doesn't over power, just takes over it.

Taste: My tongue went numb? Seriously this brew is over the top! Think bitterness and spice and ... well my tongue threw up! It's a nice over powering flavor I've never found before. I would eat the smelliest cheese one could find just to combat this brew.

Mouthfeel: What feeling!? I can't feel anything!?! But I still find myself drink this smooth, round spicy well carbonation beauty of a brew.

Drinkability: A great treat, drank fresh (as the bottle notes) and more often if not for the strength of the brew.

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Photo of khiasmus
4.47/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours much the same as blind pig, with soapy head, slightly lacking clarity, and a light orange color. Moderate spotty lacing and a half-collar remain, with soapy wisps after every swirl.

'THE AROMA! oh glory. you can't imagine unless you've smelled this. Gotta be some Summit in there, but it's full... acidic, pineapple, mango, green onion, citrus, and... marijuana, actually. mmm.

taste is of tropical fruits (pineapple and mango) with a bit of citrus and pine-sap towards the end. The lingering bitterness is excellent.

Mouthfeel is medium with relatively low carbonation and an odd almost fuzziness, like a mango which really adds to the illusion of tropical fruits.

Drinkability is excellent. I wish i lived next to russian river. at FOUR DOLLARS a bottle... i'd still be broke.

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Photo of hooliganlife
4.77/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

poured from a bottle into a snifter. huge hops out of the bottle and in the glass. this bottle must be quite fresh. taste is all hops, strong citrus (mostly red grapefruit), light bitterness, but full flavor. bitter but very balanced. smooth in the mouth, lightly carbonated. little head when poured. if this was available, i would drink often, very often. i now understand the hype.

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Photo of Tdizzle
4.77/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Purchased at Hollingshead's. Bottled on 7/30/08 and consumed on 8/14/08.

A- Poured from a 500mL bottle into a New Belgium globe glass, this beer pours a hazy amber color with a sticky, slightly off-white head that settles to a thin layer over the beer, leaving
some thick, cloud-like lacing after each sip.

S- The aroma is teeming with piney and grapefruity hops that are supported by tropical fruits and some nice malty sweetness. There's very little alcohol presence.

T- At first, the taste is intensely bitter with very little malt backing to even it out. But as the beer warms, the malt backbone begins to come through. This is one of the purest hop flavors I have ever tasted in a beer. The piney bitterness strongly lingers on the back of the tongue long after each sip.

M- The mouthfeel of this beer is good. It's oily and slick, but it still feels just a touch on the light side for a beer that is this hoppy. The moderate carbonation adds a nice lively touch.

D- This beer was a joy to drink, and I found myself wishing that I had a bigger bottle. The 8% ABV isn't even a factor in this category.

This is the best double IPA, and one of the best beers, that I have ever had.

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Photo of cjgator3
4.87/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

16.9oz bottle
Bottled on 07/30/08

A- Pours a nice amber color with a sticky head that leaves lacing all over the glass.

S- The aroma is filled with fresh resinous hops, out of this world and just begs you to drink it.

T- All I can say is wow! The taste like the aroma is dominated by the fresh bitter hop flavors. Definitely not the hoppiest beer I have ever had, but it is plenty bitter and the hop flavors are so damn good!

M- The mouthfeel is really smooth, not too thick or too thin. Just perfect!

D- Wow! This is one hell of a beer, and I would definitely put it in my top 5. Pliny The Elder is a world class DIPA, and well worth the hype.

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Photo of IBUnit63
4.59/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Joey from South Bay Drugs for keeping this in stock concurrent with our Coronado family trip-poured into Coronado Brewing pint glass...

Golden honey body with sparse visible carbonation and ample head with nice texture and lacing.

Of course I can smell the hops without trying. Very sweet, oily, bountiful hop aroma with velvety caramel malt backbone. Faint alcohol serves as a binder (or a catalyst). Can't get better than this.

Of course the floral hops dominate but there's a malt nuttiness-almost peanut brittle-that mixes with the mild alcohol essence to create beautiful chemistry.

Deep, well balanced yet hop-bitter citrus grapefruit puckering finish mellowed well by velvety caramel malt. First pour could use a little more carbonation to bring out all elements but warmth takes care of this.

One of the best-a stellar example of the style.

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Photo of ddarden
4.42/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks Thimbledrome for this one. Bottled on 7/10/2008 poured into a tulip glass.

