Pliny The Elder | Russian River Brewing Company

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Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder
14,884 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: 14,884 |  Reviews: 3,754
Photo of orsulacp
4.49/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I had this on tap at Firewaters in Glen Mills, it had a small white head and a deep amber with orange hues. The smell was amazing; it had all of the hop flavors, piney, grapefruit, and some floral scents. I can almost feel the oils coating my nose.
The taste is mostly piney, bitter piney at the beginning and through the middle, with grapefruit flavor at the end leaving a piney resin coating my mouth. The malt is just there holding it all together.
The mouthfeel is creamy and quite drinkable. It is amazing to me how hoppy this is; yet it seems so balanced, worth all the hype.

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Photo of sloejams
4.73/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I’ve had the good fortune of having this several times - most recently, on-tap at the Toronado, San Francisco.

It pours a beautiful, golden pale with a nice lush head. The aroma is intense. Hops as all hell. The taste is remarkable: first and foremost, again the hops. This pure is complex though, there is fine maltness that sinks through. The creaminess and the alcohol warmth are extremely pleasant and smooth.

A non-beer enthusiast friend once told me that the IPA I suggested, tasted like he was drinking a tree. If that was a tree, this is a fucking forest.

A forest I could drink all day long.

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Photo of spazaru
3.05/5  rDev -34.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I had this on tap at O Brien's in San Diego.

Let me just say that this must be one of the most overhyped beers on BA. Moderately hoppy, slightly floral smelling, and an average mouthfeel. Nothing really stood out.

It smelled, tasted, and felt like a regular IPA. Not bad certainly, but nothing special. Alesmith, Stone, Bear Republic, Oggi's and even Green Flash make much better West Coast IPAs.

Kind of made me feel good because I thought after the reviews that maybe I didn't live in the IPA capital of California.

SoCal can relax. We aren't threatened by the wine country yet!

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Photo of bigman147
5/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I was able to try this recently when a friend from work was able to acquire a 1/2 barrel for his homebrewing Christmas party. He was able to bottle a sample for me to try. I was weary as I couldn't imagine it could live up to the hype. I was wrong. It poured light amber/gold with a pleasant white head. Aroma of pine and citrus. The body of the beer was hard to find since it was hiding behind the hops. All I could think of as I drank it was how much I like hops. Crisp clean finish. Drinkability was limited by the volume I had. If could see drinking more than one of these in a sitting but not much more than 3.

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Photo of misterscooter
4.08/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A beautiful, golden gold. This is a color that looks great in your glass. Not a yellow gold but one going a bit toward amber. The head was smaller than I would have liked but I'll attribute that more to the pourer at the Hopyard in San Ramon (a great place to get a beer, especially when you find Pliny the Elder on tap). But the white foam was thick and glittery with small bubbles. No lacing.

The smell of Pliny is, well, piney. Very woody sap smell with some underlying pepper. Strong and can catch you off guard but not in a bad way that scares you off. Rather, it makes you think that this might be a complex beer that lives up to the ratings.

The taste is also very piney. Spices and hops come at you from different angles and this is almost too much. It does come across as a not so wimpy beer, for sure. The good thing about these tastes is that they are from high quality ingredients and it felt good on your tongue as you held it. Not too carbonated. I didn't feel the effects of the alcohol but I did catch it a bit at times.

It is a slow drinking beer. It complimented the spicy garlic fries I was having and it lasted a while. Because of the ABV, you couldn't pound these for that reason alone but the drinkability is good because it is one I definitely want again for another impression.

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Photo of IrishRedRock
4.75/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

First of all, what a cool lookin' growler, no?
Pours a light coppery color, with a beautiful giant-bubbled seafoam-like white head. Aroma is powerful - oily hops, fresh cut grass, and citrus sweetness. Perfumy and mildly alcoholic, but oh so fresh and pungent. Medium bodied, with a wee slap of carbonation is it passes your lips to its destination.

