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Pliny The Elder | Russian River Brewing Company

3,602 Reviews
Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder

Brewed by:
Russian River Brewing Company
California, United States | website

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

For Trade:
User Reviews
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Reviews: 3,602 | Ratings: 13,871
Photo of ShogoKawada
4.82/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

"From Oakland to Sacktown
The Bay Area and back down
Cali is where they put they mack down"


Poured into a wide snifter from .5L bottle. 28 days old, from bottling to my glass. BIG thanks to augustgarage, who hooked a Rhode Islander with this fabled beer.

A- Full-bottle pour into my snifter leaves a shimmering golden beer with hints of orange and copper colors. An aggressive pour leaves a frothy, delightful head on the beer which laces immediately.

S- Hops... sweet hops. As far as other IPA/DIPAs go, this has the hop sweetness similar to the 90 min. DFH, but lacks the malt sweetness of the 90. Grapefruit, citrus, and pine hops all blend together to create a fabulous bouquet. Possibly the best-smelling DIPA I've ever had... with exception of the DFH Squall IPA. I love this smell like a fat kid loves cake.

T- This is the real deal. I think this beer just blew my mind. Powerful hops here. Follows the nose, grapefruit, citrus, and pine hops. Incredible hop flavoring here, finding it hard to put into words. It's like someone created a blend of hops that eliminates everything an over-hopped beer does wrong. It's sweet but not too sweet, a bit tart, mildly bitter, but wonderfully concocted. A hop head's dream, I cannot imagine improving this flavor at all. Haven't tried PtY, but who cares? I sure don't. Gimme more Elder! Pale malt is there to provide a nice body, but do little to add to the flavor. Fine by me, this is expertly crafted.

M- Pretty decent body, almost like silk in your mouth after you sip. Good carbonation, too. Mouthfeel is hard to pin down, the flavor is all my head can wrap itself around right now.

D- Moderate to insanely high depending on your ease of procurement. If I could buy this at my local store, I'd buy this by the pallet and drink it morning, noon, and night. Since I have to trade for it, it's kind of a pain to get (although the trade was mind-boggilingly easy). I want to thank augustgarage for the chance to try this beer... Hope to have this on tap someday, and will look into procuring some more at some point.

My favorite DIPA is still the Squall... unfiltered and bottle conditioned = awesome, but I doubt I'll get another fresh bottle of that unless DFH brings it back. This beer handily beats out the standard 90 min in a bottle.. and I'm somewhat of a DFH groupie. RR ain't fucking around with this beer.

Long story short: Overhyped? Nope.

This beer is a bear, a burly beast, a hop conquistador here to take over your tongue. World-class. The 600-pound DIPA in the room.

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Photo of ledomelor
4.79/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at O'Briens pup in San Diego, 16oz glass

A: Golden nector color A little cloudy with a white frosty head, some lacing

S: Beautiful pine hop aroma with hints of fruits, I think mango, orange and grapefruit but I'm still trying to refine my olfactory skills. This smell will make your mouth water

T: The citrus and pine hops hit the palette first but is very well balanced with the mango, and peachiness flavors that are only present as the beer warms up. Don't drink this beer cold (or any IIPA for that matter), or you will mask many of the flavors. Also pleasantly bitter and a small amount of sweetness. Very complex tasting beer

M: Really clean and fresh after taste. The 8% sneaks up on you. The flavor lingers in your mouth, and it was really hard for me not to order another one, so I did

D: Very drinkable, remember to slow down, this is a beer I could drink too fast.

Overall: One of the best IIPAs I've ever had. Just another reason why it's great to live in California. Very well balanced, and amazing aroma

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Photo of mikey711
4.62/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks goes to AgentZero who hooked me up with this in a trade. Poured into a few tasting glasses to enjoy with friends.

A: It's slightly cloudy with a touch of very white frothy head. Excellent lacing and a very nice color gold.

S: As soon as I opened the bottle I could smell this beast. It's a very appealing mixture of various citrusy fruits(mango, peach, pineapple, orange, grapefruit.) The aroma is not intense at all and is just making my mouth water. When swirled a lot of pine notes come through.

