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Pliny The Elder | Russian River Brewing Company

3,603 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: 3,603 | Ratings: 13,872
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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Photo of kbeals
4.35/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Acquired through a trade with bkrefetz.

A- Poured into a snifter glass it appears a hazy orange color with a creamy white head that lasts throughout the session and produces great lacing.

S- Smells of both piney and citrusy hops, but also seems to have a solid, sweet malty backbone. A definite change from the other hop bombs I've had in the past.

T- A hoppy bitterness dominates up front, but seems to mellow out and give way to a sweeter finish.

M- Smooth and slightly syrupy, with appropriate amounts of carbonation.

D- Pretty good even for an 8% ABV beer.

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Photo of jbye4334
3.67/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

(on tap at Falling Rock Tap House in Denver, CO).

Cloudy, light orange color. Medium off white head. Strong hop/grapefruit aroma. Strong hop flavor with light pine. Long duration. Slick texture. Bitter, ligth astringent finish. Moderate carbonation. Fair lacing.

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Photo of lifeboyq
3.67/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Huge thanks to the sommelier at my local grocery, Bruce, for pulling me aside and letting me know he got his hands on some of these. I've been wanting to try this for some time but it is hard to find in Washington state.

Poured into a Duvel Tulip. Smell is of high alpha percentage hops showing acidity and grapefruit. Not much malt character in the nose coming from the pale malts. Appearance is very clear with the proper amount of carbonation for the style and shows decent lacing. Taste is very one dimensional of over hopped grapefruit apparent in high abu offerings. The offering is crisp and clean and well balanced but lacks complexity. Mouthfeel is smooth and stays the same from the front to the back of the tongue and lingers powerfully. Drinkability depends on the desire for the lingering of fresh pinestraw.

I can understand the advantage of this beer among the style, as is it is clean and crisp. In my opinion it doesnt offer the complexity you would seek among the top beers of the world.

Update 8/11/09: Revisited this beer at a lower temperature given my rating is off from the norm. It is much smoother not showing the inordinate bite but masks the slight complexity that it offered at the higher temperature more complex offerings usually shine in, but improved drinkability. I've heard of strawberry tones but knowing the ingredients and yeast, feel that is a bit of a stretch. Perhaps fermented at higher temperatures and changing the yeast offering. Really solid imperial IPA but again, very straight forward. Should have accolades for the style, but definitely not even remotely close to a world class beer as this style is not suited for the highest rankings.

This beer in the top 50 beers is beyond laughable and 100% completely due to ignorance. Learn to brew and this is not a hard beer to duplicate or even improve. Try brewing an authentic world class Belgian quad.

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Photo of jrallen34
4.65/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I drank this beer from the bottle into a chalice.

This beauty pours a pale dark gold, I'd say almost peach in color with a nice white head that disapears quickly. Lacing is ok, not special.

It smells like a typical IPA, citrusy, and hoppy. The hoppy seems sweeter than normal and notes of apricots.

The taste is very smooth and the bitter IPA ending is the best and most memorable I've had. It begs you have more and experience it again and again. Its so resfreshing and rewarding, simply one of the best I've had.

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

Had this beer in a 2oz sample glass at the brewery as part of a sampler.

A-dense white head with an attractive yellow body

S-explosive hop scent

T-assertive hop front with an immediate malt balance


D-I had this beer on a West Coast trip and heard for years how beer geeks worship this brew. I can honestly tell you that this beer abosolutely lives up to the hype. I hope to have this brew again.

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Photo of bassmantin
4.8/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks to iconoklaztor for giving us this one at DLD. Been waiting for this one, probably shouldn't have waited so long.

Pours a glowing orange with a nice white head. The smell and taste have a perfect balance. The malts are delicious, with tastes of grapefruit and other citrus flavors. At the same time, the hops are strong with a great presence in the aftertaste.

