Pliny The Elder | Russian River Brewing Company

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Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder
14,843 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: 14,843 |  Reviews: 3,745
Photo of IntriqKen
4.62/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

8% ? Where do they hide it?
Poured beautifully with a clear orangish-yellow liquid topped with a full finger of off white head that melted slowly to very sticky, side mapping lacing.
Aroma was all about hops...citrus and piney hops...very fresh.
Mouth is again all about grapefruit...lemon peel, but all of it is mellowed and perfectly balanced with the sweetness of the hops.
This is an extremely balanced DIPA...nothing overpowers, yet everything lets itself be known.
I could drink these until the bottom of the stool is as familiar as the top of the bar.

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

12oz. bottle from PtE project. Huge thanks to Akorsak, Phatz and anyone else out there involved.

Poured this sample into a wide-mouthed goblet. Medium copper color with a thin white cap that lasts until the end. Fast-rising tiny bead rising from bottom of glass. First smell reminded me of HopSlam, honestly. Has a sweet citrusy/grapefruity smell that I absolutely love in a big IPA. Could sit and sniff this for quite a while. First taste was unbelieveably smooth and sweet with a bitterness bash coming in mid-palate and lasting quite a long time. As it warms, the malty tones makes themselves known and it turns into a piney bitterness. I adjusted to the bitterness rather quickly and found this to be fairly well-balanced. Definitely full-bodied and sticky. Resiny feel left behind and there is little carbonation felt on tongue. Awesome and sneaky drinkability; deceptively smooth. I have had stuff claiming 100+ IBUs and can't remember one that actually seemed as bitter as this one. Excellent experience.

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Photo of tonistruth
4.19/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

on tap @ O'Brien's in San Diego, CA

A- thin white head with a decent hold, golden straw with tint of honey

S- all hops, fresh, pine, citrus floral

T- lot of citrus in there, a smack of grapefruit up front and in finish, citrus from finish dies slowly into aftertaste that is zesty orange, many different citruses , some alcohol

M- hops leave the palate crying (those are some happy tears though), high carbonation level, medium body, smooth flow with a dry finish

D- another great 2IPA, if you could get all this flavor in less ABV%, that would be session heaven. I'm starting to notice that you really have to look at each 2IPA to tell them apart anymore, its the little things that count. anyhow, try this brew

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

Poured from a 750ml bottle from the PtE bottling project. I've had this beer on tap and from growlers many times and I must say this sample from the bottle is virtually indistinguishable from the tapped version. Much, much better than what you would get from a growler. Appears a clear golden amber color with two fingers of off white head. A fair amount of lacing clings to the glass as I make my way to the bottom. Smells of fresh, piney hops, sweet malts, grapefruit, apricot and a pleasant grassy note. Tastes of piney, citrusy, and lemony hops. Finish is peppery, bitter, and dry. Medium bodied with the perfect amount of carbonation. Dangerously drinkable. Believe the hype.

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

poured into a flared tulip glass from a bottle that Phatz bottled from a keg at the Pliny Bottling Project.

Clear golden,coppery color with a slight haze. White creamy head with great retention that leaves a lot of spotty lacing on the glass.

Intense aroma pineappley and grapefruity very hoppy buries most of the malt aroma. More of a fruity aroma than the Younger.

A burst of pineapple followed by a rush of grapefruit with lots of sweet carmell maltiness. Very well balanced. Leaves a nice piney taste lingering on the palate.

Very creamy and smooth as well. Great drinkability you get so caught up in the taste you don't realize how fast this beer is going down.

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Photo of uberabr
4.5/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had this on tap at RR on Saturday. This is a great brewery that I’ve been wanting to visit now for quite a while. There's nothing supernatural about these beers, most of the appeal is how hard they are to find, but they are pretty damn good and you can tell the brewery as a whole ascribes to a level of quality and dedication that is surprisingly rare in this business. For some reason this brewery attracts a lot of sketchy-looking patrons, and the staff aren't exactly brain surgeons either, but I felt right at home anyway.

Drank from a pint. The bartender was this angry-looking skinhead who apparently either never learned how to pour a beer, or learned at Dodger stadium. This was a little upsetting. Appearance is a light yellow amber with some golden hues and some haziness. No head to speak of, thanks bartender. Carbonation and lacing were exquisite.

