Pliny The Elder | Russian River Brewing Company

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Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder
14,853 Ratings
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

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 14,853 |  Reviews: 3,745
Photo of Brewlore
4.8/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bottled on date of 8.25.08, imbibed 09.03.08

Having this on tap several times I'm quite curious to see how it holds in bottle form.

Poured a nice clear orange/amber color that soon formed a nice white head. The head however, quickly ran away and left a ring of lacing. A very attractive beer.

The aroma is outstanding. I got a huge whiff of it while pouring. A plethora of hop scents abound. There's a sweetness in the aroma as well (that'll probably be the malt). Big grapefruit and pine coming from the hops. Hint of orange (citrus) coming through a bit providing a slightly sweet scent too.

The taste has more of the aforementioned qualities but is a bit heavier on the pine traits. Surely not a bad thing. The bitterness I felt was very smooth. It didn't attack and maul you. It was more like being hunted then slowly being picked apart by hop beasts. Lightly spicy in the end, a quenching combo of pine, citrus, and some floral hops again but is flanked by a nice touch of the sweet bready malts.

Light to medium body and feels great on the palate. A bit lively too.

For hop lovers this beer is easily drinkable. It's quite potent at 8% but the alcohol is well hidden. Careful with the Elder.

Of course, having this on tap is where it's at, but trapping Pliny in the bottle is still damned good. One of my favorite DIPA's. It's a real treat to imbibe the elder.

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Photo of chrisafari
4.52/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark amber brown with very nice white head. Aroma is sweet citrus and pine with a background of hops. Flavor begins with a great and unique palate of roasted nuts, almost like creamy peanut butter. Nice finish of hops and citrus. Great medium body, very easy to drink. Unique and amazing double IPA.

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Photo of RodBurg
4.42/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Let me start out by saying I was super stoked to try this one. Had it on tap at Russian River in Santa Rosa. Pours a deep golden/amber and has a nice chunky white head that leaves good lacing.

Nose is all hops. Strong pine, grapefruit and lemon zest.

Malt backbone hits the palate for a split second and is then taken over by the hop bitterness. Intense pine and grapefruit. Medium body. Finishes nice and bitter with a touch of alcohol. Deceptively drinkable.

Very good version of the style. I wish it was more widely available down here in the IE.

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Photo of Domingo
4.64/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I've had this a few times at the yearly GABF, but it's always hard to tell how great something may or may not be based on samples.
Luckily this is now bottled and in the Denver area.
This brew is somewhere between bronze and copper with a nice amount of head, but not too overbearing or rocky.
This beer is all about hops...I mean a TON of them. Piney, grapefruit, pineapple, but still having a european floral presence in the background, too. There's even a little of the whole leaf spearmint in there, too. It's a hop tour-de-force, but it doesn't get tiring or overwhelming either. The malt doesn't really play a role here, but for some reason it has enough backbone to keep everything drinkable.
For an 8% brew, this goes down really easy. No burn or overblown sweetness.
This rocks. If you want to get something hoppy that isn't freakishly sweet or boozy, this is IT. This is *the* hoppy beer.

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Photo of murdoch22
4.64/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a short-lived coarse foam; some lingering fizz on the glass, and a very unusual orange color, with more red than most pales.

Smell it once; it's an IPA. Smell it again, carefully, deeply. Go on and get your nose in it--you're not going to get hurt. Yes, you'll be smelling hops for the next three days, but what else? I think shampoo manufacturers would call that essence "botanical." As a beer drinker who's had more than one tonight, i call it "hops dragged through a field of mint." Sure, there's the familiar grapefruit smell, but some sweetness, some chlorophyll, and some other unidentifiable elements come through.

It's smoother and more complex than most IPAs, especially imperial IPAs, which can suffer from being too strong, too sour, and too well-reviewed. There's a vague sense of citrus that you'll look for every time you sip it, since it's so fleeting, but so pleasant. It doesn't come off as being as strong as it is...does that add or subtract from the drinkability score?