What a great beer! Although after reading the label, I think it might be somewhat preferable to drink this one as fresh as possible. So glad I finally got to try it.

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Photo of bonbini26
4.97/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Fresh Growler

Finally, this is what I've waited for, this is why I drink beer. The cream of the crop from my favorite style of beers (well this and the Younger, but that will have to wait).

A- Pours a bright golden color, a lot lighter than most double IPAs, more single IPA looking. Fluffy white head that leaves a swiss cheese lacing down the glass

S- As soon as I removed the cap from the growler a burst of pine, citrus, grapefruit, fresh christmas tree almost with fresh fruits hanging from it

T- The taste of citrus, grapefruit, pine hits the tongue, some malt to balance out the hops. Has a dry finish at the end.

M- Silky, oily starts, not has heavy as most 8% DIPA's. The hops start suttle at the beginning and then highten in bitterness as you swallow it.

D- The drinkability on this is ridiculous, it goes down so easy and smooth, you do not taste the alcohol at all, you only feel it. Like most people say, I was trying to sip and savor this beer, but it didn't happen. This beer is so damn balanced with the hop bill and just enough malts to keep it in check.

Its almost a bittersweet feeling having this beer. I'm estatic that I was finally able to have this beer, and not in some lame 4oz. pour, but a whole growler of it. But now I don't know when the next time ill have this beer, maybe thats what makes it so good. Did it live up to the hype/anticipation, I think so. I also think that perfect beer is still out there and that is why we seek out beers

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Photo of gmcfarre
4.69/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

500 mL bottle poured into St. Bernardus chalice
Bottle on 040709

A - Pours a cloudy burnt orange color with a respectable 3/4 inch frothy eggshell white head.

S - Whammy! Delicious, fresh hop scent overwhelms the senses with strong bubblegum and grapefruit coming to mind. A really nice subtle sweetness only adds to the pleasure and intensity of the hop flavors. Pine contributes with just a touch of alcohol spice.

T - Begins with some slight caramel sweetness that soon transitions to powerful hop flavors. Again, bubblegum & grapefruit dominate, with pine following. Somewhat floral. Lemongrass and citrus add to the mix. Finish is slightly bitter, but always leaves you wanting more.

M - Medium body with a delightfully chewy mouthfeel. Bitter, but never too bitter like many DIPAs.

D - Alcohol is there, but never plays a large role in flavor, scent, nor effect. Certainly one of the better DIPAs I've ever tasted. A must try. Glad they are shipping these to Colorado now!

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Photo of SFLpunk
3.83/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

500mL brown glass pry-top bottle. Dated 07-09-09.

Crystal clear orange amber with white sudsy thin head. Lots of dry pine up front followed by an earthiness and funk like manuer, light caramel malt, cardamom and pollen. Painfully complex nose. More sublte on the palate than I expected with more caramel malt than I'd think. Subtle waves of bitter orange peel, leafy bitter greens, and lots of palate gripping bitterness.

Decent, but not really my favorite IPA. Aroma is the balls and is why I score it so high, but the flavor doesn't deliver. Sorry.

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Photo of erz316
4.72/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

500ml, bottled on 05.26.09, served into leffe snifter. bought on ebay from lakerfan858.

A - a mid honey orange colour with a light cream-orange head, big crackly foam on top but the bottom is made of small bubbles. head doesnt form all that well, but it eventually does and retains very well. a pleasing colour for the body, sunset orange-yellow; it is the head that keeps this one from a perfect look.

S - amazing nose: apricots, alcohol, pine resin. the sweetness of the apricots blends perfectly with the piney, floral hops. maybe some grapefruit or lime rind.