Hops are front and center here, showing off their oily, sticky herbal goodness from start to finish. The middle contains a chewy malt profile, bready and dry, ending with a touch of alcohol and plenty of hop bitterness. Wow. This is all I expected. One I'd drink lots and lots of. Certainly worth the time, effort, money, drive, or whatever is needed to acquire some of this delightful nectar. Big, big ups to RedwoodGeorge for hookin' this east coast lad up with this left coast deliciousness.

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Photo of blitheringidiot
4.8/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pint for $4 smackers at the Grey Lodge Pub. Pours a rich cloudy bright orange glowing hue topped off with a 1/2" thick spumescent craggy khaki head cap leaving drippy lace in the glass.

Aromatic nose of intense sweet orange and tangerine citrus floral bouquet.

First swigs: Tangerine juice and spree candy with a sprinkle Pez candy chalkiness. Dry crisp lingering orange peel, bubble gum finish. Aftertaste is total Spree candy sugary goodness!

Feel is a bitter astringent tart followed by a bone dry ending. Tongue coater that develops into a gin ending.

Last swigs: Fresh tangerine orange concentrate and Pez candy. Like a perfect Sunkist orange. "Get in mah belly!" Stunning. Great burps too! Saaz?

Beer is good. Happy beering.

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

It came to me an orangey amber with a floating haze about it. A finger a very dense white head soon dropped to a frothy film. Lacing curlicued amply around the inside of the glass.

The aroma was hops, with citrusy grapefruit and pine forest winds wrapped tightly around a slight grassy note and an overwhelmed bubble of malt.

As expected from the aroma, the flavor was initially dominated by the thick column of hops, again with the grapefruit citrus current, and the deep well of pine needles, as though pine sap was wiped along my gums. The malt is more credible here, though, yielding up a biscuity essence that, while pale in comparison, does punctuate the hops raid with pinpricks of presence. And in fact, the malt does just enough to keep the hops from going berserk, perhaps in partnership with a rather subdued note of alcohol, lending the tiniest grain sweetness nudge to push the bitterness a step more toward center. The finish is a lingering hops bouquet that stayed with me for a very long, pleasurable time. It's all about the hops, but it's never obnoxious.

Medium bodied, the oily hops thicken the broth, becoming quite tnagible, leaving a slick coating and a longlasting glow in the mouth.

I was lucky enough to be at GLP just in time for the tapping of this keg. Now, it was on the heels of the Yeti I'd just had, so I needed some water and spicy rare tuna to cleanse the palate a bit, but once I got my teeth into this one, I was one very happy camper. It's not at all shy about its in-your-face hoppiness, and the way it's crafted, there's no reason for it to be. No, there's no balance here, but there's not supposed to be, and that is the main thrust of the impressive brewmanship. It lists so heavily hopwards, but never totally leaves its malt lineage behind. The ABV is beefy, in proportion with the load of hops, so it is a sipper, but the occasional gulp is inevitable, just to have a mouthful to feel how alive it is. And it's now time to wrap this up, because I'm off to get me a growler of this nectar...

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Photo of sulldaddy
4.44/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Super cool wedding gift from Watermelonman! THANKS BRO!

I am sharing a chilled growler with Stopper and pouring into a pint glass.
The beer pours a slightly hazy gold color with fluffy off white headof 2 inches with a slightly aggressive pour. The head fades slowly leaving large windowpane lattice and cratered spongy surface.
Aroma is all hops with mostly pine but also a mix of grass and some rind. The pine is sticky resiny and thick.
First sip reveals an average body with fine and tingly carbonation. Flavor is slightly fruity sweet up front and then the hops take over with sappy resin pine dominant. The flavor finishes sticky and thick with lip smacking bite. This is a must have for any hop heads out there. QUite a great beer that I am glad to have tried!