As far as drinkability, there's a continuum, running between "session" and "imperial." Those which advertise themselves as "imperial" are far too strong to be drinking for hours on end. They are special examples of brewers' skill which should be sampled and enjoyed occasionally, and which most definitely don't lend themselves to excessive consumption. Though i wouldn't drink more...well, not much more...than a bottle's worth of this in a sitting, i can't get enough of it. I keep wanting to remind myself of the brilliance and complexity of this masterful beer, as well as to renew its flavor on the palate, which fades to a bitter (but not unpleasant) flavor of grapefruit rind, given a few minutes of typing without drinking. All in all, an impressive and unique take on the IPA style.

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Photo of dirtylou
4.77/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

ah yes, Pliny the Elder

16.9oz bottle obtained from a Damian and enjoyed after a long bike journey on labor day sunday

appearance: poured into my hopleaf tulip glass - the body is a bright and glowing orange tone with a nice frothy beige cap and moderate sticky lacing. Pliny is elegant and calm - a nice looking DIPA

smell: very aromatic as expected - pungent grapefruit pulp, citrus hopping, light pine. This beer has that bubblegum trait that i commonly pick up in 3 floyds beers that provides another nice twist on the nose

taste: The flavor profile is all hops highlighted by a bright (not bitter) grapefruit presence, lemon zest, bubble gum, tropical fruits and other citrus hopping. Alcohol presence is pretty minimal and the bitterness is low enough to make this insanely drinkable and one of the flagships of the style

mouthfeel: on the lighter side of my expectations, vibrant and alive on the tongue with less than full bitterness

drinkability: great

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Photo of BigJTrucker
4.33/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Now that Russian River distributes to Oregon, I get the chance to try this popular brew. Pours a beautiful copper color, thick white head with heavy lacing. Nice grapefruity aroma is just right. Taste is lots of citrusy bitter hops up front but seems to get piney as I drink more, low alcohol presence, and a healthy bit of malt sweetness. Mouthfeel is very sticky as a good DIPA should be. A very, very, very good beer. Well done Vinnie.

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Photo of itcomesnpints
4.9/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I was lucky enough to find this beauty at the Falling Rock Tap House in Denver. F%&$ing fantastic.
Bright golden orange with a great white head. Spectacular lacing that never stops clinging. Citrus and floral aromas combine with hops to clobber the nose. Immense hop tang mixed with grapefruit and pineapple glide smoothly over the palate. The most drinkable DIPA I have found yet.
Pliny The Elder is simply unrivaled among DIPAs. Perhaps my favorite beer of any style. My hat off and a full bow to Russian River Brewing Company for possibly one of the best ales I've ever come across.

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Photo of Tolann
4.87/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A - Cloudy and orange. I poured slowly since this beer is so turbid, so not much head. Still a gorgeous beer.

S - Sweet, clean Citrus Hops. Certainly plenty of grapefruit.

T - OMG wonderful! I could drink this for ever. The nose doesn't lie. Wonderful hops and lots of sweet wonderful citrus. Pure happiness in a glass, even after the day I had at work, the world is right.

M - My tastebuds are paralyzed by hops. This is a good thing tho. There'd not too long of an aftertaste, so your taste does calm down so you can want more... and more... and more Light/medium mouth feel. Not too much carbonation that would almost burn with this much hops. This is more balanced in the feel with the taste.

D - I'd drink this all nite, never get tired of it, but I think the abv would get the best of me. LOL So so very good tho and I must get more!

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Photo of Beerbuddha
4.5/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Appearance- Nice golden copper color with a descent size white, fluffy head. Lacing was present and stayed throughout the life of the beer.

Smell- Pine. Straight up pine trees. Also has notes of citrus(oranges and grapefruit) and a pleasing maltiness.

Taste- Imagine running through a forest, let's say your being chased by a monster or something(I know, just follow me here ok), and all of a sudden BAM you run right into a bushel of pine tree branches and it all gets into your mouth. Got it? Ok it tastes like that. A pine tree Mike Tyson punch to your mouth. Once you get past the pine tree extravaganza you get a nice hint of citrus and herbs.

Mouthfeel- A little lacking here. It was a bit thin and watery. The carbonation is medium which is nice.