T - the taste is good, but could be a bit more powerful. intial tastes are of light grassy/piney hops, slight apricot (though more like dried ones now, no sweetness), and some malt keeping the background lightly sweet. its nothing I'm by which i'm overwhelmed, but it is a solid start. the hop to malt balance is impeccable, perfectly even, but I would want to see the hops be much stronger than the malts for an iipa. the balance is an interesting interpretation on ingredient ratio, and flawless if this is what they were going for. the finish sees the traces of grapefruit and lime come out, this is where the beer picks itself back up from the evenness of the initial taste. this ephemeral existance of the citrus fruits goes back into the pine/floral hops, all the while the malts are giving strong backing. the aftertaste is of resinous hops and of course a perfect malt balance. the only thing I would have liked to see is more of a hop dominance, but the flavours in this beer are so incredibly varied and intricate that any lack in the preference category easily brings up the rating.

MF&D - the feel is too thin for my tastes and should have been a bit thicker, though not like syrup; for this beer would not benefit from being a hop syrup: the malts are too well balanced. nevertheless I would have preferred to have seen this brew a bit thicker. otherwise the complexion is pefect! the beer is very well carbonated and the beer has just the right amount of creamy mouth-coating-ness.

An exceptional beer, indeed. though I was not taken aback like many others, I cannot deny the excellence of this beer, but that certain would make it even better.

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Photo of GRG1313
4.55/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Ordered today on tap with a great hamburger at Father's Office in Santa Monica. Great lunch!

Pours golden dark amber in color with a nice white head.

A nose of fresh pineapple and sweet pine. This is all about the hops! Huge fresh, crisp and bright grapefruit, grapefruit skins and citrus character and flavors. Lemon and lemon oil tones in nose, mouth and finish.

There is a quality character to this hoppy brew and it there is no question but that it is out of balance with hops. It's great! I love it. More brewers should make out of balance, hop heavy brews like this one! A winner, especially on tap. Very food friendly with flavorful dishes.

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

Received this beer from steadydose in a trade. HUGE thank you Russell! Immediately put it in the fridge to chill for tonight.

The hype/anticipation of this beer had be slightly worried. Would it live up to my expectations? No, it didn't, it surpassed them.

A: It pours a crisp clear orange color with a "fluffy" white head that dissipates quickly but leaves a beautiful white lacing around the glass that stays throughout the experience.

S: Pine and citrus hits the nose immediately. Think freshly cut Christmas tree decorated with dried citrus fruit. This is a very good thing.

T: The pine and citrus continues from the nose to the mouth. This beer lives up to the smell. It has a dry finish that lingers on the tongue after each sip.

M: The mouthfeel is slightly lighter than expected with the appearance and smell. This isn't a bad thing at all just a bit lighter than expected.

D: This beer could go down way to fast. The alcohol is masked completely and you would never guess this beer was 8%. I am sipping this beer slowly knowing that it may be a long while before I get another chance to taste this exceptional beer.

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Photo of Swimsum
4.65/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bottled version (bottled on 6/10/09) poured into a pint glass and consumed on 6/30/09. Freshest Pliny I've ever had out of a bottle to date.

A: Pours out a golden color with a one finger head emerging, head is white in color and frothy and bubbly in texture, good clarity in the body, head eventually settles to a few patches of foam that sit atop the beer, no lacing down the glass as I drink this.

S: Pine and grapefruit smack the nose as soon as the bottle is opened, possible detection of some other citrus in there but dominated by pine and backed up with grapefruit.

T: Exactly how it seems, just for me it was the grapefruit first followed up by the pine, nice bitter finish after each sip, alcohol is completely hidden, love the way this beer tasting and being less than three weeks old makes it even better.

M: Carbonation is done very well, good feel to the body of the beer, goes down very smooth, after each drink an oily resin texture coats the tongue.

D: This beer is amazingly drinkable, goes down super smooth and a great hop bomb with the pine and the grapefruit flavors, if you can find this beer very fresh (less than a month old) pick it up and drink it. Will buy this over and over again.

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Photo of dgilks
4.56/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer looks really great. A beautiful golden hue with a dense, fluffy off white head. Just great.

