Pliny The Elder | Russian River Brewing Company

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Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder
14,857 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:
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Ratings: 14,857 |  Reviews: 3,746
Photo of roadhouse
4.5/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Well this just arrived this morning (thanks to Joey at SouthBay) and I just finished doing some painting so I think it's time for a reward. I just can't wait any longer.

Poured from a 16.9 oz. bottle that was bottled on 09/02/08 into a snifter.

Appearance is a clear orange with a one inch off-white head. Sinks down to a thin skim that holds up and leaves some decent lacing behind.

Aroma is outstanding. Citrusy, florally, piney hops galore. Even after the onslaught a sweet caramel tone peeks through. Very slight alcohol with a hard sniff as well.

Taste is just as good as the aroma. Initial hop bitterness is quite piney hinting at grapefruits as well. Midway through there is a split second where there is a very subtle sweet note, but it is quickly pushed away by more hops. Finish is so good I wanna wait to have another sip just to bask in the hoppy goodness, but alas I must indulge.

Mouthfeel is medium, but the carbonation level is perfect. On the swallow it gets very smooth and creamy.

Pretty much this is DIPA perfection. There's a reason this beer is so hyped. I pray for the day that this stuff gets distributed far and away.

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

Bottled 8/13/08. Gifted to me by msubulldog25, who I cannot thank enough.

Looks a beaut, with a bountiful, creamy, fluffy head that takes awhile to lessen, leaving lace striations here and there, while the body is a super-clean, well-filtered sunset copper-orange.

I cannot think of another beer that is not only this hoppy-smelling, but as untainted and unadulterated as Pliny the Elder. Pure, fresh, transcendental hops, balanced by malt but kept true and powerful by the talent of the brewer(s). Oh mama, this is beyond facile descriptions of "pine" and "citrus". It's just simply hops incarnate. Beautiful.

The flavor delivers wave after wave of pure hops bitterness, and even more hoppy fruitiness, yet avoids being an unbalanced tongue-ripper. Along with the wonderful, prominent hops character comes a candy-like malt sweetness that recalls gooey fresh caramel and hints of butterscotch syrup. Subtle floral hints throughout, along with just the right amount of grassy astringency, with toasted flavors lingering in the finish, along with, that's right, beautiful beautiful hops.

Finish isn't quite as creamy as I'd expected or hoped, but it's smooth and slick with just enough carbonation. Or maybe it could've used just slightly less bubbles, which I sometimes find distracting in this great style. It's not sticky, even though a layer seems to have been slathered across the tongue that won't let go. And that's fine, as the flavor lingers a long, long while.

The pleas by Russian River on the label to "consume Pliny fresh or not at all" and "do not age" are to be respected. "Hoppy beers are not meant to be aged!" sayeth Vinnie and R.R. It makes sense, but that's a discussion for the board--I'm just glad I was able to drink this only 6 weeks after it was bottled. Pliny the Elder, you did not die in vain!

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Photo of Cresant
4.33/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

poured this 16.9 oz brown bottle into a Tripel Karmeliet glass. Bottled on 090208 (less than a month from brewery to little ol' Kentucky). The body was clear and bright. The rich golden/apricot color glowed. The 1"+ of frothy, creamy, off-white head lingered- leaving splotchy lace. the film of foam never evaporated.

Smell was sweet satsuma. Piney. Clean grain. Citrus. Pungent earthy hops.

Taste was oily green hops. Grapefruit ring. Juicy oranges. Very nice, but I can't say I like this more than Hopslam.

Mouthfeel was medium but I expected it to be a bit richer. With only %.5 difference I actually think Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA is overall more flavorful than Pliney the E.

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Photo of PhxHorn
3.92/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

OK, after being disappointed in the on-tap version in SD, I've got a couple of bottles to try. Appearance is a hazy yellow with a quarter-inch of head. Smells strongly of pine and herbs. Fantastic aroma. Taste is another matter--very bitter, with a medium citrus flavor and a decent malt component. Just a two-dimensional flavor, though, not much complexity. Could have used some more varied hop flavors in there. Very drinkable, but just not the world-class IPA I was expecting.