Hops, hops, and more hops. Smell is moderate but indicative of what's to come. Loads of cascade and a variety of other hops come together to give a fresh piney, grapefruit goodness. Nothing spectacular about the smell alone, although this could be due to the lack of head. Taste is bitter up front but well rounded, piney with delicate fruits and rich complexity of mild malts, all with a lingering early-hop pine backbone. Mouthfeel is full and bubbly. Drinkability, like all RR beers, is superb.

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Photo of markgugs
4.66/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

poured from a growler into a snifter glass

A: Pours a beautiful, clear orange with an ample, fluffy head that lasts quite some time, leaving a tremendous amount of lacing as I quaff it.

S: I already knew how great this beer tasted before I decided to review it, but the aroma doesn't live up to the flavor IMO. Some nice notes of the grapefruit/pine and maltiness that is to come, but the scents don't do the beer justice.

T: I'm not sure words in the English language have yet to be created to describe the godliness of this beer. An immediate blast of sweet grapefruit hoppiness blasts the tongue, followed by a delicious and tantalizing mixture of additional maltiness, and finishing with a piney bitterness. This beer is perfect. Fact.

M: So creamy, so perfectly carbonated, so good. In the words of Frank the Tank, "it's so good, when it hits your lips."

D: Well, hate to penalize it at ALL, but it's TOO drinkable and at 8% ABV, just one growler is pushing the limits. A superbly dangerous drinker.

Highly, highly recommended.

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Photo of Budlum
4.63/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

Pouring this beer produces a generous inch of foamy and creamy white head that holds and clings to the glass indefinitely. The body is slightly hazy and a pale amber color.

This beer smells incredibly fresh throughout. Pine aromas absolutely dominate the smells beyond only a hint of citrus.

A huge rush of hops hit the tongue and hold for an entire sip. Flavors of pine and citrus blend together with a honey taste which never present themselves too strongly. A very lemon-like bitterness hits the tongue blending with black pepper for what is a very long, hop-flavored finish.

The mouthfeel presents a good viscous feel and a balanced tingle on the tongue but just feels a little too flat.

Drinkability with this beer is close to perfect. The hop strength is amazing but I don't get tired of this after a glass. The low ABV for the style is a very welcome addition for extended enjoyment.

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Photo of woodychandler
4.29/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Once more, I was able to have some on-tap, this time at The Grey Lodge on my way to the Stillers/Iggles pre-season game at the Linc on 25 August 2006.

This was served with a light, bone-white head with little retention. It was sunshine-yellow in color with a light cloudiness. The nose was like sniffing a pine tree and singed some of my nose hairs. The pine taste was evident on the mouth with an interesting underlying sweetness, perhaps biscuity. The mouthfeel was unexpectedly thin. The finish was dry with a lingering presence of pine. Wow.

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Photo of
4.83/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Growler courtesy of mac300, very much appreciated.

Clear, true-gold in color. Modest, off-white head. Lacing minimal, some legs.

Aroma is screaming grapefruit, then resiny pine. Somebody put a tree in a juicer, I think. After a while, some grassy notes peeped through. Fantastic.

Taste is...GRAPEFRUIT. I had to look at the label at first to make sure it wasn't grapefruit juice. Nope, definately beer. Grassy comes through, but more as a background note. Gotta be malt in here somewhere, maybe a biscuity flavor swimming around and surfacing every 4-5 sips? Some sweet flavor near finish, sugared oranges and just a bit of honey. This became much more apparent as the beer warmed a bit. Finally, big time pepper after just a few sips.

Medium in body. Carbonation seemed medium +. Bit of an acidic bite - could be toned down just a notch. Immediate feel of alcohol warming.

My kind of IPA, balance out the window! Despite that, for the true hophead, very drinkable (even at 8%). Worth the wait and not overhyped at all. This may be my favorite beer of all, at least of IPA types.

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Photo of Bierguy5
4.34/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to mcallister and pixel for inviting my wife and I over to sample this growler. Bright gold in color, with a thick white foamy head. The head disappeared quickly, however there were some great patches of lace clinging to the glass. Great aroma of pine, citrus (namely tangerine), and grass. Solid sweet malt background, followed by a good amount of piney, citrusy hops. A lot of peach and tangerine flavors. Very well balanced. Medium body. Very nicely done.

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

Deep golden nearing copper. Thick white and fluffy head with some lacing great retention.

