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Russian River Pliny the Younger, Beer Predators Always Seem to Go After the Younger Ones

Boy oh boy, have we really come to this? A week ago we were drinking Rolling Rock and now we are sipping on the world’s highest ranked beer with careless abandon. Let’s rattle off some facts about this legendary (triple?) DIPA. First off, they don’t even bottle this beast because it single handedly submarined the Greek economy. Second, it is only available around groundhog day at a few choice locations, and only on draft. In fact, this beer is in an elite cadre of Draft Only No Growler (DONG) beers. So grab your dongs and let’s see if the hype is worth it in today’s epic review, written in dactyllic hexameter, JK!

When you see Pliny, especially in Younger form, YOU DOUBLE FIST. No questions asked.

Russian River Brewing Company
California, United States
American Double / Imperial IPA | 11.00% ABV

Here’s what the brewery has to say about this elusive hopmonster:

“Pliny the Younger, the man, was Pliny the Elder’s nephew and adopted son. They lived nearly 2,000 years ago! Pliny the Elder is our Double IPA, so we felt it was fitting to name our Triple IPA after his son. It is almost a true Triple IPA with triple the amount of hops as a regular I.P.A. That said, it is extremely difficult, time and space consuming, and very expensive to make. And that is why we don’t make it more often! This beer is very full-bodied with tons of hop character in the nose and throughout. It is also deceptively well-balanced and smooth.”

A: It looks like bright, translucent, molten brass with a deceptive clarity to the sheen. The carbonation, at least every time that I have had it, has been minimal and presents a hilarious little pencil lead head to garnish your hop-torn mouth. Did you really come into Pliny the Younger to look at it though? If so, maybe you are doing it wrong. Maybe Pizza Port just didn’t clean their glasses correctly, or maybe people from South Carolina take Boyking reviews too seriously, who IS TO SAY?

On the left, Pliny the Younger, on the right, immature craft beer palate.

S: This smells like the inside of a 8th grade stoner’s backpack. It has a deep resinous pine character that lends to a poplar, aserose, maple, and a sweetness that reminds me of the toasted orange rind garnish you commonly find on old fashioneds. However, as this beer warms, it lets some of the fruits loose to amble around the verdant meadows, and we are all edified as a result.

T: This has much more malt than it’s “older” bretheren and some people prefer that complexity. The bready and cornbread sweetness is damn near mandatory to buttress the hop bill that they have in this hop Basilisk, turning beer nerd pants to stone. The taste echoes the pine and foresty adventures of the nose but presents a new hat trick that reminds me of eating sweet rolls after a long day of raking pine needles. The creaminess of the taste really masks the ABV of this staggering giant and the entire interplay is really something to tip your hat to in the street, downright genteel.

This beer is a reason to lovingly long for Groundhog and Valentine’s day. A sweet solace to the horrible month of February.

M: The mouthfeel, despite the low carbonation, boasts a huge hop profile that works in tandem with the malts to continue the project that Pliny the Elder started, but takes it to absurd new heights. To some, this (D)IPA might come across as a new style altogether, shouldered with Ephraim, Devil Dancer, Knuckle Sandwich etc. however, this is deep down as Imperial as the Chinese shipping empires, and the hops resonate like a street basketball game.

D: Reviews like these are always tough to do, first because I have very little constructive criticism to coast the jokes upon due to the fact that the beer is just too damn good. Then again, I don’t want to knock this beer on accessibility alone, since that is an intentional decision. This is dangerously drinkable and you can’t help but wonder why others have failed to attempt this ambitious undertaking. Is it worth seeking out? Absolutely. Is this beer worth standing in line for 90 minutes and being shut out? No. Is it worth belonging to a mug club or stupid passport promotion to drink? Absolutely not. Is it worth buying $50 of charity raffle tickets only to lose on all of them and be denied access to this beer? No.

Is this one of the best T/D IPAs out there? The answer is a resounding “ya bruh.”

HEY LISTEN, I know you want PtY, but could you not post in forums about getting it in bottles? It makes you look like a shithead. Thanks.