T: The citrus hops come through very nicely, definitely alot of peachiness and mango here. Also, it has a very pleasing bitter finish. The Sweetness is subtlly there, but takes a back seat to the glorious hoppiness.

M: No harshness or booziness what so ever. Very light, crisp, and refreshing. Makes me wish I didn't share...

D: And it's gone...I seriously need more Pliny in my life.

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Photo of McDiddyPop
4.6/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Got this growler from ipa247. Thanks go to Jeff for hooking me up with this bottle of magic.

Poured into Brookyln stemware, this one looks bright hazy golden orange. A sudsy off-white head sticks around for a few minutes before settling to a thin cap. Tremendous lacing all over the glass.

Smells amazing. Nice grassy and citrusy hops followed by a hint of peach or tropical fruits. Wonderful.

Tastes like it smells. Fresh citrusy hops with a nice minty/ herbal quality. Very fruity and delicious.

Nice crisp mouthfeel. Good carbonation. Absolutely no hint of the alcohol. This one is a treat! I wish I lived in California...

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Photo of Pup
5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Because I love this beer, I will review it in the voice of Emperor Vespasian, close personal friend to Pliny the Elder.

Sup Romans, tis I, Vespy the eternal and holy, anointed by God, yada yada. Enough about me, let's talk about my main homes, Pliny v1. Ive been a fan of the brotha ever since his Nero bashing in the Naturalis Historia, that fiddle-playing malcontent. Am I rambling? Maybe cause, I've quaffed about 5 of these delicious hoppy beers named after the Plinster.

Me and the Senators went out to mourn the poor bastage's passing after his whole "blown-up-by-a-volcano" thing. Luckily this beer is taking the edge off that harsh. Pours a orangy, amber with pillowy head, smelling of tangy citrus hops. Tastes of crisp fresh citrus hops with just the right amount of carb. As Pliny used to say, fortune favors the brave, so with that, I crack my 6th. Salud!

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Photo of manjanai
4.85/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had it on tap in a local beer bar in Folsom CA, it's was a wonderful experience. First glance, pour very cloudy with murky yellow. The smell was very extremely present, it went down quite nicely and it was very smooth. The Elder is a well balanced beer, world class beer.

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Photo of qchic
4.57/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep gold with peach highlights. A finger of head displays thick bubbles. The aroma is bursting with hop goodness--tons of grapefuit and pine. First taste is all grapefruit, and then that west coast bittterness, drying pine, fruity sweetness, some alcohol, melon. It definitely coats the tongue and finishes long and dry. Not sure that I would want to drink more than one 500ml bottle in one sitting, as it is so satisfying and flavorful, but it would be a regular treat if I had the access. No wonder Russian River can't keep up with demand!

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Photo of JohnnyDuvel
4.82/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

For my second bottle of Pliny, I decided to do a head to head taste test with another of my favorites to get a really good feel for this brew. I chose a Two Hearted Ale. I did a blind taste test. The Pliny was much cloudier in appearance, and the smell was far more dramatic. The hop fragrance lept out of the glass. It had more depth and body, and was the smoother beer overall. I love the Two Hearted, but it was a bit thin in comparison (I guessed the beers after a short time with the blind test). I also tried a bit of a HopSlam in comparison, but it is past it's prime now - too much honey, not enough hops. The Pliny is an extremely well balanced IPA, as good as any I've had. I would love to try it against an Alesmith IPA.

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Photo of michaeltrego
4.18/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

First timer for Pliny the Elder, and I must say the anticipation was intense. Thanks to saulcharlseworth for the trade!! We can't get it here on the East Coast. Respect hops, consume fresh! First impression: golden nectar color, crystal clear with bright white, medium head and pleasing piney hop aroma that doesn't overpower. First sip: mmm, nice but I think it's a bit too cold - it's masking the flavor. Swirl, let it sit for a few minutes. Mmm better, more aroma and flavor coming through. Nicely balanced, medium body, about 7.5-out-of-10 on the hop-richter scale. Halfway through, smooth, balanced, simple pleasing hop profile, that's not trying too hard. Final: well made, very well balanced, 8% sneaks up on you. Wait, I don't think I tasted everything, can I have another? Nutshell: fabulous as an IPA, but only great as a DIPA/Imperial.