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Photo of bifrostguard
4.72/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - A light yellow color with tints of amber and orange throughout. Light sediment floats about. A nice off white head the diminishes quickly and leaves a weblike lace all the way down.

S - This is with out a doubt the best part of this beer. Strong pine and citrus scents that just dominate the nasal passage.

T - I would like to give this a higher ranking, but it is just a little on the ciitrusy side for me. There are some strong pine and floral tastes with a complimentary malt backbone that makes this one oh so smooth. This is the perfect balance between malt and hops.

M - Medium bodied and slightly watery, but I couldn't imagine it any other way.

D - Huge props to this one for being able to drink more than a few of these and wake up w/o a hangover. You still have to deal with the alcohol clearance in the morning though.

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Photo of Meandmymonkey
4.94/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Right from the bottle, pliny pours an awesome orange/amber color with a thick enduring head. The smell is almost better than the taste...almost. Very rich citrus, floral notes that make your mouth water in anticipation. This beer is hard to put down as it's loaded with super delicious hops that don't kick your tongue's ass. Velvety smooth with every drink. Most double IPAs leave that unpleasant tongue scraping taste on the back of your tongue long after drinking but Pliny leaves your mouth, stomach, and soul wanting more. Truly an inspiring brew. The bar has been set high with this ale.

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Photo of gyllstromk
5/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer is in a league of its own.

Elder pours a copper that's clear as water. The head starts with a thick velvety appearance and quickly subsides to leave a frothy halo. Swirls leave soapy lacing along the wall of the glass.

If you took a field of piney hops, grapefruit, and flowers, put them in a blender, and compacted them into a pint, you'd still be nowhere near this aroma. The taste follows with an astringent bite that's powerful and balanced.

Between sips, the taste remains on your lips until the next, begging you to finish the bottle.

I've not tried Younger but I find it impossible that this beer could be improved upon. This beer is beyond all hype. If you love IPAs you will never return from it.

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Photo of kcillini77
4.87/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Had some on tap at the First Street Alehouse in Livermore on my last trip to CA, but didn't take any notes, just knew it was great. Managed to score a bottle to bring back with me. Should have filled my suitcase with more of it and less of some of the others I brought back.

Smells of piney hops and sour apples. Great aroma that I could keep sniffing forever except that I wouldn't get to drink it and that would be intolerable.

Tastes of sweet malt with a bit of a welcome sour/tart taste at the back, followed by lots and lots of piney, floral hops. Then just a little bit of spice on the swallow.

Perfect. Wish this was available here, but alas.

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Photo of mjryan
5/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a hazy amber colour with a thick white head. Great retention and lace. The smell is very powerfull. It hits you the minute you crack the bottle. Piney (or is that Pliny), grapefuity and floral. No malt detected in the aroma at all. Flavour mirrors the aroma with the addition of a slight grassy taste and an enormous, but not tragically agressive, bitterness. The malt flavour is very nuetral, its sole purpose to cut the hops so they dont burn your face off. Very, very dry finish. Has a lighter body (for a IIPA), which makes this a very drinkable beer. Wow, I could drink this all night, or at least try to. I dont believe its 8%. Good Stuff!

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Photo of Sixpoint
4.39/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Shared this bottle during game 1 of the Brewers/Phillies Wild Card game at Pacific Standard BROOKLYN NYC.

Mmmm. Amazing aroma, just like 100% Cascade hops upfront and personal in your schnozz. Whoop whoop

Then, a smackity smack hop punch in your palate...amazingly bitter, quite intense, but somehow manageable.

Drinkability is impressive considering the IBU and ABV, but still, a little overbearing to be an all-night session ale IMHO.

