Sunday, September 7, 2008

Russian River Pliny the Elder review

Russian River Pliny the ElderIt's been a long time coming to Colorado. Not since the 2007 Great American Beer Festival has this brew been available to the public here in Colorado. And now it's officially here on a full time basis. As of the mid-August, Russian River Brewing Company is now shipping three of it's beers in bottles and kegs to Colorado: Blind Pig, Damnation and the ever popular Pliny the Elder. During a recent beer run I spied all three R.R. brews in stock and grabbed some for myself. The first review will be of Russian River Pliny the Elder.

Up until now, the only Russian River brew that has been available in this state at the local liquor stores was a mixed brew called "Collaboration Not Litigation Ale" that was a blend of R.R.'s Salvation and Avery Brewing Company's Salvation. But recently in 2008, Russian River's brewery under went an expansion and a big new bottling line was opened up and three of Russian River's brews have found their way to a couple other states including Oregon and Colorado. I jumped at the chance to try this beer as I wanted to see what all the excitement was all about.

Pliny is officially branded as a double IPA. It weighs in with a hefty 8.0% ABV and a very high IBU rating of 100. You know just from reading the description that this brew is going to be a big hop bomb. And that's ok because I've developed a taste for these hefty hop brews this year and love the strong aromas and bitterness that is imparted.

Appearance: As you can see from the picture above, Pliny the Elder pours a nice rich copper color and builds a massive near-white head. Pliny comes in a 16oz (pint) bottle and is just perfect for a solo consumption or for perhaps two people who want to sample it but not at a full glass. I noticed a lot of carbonation in the glass and saw some big "soap bubbles" remaining in the bottle after pouring. This bottle must have been bottle carbonated although I did not detect any sediment left over in the bottle.

Aroma: Right out of the bottle you can smell this wonderful and strong piney & citrusy aroma. Wow. There are a lot of hops in this brew! The head seems to stick around a bit and leaves a nice white lacing down the glass.

Mouthfeel: The carbonation wasn't too strong and left a rich mouth feel.

Taste: The hops dominate the taste. It's piney yet goes down real smooth. This brew is not for the uninitiated to the big hop brew world. I'd suggest training your palate for bitter hoppy brews ahead of time before judging this one. For me, it has just a wonderful bouquet and a taste that matches the aroma.

I'd love to try to compare this brew side by side with Dogfish Head's 90 Minute IPA as I remember I loved that DIPA also. This brew is probably a bit more bitter than the Dogfish Head brew but I ended up enjoying this one nearly as much.

The label on the bottle warns you NOT to age this beer as the effect of aging would tend to diminish the hoppy goodness of this brew. I'd agree with that, I'd hate to tone down the hoppiness on this brew and would want to enjoy it at full strength.

Perhaps I had named this beer myself I would have named it Piney instead of Pliny as the aroma reminded me of a very fragrant pine forest. Definitely a brew that I'd want to try again. While this is a very excellent brew, it's something that I'd want to drink in moderation. Don't try to drink this beer 1st and then something less hoppy later as Pliny will overload your senses with hops and may mask any other brew you're trying to drink.

Overall: I'm giving this beer a hefty thumbs up and a respectable 4.0 out of 5 rating. I suggest grabbing these beers when they are in stock as this is a popular beer. They tend to go quickly during these first few months of release here in Colorado. Here in 2008, a 16-oz bottle sold for $4.49. Bet the price shoots up in the years to come.

Related articles:
- Russian River Blind Pig IPA.
- More Russian River beers coming to Colorado. (2009)
- Russian River coming to Colorado. (2008)

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