One of my Christmas presents was a few glasses for different styles of beer: a goblet, a “nonic”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pint_glass and a snifter. Gay also found “Pliny The Elder”:http://www.russianriverbrewing.com/web/brews/plinytheelder.htm from Russian River Brewing Company at our local grocery store and made 2 bottles of it my stocking-stuffer. I’ve been trying to find this beer for several months after reading about how incredible it is. Beer-reviewer William Brand even considers it “his best beer of the year”:http://www.ibabuzz.com/beer/2008/12/26/best-and-worst-of-2008-pliny-and-light-lager/:
bq. This is simply awesome double IPA: 8% percent, 100 IBUs. And Russian River got it right in bottles. Is the bottled version or the tap version best? That’s a taste test I haven’t tried. They’re pretty close, I believe and that makes bottled Pliny my “best of” this year.
It’s become one of my “white whale” beers since it’s only available in a small number of stores in the San Francisco area and “they are very particular about what stores they distribute it to”:http://www.ibabuzz.com/beer/2008/07/21/where-pliny-the-elder-in-bottles-can-be-found-today/, requiring refrigeration in storage.
The outside of the label reads:
bq. Respect your elder. Keep Cold. Drink Fresh. Pliny the Elder is a historical figure, don’t make the beer inside this bottle one! Not a barley wine, do not age! Age your cheese, not your Pliny! Respect hops, consume fresh. If you must, sit on eggs, not on Pliny! Do not save for a rainy day! Pliny is for savoring, not for saving! Consume Pliny fresh or not at all! Does not improve with age! Hoppy beers are not meant to be aged! Keep away from heat!
After reading that, I decided it was best to drink it sooner rather than later. So I did.
You can really smell the fresh hops, one of the freshest beers I’ve ever tasted (mine was bottled on Nov 4), which is not surprising given that it’s an Imperial IPA so it’s loaded with hops. It’s a well-balanced beer, which is hard to do in an Imperial IPA, very much like Dogfish Head’s 90-Minute IPA, but much less hoppy than their “120-Minute IPA”:http://troyandgay.com/blog/2008/06/08/dogfish-head-120-minute-ipa/ or Stone’s Ruination IPA, which really does ruin my taste buds for a while afterwards. Interestingly, Dogfish Head’s label on their 120-Minute IPA says “Ages Well”. Go figure.
It’s not as citrus-y as I’d have expected, but nothing in it is overpowering. The body is a little on the light side, or maybe I’m just used to all the heavy winter beers I’ve been drinking lately. I hope my local grocer keeps it in stock year-round because this would make an incredible beer on a hot summer day. All in all, a wonderful beer. I’m glad I have a second one.
“A+ on BeerAdvocate”:http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/863/7971. “4.19 (100th percentile) on RateBeer”:http://ratebeer.com/beer/russian-river-pliny-the-elder/8936/.