Grapefruit, mandarin and other citrus hit me all over with lops of great hop aroma. Not the best aroma I've ever had in a beer though.

Tasty. Nice a bitter but well countered with large doses of citrus hop. Good lingering bitterness. A truly great tasting beer and I'm glad I got to try this delicious nectar.

A nice rich mouthfeel with average carbonation that doesn't overwhelm. This really works well here.

Tasty, tasty tasty. There is lots of bitterness but it doesn't overwhelm and it just works really well. Yes, this beer is really hyped but it is very drinkable for its ABV and is very good.

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Photo of AgentZero
4.26/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A - Beautiful golden hue, huge head on this beer, a good 3+ fingers deep. Quick fade on the head, leaving some impressive lacing.

S - A lot of hops in this one, massive citrus and grapefruit smell overpowers anything else there may be. You really have to try hard to get anything past the initial strong, citrusy taste. Smells like it's going to pucker your mouth.

T - Hops hit you really hard, very agressive kick as it first hits your mouth. Drinking this is almost like drinking three different beers. In the middle you almost can't taste the citrus, as the smooth malts appear for a second. Finishes up quite bitter.

M - Minimal carbination, but works well with this beer. Solid feel, not oily or watery.

D - Very drinkable beer, not for those (like myself) who aren't huge hops fans, but you can definately appreciate how well this is put together. A very complex, impressive contribution from RR.

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Photo of Skidz
4.55/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours out bright yellow and sits a gleaming gold in the glass with a large frothy white head, lending good lacings all around.

Hop bomb all the way in the nose. Grapefruit, lime, orange, caramel, bits of crisp apple, honey and rose petal-like sweet floral tones.

Bright and invigorating hoppy freshness in the mouth. Boldly hoppy overall. Light, crackery malts lend a touch of sweetness which supports the big dosage of hop oils and their aforementioned citric qualities and is abundantly rind-like in its delivery. Quite bitter on the finish, and will be feeling it for some time after this bottle is gone.

Delicate and crisp in the mouth with a moderate and finely delivered carbonation.

This beer is to say the least, most excellent. Were it readily available to me, I could perhaps see myself taking to one of these on occasion--but nothing more. I like my hops bombs just like anyone else, but this is one of those beers that makes you stop tasting anything else after drinking it.

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

Thanks to vasdef42 for the trade!

A: Pours a transparent golden/copper color that produces a massive, monster off-white four finger head that dissipates slowly and leaves amazing lacing along the glass.

S: Holy hoppiness! A bouquet or floral and bittering hops dominate this aggressive nose- piney and resinous. Citrus and grapefruit are present and give this brew a nice fruity aroma. A small touch of malts help to balance the mass dose of hops, but only helps. I was not too impressed with this nose because of the perceived lack of balance (lack of malts), but for all you hop head out there, you will be in heaven.

T: Pure hoppiness! Again, piney/floral/bittering/and resinous hops right up front to slap you in the mouth. A little low on the malts to balance the unchecked, rampant hop attack, which makes this brew a little bitter. Nice bite at the end. As it warms, it becomes sweeter and more balanced, also the alcohol comes out eventually.

MF/D: Nice and full body. Finishes bitter and a little dry.

Believe the hype!! A little bitter at first but do yourself a favor and let it warm up and settle down and all the hidden goodness comes out.

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Photo of glid02
4.69/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Had on-tap at Naja's in Redondo Beach, CA.

Pours a clear brilliant copper color with a one-finger frothy off-white head. The head dissipates into a patchy layer on top leaving decent lacing.

Smells of tropical and citrus fruits with hints of pine and just enough sweet malt.

Tastes similar to how it smells. The hop flavors are phenomenal but the malt flavors still manage to hold their own. Bitterness is strong and sneaky.

Mouthfeel is great. A nice thickness with grainy carbonation.

Drinkability is also great. I could drink this all day every day.

