Pliny The Elder | Russian River Brewing Company

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3,616 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:
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Reviews: 3,616 | Ratings: 13,932
Photo of Bufford1234
4.92/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pliny the Elder would be proud to have this beer named for him. The pour was coppery and clear with a nice white head. The hop aroma was distinct and pleasant. The first taste was all I had hoped it would be after reading so much about this brew. Hops, hops and more hops. A good clean finish with just enough lingering to please a true hop head.

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Photo of wd40
5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had this beer 12 days after it was bottled.

Has a really awesome, slightly hazy, golden orange coloration that seems to reflect light in such a way as to create a gradient of color. When you look at it, it is kind of like an orange sunset because the color seems to range from light to dark.
Tastes like apricots! Has a bit of citrus astringency to it as well. A really well balanced double IPA. The smell of the hops made me think it was going to really shred, but it balances with just enough sweetness to make me want to gulp the beer down like juice.
The foam is great, soft, delicate and fluffy when first poured. Then it breaks down into a thin silky/soapy layer with lots of lace. The carbonation is subtle and delicate in the mouth and visually enhances the beer.
Incredible beer that packs a bit of a punch!
Tastes better and better as it warms up with the fruitiness coming through in full effect.

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Photo of ifnkovhg
3.3/5  rDev -28.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I write this as someone who is *not* a hophead, so bear that in mind. Despite my less than manly palate, I thought this was really pretty good. Pours a rich golden color with a two-finger, rocky head that shrinks, but lingers. The smell (to me) was like a pine tree, but not nearly as pungent as I've had in regular IPA's, let alone DIPA's. The taste is hoppy, to be sure; but there's some malt there to keep it in check. The hops linger on the tongue quite a while after swallowing. Mouthfeel is nice -- light, with good carbonation.

Drinkability is a problem for me, however. (What is it with me and drinkability?) If all you're drinking is IPA's and DIPA's, it shouldn't be a problem. Otherwise, you should save this for the end of a session. The hops really do linger in the mouth, and could overwhelm subsequent beers. But maybe food and/or water woulf take care of that.

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Photo of pepsican
4.56/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Amber pour with a very thin white head. Pine and citrus hops as well as a bit of honey in the aroma. Flavor is pine hops, herb, caramel, toffee. The malt backbone is just barely hinted at in this one. Finised very bitter, dry. Good carbonation on the newer samples that I've had.

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Photo of GatorBeerNerd
4.82/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

500ml bottle purchased for me by my friend when he was on a trip to San Francisco. According to the label it was bottled on 6/10/09. Hard to expect it any fresher than that in GA. Poured it into a Sierra Nevada Hop Tulip glass.

A: Pours a hazy orangish yellow color with a finger thick white head that consists of very tiny bubbles. There is a decent amount of lacing that is left behind as the beer is consumed.

S: Beautiful aroma of citrus hops. Tangerines, grapefruit, and lemon aromas mix with just a hint of malt to remind you that it is a beer instead of a bowl of fruit that you are smelling.

T: A nice initial maltiness comes through on the first sip for about a millisecond. It is washed away with loads of citrus hop flavors that are not overly bitter like so many in the style. Grapefruit, pineapple, and oranges make this one taste a lot like fruit juice that happens to be bitter. The finish is nice and dry.

M: Excellent in mouth carbonation makes the beer creamy and smooth. It has a medium body for the style. I love the slick feel that it leaves in the mouth.

D: This beer is a bit of a slow go for me. However, I think it is because it is so amazing that I want to savor every drop.

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

Another one from my trip to Seattle, an hour off the plane and shared the first bottle, and by nights end had popped second, with a third bottle opened a couple of days later.

There is little I can add to the glowing reviews that Pliny gets virtually everywhere. I have found two beers in the hoposphere that have given me significant pause, Nugget Nectar and Pliny. Both live up to the hype.

Pliny ruins other IPAs, it makes them seem inadequate and small minded. It has just an abundance of fruity, citrusy, tropical aromas that make you keep diving in for a sniff and swig.

Gotta have it fresh, you should have all IPAs as fresh as possible, Pliny is the master.

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Photo of cvaypai
4.75/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from bottle to a snifter, THANKS TO womencantsail!!!!

Bottled 6/22/09.

