Pliny The Elder | Russian River Brewing Company

3,668 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: 3,668 | Ratings: 14,282
Photo of Ranbot
4.65/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bottle dated 2/24/09 thanks to a trade from Docer. Poured into pint glass.

Nice orange-gold color with good head - moderate lacing. Very floural hop smell. Taste of sweet malts and very floural and slightly piney hops. Some fruity pineapple flavors. After taste has hops and some malts lingering in a way that makes you thirst for more. However, there's so much flavor after swallowing that it's a perfectly fine beer to sip for a long time. Mouthfeel is very light and refreshing, but not at all watery.

An excellent IPA, no doubt. I love IPAs like this because I can drink them slowly and savor them for a long time. It reminds me a lot of Bells Two Hearted to be honest.

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

Bottle into Sam Adams Lager glass. Bottled 3/23/09, Drank 4/3/09. 12 days old is fresh in my book - Huge thanks to henry (Bankhead) for landing this one in Brooklyn.

Pours a slightly hazy copper-gold, with a fluffy, pillowy one finger head that settles into some soapy suds, with lots of nice lacing.

Nose is nice - sweet citrus and grapefruit rind, clean and unfettered, followed by a nice whiff of fresh pine. Green and fresh. Very nice.

Taste is - hops. Pretty much all hops. Clean and piny. Grapefruit rind and huge pine keep any malt presence shoved way down towards the bottom of the glass. Almost no astringency, and bone dry to boot. Finish is long and lingering, more of the same, maybe just a bit tannic, pine and grapefruit rind. Beautiful in the same way super fresh Nugget Nectar is beautiful - the hops here are just set up on a pedestal and worshipped. Hop tea as much as it is beer. Oh, and 0 alcohol presence - this could have been a 3% beer, which is kind of astounding.

Mouthfeel is fairly moderate all around - medium bodied, moderate but not overwhelming carbonation. Like all well carbonated beers, the flavor is never overwhelmed by the carbonation.

Drinkability? This one is perfect in that column. No way you could make a more drinkable 8% beer with these kind of hop levels. Brewers take note: it isn't about bitterness and IBU's, it's about hop flavor and character. I love my syrupy DIPAs too, but this one is in a class of its own. Fantastic.

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Photo of Genghis22
4.7/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

500ml bottle, dated 3-9-09

A - Pours a beautiful golden honey color, with a nice creamy white head. Lots of little champagne like bubbles floating in the viscous nectar.

S - Smells like a hardcore, in your face, West Coast IPA! Hops, Hops and more Hops. There is a subtle sweetness as it first enters the nose, but it quickly turns to pine heaven.

T - This beer takes no prisoners. It is an all out hop assault, just what I like in an IPA. Huge amounts of pine with a sweet taste at the end. The aftertaste is bitter with a slight alcohol dryness.

M - Thick, syrupy, and overall very pleasing. Moderate to heavy carbonation, but the bubbles seem to very fine, like a good champagne.

D - This is the benchmark for a West Coast DIPA. I'm hard pressed to think of a better example. This is not for everyone though. If you're looking for sweetness and balance, this is not your beer. If you're a hop lover that thinks a DIPA should be first and foremost all about the hops, this one is for you.

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Photo of isubsmith
4.39/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had one of these last night that was brought back from CA by a friend.

Appearance: Golden yellow with an off-white head

Nose: Lots of citrus hops smell. Grapefruit, grass, pine.

Taste: Very clean, not overwhelming. Crisp and refreshing. The hops provide a nice up front citrus taste. Finish is a bit sweet.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: Not being a huge hop head, I was surprised at how mellow and drinkable this beer is. Probably my favorite of the night which was really surprising. The 8% ABV is completely hidden. I'd love to get some more of these.

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Photo of timmay41
4.8/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

500ml bottle, 1/23/09 bottling date (just before my birthday, kind of cool).

A: Pours a hazy marigold with light yellow highlights. Offers a solid 1+ finger thick, fluffy eggshell white head with medium sized carbonation bubbles. Good lacing and retention.

S: Incredibly strong, flavorful, pungent bouquet. Pine, oak, and semi-sweet citrus scents that combine orange & grapefruit with thick malt character.