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

Poured a surprisingly pale amber color with a huge foamy white head that leaves tons of Belgian lacing with every mouthful. I've been conditioned to expect a certain 'level' of color is required to achieve world class levels of mouth and flavor. This one convincingly shattering that myth, but i'd prefer a meatier color. The smell is aggressive, intense with floral piny resin and grapefruit. Hugely tangy with hops, the mouth feel is full bodied and compliments the flavor during and after taste. Full flavored the piny resin and grapefruit flavors explode and linger as anticipated. Interesting to taste RR IPA, Blind Pig and Pliny side by side. The fundamental elements flavor being the common thread...the difference really being the intensity in both the mouth and depth of flavor. Drinkability is a 4.75...i'm having a really hard time believing that this one is only 8% ABV. The intensity of the mouth and flavor textures hide the kick-in-the-as* that is inevitable. One of the best ales i've had the opportunity to experience...clearly topping off my venture to mecca. The real amazing thing about a Russian River sampler is the scope and breathe of their products. AMAZING!!!! and a worthy 500th review.

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Photo of rowew
4.52/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Thought I'd give this another review now that it is readily available in Colorado. Picked up a bottle, plus its on tap at several different locations (woohoo!). Great hop aroma, slightly cloudy gold color with just a bit of red. Nice head retention. Amazing combination of a solid malt backbone with tons of hops. This one is an awesome addition to the great beer selection in Colorado, and I'm sure I'll be consuming quite a bit of it.

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Photo of ironlung
5/5  rDev +7.5%
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 Reino
4.4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottled On: 090208 (18 days old when consumed)

Appearance- A beautiful burnt orange with gold fills my New Belgium goblet. A smidgen over 2 fingers of head sits on top looking creamy and delicious. The head falls down at a medium pace, leaving some very nice lacing. Can I judge the book but it's cover?

Smell- Defuckinglishes smell! Pine, orange, mango puree, and a tiny bit of alcohol heat underneath. I made a comment in my notes the next night on the same batch that said, "Smells like a forest after a hard, grapefruit juice rain."
It looks great, and smells even better...

Taste- This beer is like a hop cage match with the malts being a nonchalant referee. First I get spicy pine smashed with orange juice and spicy mango. Then, I get a round of lemon rind and bitter, lingering grapefruit making for quite the wave of acidity. There is a bit of malt in the middle, but you forget about it pretty quick with it being sandwiched by intense hops. I am let down that the juiciness I get in the smell doesn't hang around in the taste. I get more bitterness from the fruits than juiciness. The grapefruit is more pith than pulp. There is definitely tasty fruit flavors in there and I really enjoy the taste, but I'm greedy and wanted more.

Mouthfeel- Slick, enamel stripping mouthfeel. I do find the feel to have a bit of wateriness to it, which I wasn't expecting. It's the one thing I have against Blind Pig, and I didn't expect it to be present in the Elder, too. After taking two sets of notes, I read my buddy theWolfofMibu's review and he nailed something about the mouthfeel, "Feels like I brushed my teeth with Crest pine needle flavored toothpaste."

Drinkability- For the style and abv, this beer goes down smooth and it's tough to pass on another after the first. I could see myself getting together with some friends, having a few pints of this, and making some bad decisions. Great stuff, but not my favorite DIPA. Having lived in the Midwest and the PNW, it takes something near perfect to "Wow!" me in this style. Pliny comes really close, but falls short.

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Photo of everetends
4.58/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

16.9 oz bottle that I am indebted to Wetpaperbag for quite a while Poured into a tulip. Bottled on 8-13-08.

A: Pours an oily, yellowy, amber. This beer is a bit hazy, definitely not clear. Got a good two fingers of beautiful, tight, off white head. The retention is pretty good, sticking around for a while. The lacing is sticky as hell, leaving a lot of beautiful webbing on the glass that just goes all the way down the glass. The lacing and head are just perfect.

S: The smell is if you cut a fresh, ripe grapefruit, this is how this beer smells. Just a beautiful, thick citrus smell. There are also some really nice mandarin orange scents coming through as well. Nice piny hops are present giving some nice bitter smells coming through. This beer smells great.