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Photo of nkersten
4.27/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle dated 7/06/09, a vigorous pour resulted in about two and a half fingers of thin white head above a dark golden brew... In my opinion, this is what a IPA/double IPA should look like. Not too heavy on the dark malt to let the excellent hop character be the center of attention. Smell is of canned pineapple and grapefruit, with a little grassiness thrown in for good measure. A truly amazing smelling beer. Taste is similar to the smell, with pineapple coming in a slight bit less then the smell would have led me on to think. Lots of citrus and grassy flavor with just enough malt. As it warms the alcohol starts to lend itself to the flavor a little more. Mouthfeel is light yet not watery, with the hops being the dominant player here rather then having a sweet sticky mouthfeel from too much malt. Drinkability is good but not amazing. I really like this beer overall, but usually after 500ml I am ready to move on to something else. Overall this is an exceptional beer with only a few serious rivals in the best DIPA category.

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Photo of Bung
4.45/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Received in trade from nomomentwasted, 2 weeks old not bad at all, especially since 5 of those days were spent in transit.
Golden/orange pour, substantial white head. Sticks to the side pretty well as well. Is that a Christmas tree I smell? With a fruit basket under it. Surprising amount of malt characteristics. Citrus fruits, especially grapefruit and herbal piney hops. The hops really stay in control though, which seems so hard to find these days with all the hop nukes around. Really doesn't linger much in the throat, but you know you drank it, especially if you feel the need to belch.
Wow is this a great balanced DIPA and the alcohol being just a hint lower is nice to. Can easily drink a whole bottle by ones self. Had little 2 oz. tastings before, but this is the first substantial quantity I've had and it does not disappoint.

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Photo of fiver29
4.58/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle pours a clear golden color with a nice frothy white head. Has a real nice aroma to it. It reminds me of pine and citrus right away. The mouthfeel is medium and leads into a great upfront citrus blast. That leads to a great caramel malt flavor that finishes with a pine flavor. Overall this is a really nice brew. I am not sure how they managed to avoid hop haze with this one. It was so clear. Good stuff.

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Photo of realmpel
4.5/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Hoppy birthday to me, hoppy birthday to me. This is an excellent double IPA, super hoppy in aroma and flavor. Pours a bright yellow with 1/4 inch head. Bright carbonation brings the pine and hop aromas to the nose. The taste is nice and bitter with the unmistakable taste of fresh hops.

It packs an alcohol punch, but it's a mellow punch. It's like getting whacked hard with a pillow. At 8%, I could drink a couple of these. They are so tasty that I just might do so.

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Photo of botham
4.77/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

bottle poured into an oversized wine glass. pours a rich golden color with two fingers of pillowy white head. solid lacings and great retention.

aroma explodes with hop oils, very dry and piney in the nose with a subtle spicyness. very concentrated and fresh in the nose without any alcohol showing. solid.

taste is mildly bitter and concentrated with lots of hop notes and a subtle sweetness and spice that plays off of the hops. the odd thing is, this brew is so complete in nature that there is no one aspect that should be amplified or pulled back. very bitter with mainly piney hops and a bit of a citrus note as well. in the end, the brew is not overly bitter or to hoppy, but just right.

mouthfeel is great. full bodied and almost chewy from all of the hops. dry and bitter finish with residual hop oils coating the mouth.

drinkability is decent. the sheer level of hops found here make this a huge DIPA with tons of hops and a bitter profile. the composition is well put together and fresh. an excellent brew. another solid example from Russian River. cheers!

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Photo of kingcrowing
4.77/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

500ml bottle poured in a snifter. Thanks to theghost3 for thowing this in as an extra!

