Sunday, March 7, 2010

Hopus Maximus: Pliny the Younger

The Russian River Brewing Company of Santa Rosa, CA has made quite a name for itself in American craft beer circles. The beers they brew are tremendous and they really get the style of what has become know as American India Pale Ale or AIPA right. AIPA is a still that showcased huge hop aromas, flavors, and bitterness, and used hops grown in America's Pacific North West in abundance. Russian River is credited by most as the first West Coast brewer to come up with a "Double IPA." That term and Imperial IPA has been used to describe a style that is just drenched with hop character. Pliney the Elder is their phenomenal example of this beefed up version of AIPA.

Who was Pliny the Elder? Pliny the Elder was a Roman naturalist, scholar,historian, traveler, officer, and writer. Although not considered his most important work, Pliny and his contemporaries created the botanical name for hops,"lupus Salictarius", meaning wolf among scrubs." Hops at that time grew wild among willows, much like a wolf in the forest. Later the current botanical name, humulus Lupulus, was adopted. Pliny died in 79 AD while observing the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. He was immortalized by his nephew, Piny the Younger, who continued his uncle's legacy by documenting much of what he observed during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Russian River pays tribute to the Younger with a "Triple" IPA.

Pliny the Younger IPA pours to a beautiful deep golden color with a thick and creamy white head, and a good bit of carbonation. The nose on this beer hits you from a mile a way. Very pungent, very zesty aromas of lemon/citrus and pine flood the nose in a major way. The smell of this beer alone is hoppier than some IPA's. The palate is firm with good pale and biscuit malt that supports wonderful, zesty, juicy grapefruit/lemon hop flavor. Pliny the Younger finishes with more zesty hop flavor up front, then ends with a mouth puckering, zesty and tangy hop bitterness that explodes on the tongue and lingers for quite some time.

Hops, hops, and more hops. This beer is a neutron bomb of hop character. Pliny the Younger IPA is not for the timid, and is an extreme hop blast of a beer. This beer is dangerously drinkable, and all that pungent hop character masks the fact this beer is 11% abv. You could get into some real trouble if you did not drink this one in moderation, but it is one anyone who loves hops must try. A beer like this should not be matched with food. Enjoy this one slowly, and savor every drop. For more information about this beer visit the brewery's site at:

No comments:

Post a Comment