Drink me: Pliny the Elder

Pliny the Elder

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Despite my name, I am comprised of at best 1/16 Irish blood, perhaps significantly less than that, but that doesn't deter me from enjoying the holiday. If you're planning to partake this St. Paddy's Day, please do not debase yourself with weak beer tainted with green food coloring. You'll respect yourself more in the morning if you opt for a lovely Guinness. Or, if like me you live in the Bay Area and want to go a bit more local, quaff a pint of my new favorite beer, Russian River Brewing Company's Pliny the Elder.

Like a lot of Northern California microbrews, Pliny is heady and hoppy; but unlike too many other hop-headed beers that offer nothing beyond one-noted bitterness or, worse, a metallic tinge, Pliny is rich and complex. Sure, it's hoppy, but it's layered with bright, refreshing notes of citrus, delicate sweetness of orange flower blossoms and elderflowers, and a healthy waft of the evening breeze in Humboldt County. Or so I'm told. At any rate, it's balanced and utterly drinkable.

My friend Julie has been waxing rhapsodic about this beer for a while now, but I only recently had the pleasure of partaking at a recent installment of Book Club at Toronado. Suffice to say, it was love at first sip.

As for the name? While Pliny is best known for having witnessed, and died during, the eruption at Vesuvius, Pliny wrote a significant work titled simply, Naturalis Historiae (Natural History), an encyclopedia cataloging a mangificent array of understanding of the natural world. Among his achievements in his work as a natural scientist was to give hops its botanical name, or so sayeth the brewers themselves. And this beer's hoppy application is as fitting a tribute as any.


Pliny is cited in many food blogs, having been quoted on thyme, cabbage, long pepper, olives, cantaloupe, gentian, aloe, Cantal, and on taking things with a grain of salt

In Beervana, Pliny the Elder holds a tie position for gold standard of IPAs.

  • Julie

    Ooh — tonight’s quest is to see if anyone carries RR’s specialty brew, Pliny the Younger. I wonder if it will taste more … oratorical?

  • Happy Paddy’s Day, Sean and DPaul!
    It’s only 11:30 a.m., and yet you have caused me to become rather parched, and most ready for a refreshing brew. Gotta love that!!
    ~ Paula

  • Julie: Are you oratorically fixated?
    Paula: Drink early and often, that’s my motto!

  • EB

    Oooh I love Pliny!! I’ve only seen it at one or two bars but worth grabbing when you can.

  • This is such a fantastic beer. Have you ever had Pliny the Younger? I haven’t, but I heard it’s even better.
    Thanks for making me salivate!

  • Now that’s a good book club. I will certainly try this beer!

  • oooo! pliny the elder has quickly become one of my favorite beers over the past several months. frankly, i’ve loved pretty much everything i’ve tasted from the russian river brewing company. i particularly how pliny has the full flavor of an ipa but finishes smoothly. i’ve definitely picked up hints of grapefruit too. mmm. gd i would love a pint right about now!