Sunday, May 20, 2012

Beer Review #3: Pliny the Elder

Today I will be taking a look at quite possibly my favorite double IPA that I have ever tried.  My fabulous sister, Lori, who lives in Colorado, sent me this picture last fall: 
She and I had many conversations about the beer after I began my journey in craft beer last summer.  This one has incredible reviews on Beer Advocate and Rate Beer.  All the beer geeks confirm it to be one of the best double IPA's around, giving it a perfect overall ranking of 100 on both sites, which says a lot about it's greatness.  When I received the picture I just about jumped through the ceiling in my house.  My sister and I have sent several boxes of beer back and forth from Colorado to Indy, but this is the beer that started us down the path of trading beers.

Russian River is one of the best breweries in the world.  They are located in Santa Rosa, California, which inspires me to someday take a trip out there when the even more hyped Pliny the Younger is on tap.  They are known for consistently putting out incredible brews, particularly their lineup of Sour Ales....Supplication, Consecration, and name a few.  They also put out Pliny the Elder, which is a year round double IPA that they offer....however, it's not always that easy to find as Lori has discovered.  So whenever she finds it, I usually get a box in the mail soon after.....thanks sis!  Let's get down to business:

Bottle Date: 4/3/12.  This is important to note because Pliny demands that you consume it fresh (seriously, read the tells you to drink immediately).  This bottle is about a month and  a half old at the time of consumption, so it's not the freshest bottle....but it'll do.

Choose Your Vessel: I love the 16ish ounce Bell's Tulip for this one.  Double IPA's almost require a tulip of some sort, and this beer gets my very best performing large tulip.  When I pour a beer, I want it to tell me what glass to use.  The aromas and flavor that accompany a pour from a double IPA such as this one tell me that the Tulip is a superior vessel to all other glasses.

The Pour: The beer, as pictured above, pours a beautiful golden color with a solid 2-3 finger head.  It's also  fairly clear.  It's up there in terms of the prettiest beers I have ever seen.

Aroma: I imagine that if/when I get to heaven, my first inhale of the sweet air would resemble my first whiff of Pliny.  Tropical fruits up front overwhelm the nose...pineapple, mango, and a bit of citrus are the predominant notes.  It smells like a floral hop bomb.

Taste: Hops Hops Hops up front.  Again you get the strong tropical notes of pineapple, mango, and strong citrus hop flavors.  Citrus notes are orange and some lemon.  It's really the perfect mix of all these incredible hop flavors that I love.  Also present is a touch of Pine.  I'm not a huge Pine hop fan as mentioned in previous reviews, but this one is completely well-balanced within the framework of the complex hop flavor profile this beer provides.  The finish is equally impressive as the malt backbone comes through, only to transition the beer back to the hops at the very end of the palate.  Super crisp throughout.  Light to medium body, decent carbonation.  Incredibly refreshing and thirst quenching, yet still leaves you in a space where you absolutely have to have one delicious gulp after another.

Overall: This one lives up to they hype and reputation it receives.  I would love someday to try a freshly tapped keg of this beer or at least get my hands on a bottle that's less than a week old.  Nevertheless, it is probably the most well-crafted double IPA I have had.  So many hop flavors mixed in with a decent malt backbone to leave your palate craving more and more.  Get your hands on this one if you are able.  Thanks to Russian River for making this beauty.


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