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Photo of Rastacouere
3.38/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Clear light gold pour, the head is white and big. Astonishing woody flavours cover the leafy and herbal hops that feel like a perfume. The malt base is potently biscuity and grainy/bready. The aromatic hops seem underwhelmed by the bitterness ones that hide one of the biggest punch I’ve yet to feel, but fool is the one who thinks the malt is not there to support it as this has plenty of toasted and cereal maltiness, medium bodied, yet with airy and foamy carbonation.

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Photo of jaluria
3.98/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer has a soft orange-color to it with an off-white head that has incredible lasting ability. The lacing left behind on my pint glass looked like a painting, it was that intricate. The smell is mostly of citrus, hops, and dried fruit. The taste is typical for the style...a complex merging of malt, hop induced bitterness, followed by a dry, almost astringent taste. Overall, I think this is an excellent ale with distinct character and texture. I had to deduct points for the aftertaste because the bready texture didn't sit well in the back of my throat. The aftertaste does not really dissipates, it simply changes over time.

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Photo of TurdFurgison
4.32/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on-tap at Toronado's in San Francisco. Presented in a pint glass, orange color with large sticky white head.

Not surprisingly, the main take from this beer is hops. The aroma is intensely hoppy, the flavor is, the after-taste is. But not overly bitter, which would be too much for me.

I think this was extremely good, and I wish I could find it in Ohio.

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Photo of SteveO1231
4.7/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Got a pint at OB's

Poured a light amber color with a thin white head, nice lacing, moderate carbonation.

Smells of pure hops, citrus and pine are very strong with this Double IPA.

Nice and crisp at first with a huge hop smack, high citrus flavor almost pine like finish, very long lasting on the palate.

Very nice Double IPA, one of my favorites. Hop level is very high. Much stronger than any DIPA that I hav ever tasted.

Hop level is so high but still remains balanced. Worth a try, or two!


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

Whoa. This is one of those beers that smacks - no, whips- you in the face with a hop vine! I received a growler of this lovely beer from TheLongBeachBum, and was quite excited to have a Real West Coast Hop Bomb while on the East Coast. It almost doesn't feel right, but I think I can deal with it..

This one is still quite carbonated after a 3 day trek across the country, with a billowing fluffy sudsy white head, overflowing the glass on my second serving... oops. Otherwise, the color is dull orange, or amberish, and clear. Nice look for an IIPA.

Smells like a freakin HOP! Wow, I had this on tap in San Diego 6 months ago, but that was Six Months Ago! I didn't remember such a fresh monster hop aroma to this one. With a hint of malt, meekly hiding in the back. Again, a smack in the face. Taste is more of the same, but instead of a bitter taste, it's just HOPPY. Almost a piny taste, and grassy, VERY fresh. Malt finish with a sort of dry, slightly bitter aftertaste. I am a fan.

Mouthfeel- nice. Perfect. Still fizzy but not what I would call light. For all that flavor, not thick either. Drinkability- well, I already drank half the growler, but... it is 8%... so, a score of 4 for that. Tastes like I could drink it all day, but with the alcohol content (no alcohol taste) it could well get one in trouble. Overall it's a highly enjoyable brew, and I must thank Mr. LBB again for the growler. If you can get yer hands on this one, do so!!

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

On draft at RFD in Washington, DC. Served in a shaker-style pint glass.

Appearance: The glass is filled with a beautiful burnt gold, with a minimal bright white head that quickly disappeared. No lacing to speak of, but that is probably due to the glassware.

Smell: The first deep smells are of bright, bold hops; citrus fruit and grasses.

Taste: The first taste is a hops explosion on the tongue. Loads of citrus and a minimal malt backbone make this a hop-lovers paradise. I want to slowly enjoy it, but it tastes so fresh that it is difficult. I love hops and this is a new-found heaven. Loads of hops in the finish. There is no alcohol present.

Mouthfeel: Almost an oily and resinous after each drink. The hops stick to your mouth and don't let go.

Drinkability: My glass was quickly empty, and I wanted more but restrained myself given that I needed to return to the office. Had I been out for the day, a second draft would have been summoned, but at 8%, it is dangerously drinkable.

For hop lovers, this is one you should not miss.

