Thursday, August 9, 2012

Pliny the Elder - A Gift Enjoyed Right Away

I'm not one to jump into the hype of a "perfect" beer, or go on a quest to find that "holy grail" of beer. But when a friend dropped off a bottle of Pliny the Elder he brought back from a trip, I admit to letting out a squeal of delight. I've had this beer just once before, four years ago, and I was looking forward to another taste. The directions on the label are quite clear that this beer is to be consumed fresh and not saved. The bottle was dated July 11, so to best respect the wishes of the brewer, I complied and enjoyed the beer right away.

I broke out the fancy tulip glassware and invited Colleen and a friend to share in the tasting. Pliny the Elder Double IPA pours a bright golden color with a thin and short-lived white head. The aroma is more reserved than expected, with fruit and sweet malts. The flavor is very complex and balanced, and frankly it's hard to describe. The fruity citrus flavors of grapefruit and orange are apparent. There's also sweet, malt side to the flavor. The flavors linger and move towards the bitter at the finish. The beer is amazingly smooth at 8% ABV, but a pleasing alcohol warmth comes through at the end. The alcohol becomes more apparent as the beer warms but remains muted still.

For a high alcohol beer Pliny the Elder is amazingly smooth and easy to drink. I'm a fan of big, in your face beers, and actively seek them out. Pliny is a big beer, but one I'd describe as "polite." It's rich in complexity and doesn't hit you over the head with overwhelming extremes.

This beer is hard to find away from the west coast. It apparently has a cult-like following, so it doesn't stay on shelves long. Russian River Pliny the Elder rates perfect scores on the two leading beer rating sites. Nothing is perfect but this beer certainly lives up to the hype. I hope I don't have to wait 4 years for another taste of this wonderful elixir.

And to my buddy Greg, thank you for thinking of me!

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