Pliny the Elder
Brewery: Russian River Brewing
If any one beer could be said to have defined the double IPA style, it's Russian River's Pliny the Elder. Founder and brewmaster Vinnie Cilurzo named the beer after an ancient Roman naturalist whose observations on hops are amongst the earliest known scholarship on the plant. When designing the recipe, Cilurzo featured the (then) little-known Simcoe hop variety, lending the beer an intense pine and citrus hop character, which he supported with a relatively lean malty body and a dry finish.
Pliny the Elder quickly turned into a sensation, raking in the first of its four medals at the Great American Beer Festival in 2004 and winning gold medals two years in a row. Despite the host of imitators it spawned, Pliny is still one of our favorite double IPAs of all time.