It is a hazy golden, straw color with puffy white head that recedes very slowly. Smell is all hops...pine, grapefruit, and a little alcohol. The taste is a nice smack of hops and quickly fades to a malty flavor and back to hops at the end. The end of this beer is very dry, like the alcohol just evaporates everything in your mouth. It is much thinner than I expected and does not coat the tongue like a lot of DIPAs do. This is a highly drinkable beer for 8% and goes down much like a solid IPA would. There is a little boozy warmth left lingering in your mouth, but very well constructed.

I can not say this beer lives up to its hype, but it is definitely my style of DIPA. It is not overly sweet like a lot DIPA's can be, but very well balanced with a very fragrant dose of hops.

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Photo of TheodorHerzl
4.37/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This beer pours a very hazy orange color with a decent sized solid white head. The head died down a bit, but it left patchy lacing on my tulip glass. The nose on this beer is very fresh and vibrant. The citrus scent is the most dominant with plenty of earthiness and pine scents nipping at the heels of the citrus scent, but no malt to really speak of in the nose. The flavor profile starts out with loads of hop bitterness leaning towards pine bitterness with the citrus fruit and tropical fruits flavors really coming in about mid-drink. The flavors are very pronounced, but they do not overpower you in anyway, but rather combine for a very pleasant flavor profile. The initial rush of hop bitterness if huge, but somehow the finish is soft and clean. I am very surprised as well at how low the malt flavor is, but still supports the hops brilliantly. The drinkability is really amazing for a DIPA with the alcohol well hidden, and I would have gladly had another bottle of this beer.

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Photo of DrDogbeer
4.7/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Huge thanks to swnicholson for this baby! What a day!- Blind pig and supplication in the afternoon, great dinner, then Pliny before bed!
Poured from the bottle into a goblet. Nice bright orange color with a sticky white head that lasts and produces tons of sticky lace.
Smell is intoxicating. Tons of citrus hop aroma. Lots of grapefruit and orange. One of the best aromas in a dipa I have smelled. Lately it seems most of the dipa's have been hop heavy but really malty as well. Not this one. Great balance, but the hops are the heroes!
Wonderful, zesty hop flavor throughout the mouth! Nice and full flavored as well- I just want to swich it throughout my mouth- does not kill the taste buds, just the right amount of hop bite with a sweet, sweet finish. Maybe a bit of damp hop taste as well (funky?)
This may be the best beer I have ever had. I am going to have another tonite to make sure, and I am really looking forward to it!!

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Photo of redneckchugger
4.85/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I gotta admit, i am a bit intimadated by this beer. heard so much about it, its hard not to buy into the hype. ok here goes. pured into my favorite imperial pint glass. about 2 fingers of offwhite head from a gentle pour. says for a bit, the recedes leaving mounds of lacing, and a thin film on top. some bubbles coming to the top, slowly. beer is a light amber.
smell is a hop assault. floral , piney hops and lots of them.
taste is the same as the smell, huge hit of hops. bitter but not so much as to be undrinkable, tons of hop flavor, i get a bit of malt, but it seems to be all about the hops really, and thats fine with me.
mouthfeel is velvet, not real thin, not real thick, for a dipa anyway, fair amount of carbonation tingling my tongue.
very refreshing, delicious beer, dangerously drinkable for 8%. one of the firat west coast hop bombs i have had, and now 90 minute has competion as my favorite beer.

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Photo of fo5s
4.67/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Fresh (bottled 7/1/08, drank 8/6/08) 500mL bottle (care of swnicholson- thanks!) poured into my trusty Sam Adams glass.

Pours a light copper color with a thick foamy head. Smells strongly of fresh hops- there's no mistaking the intentions of this beer. Aroma intensifies as it warms, and I find myself continuing to smell it between sips. As I drink, the head thins out but remains ever present, thanks in part to the nucleation site in the glass.

Taste is beautifully hoppy, yet smooth. The hops don't kick you in the mouth as I would expect, but they are present and the aftertaste remains long after each sip. Bitterness is low, making this a relatively accessible DIPA, unsurprising given its 8% ABV.

I easily polished off the bottle of this, and feel like I could do another no problem. Drinkability is perfect. This is one smooth DIPA, and could probably be appreciated by both veterans of the style and those looking to expand their horizons.

This beer is incredibly crafted, and leaves me yearning to try its younger brethren. Russian River does well with this, and I'm glad it finally made it to bottles, else I would have never had this opportunity. The pleadings on the bottle (drink this fresh!) are definitely worth heeding, and I wish I'd drank this even closer to its bottled-on date.

