My first review from the San Diego score. Pliny the Elder, from Russian River Brewing. Currently rated as the ninth best beer in the world according to Beer Advocate. And from my understanding, this one has only recently been bottled and distributed on a highly limited basis. Normally only available on tap in the Bay area.

With just a little digging, I found from a reliable source that Pliny the Elder is brewed with 2-row pale, Carapils and Crystal, hopped with Warrior, Columbus, Centennial and Simcoe, then dry hopped with Centennial and Simcoe. Hmmm…sounds like a future clone recipe to me.

There’s something about the label that I find appealing. Pretty simple and aesthetically pleasing. Maybe it’s the Minnesota Wild colors. But the notes on the bottle repeatedly urge you not to cellar this one, as the hops lose their potency over time. Might just be a marketing ploy to get people to drink their beer more quickly, or simply a nice reminder to help you maximize your beer enjoyment.

Pliny poured from a 500 ml bottle with a rather limited head. Likely too many hop oils getting in the way, since this ale comes in at 100 IBUs. More bitter than Al Gore after Election Day. But as it warmed, the carbonation kicked in a little bit and left some very nice lacing. The nose is awesome. Smells very much like oranges, or some other exotic citrus fruit I can’t put my finger on.

Despite the high hop content, the taste actually isn’t too bitter. To say this is a fantastically balanced DIPA is a massive understatement. It’s almost too balanced to be a DIPA, and at 8% ABV (while relatively strong), I’m surprised this isn’t just a big IPA. I thoroughly enjoyed this beer. And I’m disappointed I didn’t get more (actually, I couldn’t, as I believe this was one of the last bottles the store had in stock).  

When you combine the incredible aroma, unique taste, expert balance, and legendary status in the beer community, Pliny the Elder is definitely an…

Rating: A+

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