T: Taste is great as well. Really lush grapefruit flavor is first and foremost. The meat, the flesh, and the rind are all present. The grapefruit is sweet and tart. Tangerine and orange flavors are coming through very clearly. Piney and spicy hops are here coming through as well and are cut with a nice bready malt. Little bit of pepper in there as well. Oddly the bitterness does not play a role until the finish. I was kinda expecting this to be a more bitter hop bomb. This is still amazing.

M: A heavy medium body that is incredibly oily. This beer just sticks to your mouth and does not let go at all. All the flavors mingle on the palate incredibly long. Aftertaste is of bitter hops that challenge the palate at times. This beer is drying, but it just makes you want more.

D: Drink it. This beer is great. It looks and feels amazing. The flavor is damn near perfect. I think fresh, this beer would blow me away. Such a treat to enjoy and joy to have.

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Photo of erikm25
4.82/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Bottle date: 09/22/08. Pours a crisp yellow with honey gold hues. Tight thumb size head after fast aggressive pour. The head is a rich creamy sauteed butter and olive oil coloring. Lacing drapes across the glass.

S: Nectarines coated in spiced and spruced pine with minced orange peels. Strong smell of fresh mandarin orange, pineapple, and dewy cut grass. Hops are apparent coupled with a touch of sweet bread. Thick floral and rich brown saccharine aromas. Easily one of the best smelling beers I have experienced.

T: Grapefruit, lemon, tangerine, and an assortment of other tropical fruits. A pleasant pine hop and clover finish that makes this quite refreshing. Impressive caramel malt and sweet candied base provides the perfect counterpoint to the tropical citrus mint taste. Overall, the balance amazing and it can be easily forgotten there is 8% tag here.

M: Mouthfeel is lush, juicy, and full bodied.

D: I had been waiting to try this and it lived up to what I expected. It is almost too drinkable. I will be grabbing a few more of these while I can.

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

A- Pours a clear, dark golden color with a thin cap of head which sticks around for almost the whole beer.

S- Lots and lots of pine. There is a slight malty sweetness in the nose, as well as a little citrus and spicy, floral notes, but the piney hop aromas certainly dominate.

T- I was afraid that it would be astringent based on the smell, but it was actually somewhat well-rounded in terms of intensity. The piney flavor hits really hard and I had to look pretty hard before getting any citrus (grapefruit and pineapple). I really liked that it was very hoppy, but not painfully bitter.

M- Much more refreshing than I would have immagined, but with a crisp, lingering bite in the finish.

D- One at a time is enough for me. I'd like to have it again in the future, but I couldn't handle two in a row.

Although I really enjoyed this beer, I think it may be getting a little more hype than it deserves. If there was a little more citrus or malt, just to counter the pine a little, it would be up there with the world-class beers.

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Photo of SykDoc
4.5/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thank you to brdc for sharing this great beer.

It poors a reasonably clear yellow with a thin white head and medium carbonation, as expected from a beer with high levels of hops.

The aroma feels heavy on citrus fruits. Again, as expected from the hops, there is the floral and spicy notes.

One of the things that surprised me was that despite the level of hops, it was not overly bitter. There is plenty of hoppy flavor but it is quite smooth. You do not notice the alchol content and is not as sweet as the aroma.

It has a healthy texture in the mouth and is not particularly dry. There is a nice crispness, which overall reasults in a very drinkable beer. I would recommend this to anybody that enjoys the pleasure of a well balanced beer that has plenty of hop flavor. I certainly see why people love this beer.

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Photo of ghostwalker
4.45/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Golden body with a reddish tinge. Head is thick and creamy. A vision in my Stone RIS tulip.

Nose is spicy and piney. Sweetness is present, but the strong hop spice dominates.

Flavor is deeply steeped hops. Having seen the hop bill for this brew, I know that I am not familiar with two of the varieties. It presents a very complex and interesting blend of various hop characteristics. Pine dominates, not so much citrus to my palate, but it is there. The sweet malt is also there, but obviously not the main attraction. Very tasty indeed.

Mouthfeel is creamy with a moderate amount of the enamel stripping quality that I love.