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Photo of AKBelgianBeast
4.6/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks to Murchmac for sending this exceptional brew.

Pours a very nice slightly hazy orange/yellow with a wonderful stark white head. The nose is pure citrus and pine hop flavors, and slight maltiness. Taste is simply exceptional. Not too heavy, not too light, very balanced. crisp, clean. Pure. Any hophead knows what I mean when I say that. citrusy hops abound. Mouthfeel is just about perfect. If anything I would say it could be the tiniest touch thicker, but I sat and debated whether or not to give the feel a 4.5 or a 5 for about 10 minutes. fantastically smooth, and defenitely one of, if not the, most drinkable DIPA I have ever consumed. It literally took me about 5 minutes to drink this. (good thing I have another one!) Totally refreshing, and beautifully smooth. A wonderfully crisp and pure brew. Art at its finest, defenitely my favorite RR brew as of yet. Beatification is great, Deviation was amazing, but this beer, is simply perfectly ideal for the style. Deserving of the hype, and worth seeking out. Hope to see this one continue to be bottled well into the future. Thanks again to Tim for these. Incredible brew.

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Photo of joe1510
4.17/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pint Bottle

Bottled 7/10/08

I received a couple of these in a recent trade with BrewerB, thanks again Brian! The Elder Pliny pours a surprisingly clear bright golden with big sunshine bright highlights when backlit. Carbonation bubbles creep up the sides of the glass to the dense head. A standard pour brought about a two finger white billowy head that eventually receded to a solid cap worth of quality staying power. As the head falls it leaves big intricate lacing down the glass and sheet lacing where each drink was taken.

The nose on this beer is all big and pungent hoppiness. There's something in the big hoppiness of this beer that brings to mind Hop Wallop. There are heavy handed doses of dense pine sap, resinous hops, dissolving aspirin, pineapple, orange, and lightly sweetened grapefruit. Hemp seed makes a big showing as well. Yes the aroma really is that loaded with hoppy goodness. When I say heavy handed in the hop department that's a good thing. While the hops run the gamut the sappiness and resin qualities take the lead. There's not a great deal of malt noticeable in the nose but what's there is cake like and way in the back.

The flavor is still hop heavy, obviously, but seems to be a bit more muddled then the nose suggested. The front end hits with big notes of sappy and resinous hop juice but the middle is where things get muddled when the citric qualities of the hops try and join the party. The aspirin bitterness makes an appearance on the backend when things begin to clear up and lingers through the finish. The maltiness is more pronounced in the flavor with a frosting like sweetness drizzled lightly with caramel. Don't get me wrong, the hops still hold the fort and the malts can't figure out how to cross the moat.

The body of this beer is right where it should be. Although the abv is up there at 8% the body is velvety and right down the middle of the spectrum. The carbonation is smooth and natural with a really nice soft texture. The big hopping adds a growing bitterness as the glass empties.

The drinkability is good for a beer with such large alcohol content. As a matter of fact this bottle is disappearing far to fast for my liking. The bitterness is mild enough to keep on drinking and still enjoy the beer for what it is.

I have wanted to give Pliny a go since I've been active on this site and I'm glad I finally get the opportunity to do so. Although I gave this beer good reviews I can't help but be a little disappointed after all the looking forward I've done over the years. I was looking for a total hop bomb but this beer fell a little short. I guess if the anticipation around sampling this beer wasn't so high for me I would have given it a better review but it is still an excellent beer.

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Photo of barefootbrewer
3.94/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: This beer poured a cloudy yellow with virtually no head.

S: The smell is very inviting. It is strong of grapefruit and evergreen - HOPS!

T: Hoppy! The beer turned my tongue inside out!! It is a full on hop assault. My only complaint is that it is more like a hop tea than a DIPA. The malt is almost non-existent.

M: A little on the thin side.

D: Interesting - but a bit one dimensional.

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Photo of FtownThrowDown
4.62/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle courtesy of AgentSteve. Much thanks

Pours a light amber in color with a huge, ginormous 4 inch head. I could smell the deluge of hops as soon as I popped the cap and began to pour. Smell is amazing. Very citrusy, juicy, bittering hops. Taste is much the same, but comes across much more balanced than the smell would lead you to believe. Good mouthfeel and very nice lacing on the glass. Glad I finally got the chance to try this behemoth. It definitely deserves it's spot up there with HopSlam, Dreadnaught and Hop 15. My dream would be a blind tasting with all these on draft!

