Pliny The Elder | Russian River Brewing Company

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Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder
14,996 Ratings
Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder

Brewed by:
Russian River Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: American 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

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 14,996 |  Reviews: 3,770
Photo of ArrogantB
4.5/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

First off, this beer looks great. Clear orange, nice. It smells seriously hoppy and tastes very hoppy, bitter and piney but is not overdone. It is super hoppy without being tacky about it. It has a slight dryness to it but doesn't seem astringent. The label is entertaining and I have to agree with the sentiment...

update 11/04/08 bottle date

Smell is awesome, resin, pine, hop essence. Taste is every good as bit as I remembered from the last one I had a month or two ago.

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Photo of brentk56
4.46/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a clear honey color with a rocky ecru head that sticks well and throws a few shards of lace around the pint glass

Smell: Really juicy tangerine and mango with dashes of lemon and mint

Taste: Citrus elements appear at the outset and build through mid-palate, with floral tangerine, mango and hints of lemon, mint and balsa wood; after the swallow, an intense bitterness rules the day with just a hint of residual sweetness

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: No big sticky malt backbone here - just a hoplover's dream

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Photo of brewandbbq
4.47/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle date 7/10/08

Pours hazy, pale gold with a two inch head of porous white. A few dots and streaks cling to the glass after the retreat, and a partial skim coat remained.

Aromatics are a pungent blend of fruit, pine, alcohol, and malt.
Spruce bark, peach skins, mango pulp, orange zest, and sugar-dusted grapefruit.
Mild malt notes mingle with a slight alcohol waft.

On the chewy side of medium bodied, with a sticky, almost sappy mouthfeel. Still very dry and crisp though.

Bitter citrus fruits and light malt lead off the pallet. Grapefruit, pine resin, orange rind, and mangoe pit.
Somewhat earthy and leafy, with a persisting, drying bitterness.
A grapefruit at the foot of a pine tree.

Finishes with some warming alcohol stepping through the lupulus, and lingering, drying bitter citrus.

Incredibly drinkable and very dry. The biiterness is right at the threshold of cutting back on the drinkability.
Great to see this fine brew in bottles.

More mad props go out to RblWthACoz for such a great trade!

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Photo of cannabanaceae
4.8/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Finally after waiting to try this for some time it hits home in SEATTLE!
Poured from growler to pint glass. The look was orange yellow, with nice head retention. Also, very nice lacing down the glass..
Smell was fruity with grapefruit notes, some sweet malt. Not what I expected.
Taste was light bitterness in front palate, then slightly sweet in middle with a bready toasted yeast strain that had old character to it. With a nice lingering bitter finish. All blending well together, Very balanced.
Mouthfell was very smooth. This beer was worth the wait, it is very easy to drink and not a tweaked hop bomb I expected. Thats ok though, this beer kicked ass.

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Photo of Phocion
4.97/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

500ml bottle poured into glass a golden-amber with a massive frothy white head that doesn't quit. Thick, sticky lacing throughout.

Nose is filled with huge citrus hops: predominately grapefruit, and also pineapple. Also a hint of pine and just a touch of grassiness.

The flavor is filled with hops, but not overpowering. The malts are pretty well masked, though a touch of caramel peeks through, and the citrus provides for just a little bit of sweetness to make this thing exceptionally smooth.

Smooth is the only way to describe the mouthfeel on this bad boy. It somehow manages to feel soft and velvety yet crisp at the same time, with decent carbonation and a fairly heavy body. This is an awesome DIPA, I only wish I'd be around SoCal for a few days longer to find some more. Definitely lives up to the hype.

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Photo of treyrab
4.27/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Jw347 for this tasty brew

A: Pours a semi-hazy light copper with very minimal head. This is not opaque by any means, but has a slight chill haze. Laces nicely.

S: Plenty of citrus in this one. Vast amounts of grapefruit, orange, and lemon. The hops smell amazing in this one, very abundant.

T: The taste is immaculate, but I can't say this is better than many other DIPAs I have had. Tons of citrus in the flavor from the hops. The malt is hidden by the vast amount of hops, so the malt backbone doesn't really show too well, the taste is all hops.

