The presentation of Russian River’s Pliny the Elder is as classic as its reputation. Pouring a clear deep golden hue, the beer boasts a thick head of yellowish foam that lingers admirably before gradually subsiding. The Christmas-themed label, unchanged over the years, adds a touch of familiarity to the experience.


In the realm of fragrance, Pliny immediately distinguishes itself. Unlike its counterpart, Blind Pig, Pliny wastes no time in releasing a burst of enticing aromas. Pineapple upside-down cake, orange sherbet, and juicy cantaloupe dominate the olfactory senses, creating an enticing prelude to the tasting experience.


Pliny’s flavor profile lives up to its aromatic promises. Bursting with ultra-juicy goodness, the beer delivers a torrent of sweet Valencia oranges and spicy citrus peel. Noteworthy is the well-balanced sugar content, allowing for a more relaxed enjoyment compared to its counterparts, Blind Pig and Happy Hops. The enduring, spicy hop finish adds a tasteful bitterness without overstepping the boundaries.


The mouthfeel of Pliny the Elder is marked by a smooth creaminess, devoid of the sticky residue often found in other Double IPAs. Exhibiting a refined demeanor, this beer avoids the roughness, booziness, and astringency that plague many in its category. Its clean and well-mannered disposition makes it a standout example of the style, offering a delightful experience that effortlessly melts in the mouth.


Over the course of my beer explorations spanning more than a decade, Double IPAs have often failed to capture my favor. However, Pliny the Elder has successfully challenged my reservations about this style. Surprisingly soft for a Double IPA, with a flavor profile that could seamlessly blend into the realm of regular IPAs, Pliny stands out with its modest 8% ABV. The beer’s beautiful aroma, juicy flavors, impeccable balance, and velvety mouthfeel collectively contribute to its status as one of my favorite Double IPAs. This 19-year-old recipe continues to dominate, reaffirming its legendary standing in the world of craft beer.

Similar Beers

Pliny the Elder, as a classic benchmark for the style, sets a high bar that few Double IPAs can readily match. While substitutes may be challenging to find, Lawson’s Finest Sip of Sunshine, with its similar distribution model, is a potential contender worth exploring.

Critical Reflection on Beer Reviews

Today, let’s take a moment to reflect on the art of beer reviews. With a beer reviewing journey that spans back to 2008, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to critiquing brews. However, a discerning review should strike a balance between providing valuable insights for potential consumers and constructive feedback for the breweries.

A well-crafted critical review is not a mere indictment; instead, it serves as free quality control. The hope is that businesses, instead of feeling attacked, view these critiques as opportunities for improvement. In the landscape of instant feedback, producers stand to gain valuable insights into consumer experiences. While negative reviews may seem detrimental, they can be a catalyst for positive change, steering businesses toward enhancing product quality.

The delicate dance of the critical review involves presenting feedback with respect for the business and its reputation. However, honesty must not be sacrificed in the process. Consumers deserve genuine insights, and businesses should view critical reviews as a means to refine their offerings.

As we navigate the realm of beer reviews, readers are encouraged to respect diverse opinions, even when they differ from their own. Disagreements can be enlightening, but discrediting others’ perspectives undermines the richness of the beer community.

In conclusion, the symbiotic relationship between critical reviews and businesses can contribute to the continual improvement of the craft beer landscape. A thoughtful, critical review should not be perceived as a mere critique but as a pathway to excellence.

Reviewer Preferences and Acknowledgments

To provide transparency, it’s essential to acknowledge personal preferences and biases in beer reviews. While I sample a wide array of beer styles, certain preferences influence my evaluations. Readers are encouraged to consider these preferences when interpreting reviews.

Favorite Styles: Bright IPAs and APAs, Berliner Weisse, Black IPA, dry-hopped blonde sours, Flemish Red, Gose, Grisette, Kölsch, Lambic and variants like Geuze and Kriek, Oud Bruin, Pilsner, and pilsner-style variants such as Kellerbier and Zwickelbier, Rauchbier, Saison, and other farmhouse-style variants like Grisette and Table Beer.

Favorite Commercial Beers: Aecht Schlenkerla rauchbiers, AleSmith Speedway Stout, Allagash Hoppy Table Beer, Beachwood Amalgamator, Bell’s Oarsman, Bell’s Expedition Stout, Birrificio Italiano Tipopils, Cantillon Iris, De Dolle Oerbier Reserva, De la Senne Taras Boulba, Deschutes Pacific Wonderland Lager, Dogfish Head SeaQuench Ale, Firestone Walker Pivo Pils, Girardin Gueuze Black Label, Heater Allen Pils, Hill Farmstead Legitimacy, Jolly Pumpkin Bam Bière, Jolly Pumpkin La Roja, Maine Beer Peeper Ale, Modern Times Black House, Modern Times Booming Rollers, New Glarus Apple Ale, Pizza Port Swami’s IPA, Port Brewing Santa’s Little Helper, Russian River Consecration, Sierra Nevada Celebration, Southampton Imperial Russian Stout, Stone Tangerine Express, Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Black IPA, Struise Earthmonk, The Alchemist Focal Banger, Tree House Sap, Trillium Melcher Street IPA, Victory Prima Pils, Victory Storm King.

In closing, thank you for accompanying me on this exploration, and here’s to a fruitful journey in the world of beer discovery!