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Photo of carln26
4.67/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another offering I enjoyed at Russian River Brewing Co in Santa Rosa. This beer pored a bright copper to amber with a thick white head, that left a beautiful lace on the side of the glass. Overwhelming citrus grapefruit aroma. It has grapefruit rind, a little orange, grass and a bit of pine. Just a hint of caramel in the aroma on the finish. The flavor has loads of hop. Grapefruit, orange, pine, grass, hay, and every other descriptive term you can have for hops. There is a bit of caramel sweetness on the finish. The bitterness is ever-present, but not dominating. It has a nice, rich mouth feel, and is surprisingly drinkable. Awesome beer.

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

Beautiful rich golden orange color and a solid white head, smells like thistle and fresh-cut grass, and kept smelling that way all the way down the bottle. And my nose doesn't work.

Extreme hoppiness. And I mean it. But a damn-good hoppiness it is, combined with an oily, creamy mouthfeel that sticks to your palate and sucks the water out of your head. Lightly acidic with potent juniper berry and fruity grapefruit and lemon flavors, even after taking the plane from California. To heck with the ABV, I could still drink a few of these. A standout beer for sure.

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

I tried this double IPA on tap at the Russian River Brewery, and it was a focal point of my trip out to California. Needless to say I was not disappointed! The serving was in a standard pint glass, which sort of surprised me; I was expecting a 10 oz. pour. The nose of the beer was incredibly floral, which gave a good indication of the hefty hop presence. [Being a hop-head I was very happy with the level of hops included in this beer] The mouthfeel was somewhat standard compared to other double IPAs I've tried, but the taste lasted just long enough to entice another sip. I would definitely say that I thoroughly enjoyed this beer, and would recommend it highly to anyone who can find it. My only problem with this beer is that it is very difficult to get on the west coast. Russian River if you are reading this, please bottle the Pliny series, and distribute to the East Coast.

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Photo of BrewMaster
4/5  rDev -14%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Served in a standard pint glass at O'Brien's in San Diego. The beer is a golden orange color with a ringed white head, lively carbonation, and good sticky lacing.

Smell: Resinous hop nose, oil and dripping with hop scent. The hop aroma is both floral and pine in character.

Taste: This beer is an explosion of hop bitterenss coupled with a fruity and floral quality. Some pepper and spice too. I am not a hop head but this one is definately good. There's a light malty flavor amid all of the hop madness that leaves a bready taste in my mouth. The hop flavor continues all the way through the long ending with a stick, resinous hop quality. There is a touch of sweetness in the ending.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, comfy, pleasant and sticky in the mouth. The beer is even a bit drying on the palate. This beer is surprisingly comfortable on the palate given that is is strongly hopped and that usually does not appeal to me. I wouldn't call the hop flavor subdued or balanced, but it is nice to my palate and doesn't get violent. I can appreciate that having been assaulted by so many overly hopped beers.

Drinkability: Solid IPA one a nice, hot San Diego afternoon. I won't be running back for another one of these unless I need a hop fix, but it's definately a good beer for the hop heads out there.

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Photo of RedwoodGeorge
4.72/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I can't believe I still haven't reviewed this masterpiece - it must be that I'm always so distracted by the experience that I forget to record it...

The pour is a deep golden with touches of orange, more than a bit cloudy and with a thick white head. The head stays around for quite some time and leaves lots and lots of lacing on the glass.

The smell is pure hops - I'm sure there's grain in there somewhere but your nose is so distracted by the fresh grassy smell, the grapefruit rind and the pervasive impression of sticky resinous green growth that there's not much room for anything else.

The taste can't really be improved upon. Yes, the hops are very strong but there is no real bitterness in this brew. There's a distinct sweet bready note holding in the background and plenty of the same hop notes found in the aroma but what makes this so special is how smooth and well balanced the taste is. Absolutely no hints of harshness to be found and for a beer with bucketfuls of IBU's that's an impressive feat.