Overall the tap version didn't really have a lot to offer that the bottle didn't, though I'm certainly not complaining as either is a great choice.

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

Had this as part of a tasting session with a buddy a while back. Finally had this wonderful brew! Wanted so badly to review it poorly, but it really does live up to it's hype. Poured golden in color with frothy white head that left good lacing. Smelled very hoppy, with caramel malts and citrus fruit. Tasted the same. Incredibly smooth. Definitely one of my favorite IPAs now.

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

Golden honey orange, translucent, smallish head, not a lot of carbonation

Can smell it as it pours out; lots of citrus notes--orange peel, pineapple, grapefruit

Taste & Mouthfeel
Really easy to drink; I don't want to say it's balanced, because it's definitely hop-centric, but the hops have been tamed in a way to maintain a nice bitterness throughout while allowing different nuances to poke through; caramel malt sweetness is there, but helping the hops be the star of the show; finishes crisp and dry, but definitely coats the tongue with bitterness; body is medium-full with a nice amount of carbonation

Pliny the Elder didn't quite live up to all the hype, but it certainly didn't come off as anything but excellent; it's a really well done beer, and extremely drinkable, but seems more like a big IPA than a double IPA.

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

My first perfect rated beer and this hophead found his brew.

Bottled on my birthday a couple weeks ago 7/9/09. Shipped to several cities before finally winding up in KC.

A - Golden in color. Transparent (DIPA, really?). Big white foamy head, maybe 3 fingers.

S - You can smell the hops as you open the bottle and once you plop your nose down in the glass it's just like brewing and opening up a fresh packet of hop pelets. Smelled a lot like Simcoe to me. I noticed some fruits as well.

T - Some people might like a heavy grain bill, maltiness to balance the crazy amount of hops but this one did an amazing job by making the taste of hops very smooth. It's like they just melted hops and bottled them.

M - An exteremly clean finish with ligth mouthfeel. Good carbonation to let the hops dance around on your tounge.

D- Incredible drinkability that goes down so smooth, clean and won't let you down. You could tear through a keg of this pretty quickly and get your lupulin addict fix.

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

Deep golden, but poured with no head. Clear with some carbonation. Aroma of citrus and pine which was also present in the in the first taste. Medium mouthfeel with some bite from the carbonation which was maintained through the finish. Not as over-the-top as some DIPAs. Well balanced.

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

Review 1,000 of this amazing beer.

Appearance - Poured a nice hazelnut color which shimmers in the afternoon sunlight. A finger and a half of fluffy white head emerges with the pour and is slowly fading, leaving a nice, sticky lacing.

Smell - A pleasant aroma emerges after the pour. An amazing smell of citrus, hops, and pine is prevalent. For the citrus, there is a distinct grapefruit/pineapple fragrance.

Taste - This is my third PtE and each time it just keeps getting better. The taste is superb, with the taste of grapefruit at the forefront for me (in this sitting - I swear it changes slightly each time). Extremely smooth yet bitter - complex in nature. This IPA really does put others to shame.

Mouthfeel - Smooth, relatively carbonated, but in a good way that enhances the overall character of this brew. Thicker than it would seem from looking at it in the glass!

Drinkability - Enormously drinkable. This beer continues to blow me away. They hide the higher abv perfectly, and this beer keeps me calling back for more and more. If I didn't have to drive tonight I would sit here and enjoy the other two I purchased! This brew makes me happy I live on the west coast and have easy access to it. This is what an IPA should be.

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Photo of happygnome
4.42/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

a: pours a golden color with strong amber hues. theres about a quarter inch of head that dissapears slowly leaving a very thick ring of lacing around the edge of the glass
s: strong citrus and gapefruit bitterness however not balanced well but that is expected with a dipa
m: full bodied beer with a good amount of carbonation

overall, i really enjoyed this brew but its not something that i would seek out again

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Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 3,603 ratings.
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