Featured Contributor: Don Manfredi @
I swear that I am not one of those people who are tough to impress. You know the type; yawning at the base of the Great Pyramids. Yet after drinking one of the “Holy Grail” DIPAs I am going to come off as sounding unimpressed. I know right, how could I come away from drinking a Pliny the Elder saying “meh”?
One thing I can say with certainty – my luke warm reaction did not come because the beer was bad or not fresh, (I drank it within a month of bottling, although I am going to blame my amateurish pour that created the gigantic head on my excitement to get it in the glass and across my lips!). I am also not saying that Pliny the Elder is not an excellent beer. Quite the contrary, Pliny the Elder is an absolutely great beer on all levels, so why was I so underwhelmed by it?
I can point to two factors that contributed to my apathy: first there was no way this beer could live up to the hype I had created for it. The demand is infinite for the unobtainable and because this beer is so tough to get, and it scores so high, I expected drinking it to be a transformative experience. Not fair to the fine folks at Russian River who created a fantastic DIPA before DIPAs were that abundant. Which brings me to the second factor influencing my review – there are a lot of amazing DIPAs being brewed today. As I drank Pliny I could not help comparing it to others in its class like Double Trouble from Founders, Chillwave from Great Lakes Brewing Co., or Double Crooked Tree from Dark Horse. All amazing and a lot easier to get. Heck, what about Space Cake from Clown Shoes, or Artic Panzer Wolf from Three Floyds…you get my point. It is really not that Pliny has gotten worse, it is just that everyone else has gotten a lot better. That is great news for those of us that are actively looking for the beers that created the “bitter beer face” guy in the old Keystone Light advertisements.
So at the risk of sounding like an epic beer snob…here is my conclusion: Pliny the Elder is a great DIPA. It is balanced and hoppy and bitter and generally a joy to drink BUT it is not the best DIPA I have ever had by a long shot (which is a good thing if you ask me). Instead of making a 60+ year old salesperson lug Pliny the Elder across the country in his luggage, I could have easily gone down to my local bottle shop and bought one of the exceptional DIPA’s being brewed every day. However I still want to pay homage to Russian River because Pliny the Elder did set the bar for the DIPA category and we probably wouldn’t have so many great DIPAs in the market without it.
Comfort is the enemy of growth.
#ibu #calories #ipa #pliny #sommbeer
Interested in becoming a SommBeer Contributor?
Send me a note sommbeer@gmail