Appearance - Beautiful golden-orange color. Very nice shine to it almost. Small amounts of sediment in bottle, guessing it is hops from the dry hopping, maybe im wrong. Beautiful 2 finger head that laces the glass beautifully.

Smell - Oh my god the pine, it is wonderful. A wide array of hop styles can be smelled, piney, citrus, grapefruit, honey. Pine dominates here. A bit of malt and alcohol at the end.

Taste - Biting on a pine tree, drizzled with lime and lemon and a hint of honey. Bitterness comes through, fits along so nicely. This is amazing for a DIPA, this is the best I have had. Even though it is a huge beer it is balanced well by a bit of sweet malts. Its so dry and bitter, but so good.

Mouthfeel - Feels like silk, awesome in the mouth, everything about this beer is nearly perfect for its style. This is what they should feel like in the mouth.

Drinkability - I could drink this till I couldn't stand anymore, the only thing stopping me is the lack of availability way out in Wisconsin. About as good drinkability for an 8% DIPA as you can find.

This is one hell of a beer, I wish I could drink it every day.

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Photo of GPHarris
4.4/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

a - poured a three-fingers billowy tan head into a snifter that left a dense head and thick lacing throughout. the body was a hazy light amber color.
s - citrus, pine, grass with an underlying sweetness.
t - piney, grapefruit and yeasty.
m - clean, creamy, smooth and thick. all at the same time.
d - incredibly easy to drink. the smoothest dipa i've ever had.

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Photo of BigBry
4.82/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

500 ml bottle (as pictured), brought back from California.
"Respect Your Elder: Keep Cold, Drink Fresh, Do Not Age! Pliny the Elder is a Historic Figure, Don't Make the Beer Inside this Bottle One! Not a Barley Wine, Do Not Age! Age Your Cheese, Not Your Pliny! Respect Hops, Consume Fresh! If you must, sit on eggs, Not on Pliny! Do Not Save for a Rainy Day! Pliny is for Savoring, Not for Saving! Consume Pliny Fresh, or Not At All!"

Pours light amber/orange clear liquid, with a thick, light tan colored head. Better head retention and lacing than I expected for such a high hop beer. Piney hop smells pour out with the liquid. Fruity aromas fill the nose, tropical fruit, grapefruit, orange peel.
Bitter up front, but not too overpowering, clean and fresh hop bite. Flavors of earthy pine, and lots more fruit, pineapple, peach and other tropical fruits. Hop bitterness yes, but not way out of balance to burn your tongue.
Body is great, thick enough to be full flavored, but not too heavy or sticky. Now that I have tried this one, this will be my standard for a DIPA to be judged against.

Note to Self: Ranked #7 Top Beer on Planet Earth,
Ranked #6 Top Beer in America, and #2 American Double / Imperial IPA when I tried it. (My highest ranked beer so far)

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Photo of marvin213
4.38/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Light brown, like a lightly dusted pine cone, the head caps a prototypical beer. Even to the commoner, the non-drinker even, this looks like a beer should look. Undoubtedly, I'm influenced and affected by the hoopla surrounding this beer. The bottle's unique, the label's informative, and the forthright marketing that encourages immediate consumption are all great. The beer offers a light, even straw-colored glow. It some ways it looks ordinary, but as it sits, the foam retracts ever-so-slowly, shedding its thick residue as it settles with liquid. It looks extraordinary.

The smell is very good and--as i expected--hoppy. There's definitely a more piney hoppy than any other variety. I'm not good enouch to "name that hop," but pine predominates. Acknowledging time as a potential factor, I smell less citrus than I expected. Bottled on 5/18/09, only the cross-country journey could've hurt the beer. It must of been my mistaken memory (because the beer is fine and good--I tasted it), but I recalled from my first sample taste months ago that it was a much more citrusy pine. Instead, I sense more hop. The beer looks and smells serious.

The taste holds up to expectations. Looking for a some sort of flaw with this beer, I do think it's a little hopped up. I know, I know--it's named after Mr. Hop--but if you were to hand me this beer in a glass, me knowing nothing about it, I would comment on a subtle chalkiness attributable to the hop. Though I taste more lemon than I smelled, I would appreciate some more. The earthy, hoppy mouthfeel pulls more at my tongue and cheeks than it does at my teeth, and that's unusual. Perhaps I'm losing that sensation, but I expected more of that from this Pliny. It's 3,000 miles away and probably has to suffer some sorta despair on its undistributed route here. The raw power of the hop, however, shant go unrecognized. It's a great beer, and I wish I could partake more regularly.

