Russian River: Pliny The Elder (USA: Imperial IPA: 8% ABV)
Visual: Clear overripe banana yellow orange with a crème brule coloured head and slight carbonation.
Nose: Grapefruit, dry hops. Pineapple, banana and light floral touches. Passion fruit. Those little banana shaped sweets. Quite subtle in the intricacies. Noticeable but not overpowering bitterness. Flour filled air and slight syrup behind it.
Body: Bitter, bready with resin, creaminess, pineapple and custard touches. Very smooth feel yet with prevalent hops. Thickens towards the end, with just a hint of the alcohol. Toffee.
Finish: Very floral, subtle yet distinct hops. Vanilla touches, pine cones, charred bitter end. Slight toffee, dry resin like flavour again. Malt laced back and banana.
Conclusion: Very slow to open up on the main body led me to think this was initially unimpressive, then about a quarter of the way in the flavours slowly edged out to show themselves, and then the game began.
This beer is surprising in that it goes against the massive fruit and sweet style that is currently in vogue for IIPAs, instead it’s a very clean resin and hop style.
Slight sweetness, toffyesque in minor doses back up the main body, it’s extremely well balanced and the flavour lasts well, You enjoy the beer far more at the end than the start, and you could probably session this 8% beast as long as your liver could handle it.
Not obvious, but impressive in its craftsmanship – if it were easier to get my hands on over here I would more likely drink it significantly more often. In some ways it’s a victim of its own reputation in that you expect too much, don’t go in expecting a showy beer and you’ll love it as the true peak of solid clear crisp IPAage.
(Note: Since this I have tried a fresher bottle of Pliny, and have added extra thoughts in a 2016 post)