Beer Review: Pliny the Elder from Russian River Brewing Beer Sessions

updated May 2, 2019
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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?

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