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

Poured from 500ml bottle into two white wine glasses. Thanks to HeatherAnn for the assist!

Bottled 032309. Acquired in a trade at DLD and consumed when I got home, about a month after it was bottled.

A: Pours a lovely, hazy, glowing peach color with a small yet creamy, bright-white head. Ropes, gobs, and sheets of sticky lace.

S: Incredible aromas of fresh-cut pine bough blended with peach, apricot, pineapple, mango, and other tropical fruit.

T: See above. Pine is most prevalent but this also includes loads of tropical fruit, apricot, peach, and spices.

M: Definitely spicier with more of a bitter edge compared to how it smells.

D: Worth every bit of the hype. Absolutely world class!

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Photo of mothman
4.35/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Edited review due to having a fresh bottle from cali. Also had on tap in cali. Bottle dated 12/23/09

Poured into New Belgium Globe Glass

Pours almost 1 and 1/2 fingers of creamy beige colored head. Good retention. Leaves some splattered lace. Color is a nice hazy bright peach orange.

Aroma: This is smelling great. Everything a DIPA should smell like. Grapefruit citrus, some bananas. A bounty of fruits. Floral and pine hops tingle the nose (interesting).

Taste: Massive floral hops. A ton of citrus. Grapefruit, pine, honey. This beast is nice and hoppy, but not as big as a floral kick as blind big. Bananas and peaches are also present. The malts are very bready. A touch of alcohol is also near the end.

Mouthfeel: Not as bitter as I would expect, but the bite is there. I can imagine it being much more bitter when it is very fresh. Medium bodied. A nice amount of carbonation here. Leaves the typical dry hoppy aftertaste with a touch of booze.

Overall, very drinkable at 8% abv. Great beer at a great price. When I get to Cali I want to find this beer as fresh as possible (well, I got there). I really like this DIPA. I was however really confused that blind pig had a much bigger floral and hop taste. I think this is a great DIPA, but I was just a little confused with this one.

One more edit: after having them side by side I realized that Pliny packs a huge punch. It brings a ton of flavor and has a much larger body compared to blind pig. I am glad I had both of them side by side so I could realize this. It makes blind pig taste so like and almost watery.

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Photo of Jmoore50
4.83/5  rDev +5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Okay, so I did not understand why this was such a high rating brew until I actually started reviewing it, then I realized that giving it anything low would just be so supremely unfair.

The appearance is amazing. It has a great golden orange liquid gold color that comes with a nice one finger head that stayed only part of the time and left a medium to light lacing.

The smell was exceptional. It was everything that I thought it could be and so much more. It had citrus, a hop variety that made me explode in my pants, a sweet honey sugar smell, well damn it smelled perfect.

The taste was great. I like hop bombs that tear your head off and just give it to you like it is. This is not that. This is so well balanced that I could easily drink like a half keg of it, or until I exploded. This stuff tastes hop bitterness with hop sweetness with honey and sugars and citrus and goodness. It is entirely enjoyable the entire way down. For me this is awesome, but there are brews out there that in my opinion earn a higher ranking. Overall this is amazing and mind blowing but. . . I can most deff. say that it is not the best D.I.P.A. I have ever had.

Just overall amazing, would kill for Pliny the Younger. Going to grab a ton of bottles to bring home with me. Stunner!


EDIT: Had this again the past weekend in S.F. both at the Toronado and in bottles. The bottles were only one week old, thus me changing me review of the taste to a perfect 5. One of my favorite beers ever.

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Photo of jdklks
4.52/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A- transparent, with a slight haze, amber-gold body with a beautiful pillowy white head that has great retention. looks like a west coast ipa through and through.

S- Sweet, sweet hops! or rather, bitter, bitter hops. again, smell is characteristic of west coast ipa. how i love to live on the west coast! citrusy, piney, with a hint of malts and fruity sweetness.

T- good overall flavor, though less so up front than in the finish. the finish has that hop bite that makes well-made ipas so good. up front it is slightly more balanced, with a strong malt presence, and less of a flavor explosion than expected from the smell. the finish is dominated by citrusy piney hop greatness, with a grapefruit bitter aftertaste.