T & M: Really sharp hop bite and bitterness with the first few sips as well as lots of carbonation. I've had quite a few DIPAs lately in anticipation of this one and it still delivered the most aggressive and awesome initial hop bite. Incredible. Character grows more complex as the temperature warms--slightly sweet malt quality comes through, along with pine needles and a distinctly resin hop taste. Medium carbonation that contributes a crisp, lively quality to the mouthfeel and taste. Dry, aromatic hop finish and aftertaste.

D: I'd love to have a brewery fresh bottle, but it's tough being over 3,000 miles away. I'm honored just to have tried this one. I could put this down until my face turned into a hop plant. There's alcohol here? A world class offering that lives up to the hype for sure.

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Photo of merryjoulton
4.48/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured a liquid goldenrod color. Decent head retention that laced down the glass for the entire experience. Smells of grapefruit, pine, and peach. Tastes just as good as it smells. Mouthfeel is excellent, perfect amount of carbonation. Drinkability is through the roof.

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

On tap at O'Briens (San Diego, CA) on 3/20/09. Part of a full day of Russian River beers here. Served in a pint glass.

Pours a crystal clear gold with a finger of rigidly foamy brite-white head. The retention on this is just fantastic, with a rich and creamy look that leaves awesome looking sticky lacing back. The aroma is simply phenomenal! Just the perfect blend of floral and piney hops, tropical fruits, caramel, and toasted bread. Nothing takes control at any one point, with equal bits of hops and malt. Perfect.

The taste is pretty much right there with the aroma. Lush with resinous hops and tropical fruits that should probably pucker the mouth but don't, thanks to (once again) that perfect balance which comes courtesy of an almost candied sweet tasting mix of caramel and toasted bready malt character. For me, the hops really only show their true strength in the finish, emerging once again with a spicy lingering bitterness that hangs for a good bit in the mouth with a dry feel. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with an incredibly smooth and creamy feel to it. There is maybe just the tiniest bit of warmth present (but not nearly enough for a 8%) beer. Just fantastic.

There isn't too much more that I can say about this beer that I haven't said already in my bottle review of it, except that it's just that much damn better on draft! One of my absolute favs and definitely my favorite hop forward beer period.

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Photo of ryrust5301
4.22/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - Light gold color with a chalk white head that bubbles up similar to dish soap. Bubbles do lay down to rest on top for quite some time to give it a nice crown. Very soft looking, as it's very very clear and easy to see through. Almost looks a little too light, like it might be laking in body and a bit in flavor. I hope not.

Smell - Ubber hoppy like all good west coast double ipa's should be. Of course there's some grapefruit and citrus notes, but it's very soft so as to not upstage the breadwinner. A sweet note is also detected somewhere behind all the crushing hops.

Taste & Mouthfeel - As I thought in the appearance, this one drinks clean and is not very heavy at all. Very refreshing crisp taste, which helps not to bog it down and makes it easier to drink. There are multiple kinds of hops combined to give this beer it's backbone, but they just don't stomp on your tongue as much as they should. Citrus and a little bit of honey carve out a sweet side to give this beer a little bit more of a changeup to throw at you.

Drinkability - Let me just say that this is a pretty good beer. I don't know if it's deserving of the top 10 accolades. I like my double IPA's to be a little bit more of a palate crusher with a bigger body and a thicker mouthfeel. This one is a little to clean and soft for an elite score. I sure as hell will never turn one down though.

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

I've had this a few times but I'm drinking the one davod23 sent me so I'll credit him with the shoutout and thank you!

A - Clear golden orange with a light bubbly head around the rim and a slight have on the top. Leaves nice lacing on the edges.

S - PINE!!! Straight up pine hops to the core. Some slight citrus notes as well but pine dominates.

T - Nice and sweet up front with the citrus hops then a big burst of piney hops. They mellow out in the mouth with some traditional bitterness but oh so smooth!

M - Medium to high carbonation, a nice clean feel in the mouth.

D - Refreshing to the core. This is a great beer for hop heads. You want hops, this has hops. It's just the right amount. Anymore and this beer would be oversaturated.

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

Finally got my hands on a few bottles of this. I've heard the hype for so long, and it didn't disappoint.

A - Some nice sediment on the bottom, so depending on if you include it or not (I always do). Great head, long lasting and nice lacing. Gold/Yellow color.

S - Pretty good smell. Nice amount of the whole spectrum of hop smell. A fresh herby smell, like fresh basil (not dried basil). Clean

D - Nice bitterness but it also has good full flavor. There is still a good beer behind all those hops. Again the taste of hops and a touch of fresh basil.

