The uncertainty of what I will drink the rest of this week (business travel) forced me to call out the big guns for tonight... Russian River Brewing Co.'s famous Pliny the Elder. Named after the Roman naturalist who first tried to catalog the world as it was known all that time (with some pretty humanitarian philosophies), Pliny the Elder is one of those beers that could only come from a micro brewery that loves what it's doing.
Pliny poured a slightly hazy amber into the glass with a ton of bubbles that shot straight to the head, leaving a pleasing, lacy foam coating the surface. The scent was amazing and everything I want hops to be, with hints of tropical fruits and a solid fresh-squeezed grapefruit aroma.
On the tongue, Pliny the Elder is crisp and reminiscent of the best sparkling grapefruit mineral water you've never had, bright on the tongue but in a pleasant, non-intrusive way. The malt backbone has that flavor I've heard described as umami, just a pleasant support structure for the flavor, and the beer has a lingering grapefruit rind.
Pliny the Elder is widely considered one of the best beers in the USA, and it's a hard label to argue. Truly a beer experience unlike any other (and at a drinkable but heady 8%), this is one of the greatest I have had the pleasure of tasting, regardless of beer type. It should be noted Russian River strongly suggest drinking the beer fresh (doubtless to retain the hop profile), and mine had a bottle date of 12/17/10. If only Russian River made it more available...