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Beer Review: Pliny the Elder

I had the amazing opportunity to drink a Pliny the Elder in my possession.  In a blockbuster beer trade akin to trading Tom Brady for Peyton Manning, my cousin Hops Ryno traded two Heady Topper (from an original four-pack) for two Pliny the Elder.  Heady Topper is ranked #1 in style (#1 in top 250 overall), and Pliny the Elder is ranked #2 in style (#7 in top 250 overall) at  This beer was everything I had imagined a world-class beer to be: delicious, complex, well-blended, and drinkable.

Pliny the Elder is a perfect 8% ABV American double / Imperial IPA made by Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa, California.  Pliny the Elder is brewed with Amarillo, Centennial, CTZ, and Simcoe hops, and is best enjoyed when fresh.

Of course the name Pliny the Elder is a curious one, so I sought to determine where this name came from.  I found my answer at the Russian River web site:

“Pliny, the man, lived in the first century- 23 to 79 A.D. According
to our brewing references, he and his contemporaries either created the
botanical name or at least wrote about Lupus Salictarius, or hops,
currently known as Humulus Lupulus. That was a very early reference to
an important part of any Double IPA! Pliny the beer has now become one
of our flagship brews!

Pliny the Elder was immortalized by his nephew, Pliny the Younger,
who wrote about his uncle succumbing to ash and smoke during the
eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D. while rescuing people. Cheers to the
scholar, historian, officer, writer, and Roman Naturalist- Pliny the Elder!”

Pretty cool story, and an even better brew.  Here is a picture of my Pliny the Elder.

Russian River Brewing Company: Pliny the Elder
ABV: 8.0%
Style: DIPA (double IPA)
Rank: #2 in style and #7 in top 250 overall

Pliny the Elder poured a golden / copper color with a two-finger puffy off-white head that remained intact and dissipated slowly.  The smell was that of fresh floral, citrus, and pine with a hint of alcohol.  Pliny the Elder tastes as wonderful as it smells: the hops are delightful and forward, but mixed wonderfully with citrus tones.  Despite being an 8% ABV beer, the alcohol is well-blended and hidden by other flavors.  Pliny the Elder has a dry crisp finish that leaves you wanting more… and more… and more.

Pliny the Elder is an epitome of double IPA beersPliny the Elder achieves a balance of malt, hops, and alcohol that many brewers strive for but few actually achieve.  Pliny the Elder is as well-rounded and drinkable as a double IPA will ever be.  I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to enjoy this Pliny the Elder.  Thanks Hops Ryno!


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