Monday, November 30, 2009

Beer Review, Week of Nov. 29: Pliney the Elder

About a week ago, I came across an interesting 'beer battle' on the beer-blog, Twinbeer. The battle was a showdown between Lagunitas' Hop Stoopid Ale and Russian River's Pliney the Elder. Both of the beers received generally positive reviews, with Pliney the Elder ultimately taking the victory. When I spotted Pliney at Whole Foods in Campbell, I decided to make it my next choice for the weekly review.

Pliney the Elder is a Double IPA, a style of beer that, by definition, incorporates a large amount of hops into a relatively slower brewing process. The result is a "big beer" featuring a medium-to-high alcohol content, and an intensely hoppy flavor. If you aren't a fan of hops, this may be a style to avoid.

The beer bottle features a classic logo, and includes a charming narrative about Pliney the Elder. Born in 23 A.D., the Roman naturalist was credited with the discovery of hops, and supposedly perished while attempting to save fellow Romans during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. The brew is Russian River Brewing Co.'s homage to the "scholar, historian, traveler, officer and writer." Also, somewhat humorously, the bottle contains no less than 14 warnings about drinking Pliney as fresh as possible..." If you must, sit on eggs, not on Pliny!" With these admonitions in mind, I eagerly cracked open the bottle.

The pour produced a thick, frothy white head on the beer, that again, did not dissipate quickly [as seen the picture]. The snifter-style glass beautifully showcased the brew, as the carbonation was slowly released, creating a tantalizing display of bubbles that coupled with an intensely bright, (and alcoholic) flowery aroma.

The color of this brew was bright orange, with subtly warm undertones. Peering through the glass, the beer appeared surprisingly clear and was more phosphorescent than cloudy. The smell was potent, extremely hoppy and citrusy, with a clearly alcoholic overcast.

This beer has a huge flavor. It is immediately hoppy and sweet, yet finished crisp and clear. It definitely delivered an "explosive hop flavor," as promised on the bottle. After drinking the beer for a while, my only complaint was that it proved to finish a little overpowering, yet the taste never degenerated into an unpleasant one.

Style: Double IPA
ABV: 8.0% , 100 BUs
1.071 O.G.

Overall, I really enjoyed this beer and was glad to have tried it. Although this beer won't be one that I will drink regularly, it will certainly be one to keep an eye-out for (especially if it is fresh... "Age your cheese, not your Pliney!").


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