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Photo of scott
2.91/5  rDev -37.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2


Fresh / dated 07.10.08

Pours nicely with a fair amount of carbonation building a nicely formed loose head that has some staying power. Light copper coloring, minimal passive carbonation after sitting a moment, lots of lacing.
Aromatics are pleasant, but this does not transfer to the tongue. Soapy and bitter. I have wanted to get my hands on this for sometime and it did not deliver. There is nothing that makes me go "Wow!". No complexity, nothing to savor, nothing that entices the palate, nothing that slakes the thirst. Huge let down.

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Photo of alexgash
4.57/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

500 ml bottle.

Mostly clear golden orange body with lighter edges. Thick, meringue-like, cotton-white head. Great lacing. The nose is, well, wow. Pure hop nirvana. It smells like a fresh picked bushel of Simcoe, Columbus, Centennial, and ??? This is my kind of beer. This is the first time I have had this beer, but I brewed an extract clone of it back in 2006 (before the hop shortage). I loved the smell of the clone I made, but this, the original, is even better. Cat pee, pine sap, pure hop oils, resin, pineapple, grapefruit, and more. Small whiffs of fruit malt in the background.

Taste continues with the hop assault, which is very much to my liking. Herbal hop bitterness up front. Citrus and pine hop flavors follow. Cat pee, pepper, and tangerine around the edges. Tropical fruit and sugar cookie malt sweetness fight through, but just barely, and only for a moment. Herbal bitterness comes on strong with marmalade, pineapple, aspirin, and more pines sap. Wow. After a quarter of the bottle, my tongue is already numb. Orange sorbet and apricot in the finish with long-lasting bitterness and hints of fruit cocktail. Medium-bodied with a moderately creamy feel. I almost wish there was a little more body. A hophead's dream and I'm glad I have another bottle in the fridge!

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Photo of bbothen
4.79/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

500 ml bottle. Poured into snifter.

Been drinking Pliny on tap for a long time. First time in a bottle.

Dark orange/golden color with a nice soapy lingering head.

The aroma is awesome. Earth. Grassy, flowery hops. Don't forget our frineds the citrus hops. Grapefruit fiesta. Yowza. You can smell it across the room.

Well. Big grassy bitterness up front. Balancing breadiness. Lingering citrus hop finish. Bingo. Winner.

Medium bodied. Crisp. Clean. Dry. Wonderful.

The 8.0% is almost undetectable. I can drink these all day. And have. And will. Happily.

As with any beer in my opinion, on tap is always better & fresher. But I think I enjoyed this one just as much as I have on tap. One of my all time favorite beers.

The world is a better place with Pliny available in bottles to take home.

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Photo of ralree
4.65/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Tried at the Brewer's Fest in Portland.

A: Darker gold, nice head with a bit of lacing.

S: Very grassy, hops are fantastic. A little fruity.

T: Great northwest hops are the dominant flavor, along with a nice bitter grapefruit flavor. Interesting grassy background. Really good. Alcohol barely detectable.

M: Well-carbonated, non-astringent, medium-light bodied.

D: Awesome. I could drink a half-gallon.

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Photo of CrellMoset
4.62/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

***Update 07/15/09***

Still an amazing beer - got this bottle courtesy of Southbay, bottling date of 06/10 - but I'm going to adjust my score ever so slightly, taking the mouthfeel down from a 5.0 to a 4.5. It's still an incredibly soft and smooth brew, but it's a little less even than I remember it being. Still one of the best DIPAs I've ever had - cheers!

Bottle from BrewerB in a trade. Thank you SO much. Poured into a chalice.

A: Gorgeous clear orange amber, minimal, slow, lazy carbonation.

A: Minty, basil, purely herbal, grapefruit. The most promising beer you could ever sink your nose into. It's really a 6.0 out of 5.0. It sets up absolutely huge expectations that you really can't deliver on. Is this a fault!? Absolutely unbelievable.

T: A let down from the taste, but truly, how much is expectation and how much is really the taste? It's piney and herbal, there's tons of grapefruit, hints of pineapple, great, complex, bready caramel, but this one is just so amazingly inviting, what can you expect? I want to give it a boost, just 'cause.

M: 5.00. Pure wonderful amazingness. It's fine, even, perfect in every way. Medium-bodied.

D: I can't in good faith give this less than a 4.5. This beer is incredible. It's absolutely incredible. Perhaps the most highly recommended beer I've ever rated.

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Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.65 out of 5 with 14,686 ratings
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