A nice golden amber color with a nice little fluffy head that sticks around. A solid IIPA appearance. On the nose is pine, citrus, lots of sweet hoppy notes. Very nice, one of the best noses around.

The first thing I notice is the mouthfeel, very full and thick, it's great. Got some really nice toasty notes sticking around at the end as well. Taste is really great as well. Got a lot of nice hoppiness to it, very complex with lots of really complex and interesting flavors. every sip is giving me more and more. Excellent beer. Seek this out... incase you weren't already.

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Photo of joshuadlight
4.22/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Reviewing my first bottle after having Pliny on tap a couple weeks ago. This is good but not as great as on tap.
The beer is very, very fresh. Bottle on July 20th, less than a month ago. Golden tree sap appearance, small head leaves curtains of streaky lace. Spruce and other pine notes throughout the smell. The taste allows more of the balance that makes this delicious. Its great to be able to notice the malts on such a hop driven beer. The malts are not as noticeable, however, as the on tap version. Its just so fresh, the hops are lively and vibrant.
Fluffy mouthfeel with billowing carbonation is pleasant, and the after effects suck all the moisture out of the mouth leaving it sticky and dry. I'm not feeling a ton of drinkability tonight though. One will be enough.

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

Growler filled at the Craft Ale House, tulip glass

Pours a rich and clear golden color with a tint of orange. Good retention with the off white creamy head. Very sticky to the sides of the glass. Each swirl brought the head back.

Strong hops aroma, pine essence and a floral background. Citrus (grapefruit & orange) predominant as well. I could smell this as the glass was still on the table.

Flavor of course hits you hard with hops Citrus notes, great balance of bitterness and sweetness with a malty presence. Some creaminess, and many other flavors noticeable. Lots of things going on here.

Mouthfeel was tangy and smooth, great carbonation. This was very refreshing and well worth the wait. I am glad I have more in the fridge.

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Photo of bret27
4.77/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Just an exceptional brew in every way. Been rated and praised so much I'll keep it brief.

Smell: Floral, oranges/lemons, pines, sweet hops.

Appearance: Gold Orange. Light yellow head.

Taste: Same as smell, but able to discern various hops in more detail. Tastes like they actually squeezed the straight nectar out of hops. There must be some malt in here to balance the hops but I can't really taste it. Bitterness on end of tongue. Hop citrus lingers in mouth, w/dry finish.

Overall: The thing about this beer isn't that it's the highest abv or most hoppy, but I think its the perfect balance of it all. You could drink it all day(which I kind of have) and it doesn't get old. It's the kind of beer where if you see it for sale in a store you just have to pick up a bottle. Whether its for personal consumption or to trade, its always a great beer to have on hand. Slightly better on tap than bottled, but freshness is key.

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Photo of badbassrandy
4.5/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Half-pint poured at Falling Rock tap house in Denver, CO

A - Pretty, deep golden hue; transparent nectar; billowing craggy eggshell-white head and impressive lacing

S - A hop-head's dream: sweet and bitter hops of fruity, earthy, dank, citrus, spicy notes which erupt from the head and hint at the 8% abv

T - A brilliant boutique of hop varieties that dominate and overshadow the lovely malt base; tropical, citrus, sweet tones jump out and are overwhelmed by juicy, wet-hop tasting, dank bitterness that prickles the tongue; bitterness is in check, but this is clearly a hop bomb

M - Medium-bodied for a DIPA; gripping textures and a subtle-but-lasting cloying hop presence that prickles the tongue; bitter hops residue makes itself at home in the mouth

D - For hop lovers like me, easy to lift and swill and appreciate sip after sip until, sadly, it is gone and -- if one is lucky -- it's time for another. Drinkability for the style is marvelous, but the assault of hops and sharp, bitter, alcohol presence on the tongue means this is a palate-bruiser of a beer.

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Photo of flagmantho
4.67/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Really looking forward to this one. Poured from 16.9 oz bottle into a pint glass. Bottled 7/6/2009.

Appearance: light tawny golden color with a rocky, persistent head.

