This double IPA from Russian River Brewing Company has earned a reputation for being a world-class beer and for being notoriously hard to find outside California state lines. This is a beer that people seek, covet, and crave. I finally got my hands on a bottle last week.
Beer Details: Pliny the Elder from Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa, California (Double IPA, 8.0% ABV)
Appearance: Rich golden color and slightly hazy. Super sticky head of creamy foam.
Aroma: A perfume of fresh flowery hops and crisp pine aromas.
Taste: The fresh hops wash across the tongue in a creamy cascade of pine, grapefruit, lemon pith, and juicy orange. Prickly in the middle with a dry tannic softness around the edges.They're held up by a solid foundation of honey-biscuit malts and rounded out by notes of tropical fruit.
The end was my favorite part: soft and fuzzy on the palate with just a lingering memory of hops. It just made me want more.
I was expecting a tongue-bruising hops bomb based on its reputation, but this beer turned out to be remarkably smooth and gentle. Don't get me wrong - Pliny the Elder is all about the hops. But they're balanced and nuanced. Every sip seems to reveal another layer of flavor.
Food Pairing: Definitely take some time to appreciate this beer on its own before adding anything else into the mix. Once you've had your fill, I think a nice plate of salumi and rich cheeses would make the perfect accompaniment.
Have you ever had this beer? Do you think it deserves its reputation?
(Image: Emma Christensen)