Pliny The Elder | Russian River Brewing Company

3,659 Reviews
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

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Reviews: 3,659 | Ratings: 14,226
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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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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Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
4.6 out of 5 based on 14,226 ratings.
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