Russian River Pliny the Elder: This was another bucket list beer of mine that I was super excited to try, I have heard about it a lot and couldn’t wait to pop it open. Brewed in Santa Rosa, CA to a strength of 8% with 100 IBUs this beer is meant to be drank as fresh as possible – my bottle was about four weeks old and I’ve had it at various levels of freshness since my first.
Aroma and Appearance: It pours a clear, light golden colour with a finger of foam and some minimal carbonation. The aroma is a delightful doughy malt, with citrus notes of grapefruit, lemon rind and some sweet caramel accompanied by hints of pine.
Flavour: Enchanting doughy malt up front, it really grabs at me as if to make a statement that this beer isn’t just about the hops. In the middle it leads with caramel malts, mild orange peel, lemon citrus and notes of passion fruit while it finishes with a perfect level of grapefruit rind bitterness and pine resin that tingles and stops time for a moment, reassuring me that yes this could very well be the best Imperial IPA ever made. Of course Pliny the Younger, their Triple IPA, apparently rates even higher than this one online but is incredibly difficult to get a hold of due to demand and availability mostly at the the pub only.
Overall Impression: Not overly complicated, it shines in its perfect balance of malts and hops tasting fresh, fruity, malty and bitter in equally decadent parts. Unlike some beers that almost deliver a throat punch, this is the epitome of balance with distinctive flavour.
Rating: Excellent 9.5/10, I’ve some comparable beers that I consider just as good (Heady Topper for example), but have yet to have a truly better example of this style.
Food Pairing: Don’t, just enjoy this one for what it is.
People go absolutely nuts for their amped up version of this called Pliny the Younger, which is on my beer bucket list as well, but I don’t know that I could ever deal with an 8 hour line up to try it….ok I totally would at least consider it, in fact maybe next year it’ll happen.