Thick herbal, grassy, lush pine aromas, with a resiny hop aroma as well. Malt is sweet smelling and well integrated. Nice flowery ending with hints of honeysuckle.

Smoothe as hell. Rich and creamy, hops aren't overpowering but spot on. Nice floral bittering ending, very piney mid palate. All about integration here. Malt keeps the hop at bay. Man can't get over the balance. An DIPA that is easily drinkable all day.

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

Enormous thansk goes out to zrrbrrt for the growler!!

Poured a deep crystal clear amber with a nce foamy head that was slow to fad, leaving a fine lace all the way to the bottom. The smell is deep piney hops with a bit of grapefruit thrown in for good measure. The taste...well lets just say this ain't you daddy's beer!! Knock you down hops, beautiful, strong, pine and citrus that will have you puckering your mouth for a while. Great dry finish. This is a hop heads delight and lived up to the hype I must say, etremely enjoyable and simply astounding!

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Photo of kernalklink
4.29/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark amber pour with sticky lace and a powerful aroma. Hop profile is all over the place- citrus, floral etc. with some sugary malt in the background. Taste is much more subdued than expected- hops play with the tongue and become one with the malt backbone. Excellent finish, as the dryness of the hops play against the thick and slick DIPA body. One of the smoothest out there; cant wait to try the Younger.

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Photo of biegaman
4.37/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

The always (too) generous Dr.Jay brought Christmas a little early this year with a growler of Pliny the Elder all the way from Capone's. Huge thanks Jay!
A big head forms out of nothing almost instantly. Some would receeed but in large part it stayed. A glowing amber hue. A coppery, piney, vibrant green aroma. Nice candy-like finish. Great tangerine type hops. A beautiful flavour, full of composure and finesse. I think I like their 'wild ale' stuff better, but this is a good offering too! Actually, this is one of the few beers (especially for the style) that actually got better as it warmed.
Seemed from the start this was good, but I wouldn't have said all that great. But quickly, and more and more through the tasting, all the little things would add up, and this truly started showing itself for the great IPA it is. At first - considering all the hype - I was skeptical; but by the end I was extremely impressed. Recommended, (duh!)

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

WOW. I finally had the opportunity try this beer I have been seeking months. I have to admit it was a bit anticlimactic. My expectations were set so high I wanted a holy experience and this only *exceptional* and that was it. I guess with all the excellent DIPAs we have access to the competition is tough. I had this on tap at Capone's Russian River night and there were a lot of distractions. I brought home a growler so I will make more comments from that and the keg later. From notes:

Appearance: Served a transparent golden color with glimmers of amber and lots of carbonation clearly fueling the frothy white head.

Smell: Intense. Wow is it immense resinous piney hops. A lady I spoke to at the bar said 'cat pee' because it so bold. If that is true it is the most perfumey sweet citrusy pee I ever smelled. Floral hops do dominate but a fruity sweet peach is and sugar is detectable as well.

Taste: It is everything I expect in a DIPA. You would expect a more rough feel and hard to drink beer at this IBU and ABV but it is so well blended it is almost hard to pick out the actual flavors in the beer. Grapefruit and pine and caramel and peach and more acidic citrusy fruits and flowers... mmm.

Mouthfeel: For as bitter as this beer is the body is thick and oily and very smooth through the center, surrounded by hop prickles and a dry finish.

Drinkability: I could drink this all day and night. You would never know the 8% ABV if you never moved. It is simply exceptional.

[EDIT: The growler was an even better experience. The impressiveness of this beer does stand out when the beer is served at the right temperature and you turn your thought to is complexity and balance wow! What a treat!]

Hope this is helpful.

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

A HUGE thanks to kmudrick for this treat from Capone's outside of Philly. Growler that got to me about 2 days after pouring.

A: Pours golden, copper-orange with pure-white foam. Given it was a shipped growler from 2 days ago, I had to pour a little faster to get a nice head of foam. It worked and stuck around for a few minutes, leaving some delicate lacing. I'm sure the head retention is far better fresh.

S: Smells of stinging citrus and very sweet sugar. Mesmerizing hop bouquet that you would expect from a bucket of hops in the dry hopping.

T: Lupulin out the wazoo. Damn that's good. Citrus hops delivered via a smoothed, yet very sweet malt punch.

MF: Aggressive hop burn that makes your tongue shrivel and your teeth melt.