Overall- OK I'm not a big IPA fan but I did my best to judge this beer properly. I had hoped for more balance between hops and malts but as far as DIPAs go I would say this is one of the best I've ever had. At 8% it makes for a very drinkable(sessionable) beer and I'm extremely excited to have been able to try it. Big thanks go out to my boy Devon who brought this back from his trip to Napa.

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Photo of lightindarkness
4.65/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

thanks swnicholson. Thanks.

Pours slightly hazy gold with a climbing fluffy off white head thinning out to sticky lacy bubbles.

Big sticky juicy pine, grapefruit, and nectarine crowd the nose, like cramming a pine cone and a grapefruit up each nostril. Sugary sweetness weaves through the juicy full aroma. Couldn't be this hoppy without a stiff resin in the background.

A hop delight on the taste buds. Spicy dry grainy hop flavors aren't overly sappy or syrupy. A lighter malt balance allows the hops to show through in all their glory, with a surprisingly delicate character despite their strength. Good grain presence without being caramelly or sweet, though deepening in the middle with some more intense grainy/hoppy flavor as it warms. Dry bitterness sits back on the tongue and seems to accumulate with each sip. Really nice blend of hop and grain into one incredible flavor.

Feel is nice, medium bodied with a submissive yet present carbonation. Dries out at the finish with a nice touch of alcohol fume resonating, but not detracting from the overall feel.

I must note that the bitterness keeps me from sipping it quickly, but the flavor and overall character cause me to keep wanting more.

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Photo of srandycarter
4.45/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A - Medium Dark honey, somewhat murky. Nice spongy 1/2 inch head, stays for some time. Pretty prevalent lacing.

S - Big hoppy pine and citrus.

T - Initial harsh hops, melts into sweet malt, then back to dry bittering at end. Makes you want another

M - It's a party. Nice roundness in the mouth, all the sensors touched. Medium to full body, great coating and carbonation.

D - I could drink this one until bad things happened. Happy suds.

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Photo of sevopie
4.8/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance - Bronze-gold in color with a creamy white head.

Smell - Muted piney hops with a sweet character.

Taste - Smokey sweet and piney hops, I can instantly see why this is so sought after. Malt makes an appearance, but only for show, along with a touch of honey/caramel.

Mouthfeel - Just slightly lighter than the Blind Pig, still very oily and smooth, and slightly lighter on the carbonation.

Drinkability - Oh lordy... this is a fantastically easy drinking DIPA. The bitter does not overwhelm, and it sits just right on the tongue. I hope this is here to stay in Denver.

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Photo of drbenzo
4.85/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer has a wonderful aroma and beautifuly complex hop characteristics. The complex hop characteristics is its most notable characteristic having filled your mouth with everything you want from a big IPA. If I was desserted on a dessert island... you get the point!

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Photo of abfraser
4.5/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

500ml, bottled on 7/30/08

A: Somewhat cloudy with an orangish hue. A small head, with a decent amount of lacing

S: Wonderful. Pine resin, grapefruit and citrus

T: Caramel malts, citrus flavor, did I mention pine?

M: Smooth, good acidity and balance

D: Dangerously drinkable

A benchmark DIPA. Thank goodness they built out that new brewery so we can get this in bottles whenever, wherever.

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Photo of Goliath
4.62/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I was saving this for #300 since I'm only a couple away, but after some prodding on LNBA's I decided I'd go ahead and do it. I've got other things that can mark #300! Here goes!

This beer pours a beautiful orangey/amber color with a creamy inch and a half off white head. Nice retention and some spotty lacing.

The aroma is truly great. A big hoppy nose boasting some nice citrus tones. A honey like sweetness presents itself and gives way to a sappy pine.

The taste is quite nice. A great hoppiness showing off some nice citrus qualities in addition to a bit of pine. A nice bittering bite on the finish.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, pretty creamy, and very lightly carbonated.

Drinkability is high. Flavor is great, alcohol is unoticeable. Really phenomenal. Would really love to try on tap, and would like to try Younger even more.

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Photo of JBuff41413
4.57/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Went back to Libations to get a few more bottles of Blind Pig and had to try Elder.