Narrative: The boats bobbed softly in the bay of Naples and Pliny dipped his quill assiduously into the inkwell and felt mild vibrations through the legs of the Poplar table. “I must write in haste, for I fear that I have gone too far in my botanical pursuits this time.” The grumble of the dormant volcanic god, Pompeii, rumbled in the east. “In my quest for taxonomy and discovering different strains of the ‘wolf plant’ I appear to have cross-polinated in a manner repugnant to the soil itself.” The tremors became steadily more severe and Pliny’s hands shook with anticipation. “I seem to have created a strain of hops that defies belief, the root system is so charged with ‘aether’ that is has shifted the contents of the lower core, the oils are just too powerful!” The dirt-floored home shook violently and cast the aging octagenarian to the floor, a copy of Aristotle’s metaphysics lay open at his knees. “Please, tell my kin to abandon this deep curse, may the Gods take pity on my efforts at the River of Sty-” The Pompeiian mountain erupted, unleashing the hot hoppy fury of the wolf plant upon the teeming Romans below. Magma was truly the hottest DIPA that they had ever encountered, bitter coating sheets of obsidian and molten rock were bitter beyond belief. [FN1]

[FN1] entire entry reviewed for historical accuracy

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Founder’s Devil Dancer Triple IPA, Dance with the Devil in the (TI) Pale (Ale) Moonlight

Triple IPAs. Ah, another controversial class of beers that no one seems to know what to do with. Is it a DIPA that is boozier? Maybe just a misclassified American Barleywine? Who gives a shit. Just pop your hoptops and let’s figure out what kind of demons the people in Michigan are escaping to need this powerful potation.

I couldn’t find the pic that I had of this beer so I drew you a recreation in MS Paint. Enjoy.

Founder’s Devil Dancer, Triple IPA, 12% abv

A: This has incredibly minimal carbonation, no middle body, and very faint lacing. It looks deep amber, almost red. It just sits there and folds its malty arms unimpressed with the Belgian tulip I have lovingly provided. Triple IPAs are like housecats, they don’t need your approval and there will eventually be piss on something in your bedroom.

Triple IPAs are like mashing out on greens so hard.

S: The smell has a malty hop presence with an intense sweetness that almost mows over the grassiness present in the back end. It’s like that kid in Geometry that has a heart of gold but covers it up with a Limp Bizkit t-shirt and a jerky frown; ONLY IN REVERSE. The hops are in an epic struggle with the boozy waft, but ultimately the hops win out.

T: This is wrong on two fronts: it is far too strong on the alpha acids at the outset and tastes like pennies rolled in the Vermont woods, then it turns into this wonky barley wine flavor that is far too sweet and cloying. This just stretches itself in too many directions, like a tortured asian teenager living under the tyranny of a tiger mother. Violin, gymnastics, math team, and academic decathlon is tall order for this poor triple IPA.

I like my IPAs to be hardcore, but not THIS hardcore.

M: This has the carbonation of a Nebraskan plains lands, endlessly flat and disinteresting. It just coats in a viney grassy way that lingers along the gumline and lights up a cigarette in a casual Jaleel-White-as-Stefan sort of manner. I am not saying that a beer this beer needs to be a gusher, but come on, don’t just LIE THERE. Ryan Gosling’s junk is uninspired by the sweet hoppy monster.

D: Not at all, I just sit and stare at the hateful liquid, letting the condensation beads form and dissipate. Even a 12oz serving is too much for me. It isn’t the ABV, I have had much worse. It isn’t the hops, I have had much beer. It is just a guy wheelieing while studying for the GMAT. Too much business in one glass and it turns into a train wreck.

Tripel IAPS? Gooby pls.