Stomach feel: Being eaten by alpha acids!

D: Probably the best characteristic of the elder is that its only 8%. Though that's a high ABV, it's more manageable than the Younger. I *want* to drink the whole growler in one sitting, but I have to pace myself given that it's unlikely I'll see it again anytime soon. Absolutely lived up to the hype. I think the Younger is a greater treat for hop heads, but this one is plenty good while the Younger is aging.

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

Pours a coppery burnt orange and clear with an off white head that slowly recedes. Aroma is big on the citrusy hops, a nice sweet red grapefruit, orange rind, and a nice light cotton candy malt sweetness. Taste is a very nice sweet florida orange, just that right amount of citrusy sweetness balanced by the bitterness of the rind and membrane. Creamy and soft malty body shows a nice spicy pepperiness and just a hint of alcohol. There is a nice lingering mild dryness to the finish. A very well balanced beer, nothing is out of control or over the top, mouthfeel is very nice, soft malts and bitterness blend together very well. Taste is like eating fresh citrus fruit, yum. Thank you Beerbeing for the opportunity.

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

New Review (11-3-08):

Hazed golden body with some shimmering orange highlights. Bubbly white head caps the golden nectar and leaves some moderate patches of lace as I drink. The aroma is as good as it gets. The stuff Hop Wet Dreams are made of. Just pure juicy hop nectar and all the tropical fruit nuances you could imagine from nectarine to tangerine to grapefruit.... The flavor, in turn, takes everything contained on the nose and adds one key element....POT. This beer is almost like drinking pot. With some tangerine mixed in. Very resinous and oily. This is great. Bitterness is VERY clean. No abrasiveness at all.

I'd like to do a double backside "extra secret" unassisted triple play blind tasting of Hop Slam, Pliney and Dreadnaught. Those are what I consider the 3 TOP DIPAs around.

Old Review: 1-13-07 (4.5,5.0,4.5,4.5,5.0)

Clear deep golden appearance. Thick and frothy slightly off white head. Retention is solid as is the lacing that comes in droopy sheets. The scent of this beer is fabulous. The perfect combination of resinous, oily, piney and citric hop characteristics. A little sugar coated pineapple and some definite cannabis lingering. Hops assault the palate first, but surprisingly, the bitterness is not as noticeable. This has a fairly clean bitterness to it. And it lingers a little bit. But the hop qualities dance all over the tongue. Pineapple and bong resin and leather... It's pungent and oily and kind of greasy.... But I like that in a DIPA. And this is no exception. The malt is clearly around for a backing and not for many taste sensations. It's got a kind of toffeeish feel to it. It's appropriate for this style of beer. The body is fairly big....medium-full or so. Carbonation is spot on. Drinkability is through the roof. (Won't have any problem tackling this growler.) A/V of 8% is barely noticeable. This is top notch DIPA.

In my early years here, a BA mentioned this beer to me as one I had to try. Maybe 4-5 years ago. It's been on the back burner for quite some time and now I've finally got a chance to have at it. And it comes, with many thanks, to a top notch guy...The Long Beach Bum. Thanks a ton for setting me up with this nectar.

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

my most anticipated beer to date, at a most anticipated bar, toronado in sf.
pint glass.

A - Clear, pale orange/amber body and was placed on the bar with a 1/2 fingered head, sinking to film on top of the brew and clumpy lacing down the glass.

S - Big hops smell (pine, grapefruit, pineapple, various citrus) with sharp, peppery notes from the alcohol, and a thin malt presence.

T - Hoppy (re: Smell) but with more complex malts in the finish with notes of breadiness and a sort of savory vibe going on. that said, this is, like so many of the beers i've tried in the past year, a showcase for the hops - delicious oils and resins combine with refreshingly crisp citrus and an unbelievable lingering, cool (as in, temperature and feel) flavour. alcohol is well masked.

M - Smooth and yet crisp medium body with medium to high levels of carbonation.

D - Excelent! this did not let me down.

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Photo of Westsidethreat
4.05/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Immediatetly I notice the vibrant copper color, with a very nice anitque white head of fluffy, small bubbles. Nice lace is already forming on the sides, yet this head should last awhile.

S: By the alcohol content, I assume this will be a strong beer, and the very prevalent smell supports that hypothesis. Grapefruit and pine are cut with berries to mellow out the sour and add some sweetness.

