Brew Review/Adventures in Beer Drinking: Russian River Pliny the Elder

Russian River's Pliny the Elder, American Double IPA, 8% ABV, 500ml bottle. If you get the bottle read, the text in the label border -- pretty darn funny.

Yes, this is another post about a beer that’s not readily available in the DC area — the fantastic Pliny the Elder, a highly-rated, highly-hyped American Double IPA.

The first time I went out West to see Squirrel, I asked at every bar we went to whether or not they had Pliny the Elder on tap; unfortunately, SF Beer Week had just wrapped up and the city’s supply of the Elder, on tap or in bottles, was extremely low. After trying about four or five bars around the city, I was ready to call it a day, but Squirrel would have none of it. She was adamant about finding me some Pliny the Elder, and thankfully, she took me to one final bar, which has now become one of our favorites, Toronado.

Out of the tap, it was absolutely amazing, even if Squirrel’s friend said it felt like she’d need a lawnmower to get the grass taste out of her mouth. It does have a nice grassy aftertaste.

Anyways, since that first visit, every time I come back with bottles of Pliny the Elder to give to friends to try with the first batch going to the J Streeters who held down the fort during the first weekend of our Beer Madness. Oddly enough, none of them have posted a review.

Out of the bottle, the beer pours a nice amber, copper color with a cream colored head. It gives off a citrus, piney aroma with some sweetness. The taste is amazing. For all the strong flavors in it, the beer has an amazing balance between the bitter hops and the sweeter malts. It does leave you with the grass flavor you taste when you breath in after having a drink. The crisp taste is a bit odd with the fuller body.

Pliny the Elder can be found once in a blue moon here in DC. Last time I saw it, I believe it was going for $20 a bottle, which isn’t bad considering the supply is roughly zero and the demand is pretty freakin’ high; however, it is roughly $5-6 a bottle in SF. Best bet is to either go out to the West coast for an awesome beer and/or brewery tour (Lagunitas, Bear Republic, Anderson Valley, and Russian River are about 3 hours outside of SF. 21st Amendment’s brew pub and Anchor Beer are in SF) or find a buddy who is and offer to pay for a checked bag on the return flight.

Also, before you start hatching a Kramer/Newman scheme involving price differentials and transportation costs (better yet, go Bandit and Snowman), Russian River distributes Pliny the Elder chilled; there’s no massive red Budweiser truck hauling warm beer around the city like its Coca-Cola. Obviously, your beer will get a little warmer on the six-hour flight home, but it’s still better than renting a refrigerated truck!

Finally, thanks again to Squirrel for making this happen. I was trying to prove that I didn’t have a beer problem by letting it go the first time, but she could see right through my pretenses and is dedicated to my drinking! That can’t be beaten.

DRINK IT! DRINK IT NOW! Or whenever you can actually find it…



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