Narrative: Chip Thornewood gritted his jaw and pressed his house keys into the surface of the coffee table. “Well Mrs. Thornewood, it is tough to diagnose Chip’s condition, it isn’t exactly Asperger’s syndrome,” the two looked through a two way mirror and watched as Chip tore the pages out of a novel in the waiting room. “You see, he has a rare psychological condition known as Prickinium Disorder. It takes the normal human psyche and inverts all the premises that would make it pleasant, turning the patient into a bitter, well, I will just demonstrate. Dr. Thetic walked into the waiting room and offer Chip a Fig Newton. “Oh hey! Sure, let me go ahead and have some of this fruit and cake, or wait, HOW ABOUT THIS?” Chip violently threw the cookie onto the ground and spun his heel on the crushed remains. “Mmm, wow, very tasty, thanks.” Dr. Thetic shook his head with grave disappointment, “Mrs. Thornewood, I don’t know how to say this so I will be blunt: your child is an asshole. A completely bitter, self-absorbed, off-putting, unnecessarily acerbic and acrimonius asshole whom no one would willingly associate him or herself with unless compelled for a good reason.” Dr. Thetic scribbled out a hasty prescription for Ritalin and outstretched the small scrap to Ms. Thornewood. “It won’t cure him, but it will make him a sedate asshole, similar to those you encounter on a daily basis or at a hipster café. Godspeed.”

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Bear Republic Racer X, My X Racer Took All of My Staind CDs.

This beer has FINALLY been bottled, after many requests but then they go and don’t ship it outside of the bay area, so oh well for the rest of us UNLESS YOU GOT MAD SOLDIERS IN THE TRAP SHORTY. I once bought a growler of this and the girl serving it told me that it would hold up well over time because there are a lot of hops in it and hops are used to preserve beer. It was the most clear example of fail I have encountered in the field.

This beer is completely Racerist.

Bear Republic, Racer X Double IPA, 8.XX% abv (not looking it up, bottle is in the trash)

A: This beer has a nice amber hue to it with deep orange like that sunset you watched after seeing Human Centipede, special moment. The carbonation is fair, nothing to get tatted on your body but doesn’t leave you wanting. The jets are set to low on the lacing and she’s wearing a one piece. A tame affair.

Me and all my pimp ass friends used to drink this up in Healdsberg and pull so many bitches.

S: There’s an awesome honey and apricot zest to this that brings a radical pineapple closer. The relief pitcher has notes of some light grassiness but the nose is just phenomenal, real spit.

T: The taste is a bit more herbal and medicinal than the exemplary nose would suggest, but it’s still very refreshing. The herbal note subsides into a mild sweetness and the whole ruse about citrus just exits through the gift shop. Overall, the taste is a middle class worker in a Michael Kors ensemble. I hate it when that happens.

Just reviewing another amazing, rare beer, U mad.

M: The mouthfeel is crisp and light and nails it for the style. The bottle says this beer is all about balance and I would say that’s pretty accurate, the maltiness doesn’t press its balls on or around the wall, but the hops don’t really use overdrive either. Everyone is getting good gas mileage in the number 3 lane. The coating is gentle and the carbonation doesn’t overpower things.

D: Aside from this weird Jasmine/floral note at the end, this is pretty smooth sailing considering the ABV and profile of the hops. For all the Lindy Hopping that the east coast does to their “balanced” approach, this nails it with much more clarity. It’s like Rosie O Donnell at a bisexual bridal shower. The bottle was gone pretty quickly and I am glad they finally decided to make some serious COIN by bottling up this extreme Racerist.

I told Bear Republic they could bottle anything. They finally followed my dreams.

Narrative: “What the, oh come on, she’s entering the Nestle Cup? Come on!” the judges looked onward at Thomas Dillery’s frustration. Kaitlyn knew that this race meant so much to him, but apparently he didn’t care about that or her hopes and her wants. “Listen, we broke up ok? You don’t need to stalk me and enter every heat and semi-pro circuit to garner my attention, give it up,” Thomas stated entreatingly. She pushed her hefty size 14 backside within the confines of the racing cage and quipped “well maybe if you spent less time focusing on Jimmy Johnson and cared to address my needs, we wouldn’t be in this situation, and I know what you are going to say, the cabin incident notwithstanding, you have always had communication problems.” She strapped her Marlboro helmet on and began priming the engine. “I am competing today and I will do it with the poise and grace that I held when I supported you when you were out of work, remember that time? Yeah, that’s what I thought, and for your information my metabolism has slowed naturally so-” Thomas’s head felt like a bucket of shark chum hearing her incessant droning. All those days of pretending to care about her stories about her co-workers, the relentless barrage of mundane, now he had to square off for 300 laps against this harlot. “And Sheila said you went to Twist last night and said you talking to some red headed slut, funny, you always said that you hated red heads because of your mo-” Thomas fired up his balanced engine, smelt the herbal oily burn, and prepared himself for 300 laps of hell.