T: Wow - immediately after the first sip it's evident that this is a different flavor than most DIPAs possess. More Fuji apple than anything else. Then it ends with a pine flavor laced with sugar chunks, followed by the traditional bittersweet note. It's actually a bit young & green tasting...ironic given the name.

M: Good carbonation, medium bodied, but the liquid glides down quickly, without lingering in the mouth.

D: I'm actually a bit underwhelmed with this beer compared to my expectations. The simplicity was unexpected, and I was left wanting a bit more. Don't get me wrong, this is a good beer. Great with food, impressive if it's on tap next to the likes of your standard liquor store on the corner beers. But it pales in comparison to the great DIPAs of the world.

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Photo of RidiculedDisplay
4.74/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On-tap at Hollingshead.

Appearance: Pours a amberish straw color, with a 2 and a half finger head which settles to a nice half-finger foam. Lacing is thick and sheet-like upon swirling. Pretty nice looking, but not that pretty of a body color compared to say, 90-Minute IPA or some other DIPA's out there.

Smell: Wow. A familiar smell after one tries out some of the better DIPA's out there, but this is exceptional even among the greats. Grapefruit, orange hop aromas are the most prominent on the front end, with pine and floral on the back. Simply juicy smelling. Some caramely, somewhat unidentifiable sweet notes also break through. Great.

Taste: Thick and juicy orange and grapefruit, bordering on pear and mango hop flavors. Mmm. Pine and light floral on the back end. Candied sugarey sweetness, a little maltey backbone. I think the beauty of this one is that, unlike some of its cousins, Elder retains that incredible hop punch without seeming too "heavy." Hard to explain to a degree, but I suppose what I'm trying to say is that the alcohol is virtual imperceivable. The flavors, too, blend together in perfect unison. It's far more easily quaffable than a Yule Smith, for instance, which is just as amazing in hop profile, but leaves one pausing more over the sheer "weight" its flavor seems to carry with it. Anyway, I'm digressing, but I'm trying to convey just how simultaneously rich and drinkable this beer is.

Mouthfeel: Juicy juicy juicy. Light carbonation.

Drinkability: An amazing IPA. I've enjoyed many world class DIPA's lately, and Elder did not disappoint. Again, I think its beauty is in how (somehow) Vince managed to make this simultaneously so packed full of hop amazingness and yet not make the brew entirely overpowering. Fantastic craftsmanship.

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Photo of warriorsoul
4.69/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Thanks to the ever-so generous zrrbrrt for a growler fill of this PA nonetheless.
Pale orange in color with a half finger of white head...most of which fades rapidly and some spotty lacing.
Citrus punch in the nose...mainly grapefruit with a slight caramel malt backbone.
Taste is phenomenal...huge orange/grapefruit hop profile. Just enough bitterness to stay true to the style and just enough malt to add some sweetness to the offering. Alcohol is nowhere to be found...have no idea how this could be 8%.
Finishes bitter, but very clean.
Mouthfeel is medium-bodied...a bit thinner than your typical double...drinkability is wicked good.
This growler disappears too quick...the perfect brew to share/surprise friends and fellow BA's.
Cheers Josh!

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

I'll hit 1000 karma with some style. Big thanks to DrJay for bringing this up from Philly! Can't believe you blessed us with Pliny's presence.

Pours a clear amber, huge thick white head, lacing everywhere, great retention, this shit sticks. Smell is huge hops, tons of pine, citrus and floral, some toffee, real balanced and pleasant. Taste is hopped up as well, some toffee notes, pine, citrus and floral, more pine, bit of malt, nice bitterness. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with low to medium carbonation, very smooth, insane balanced, could drink this all night. Thanks again Jay!

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

Light orange body and good white head that lasts. Lace in glass. Very fresh, brought by Dr.Jay from Capone's near Philly on Russian River night. Bitter bias but also well malted. Perfect soft carbonation. Smooth orange and grapefruit taste.Bitter, sweet, then bitter aftertaste.
Much better balance noticed on-tap at both Solena Beach and Port Carling Pizza Ports just 7 weeks later.
Three-and-a-half years later, in-your-face hops, but drinkable.
Over four years later sample at Table Rock and was great.
5.5 years later and very good well integrated DIPA fresh bottle from OCBeerSociety extra.

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Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.65 out of 5 with 14,843 ratings