Pliny the Elder

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On the weekends, I often leave the hustle and bustle of San Francisco and head for home in the beautiful Sonoma County.

While so many think of wine when they head to this vineyard-clad area, I have come to think beer. Sonoma County has stellar breweries that offer complex versions of the beer varietals we have all come to know and love. That being said, I had the pick of the litter in terms of beer to review for this week’s blog.

I decided to visit a reliable brewery favorite of mine: Russian River Brewing Company. RRBC, originally started in 1997 by Korbel Champagne Cellars, has been operating and providing tasty brews in downtown Santa Rosa since 2004. The brewery and pub are popular among locals and not so locals. True story: I met a couple that traveled from New Jersey with the primary goal of visiting RRBC – it’s that good! Once at RRBC, I picked an ale that I think steps out of the box in all the right ways.

Pliny the Elder is a caramel-colored double IPA which means it packs a hefty amount of hops. With 8% alcohol, the Elder is on the stronger side of the beer spectrum and is also quite bitter. A unique feature of the Elder is its floral nose and taste. This is not for everyone, but I find it highly refreshing! Oddly, one of my favorite aspects of this ale is its very dry finish. I prefer strong beers to end just as nicely as they begin; otherwise the following sips are not as delicious or exciting.

The Elder could really be paired with any food. Pizza, burgers, sandwiches; you name it, it probably works! I usually order RRBC’s Drew Bites along side my Elder. House made pizza bites with peperoni and pepperoncini’s. They are so amazing; they deserve their own review!

My rating for this ale: outstanding. The Elder appeals to many pallets, and never fails to delivers a surprising flavor. This highly-drinkable ale is suitable for all foods and all occasions. Pliny the Elder is not to be missed.

However, a debate may ensue about whether the Elder is surpassed by Pliny the Younger, its  brother brew that is only released once a year …but that is an experience and review all it’s own.

Russian River Brewing Company is located at 725 4th Street, Santa Rosa CA, 95404

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