0

Minnesota Town Hall Masala Mama IPA, Mama Beats Me With Hops.

Masala Mama was an abusive mother. Also, she lived in a shoe.

Masala Mama, Minnesota Town Hall, IPA, 5.9%

A: This has a great amber to dark yellow character to it, almost making it appear like a pale ale at first. There is great carbonation despite a 5 day old growler. The lacing is relentless and obfuscates the rim of the glass.

I know this is on draft only, let's all calm down. I have this under control.

S: There are nice honey notes and a pleasant grassiness to it. It has a noteworthy, welcoming malty body to it for a beer this low in ABV. Overall, very inviting and floral.

T: There is some light sweetness at the outset with nice use of caramel notes that subsides into mild drying and slight orange peel finish. The taste comes and goes incredibly quickly and you hardly have time to contemplate it before it is gone. There is a slight juniper taste that finishes with an awesome crispness. It offers huge hops and low abv that assaults your conscience after you finish 64oz to yourself, AND IN FRONT OF THE CHILDREN. Come on now.

I would like to try and joke about this amazing beer, but I can't just grin and beer it.

M: The carbonation on this is great and makes up for the strange maltiness of the beer. It certainly puts on airs and presents itself as a big boy when deep down it has ABV envy. Nice sweetness that lingers for just a bit and then demands to be tasted again.

D: Just incredibly drinkable from start to finish. This isn’t quite on the Live Oak level, but it still is a stunner in many aspects. You could give this beer to anyone and the hops are happily married to the caramel stickiness, so even diabetic PJ, the kid with the lazy eye, even he would enjoy this beer. I wish that this beer wasn’t so far away. I feel like a prison convict longing for it and another sweet conjugal visit, in my mouth. Wait, that didn’t sound-

Some pundits argue that this beer isn't worth the hype, to them, please see the above ironclad argument.

Narrative: “And according to the most recent census, you have…7 children…is that correct?” “Mmm yais.” the mucky little creatures ran to and fro within the 2 bedroom apartment. The ashtrays were in abundance and overflowing, pets seemed to maintain tenancy in common with the owners, and maintained the home with equal diligence. “And you…you don’t have any of them go to school?” “Eh…no….nooo….” Mother Masalita looked left and right longing for some sort of respite from the relentless questioning of the children services officer. “Wait now, what’s this here?” he pushed a panel on a dilapidated bookcase which revealed a room of radiant light and floral aromas. “Ohh, an indoor cannabis crop?” “eh no…es a secret room…secret.” he entered the tiny room and ducked covering his eyes to the shimmering light. The entire antechamber smelled of bluebell and fresh pastries, there were baking goods and an incredible garden. What appeared to be a negligent household defied all expectations. It was a complex front for a completely calming, loving place that embraced entrants like a warm blanket fresh from the dryer. “Well…that…that will be all I guess,” he clicked his pen and picked a rhododendron from one of the pots on his way out. Mama Masalita was one hell of an indoor botanist.

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Surly Furious IPA, THIS BEER MAKES ME SO MAD RIGHT NOW SRSLY GUIZE.

THIS BEER MAKES ME FEEL CONTENT AND NOT FURIOUS ARGGHH FALSE ADVERTISSIONSDGOINDSGOIN-

Surly Furious

A: Orange radiance that calls more to a DIPA the way that the carbonation sloshes all over the sides like it owns the place. Nice big bubbles that dissipate fairly quickly.

S: There’s a huge pineapple citrus bouquet to this that doesn’t bring along the irksome herbal/pine qualities that some single IPAs try and push on you. I enjoyed the traditional grapefruit notes but there’s also this little sneaky pete of toffee that pokes its head in there for a moment as well. I wish he would stay but apparently, non-citrus notes are not invited to hang out.

Surly Furious here to save the day.