Overall, this is a good DIPA, but not spectavular.

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Photo of PatronWizard
4.57/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Huge THANKS to OlieIPA who, instead of hording this treasure all to himself like any sane man, decided to share with a brother in need.

So I got this yesterday. The bottle clearly states do not age, drink immediately. I waited all the way until lunch to crack it open. One long ass wait, I tell you what!

Of course it pours a beautiful clear golden light orange with nice white head and wispy lacing. Looks great!

This puppy has aroma! Filled my dining area before I even tried to sniff. I'm trying to take a few notes on appearance and this sucker is socking me in the nose. Powerful scent of really, really, expensive marijuana. Like imported from Hawaii or Jamaica marijuana. Just speculating! What can I say... that's what it smells like! Do a side by side if you don't believe me. Also smells like a pine forest, an alpine camping trip, smells awesome.

From the smell, I expected a little more hop flavor, not that its lacking. So this is what balanced means. I taste pine, hops, maybe grapefruit. Tastes great, but to be honest, smells even better.

Smooth, full, without a doubt one helluva beer. I would definitely get this anywhere it was served (security would have to escort me out) and if I ever see it on a shelf I will buy every bottle. Not to be selfish, I would drink half and spread the other half all through the land.

Overall: lives up to the hype, can't wait to get my paws on the younger!

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Photo of Matty1918
4.35/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tried it on tap at The Hop Yard in Pleasanton.

A nice orange/amber color with a 1 finger frothy head.

Aroma was of grapefruit, pine and sweet fruits...possibly pineapple. Very nice.

I've been wanting to try this beer for a long time. The first sip is very nice indeed. Grapefruits up front that give way to a buttery, sweet finish. A nice dry bitterness that I didn't think was overpowering. A true delight.

Nice mouthfeel.

Drinkability...well I had 2 on an empty stomach and I could feel them after the 2nd one. You could drink 3 or 4 of these but it's a sipper for sure. Glad I had the chance to try it.

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Photo of SaucyA
4.25/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Oh, Pliny... how I've longed to try thee.

A - Looks awesome in my snifter. Great 1 finger frothy head, with a glowing orange/gold body. Fine lacing.

S - Piney, west-coast hops abounds. Pliny the piney. Grapefruity undertones. Wonderful in this department. True DIPA.

T - For what it's worth, the taste is slightly a let down. Wonderfully well-hopped, but not quite as bitter as I had anticipated or hoped. Well-balanced if not a little underdone. I have a feeling on-tap this is a grand slam, but as it is right here, it's "just" a home run.

M - Medium bodied with a decent amount of carbonation. On the thicker side of things.

D - Pretty stellar drinkability. Almost as easy as a standard IPA.

Notes: Mad thanks to Carlos for this as an extra (can you believe it??)! For all the hype surrounding this brew, I think it left me slightly underwhelmed, but then again, this is/was one of the most hyped brews out there.

To put it in beer perspective, if it was this or Hopslam, i'd definitely have a hard time choosing. I might give the edge to Hopslam strictly for the price. If it was this or Big Head, I would reach for the Big Head. I'm a homewtown boy :)

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Photo of jordoo
4.82/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

500ml bottle poored into a pilsner glass. Thanks to Rick for sending this one my way.

Its an orange straw colored body topped with an electric white creamy head that last and is a lace monster. The smell is simply dynamic. Its crazy pine and like every citrus fruit you can think of with a highlight on the sour ones, incredibly strong smell. The taste is more of the same with a sweet malt backdrop that is there if you pay attention. There are also some piney and grassy hop notes especially on the finish. Medium/full body with some hop oil. Well its pretty much all its cracked up to be, which is tough when there is so much hype.

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Photo of ckeegan04
4.77/5  rDev +2.8%
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 -10.6%
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 +5%
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 -8.4%
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 -9.7%
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 +4.5%
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 -3.7%
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 +2.8%
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 +2.8%
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 +5%
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 -1.1%
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 -4.7%
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 -5.8%
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 +1.3%
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 +4.5%
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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Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.64 out of 5 with 14,996 ratings