Drinkability is remarkable, considering the ABV. I think that the pineyness could build up over a few pints, limiting drinkability at some point, but this one 500mL bottle will not be enough.

Love it! Please bottle the Younger next for those of us who cannot just drop into the brewpub.

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Photo of Silenus89
4.22/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

P. Golden color with a nice hazy to it and excellent lacing

S. Citrus, pine, grapefruits Truly a nice smell

T. Pine a little honey and citrus

MF. Good Carbonation medium bodied

D. Very good drinkability for a DIPA

I like this beer alot but this isnt the best offering from RR for me

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Photo of GoreStorm
4.92/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

now THIS is what i was expecting out of the mighty pliny.

Poured a light golden honey color with a fluffy nice sized head.

i didn't even have to raise the glass up to smell the wonderful hop scent and excellent malt profile. what a great smelling DIPA!

wonderful and similar to the scent. a bit fruity as well, maybe a hint of apricot in there?

crisp and clean mouthfeel

drink em if you got em!

you know, generally, i don't even care for pales, IPA's and DIPA's...etc. this is a testament to how excellent this beer is. good show.

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Photo of SickBrew
4.3/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Purchased from the Belmont Station in Portland OR. on my first visit. The beer looks good with about one finger of head in a pint glass. Nose is about par for this style but I was expecting just a bit more from such a highly decorated brew. Taste is good and meets expectations. I do like my imperials to boast more hops and bitterness with some malty background and this just fell a wea bit short. Mouthfeel is medium and the carbonation is good. Overall this is a really good IIPA, but not super great.

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Photo of number1bum
4.45/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

MANY thanks to mymrnngjckt for this treat. I beat his ass in fantasy baseball and he included this in a mixed 6er prize. Thanks man.

Pours a slightly chill hazed orange amber color with about a finger and a half of light ivory head on top. Head retains pretty well, keeping a thin lace and leaving a little bit of stick. This was looking like a 4 at first but after each sip the lace reloads itself and stays nice and full all the way down.

Smell has an incredible burst of grapefruity citrus hops, and a ton of pine resin, as well. Huge hoppy nose that is really amazing and very aromatic.

Taste is also loaded with awesome hop flavor. I'm not sure what I can say that others haven't said. Just tons of grapefruity citrus and pine resin, and some herbal characters, as well. There isn't really a prominent malt flavor here but the hops are loaded with flavor so this never feels like a true hop bomb, although it toes the line. Bitterness is substantial but it doesn't quite overwhelm the hop flavor.

Mouthfeel is not quite full, and actually as hoppy as it is I'd expect it to be a bit slicker and creamier.

Ok, yeah, this definitely lives up to the hype. Top notch DIPA for sure. Thanks again Kevin.

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Photo of jojox
4.04/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had on tap at Monks in Philly. No notes, just from recall.

I was excited to try this after missing a few of the kegs around in SEPA - apparently we'll be seeing a lot more of it from now on.

Hazy gold color, good head, lasting.

The smell is very IPA, tons of hop resin and sticky bitterness.

Tastes like the smell, hops from beginning to end, but also somewhat balanced by the malt. I don't know how old this is but I'm guessing its different than the guys drink in CA in the shadow of the brewery. Still, strong but not over the top hops.

After getting a few sips in, I don't notice the hops anymore. There develops a kind of dull middle taste, I can't describe the flavor but it's kinda vanilla/cream/strangeness that's dull and takes over the middle of the palate. It also makes the mouthfeel a little dead. If it was on tap every day, I probably wouldn't drink it all that much, to be honest...

very drinkable, but I'm a little disappointed with this dull middle flavor. Its not a bad flavor, it's fine, but not as interesting as I wanted.

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Photo of LittleBreeze
4.49/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks, Daniel, for sending this one

This was a fun beer! Cooper with a big white head. Fantastic citrus smells. Big grapefruit, lemon and the right amount of pine. Big hops but the sweetness on the finish balances it all. Extremely drinkable. I wouldn't mind this beer being easier to get. It could easily become one of my favorites.

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Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.65 out of 5 with 14,857 ratings