T: The first taste is a bit thin with a huge orangey orange to it, it subsides to a gentle bitterness and washes away clean and fast. There is no real lingering aftertaste, just a one two combo and a ninja roll out the side door leaving orange rind in the entry way. Luckily the inexpensive 16oz cans don’t leave you high and dry, you are sufficiently low and…uh…wet. I GUESS!

M: Again, this is not exceptionally thick or chewy and it is even thinner than many hef’s and lower ABV beers. It is interesting in how completely lopsided that the beer is with a huge flavor and relatively low ABV and mouthfeel. If this were an army man, it would be the dude who carries the metal detector. Not because it is a raging vagina, it just serves a niche purpose, and an awesome one at that.

Single IPAs can get you double twisted.

D: This is incredibly drinkable top to bottom. Well, it’s the same all the way through but you know what I am trying to…it’s…you can drink it ok? This is similar to the Masala Mama category where they need to up the serving sizes if for nothing else but my own self esteem. I could kill a 4 pack of this without reproach and glance menacingly around the room for someone to say something. Take a sip and if your glass isn’t empty in a forthright fashion, you are doing this beer wrong.

Single IPA, for this cheap, that is this good. Confus.

Narrative: “Professor Mailer, the subjects aren’t responding to the medication, hell, even the control groups are becoming more enraged,” the lab technician pleaded while gesturing towards graphs which can only be sure to contain sciences. “MONITOR THEIR FURY, it is the fury I seek, not the intermediate results.” Professor Mailer boomed as he slammed his protractor on the desk, sending science all over the place. The lab technicians poked in on the control group playing the Dam Level of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for Nintendo and noted that the furious levels were through the roof. Next they monitored someone on hold with the DMV, the fury again was unparalleled. “Sir? According to these calculations, the furiousness of each group, even the control group has actually increased. Sir?” Professor Mailer insouciantly spun some sciences on his desk, in a sciencey fashion. “And the literature camp?” he impugned, “well sir, without even taking the medication, the group forced to read Mrs. Dalloway was, well, very, very, pissed.” “Excellent, proceed to phase two, up the dosage and administer Superman 64 to each group” he commanded with a refined poise.

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New England Brewing Company Gandhi-bot Double IPA, Civilly Disobediently Disliking this DIPA.

This gives complications to stoicism and fasting. I HOPE THE DOCILE TERMINATORS WIN.

This is a beer that gets a lot of hype from east coast kids. They savor the opportunity to hang their hat on a double IPA. Here we go-

New England Brewing Company Gandhi-Bot Double IPA 8.8% abv

A: It has a radiantly golden hue with a ridiculous amount of carbonation and thick white foam. It has crazy amount of lacing like soap scum, but in a cool ass way. It’s pretty sticky and glaring at the same time. It reminds me of a 14k pliny the elder, pliny the middleaged.

The feel of this beer is refreshing and familiar, completely unlike God's punchline pictured above.

S: Again, this is suspiciously Pliny in execution. The entire nose is that precariously pine and orange zest. I feel like I have seen this movie before like when I saw No Strings Attached and, that other movie, what is it, Birth of a Nation, back to back.

T: This is definitely the Honda to Pliny’s Acura. It has that same feel, with less maltiness. It has those same orange and grapefruit hops, but just ratcheted back. Everything is just muted a little bit, more water, more pine, it feels like they took this in a Lysol direction. It is still an exceptional offering but you almost have to be an asshole in a category this contested. For those of you keeping track, the top 5 DIPAs that you absolutely must try are: Ephraim, Citra, Heady Topper, Pliny, and Abner. This is not within those ranks. It is still good, but a good ipa a great ipa does not make.

I would like to speak to the original brewer of this recipe. That's what I thought.

M: this has some crystal and 2 row, simple hat tricks for the genre but lacks that punch and radical wow factor. It lays a little low in the mouthfeel and kinda opts for a gentle coating and simple hop profile that is still exemplary but feels like the Monkees to the Beat-ok ok ok ok enough sappy metaphors.