M - Nice gravity on this, it has substance. Clean and refreshing.

D - wow, 8%? Very easy to drink, you wouldn't know it. I had trouble drinking this slow, as I just wanted to constantly taste it. I could have a few bottles, but considering how far I have to drive to get it, I just have one at a time.

I really liked this one. Anytime I'm in the area of the store that carries it, I'll pick up 5 at a time.

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Photo of LilBeerDoctor
4/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Capone's. Pours orange with no real head. Aroma of citrus, grapefruit, and hops oils (similar to Younger). Flavor lacks the grassy hops I got in the bottled version. More malty and not as fruity as I remember (although more citrus comes out as the beer warms). Nice hop oils. Quite tasty, probably a tie between the tap version and super fresh bottled version. Ironically, the fresher this is, the more malt I get from it, not sure why. Obviously, still a delight.
8/4/8/4/16 (4.0/5)

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

Had to try this one as I found a few bottles for sale in Napa Calif and had read the reviews.
Poured into two pilsner glasses cause that's what we had.
Agree with everyone else about the head and lacing,
Great pine, citrus, sinsemilla nose, wonderful.
The taste is balanced with just enough malt sweetness for me, I confess, I'm a hop head.
Mouthfeel was spot on too perhaps just a little too slick.
Drinkability depends on how far it is to bed, I feel it's more than acceptable to drink this one until fuzzy.
Picked up a case at the brewery in Santa Rosa on the way home to Oregon for 108 dollars, best buy I've made in ages.

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Photo of dukedevil0
4.42/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

500mL bottle from a great trader Dajtai007!

A: Pours a pale yellowish amber color with frothy white head and lots of lacing on the glass

S: Smells like major hops, citrus, grapefruit, some pine...the usual great DIPA scents

T: Tastes just like the smell, but the hops are less prevalent that I expected. I'm not sure if the hops have faded some, but with a bottled on date of 2/16/09 and it only being six weeks later I wouldn't think so...still very good though. some malty balance in there too. I guess I expected a hop bomb, which this isn't.

M: Solid mouthfeel, full bodied and well carbonated

D: high drinkability, there's good flavor and no alcohol taste so I think I could drink this continuously except for when it kicks in

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

On tap at Capone's on 3/29/09. Served in a shaker pint.

A - Clear golden/light orange body with minimal carbonation and one-finger foamy, bubbly head that receded to a thin layer of retention and produced sticky, decorative lacing.

S - Pretty muted nose (compared to the Younger, anyway), though more balanced with a sweet caramel malt presence. However, hops still dominate with a citrusy character and a hint of pine. The citrus notes really opened up as the liquid warmed.

T - Nicely balanced DIPA with plenty of citrus hops and piney accents. Malt is sweet and caramely with some light toasted grainy notes. Grapefruit really stood out as Elder warmed up a bit.

M - Medium bodied with an oily texture and moderate carbonation. Bitter on the palate, but doesn't linger for too long. Nice creaminess and smooth mouthfeel overall.

D - The Elder is certainly wiser and more accessible than its more head-strong counterpart, and boasts a fantastic drinkability that is perhaps unparalleled amongst the pantheon of DIPAs. While the aroma of the Younger was off the charts, I found Elder to be a bit more drinkable overall while still maintaining tons of hop flavor.

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

Poured from 500ml bottle into new belgium tulip. Bottled on March 9, 2009 - reviewed 20 days later. Huge thanks to my friend Scott for lugging this back from California.

Color is a hazy amber. Large 1.5 finger head is fluffy and stays forever with heavy lacing following the beer down the glass. Smell is intense and very fresh for lack of a better word. Smells like fresh-cut grapefruit and pine needles - absolutely delicious. A little bit of orange zest and peach, too. The taste is incredible. Very little of the pine from the nose, but a lot of the fresh citrus and peach. At no point does this taste like a hop bomb, though. The fruity flavor of the hops is very well tethered by a noticeable malt presence. The flavor lingers forever - if you're planning on drinking something after this, may I suggest some crackers to cleanse your palate. It is smooth without being too cloying, and is properly carbonated. I would love to drink a handful of these, but my better judgment advises against more than a couple.

A fantastic DIPA - perhaps the best I've had. I would love to try this fresh at the brewery, but thanks again to Scott for bringing back this fresh batch of bottles. A great beer worth seeking out.