M- a little thinner than would be desirable, but the after-effects of the hop oilyness that keeps your mouth watering and craving more makes up for it.

D- drinkability could be no less than a 5. could it be more? if only they allowed for it...

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Photo of GeoffFromSJ
4.2/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A very good and well-made beer but... (there is always a "but") this did not live up to the hype for me. Don't get me wrong. This was a darn fine double IPA. Definitely in the top-tier of double IPAs.

Found in Tria Cafe in Philadelphia. Somewhere in the amber range with shades of yellow. Nice head in snifter glass. Lacing is good but thin.

I'm not picking too much off the smell relative to other double IPAs. Nice balance in the taste, if an imperial IPA can be balanced. Sharp bitterness at the end of the sip.

Final verdict: nice, but I'll stick with 90 Minute or Torpedo for my double IPAs.

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Photo of drtth
4.52/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Served in a small snifter. Glass of cold water on the side to sip from periodically.

Appearance: The beer as served is a clear light copper/orange color. There is virtually no head, but there is a thin ring of foam around glass with patchy foam on surface of liquid. For most of the beer sipping leaves modest rings and lacing.

Smell: The aroma is mostly pine and resin, with hints of caramel and light toffee malt. The citrus here is buried in the background and is hard to pick up.

Taste: As expected from the aroma the flavor is predominantly pine and resin, with enough caramel malt and light toffee flavor to soften and cushion but not replace the hop flavors. Some background grapefruit citrus plays a supporting role as well but the lead belongs to the piney hops.

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel is medium-bodied, with an adequate but not generous amount of carbonation, The finish is long, bitter and dry with pine and citrus again barely noticeable. Although there is clearly a malt presence it never breaks through to replace the hops, just supports them a bit in the background.

Drinkability: This is very drinkable. I kept wanting another sip. I would have had second one if time permitted, I'll drink this again in the future.

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Photo of chicagobeerriot
4.32/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Acquired thanks to a trade with goodbyeohio. Pours a thinly veiled gold with two fingers of fluffy white head that creates some nice lacing as it dissipates. The relatively plain appearance does little to signal what lies ahead (call it the Clark Kent of DIPAs). The smell is mango and pineapple with some light pine and vanilla underneath. Mouthfeel is surprisingly light for a DIPA with lively carbonation that helps convey a variety of hop flavors without ever feeling too heavy. Not as much malt balance as some may like: a pleasant but brief vanilla/mango sweetness at the beginning is quickly dispensed with as the hop show begins. However, Pliny is not a blindly flailing hop jambouree either; there is some subtlety underneath the brawn. When the sweetness fades, the grapefruit hop flavors come in, providing a delicate transition before the stronger pine notes treat your tonsils like a boxer's speed-bag. The finish gives a delayed dry smack to the back of the throat and then a prolonged hop aftertaste that contains only a hint of the 8% alcohol. Very drinkable for a beer this flavorful: despite its complexity and intensity, the mouthfeel keeps Pliny a lively elder. Pairs nicely with sweet & spicy BBQ.

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Photo of fbinla
4.9/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured with a huge fluffy head that disappeared shortly.
Aroma is an intense grapefruit and cheesy? the incredible hop aroma is exactly like opening and inhaling an entire bag of fresh hops (as a home brewer i have done this many times). My wife describes it as smelling exactly like the cousin.

On the palate a huge hop bite then a small taste of maltiness with little to no sweetness then back again with a huge hop bitterness, this beer isn't about malt it's all about hops and it doesn't let you forget it. The bitterness stays with you and prevents you from drinking anything else but another Pliny and that's not a bad thing!

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Photo of schmitter
4.64/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Well I finally know what all the fuss is about. This was definetely worth the trip.
Got it on tap at the flying pig in Malvern, PA thanks to a tip from a fellow BA. Came to me with about a one finger head and appeared a deep, cloudy gold.
It had a very strong, deep smell, almost skunky, with a hint of fruit.
It tasted a wonderful lemony bitter, obviously hoppy as shit and herbal. Lavender came to mind after a few sips. So smooth and delicious. It left a very dry tast in my mouht afterwards, almost as if the hops were absorbing everything in my mouth.
Now I will be honest, at first, I thought to myself 'whats the big deal" its just another hoppy bear...' but clearly this is something else. just to be sure, i sampled the longtrail double ipa next and it was a joke compared to the i just need to taste the younger!