D: This is awesomely drinkable and outshines Pliny in this regard. It has a thinner profile and I want to hang out with it more. It seems like it listens to my stories more intently without butting in. Ultimately, I dislike this beer for the same reason that I don’t respect Chrysler. You can make your own shit, dont jock another brand. Katt Williams said it best “Yeah you think it looks like a Phantom, until a real Phantom pulls up.” And when I pull up Ephraim to this DIPA, the game just changes.

This beer kills normal Double IPAs but remains untested in the main tournament.

Narrative:

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Peace Tree, Hop Wrangler, I Went to Iowa Once and Got My Hops Wrangled so Hard.

Hop Wrangler, figures I would have to go to Iowa to get my hops all wrangled

Alright, so let’s continue bothering the midwest and now Iowa is on the chopping block. I have actually been to this state so I can safely say that this state simply makes amazing beer because they, need it the most. This one is no exception.

Peace Tree Brewing, Hop Wrangler, 6.25% abv, Knoxville, Iowa.

I didnt even know that town existed, I wonder if it’s a badass southern/midwest hybrid, no? Oh ok, I have just been informed that it is a boring ass town. Ok. Carry on then.

A: This initially poured a bit too malty and I was all shaking my head disapprovingly like someone in a mentos commerical. It’s all deep and golden and its makes me like “I bought a lipring in the mall at Coralville, you crazy IPA!” and he gets away with some shit. The lacing is awesome, nice stickiness. Just like all the beer on the floor after my first night in Iowa City when I saw a for reals fight, over what Heidegger would call “Being and Nothingness.”

S: This is amazing, it gets all juicy with grapefruit and apricot and for a minute I was taken aback like, wait wait, what’s this beer up to? But, just like when your parents told you that Selma was Midevil times…

This just isn't fun to put down, then hug need.

T: God damn it. Iowa just pulls a full on hop tease. The taste is so stemmy, it just gets vegetal so hard. It tastes like stems and seeds, ooh wee. Appropriately, the beer on the bottle says “In Heaven There is no Beer” and this theological assault seems to be making up for lost time. Another thing that pisses me off about this beer is that it declares step by step what goes into making an IPA and seeks to get some latent praise from it, it’s like:

“We used a full boil and hops in the initial stage, then we added additional hops, then we used a different type of hops and then in the finishing we used another type of english hops”

Like no shit? Dry hopping and adding to the boil, wait hold on, let me stop the presses like Catch Me If you Can. They apparently use a belgian yeast which adds banana, esters, and clove which belong in this beer like an jock belongs at a Babylon Five convention.

M: This has a great crisp mouthfeel that is all welcome and cool, until it opens its mouth and gets all herbal and foreign. It was good until I actually tasted it, stupid Iowa, your bars are so amazing, and then this.

Not mad, just disappointed.

D: This is hardly drinkable because it has a low abv, relative to the style, it’s boring, ugly, and gets worse when it hits your lips, insert latent joke about Iowa. No but seriously, there’s ways to pull this off, and I like the variety but, they had to know that this just didn’t work on paper, not even a 5 gallon test batch? I guess I just dont like the belgian IPA style but…OH WAIT LOOK AT MY ALE ASYLUM REVIEW where they did this style fucking amazingly.

Narrative: “Guess what? No love to my homies until people from Iowa get into the chill zone on their beer laws. Not enough chillaxing taking place when importers want to move units all up inside that rectagonal state. Just trying to push sick weight into agrarian districts brothenol, ecoboost with ecobrews bro. Don’t be haters because we want to get a sick fade and hit up Herbert Hoover’s old hood. Alright, I wont mess with any corn or try and muscle you out on the hot-girl export racket, but seriously Ioweezy, just let some other states hit you with some sick cases, drop mad bombers on you. It’s not like keeping high ABV beers out of your state will stop people from drinking, it’s like Prohibition era Savoy Ballroom all up in that bitch, non-stop. Anyway, the COs are stressing me about writing this long ass open ended letter to the population of Iowa, but ball all I day is what I do, once I get out from this 5 to 10, I am hitting up Iowa and copping some St. Ides. Real Spit”

– T Cell was shanked in Boise Correctional Facility before his utopian ideal of an alcoholic Iowa could be made into a reality.