A- Golden honey colored with a beautiful haze and luscious ivory head. The lacing was excellent.

S- Lots of citrus ( grapefruit and orange, maybe something tropical as well) pine was also picked up. Great smell.

T- Citrus and hoppy, ending with honey changing slowly to let the bitterness make a barely present home on the back of your tongue.

M- Medium mouthfeel, with a slight slickness to it.

D- VERY drinkable. I'd be in trouble if it was on tap near by.

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Photo of Beaver13
4.85/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

500 ml bottle. Pours a slightly hazy golden orange with a smallish frothy white head that quickly goes to a thin film that leaves a little lacing.

The aroma is piney resiney floral hops with some sweet caramel malt and a little fruitiness.

The flavor is sweet caramel malts initially with a little bright citric fruitiness that is quickly followed by a good sized piney peppery hop bite the lingers in the finish. This is excellent tasting and pretty well balanced (a little hop forward, but not a big messy hop bomb). The mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with a velvety texture.

Overall, an excellent and well balanced DIPA!

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Photo of rye726
4.8/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A beautifull brew, pours a rich copper brown with a silky tan head. Excellent lace. The nose has a great balance between the hops and sweet malts. The taste is very well balanced as well. Nice fruity citrus hops followed by sweet candy malt. Medium to full body compliments this IPA very nicely. Really a fantastic beer from Russian River. Can't wait to try the younger.

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Photo of Bitterbill
4.2/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I was only able to snag one bottle for myself; I'm sure it'll be easier to find in CO in the future.

Let me preface this by saying that I've had samples of this brew at a few GABFs and along side Pliny The Younger, I thought this one played second fiddle.

A nice medium gold in colour with a good 2 finger bilowy head of foam. Good head retention as well as good lacing.

The smell is massively hoppy. Lots of grapefruit and mango with other bitter fruit notes along with pine and..well..I don't perceive any malt presence at all but I *expected* that.

The taste has all of the hop characters I mentioned in the smell with just the slightest "hint" of some malt. Maybe that will change as I get further into the session.

The mouthfeel is nice at medium though at times, it feels more like light, and there's some oily slickness on the tongue. The carbonation is on the high end of light but that's working very nicely here. For an 8%abv brew, I think RR did well to hide it..probably because the flavours are too powerful for me to notice it. ;^)

Man, this is one bitter brew! I'm halfway done with my glass and the malt can still only be called as having a "meek" role. Still, this one is and was all about the hops and in that, they've succeeded to the nth degree and I was just in the mood for a good, bitter DIPA but I don't think I could drink this on a regular basis as it's just palate "destroying". I think I prefer Blind Pig but that's just me...

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Photo of opwog
4.36/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Now listening to: Brian Jonestown Massacre - Talk-Action=Shit

Finally got my hands on a bottle!

A- Clear, light amber color with a thin white head.
S- floral notes and lots of citrus almost mask any straight malt aroma
T- honey, citrus, pine. Balanced well, as not to be too malty for a double.
M- medium/thick body, nicely carbonated
D- This is a very drinkable beer.

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Photo of Mauerhan
4.82/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

i am thoroughly amazed at this beer. i had the pleasure of having this on tap today.

poured a light yellowish/amber with a two finger off white head, that lasted for about two minutes.

the smell of this beer was worth the six bucks alone. sweet scent with hints of hops.

the taste was incredible. smooth, with an amazing mouthfeel. i went from tasting the bite of the hops, to smooth earthy tones to zesty citrus. i had to put it down and go look at the beer selection to stop myself from guzzling down the rest of it. i could drink this beer for hours. i cant wait to go back in a few days and get some more.

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Photo of bluemoonswoon
4.72/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Big big thanks to BrewerB for hooking me up with not one but two of these bottles.

500mL bottle with some instructions, though more along the lines of demands, to drink this beer fresh and I would say that I am giving it a pretty good shot at this beer was bottled on 7/30 of this year.

A: Pours a clear amber copper and topped with a creamy inch and a half of pure white head. Little flecks of yeast float here and there. After a bit the head settless into a ring but about a half inch of head can be brought back with a swirl of the glass. Some lacing but not much.