Smell: I could smell this the instant I opened the bottle. I could probably smell it across the house. Great gobs of fresh hops, mostly what I would call spicy but some softer, more floral notes as well.

Taste: quite smooth; I guess I was expecting to be blown away with bitter hops, but this beer is more sophisticated than that. The hop flavor is spicy, sweet, smooth and fantastic.

Mouthfeel: medium-thick, this guy roams around your mouth, coating your tongue with its impeccable flavor.

Drinkability: despite the high alcohol content and the intense hop flavor and aroma, this is a highly drinkable beer. It could easily get me into trouble.

This was my first Pliny (of any generation) and it was delicious. I am still growing into my appreciation for Imperial IPAs, but this was a darn good place to start.

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Photo of morimech
4.67/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks nkerston for this beer. Bottled on 072009. Pours a hazy dark amber color with one inch of white head. The head slowly settles to a thick cap. Just a little lacing is left on the glass.

Aroma is a complex combination of hops. I pick up grapefruit, pine, and fresh cut grass. With all these hops it still is not overpowering like a lot of DIPAs can be. This might be an example of less is more.

Not surprisingly this has a hop centric flavor. Nice citrus and pine elements. Malt does make an appearance with just a touch of sweetness and some mustiness. Bitterness is high without being harsh or extreme. This truely is the benchmark for DIPAs.

Medium body with nice carbonation lending a soft texture. Even with the high bitterness this beer remains a pleasure to consume.

Highly rated or hyped beers usually do not score as high for me but this one is one very well crafted beer.

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Photo of Natural510
4.53/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy orange color with creamy head and a complete layer of lacing which sticks to the sides of the glass.
Bright perfume of citric & floral hops immediately hit the nose.
Flavors of pine, grapefruit and honey; characteristics are fairly subtle and blend well together. Quenches the thirst while leaving a semi-dry finish with a nice pine-hop bite.
Sweet, bright, crisp, bitter and well-balanced. One of the best of the style.

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Photo of SpecialK088
4.92/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured into a Snifter

Light but deep copper with a nice 1 finger head that laces thick down the glass but doesn't stick very much

Complex as hell in the nose, bitter and grassy hops, grapefruit and citrus peel, some undertones of apricot and sweet sugar almost like a candied apple.

Flavor is classic IPA which is probably my favorite part its just more of it big hops bigger grapefruit and citrus flavor the complexities in this beer are amazing and all blend together to bring a very big but very classic tasting DIPA

Smooth and complex on the palate medium body with a perfect carbonation level, leaves a bitter sweetness on the mouth from drink to drink.

Alot of people probably couldnt or wouldnt want to but I could drink this every day.

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Photo of naterock
4.77/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a tulip with a one finger rocky head that sticks heavily to the glass.

Smell is incredibly complex with a grapefruit and citrus hop aroma with a piney nose. Some Apricot from the citrus and a sweet malt character that resembles candied sugar.

Tastes really unbelievable with the same complexities in the taste as the nose. Sweet grapefruit flavors and a sweetness that really impresses.

Mouthfeel is oily and decently carbonated with a long lasting aftertaste. Drinks easy but the taste makes you sip every last drop slowly.

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Photo of Tomas77
5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Everytime I drink a Pliny it's like i'm opening one for the first time and each time I can't believe how incredible it is.

Appearance-Dark golden with an orange tint to it. Brilliant clarity with a small but tight white foam head. Good legs throughout. Incredible.
Aroma-Huge hop nose right off the bat with a burst of lemon zest and pine. Some light fruit malt aroma is detected along with some bready notes that follow. Incredible.
Flavor-Strong hop flavor with just enough malt backbone to support this imperial ipa. Very bitter aftertaste but not harsh. Lots of pink grapefruit shows up this time around rather than pine. Alcohol is evident at this stage but doesn't overpower the hop presense. Dry finish. Incedible.
Mouthfeel-I love the way this liquid sits on my tongue. Body has a chewy maltiness with a resiny hopfeel throughout. Alcohol present but smooth. Incredible.

Unbelievable. I mean incredible.

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Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 3,602 ratings.
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