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Photo of Westsidebuddha
4.1/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bought at Beverage Warehouse in Los Angeles.

Drinking time: 3:00am Sunday morning. A good time to drink beer. First cracked open the bottle, the smell is definitely hoppy. A scent of orange and a slight scent of pine as I pour it into a Pizza Port pint glass. Golden orange appearance with tiny bubbles floating to the top. The taste is hoppy but not overwhelming. Nice aftertaste and very refreshing to my palate. 3/4 of it gone and starting to feel a nice "feeling" from it. Mouthfeel is definitely still refreshing and hoppy as I finish drinking the Pliny. Overall, this is a very, very good beer that is definitely a top 5 on my list. The bottle is very tasty and when I can find them, I always take a few home. Starting to really feel "good" now. Nice! Tried this on tap at Father's Office 2 in Culver City. Wow! Hard to drink the other beers on tap because Pliny just kick a--! If you find this on tap, definitely try it. I haven't been the least dissapointed so far. If you see this in bottles, you can't go wrong picking up a few home. Even the remnants at the bottom of the glass is good!

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Photo of Wetpaperbag
4.32/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Scored a bottle from Malt and Vine there in Redmond. Great bottle shop by the way.

A- Great clear golden beer color. The head has a slight yellow beer tinge to the fluffy lacyness that is the head. Great sexy looking beer.

S- The smell is everything you expect in this beer, piny yet grapefruity.

T- The taste is piny hops that really give a nice kick to the tongue's senses. Pliny is a great beer, one that other DIPAs strive to be. Nice sweetness in hops, yet has a nice tasty bitter hop taste as well. Best of both worlds.

M- Great mouthfeel, still a palate killer, yet if this is all your drinking tonight your good to go.

D- Very easy to drink. Yummy in my tummy.

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Photo of dukew456
4.19/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 500 ml bottle into my Lazy Magnolia glass (no snifter for this one, I'm becoming more of a fan of "back to basics" beer drinking, and that mentality dictates a pint glass for an IPA, double or not).

A - Pours a bright, clean, (but not entirely clear) pale gold, with a few amber highlights. A small 1.5 finger head forms, then dissipates to a thin cap, leaving moderate lacing behind

S - Big hops up front, with a juicy, resiny theme coming through. Piney/grassy up front, and then a very appetizing citrus presence back up the hop profile, also, this doesn't smell as one dimensional as one might expect, with a small bready malt presence making itself known.

T - An incredible burst of hops comes through, but the hop profile in the taste is almost the opposite of the aroma of this beer. Citrusy and juicy up front, with a definite resin finish. A great sweet, malty presence throughout keeps this well balanced, though still deliciously hoppy and bitter.

M&D - Moderate carbonation gives this beer a nice, drinkable smoothness on the palate that complements the hop bitterness very well. I could (and have) put a few of these back before the ABV caught me.

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

This poured a hazy gold with a bit of off-white head. I'm surprised it wasn't darker or have any more head. It smelled more subdued than expected, like apricot and mango, with some lemon and honey. It tasted very tropical and sweet, but also very cleanly bitter. Main flavors were apricot, mango, and pineapple, supported by some resin (not really pine) and plenty of honey malt for very balanced flavor. A bit of alcohol was noticeable. It was slightly thick with no carbonation, and had a slightly bitter aftertaste. Overall this was a very clean and surprisingly sweet and balanced beer. Fantastic flavors with the different hops and malt playing perfectly together. Only a touch of alcohol taste made this very easy to drink. Could this have been better? Maybe a bit stronger scent and slightly fuller body. But those aren't really complaints, as this was a delight to drink.

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

A--Beautiful crystal clear golden color. Head was fluffy white that never completely went away. Left a very thick lacing down the glass

S--Balanced well between citrus and piney hops, with the citrus getting a slight edge. Very juicy and pretty much exactly how a DIPA should smell.

T--The opposite of the smell...very well balanced between citrus and piney hops with the pine getting the slight edge. Remarkably balanced actually. The hops are powerful yet do not overpower with bitterness. The citrus profile is juicy, and the pine profile isn't so huge as to make you feel like you are chewing on a pine needle.

M--Coated the mouth wonderfully and left a lingering aftertaste of pine

D--Went down very easily, a pint satisfies me plenty. Definitely a top of the line DIPA, just very balanced and easy to drink yet enough flavor and complexity to make you want to sip.