Mouthfeel is very good; this is a light to medium bodied brew with lots and lots of fine carbonation. There's no oily residue on the palate and the expected hop bitterness only creates the need to take another sip. No alcohol burn at all, just smoooth all the way down.

This is a highly drinkable brew that will please any hop lover. What makes this beer stand apart from the crowd is just how well balanced the tastes are and just how smooth the beer goes down. A true craft beer from a real craftsman.

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Photo of charlatan
3.89/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Straw to amber colour with much less of head than the same brewer's IPA. It has a much more potent citrus smell (think grapefruit mixed with sour apple candy). Very sweet as the candy flavour dominates....this one should definitely be kept away from small children! Rather flatter than the IPA, but disturbingly drinkable given its strength.

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Photo of Bang34
4.32/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Stopped by the Russian River Brewery a couple of times during my most recent sojourn back home to Northern California.

The first time I was there they had just run out of Pliny on tap. I asked the tender and he said it doesn't help that most of the staff really enjoy it too, which doesn't leave as much for customers.

The seconf time I went they had it.

Pours a golden yellow with an orange tinge.

Has a nice little head that sticks around for a while.

Floral Hoppy aroma with a hint of citrus.

The taste is all about hops a slightly bitter and dry fisnish. Pretty drinkable but not a session brew.

I had with with one of the brewery's specialty pizzas with peperoni, sausage and caramelized unions. Paired pretty well, the hoppiness cut through the strong taste of the pizza well.

Also wanted to mention, I had a nice chat with vinnie when I was there a well. He does some good stuff there and is looking to expand before too much longer.

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Photo of DogFood11
4.95/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

whoaaa ....even a hophead would be proud and in awwee of this baby!! Not sure what type of hops they use but they are of the utmost quality. Fruity taste in the middle but quickly squashed by the hop bitter aftertaste. finely crafted brew for sure. dry but not annoying. Had this served in a pounder glass at Naja's (redondo beach) from the hand pump as a starter....not the best choice for a starter but this beer would compliment a meal better than as the first beer of the day.

Notes: I'm so glad I can find this on a regular basis even though I can only find it on tap thats fine with me. Truly one of, if not the greatest, double IPA.

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

I had this on tap at Union Jack's on the Manatawny. This was served in a snifter. (Concentrates the smells better)

Arrives a slightly hazy orange with a one finger rocky head of white foam. The head drops to islands and a ring. Splotches of lacing on the glass. Carbonation evident.

Aroma is really strong grapefruit and lemons, very fruity, and some light brown sugar. This beer smells great.

Flavor is fruity as hell. Fantastic gratefruit, lemons, tangerines, all backed up by a huge malt base. Strong hop bittering, but not overwhelming. Aftertaste is very long sweet grapefruit. Delicious.

Mouthfeel is huge malt sweetnesswith a big grab at the back of the throat from hop bittering. Smooth and creamy, with a fairly soft carbonation level.

This beer is absolutely delicious. A wonderful example of the style. One of the best draft beers I have ever had.

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Photo of lsholtzen
4.95/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I have savored this impeccable brew many times in the past, most notably being at the Korbel RR tap room, it's birthplace, and at the new RRBC site in Santa Rosa CA, with Vinnie Cilurzo himself serving it up. But most recently it was IMO 'best-of-show' at the 10th Annual Mammoth Bluespalooza at Mammoth Mountain CA. Up against 49 other outstanding, worthy competitors, Pliny once again showed how it has raised the bar for all other DIPA's to try and reach. Rich gold in color, clear yet translucent, almost looks like it would pour like honey. The rich smell of pine sap and grapefruit permeates from the glass immediately. It’s almost like a wicked citrus fruit juice, except it’s 8.0%ABV is inescapable. It was the only tap that the other pourers were routinely sneaking off too to sneak a taste. A truly magical representation of the DIPA breed with a drinkability unequaled by any other. Now, don’t get me started on Pliny the Younger . . .

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Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.65 out of 5 with 14,884 ratings