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Photo of jkdrummer
4.44/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Voted the best beer in 2009 Zymurgy Magazine poll!

My supplier kept them in the back, you had to ask for it. Unassuming label nothing fancy here. 500ml for $4.99, not bad considering the prices at the pubs. Nice size too.

Ok, I must say that there are many double IPAs out there but what makes this one so special is the aroma. Completely floral and pineapple-ly --- intoxicating.

Head is rocky, nothing special here. Taste is well balanced with the bitterness -- not over the top. Good sweetness and not that tongue coating you get from some other DIPAs.

Wonderful ale -- highly recommended.

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Photo of gameface23
4.9/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Tremendous thanks to BigEBeer for trading with me.

Bottled on 5/29/09, opened on 6/29/09.

A: Pretty clear golden/copper color with a creamy head that left nice lacing.

S: Every awesome hop smell I can think of: Pine, grapefruit, peach and pineapple. The smell reminded me of the first time I ever homebrewed: I sat next to the stove with a freshly opened bag of hops, inhaling them for about 5 minutes.

T: I was a little nervous after the smell, thinking that this would have a lingering bitterness to it. To my surprise, it didn't at all. It's all hop flavor without any of the negative aspects. I can't believe how much hop oil is crammed into a single beer. Tropical fruits dominate. There is some malt to back it up, too.

M: Way silkier than I was expecting. This is perfect. I think the mouthfeel is what prevents the IBU's from grabbing a hold of your uvula and refusing to let go.

D: Simply put, when fresh this is the best beer I've ever had. The only negative with it is its shelf-life. If you don't drink it within 2 weeks of bottling, you aren't getting the full experience. That is a tragedy.

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Photo of blackc5
4.82/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Basically everything I said about the bottled version, but even moreso. On tap, this beer is just something really special. The flavors are all there just as expected, but the mouthfeel is really improved - silky smooth with a bit more carbonation and perfect body. Truly a joy to sip and enjoy.

All that said, I just updated my bottle review with a bit lower taste score. The last few bottles, dated 6/10/09, seem to have lost a bit of the hops flavor profile. Perhaps I am being harsher after having it on tap, but I hope that the increased production they are pushing has not impacted quality.

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Photo of homebrewhawk
4.15/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml bottle. Bottled on 4/7/09. Served in a shaker pint. Poured a clear pale gold with two fingers of white head. Big piney hop aroma. For some reason I got a little cat piss, but hey I've got cats. It went away quickly. It wasn't as bitter as the nose would suggest. Medium bodied with a decent malt base. Long dry finish with the mouth pucker you would expect from a DIPA. Maybe could have been a bit fresher. Good beer, but I think I expected more.

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Photo of tai4ji2x
4.68/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

on-tap at deep ellum, in allston, ma, on april 23, 2009, during the week of the craft brewers conference. vinnie cilurzo was in attendance. served in a stemmed teardrop glass.

clear, classic amber. large head slowly recedes to a rocky, bumpy, cappucino-like foamy iceberg in the middle of a wispy foamy layer. great webby lacing.

fresh pine and grapefruit zest, with some tangerine tones. underlying apple esters with rich caramel malt sweetness, melding with the fresh sweet aspects of the hops. hint of grass.

flavor is also fresh, fruity, with nice apple and caramel base to match the piney, citrusy hops, which give a bright, almost bold bitterness. resiny but fresh, all the way through the finish. really just lots of fresh peeled citrus and freshly broken pine needles.

medium body, smooth, but with more piney resins int he finish. nice, moderate carbonation gives additional body and flavor lift.

woohoo! thanks max and vinnie, for making this happen!

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Photo of Jablonski
4.75/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I got this beer for a birthday present yesterday, and enjoyed it. The beer was freshly shipped from Cali. It poured a yellowed copper color with a lasting head and decent lacing. The smell is mostly citrus hops with a light herbal hops in the background. The taste was amazing. Not much malts, but they're not a feature of this style--just enough to get a nice balance. Pliny the Elder was very smooth (probably the smoothest beer I've had) and had great carbonation. The only knock in drinkability is the ABV, but even that is low for the style. Excellent beer.

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Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 3,616 ratings.
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