S: I swear this beer and Dreadnaught must be related because they smell so wonderfully similar. Rich ripe magno, fresh grapefruit, lemony pine all brought together under a gloriously rich candi and slightly medicinal bittersweetness. To say this beer smells amazing would be an understatement there is something almost magical about the way this smells, and it seems to smell a little different each time I go back to the glass for another sniff.

T/MF: Very strong pine to begin with, I mean like water that was strained through pine needles strong, midway through a mixture of lemon and alcohol play together and as the first sip closes I am left with a strong medicinol and herbal hop character. Subsequent sips reveal a dense piny nuttiness backed by seriously bitter and sticky hop goodness, there seems to be absolutly no malt character to this beer, I mean I feel like this beer is playing tricks on my mind, there is a kind of nutty almost earthy sweetness that I want to imagine as maltiness but I don't think that is right, I think that the hops are doing everything in their power to grab a hold of your tongue and not let go. Mouthfeel is thick and full bodied and has the absoulutly perfect amount of carbonation to keep things from getting too boring. The finish is insanly long and leaves the tongue coated in a thick layer that smacks of hop resin. While this beer might smell like Dreadnaught it certainly tastes like a different animal and given time to warm the smell changes as well. Things become ever more piny and but there is coupled with this an undercurrent of grapefruit and orange and lemon rind that provides an incredible complexity to this beer. This is certainly one of the most interesting beers I've ever had the privilege of tasting.

D: The bitterness on this beer is off the charts. I normally think of myself as someone who can handle just about anything that you can throw at me but I think this is just about the bitterest thing I've ever tasted, not bitter like a pickle is bitter but a sour, back of the throat kind of bitter that is unrelenting. In terms of style it is unparalleled, it is like nothing I've ever tried before, the further I get into this beer the more it changes, I keep wanting to go back again and again for another sip just to try and pull out more flavors. There is a grainy kind of taste that I think is a result of how bitter this beer is and it is slightly off putting but I've tasted it in other DIPAs before. This has been the hardest beer for me to judge. I'd say it lives up to the hype but unlike the Dreadnaught I think I'd be okay with just a bottle of this while I could drink the Dreadnaught all night long. But then again this beer is like nothing else I've ever tasted before, incredibly fresh and incredibly tasty.

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Photo of emerge077
4.3/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Finally, the illustrious Elder sits in the glass in front of me...

Orange body with more yellow-orange tones toward the base of the glass. Micro sediment hangs in suspension. Bits of spotty lace around the edge, with a good skim of foam, nice retention.

Juicy citrus aroma, sweet cotton candy, juicyfruit gum. Some resiny hop oils in the back. Nothing but rich fruity hops in this one!

Initial sips are bitter, some floral hop and grainy malt notes, tropical fruitiness, with a long earthy finish. Maltiness is huge, which performs a balancing act with the large hop load. Alcohol is slightly perceptible. Smooth and creamy feel, light astringency that is not a distraction. A fine savory beverage...

Dreadnaught is still my #1 DIPA, but PtE is a close #2.
Huge thanks to Jason for the trade!

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Photo of Avalon68
4.79/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Review #1. Hopefully they will get better in time.

I was lucky enough to get a hold of a few bottles from the West Coast. I am(or at least wasn't) a big IPA fan, but after trying this I may be converted.

A: orange and extremely clear. I can't speak to the head as I was puring into small 5 oz sample glasses.(I took a few bottes to a local bar for an impromptu tasting)

S: Pine cones and grapefruit. The aroma on this one is amazing. The smell alone brought people over from the other side of the bar.

M: Crisp with good carbonation.

T: A lot like the smell. Pine needles and grapefruit up front with a bit of lemon and a slight hoppy bitterness towards the end. Extremely dry and tasty.

D: Excellent. If it were in my area I would make it a regular in my rotation. Smooth and crisp. No alcohol taste at all.

As stated earlier this beer may have converted me to IPA/DIPAs. I've tried many, but this one just seems to be right for me. I am very impressed by most of RR beers.

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Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.65 out of 5 with 14,853 ratings