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Photo of jnn4v
3.97/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Light orange color. Hazy and almost a dark yellowish hue if held up directly to the light. Very little carbonation or head.

S: Resin. Very sticky. Apricot and mango are also primary scents. Possibly either guava or papaya in here as well. However, it's that strong resin scent that jumps out most to me.

T: Apricot, mango, and bitter hops on the first sip. Searching for citrus, but finding more like resiny hops or pine on the second. Definitely piney on the aftertaste.

M: More like juice than beer, in the sense that it's a medium body with little carbonation at all. Almost reminds me of a cask beer in that sense.

D: Moderately drinkable at refrigerator temp. Becomes easier and easier as it warms.

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Photo of Beefeater57
4.32/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark peach color, cloudy. Clumpy crème-colored head.

S: Clean smell - some citrus notes of lemon peel and orange. Overall, just a clean citrus smell.

T: Extremely smooth beer. Caramel malts up front, bold hop flavors soon follow. Hops have a mild grassiness to them. Lemon peel is most dominant flavor I get from the citrus flavors.

M: Very, very smooth. I have not had too many beers go down as smooth as this one.

D: Easy to drink and delicious IPA. Nothing more to say than this was very enjoyable and is highly recommended.

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Photo of SwiftyMcBeer
4.68/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I approached this review with a little trepidation as the bottles I managed to score where 4 months old. It's my understanding that PtE is a lot like a more familar beer to me, HopSlam, in that it ages quickly and loses that luster. Still, I wanted something special for review 50, so I pushed on regardless. I should not have been all that worried, it lived up to the hype, maybe being stored in a cold beer cave at the store I got it at helped.
What a good looking beer, clear, light orange, great head that retains forever. You smell a smorgasboard of hops flavors, citrus up front, but it the piney notes that take the day and linger with you. The first taste is that bitter hop smash we all know and love but then it gets more complicated. It's the second half of the taste where the bitterness mellows and you can really appreciate the underlying flavor that makes this beer so great. The greatest aftertaste I've ever had in a beer . . . these great subtle pine notes just linger on your palate for minutes after your first taste. Has to be the best DIPA I have ever had. I am leaving some room on my score on the off-chance that I get my hands on a fresh bottle because I did think the front bitterness was slightly faded. That being said, it didn't deter my enjoyment one bit. Worth the hype. Thank you to the caring beer man in Denver who thought to keep this joy cold for my enjoyment.

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Photo of IronCitySteve
4.89/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Had on tap while winery hopping in the Russian River Valley. Had at Korbel of all places:

A: Pours a cloudy but rich amber color. Offers a one finger foam head with plenty of sticky goodness on the side of the glass.

S: Lots of hops, pine, citrus and floral hops are the most dominant scents. I have yet to smell a beer this good.

T: Probably the best beer I have ever tasted. I knew of its 'legend' for a long time and it did not disappoint. Love how all the pine, citrus (grapefruit) hops blend together.

M: A well balanced beer that leaves such a great hops taste on your palate (kind of messed with my wine tasting the rest of the day, but I did not care!)

D: Despite the high ABV, I think this could be one of my top 2 beers all-time. Wish I could have shipped the beer to myself while I was out there!

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Photo of twelvsies
4.73/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Ok, yeah it's that good. Had literally countless pints on draught at Falling Rock in Denver as an introduction and then plenty in bottles from various stores. Brought some back and just cracked 'em last night with friends so I am reviewing the bottled version. A sharp looking beer. Super crisp and clear and light orange amber with a head that just don't quit. This beer has all aspects of hoppyness covered. Fruity, yes. Lots of citrus zest, orange, lime, and big plump pineapple juicyness. But the main flavor is pungent pine, bitter all the way through. Totally numbs my entire mouth, makes me all tingly, I like. Lingering long after the swallow too. You could take a sip of this beer and probably still taste it a minute later. I like that this IPA isn't just full of fruity hops like a lot of beers from the west coast, which can be nice, but it has that wrenching bitterness to it that really completes the bold character of the beer. Dry, yet quenching. Somehow crispy on the palate but plenty of body and just a pure pleasure to drink. I hiked a mountain in Colorado with a coupe of these in the back-pack and drank them at the top with me Lady, right outta the bottle too. That was nice.

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Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
4.6 out of 5 based on 14,282 ratings.
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