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Pliny The Younger - Russian River Brewing Company

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Pliny The YoungerPliny The Younger

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2,470 Ratings

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Ratings: 2,470
Reviews: 846
rAvg: 4.68
pDev: 8.97%
Wants: 4,829
Gots: 155 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Russian River Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial IPA |  11.00% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: xlperro on 01-27-2005

Pliny the Younger, the man, was Pliny the Elder’s nephew and adopted son. They lived nearly 2,000 years ago! Pliny the Elder is our Double IPA, so we felt it was fitting to name our Triple IPA after his son. It is almost a true Triple IPA with triple the amount of hops as a regular I.P.A. That said, it is extremely difficult, time and space consuming, and very expensive to make. And that is why we don’t make it more often! This beer is very full-bodied with tons of hop character in the nose and throughout. It is also deceptively well-balanced and smooth.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,470 | Reviews: 846 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of bullywee
4.5/5  rDev -3.8%

Photo of Rastacola
4.5/5  rDev -3.8%

A phenomenal beer. A little sweet, but that sweetness carefully balances the beer and the high ABV. This beer is very hyped up and very deserving of it. I'd love to sit and drink multiple in a calm setting rather than a hectic Philly bar.

Photo of roblund
4.5/5  rDev -3.8%

Photo of mmercede
4.51/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Capone's served in a 6oz snifter. Big shout out to Matt Capone and employees for putting on an amazingly smooth release!

A: Golden color with an slight amber hue. Small head with little lacing. However, the small snifter doesn't promote a large head or lacing.

S: Compared to elder this is much less piney, however has a much stronger fruity/citrus aroma. Strong notes of various citrus, pineapple, and mango. Strong fresh hop smell like no other. It literally smells like a bag of leaf hops. No detection of malt or alcohol...exactly how a big west coast IPA should smell!

T: Not quite as mind blowing as the aroma. Flavor includes strong tropical fruit and candy notes. Not quite as dry as elder with more of a malty flavor in the finish. The bitterness and alcohol content is much less than one would expect. This is the best example of strong aroma/flavor hopping I've ever tried.

M: Full body mouthfeel with a medium amount of carbonation. However, not quite as oily or coating as one would expect.

O: Simply the best Triple IPA out there. It never lives up to all the craziness and hype. However, what beers really could? I'm honored to have been able to try it in the last three releases!

Photo of kleffman
4.51/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

What can I say about this beer that hasn't already been said? I believe this is my third or fourth year having it, and it has always been incredible.

Grabbed a pint of this nectar of the gods at O'Briens. Pours a very clear deep orange color with a nice little head on top and just a bit of lacing.

Smell was not as over the top as I remembered and hoped for but still a rather nice citrus, lemon and slight piney hoppy sweet aroma.

Delicious taste that was actually quite sweet but not in a cloying way. Perfect amounts to balance the explosive hops and extreme alcohol levels. It all melds together so well you would have no idea it's so alcoholic.

A great full bodied mouthfeel with a nice prickly carbonation that makes for an easy drinking beer. I can't think of very many 11% beers that go down as well as a pint of Younger.

This is one seasonal offering that I'm very excited for every year. I can't imagine how crazy people are going to go for the bottles of it once the new production brewery gets up and running.

Photo of punkrkr27
4.51/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2010 growler. Yet another huge thanks to DuffManSW for hooking this up! Big, loose white head with great lacing and a nice golden color. Big juicy melon and citrus notes in the aroma with hints of honey, honeydew melon, and a distinct skunky homegrown (yeah that kind) quality. The flavor is a juicy blend of wet hops, melon, grapefruit, tropical fruit, and a mellow bitterness on the finish that just lingers forever. The body is creamy and medium-full with soft carbonation.

Photo of Beerswag
4.52/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

On tap at pour house sacto, ca..looks a clear 24k, vibrant tiny bubbles from the bottom of the tulip glass, lots of micro bubble action..smell is pine, apricot, and white grape, some sweet fruit juice as well. Taste is exactly as the smell suggest, pine, bitter-floral hop profile, very smooth and tasty..nice punch of hops without the lingering resinous sticky feeling of beers in this same style...mouthfeel is perfect, light creamy carbonation, with slight micro bubble action on the front of the tongue which smooths out quickly on the palate.. overall a well executed and dialed in iiipa. Food paring is: savory and mild- spicy foods, suxh as indian food, lamb lollipops with basil or mint sauce, or some heavily salted/seasoned nuts.

Photo of Soonami
4.52/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Review of Pliny the Younger from tasting notes taken on March 3, 2011.

PtY is a pretty beer, that is a golden amber with just a little whisp of pale white head. It has surprising little cling for a beer of this hoppiness, but that might be due a protein rest or the low mash temperatures to make a highly fermentable malt. The beer smells very hoppy, with good citrus and fruity character as well as a dank piney aroma, probably from the Simcoe. This isn't as hoppy as I thought though, but it's hard to live up to the reputation. The beer tastes surprisingly sweet, although, at 11% I should've expected that. The hoppiness was expressive and very fruity, but the bitterness seems very restrained, perhaps tempered by the malty sweetness. This beer isn't the hop-bomb that I was expecting, I thought it would be a Pliny squared, but is more like Avery Maharaja, an Imperial IPA with big malt flavors. The mouthfeel is absolutely creamy and the carbonation is delicate.

Was it worth the wait? Does it live up to the hype? Would I wait several hours for this beer? The answer is probably no, but it's tasty.

Photo of rudylaw
4.52/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

HUGE thanks to dukedevil0 for sharing this with the Chicago BA crew. Just an amazing display of awesomeness by Dave!

Pours an orangey copper with a tiny head.

Smells deep of citrus, pineapple. It's a real deep and inviting aroma. Almost like you're squeezing the fruit into the beer yourself.

All there with a malty balance. To me, this tastes nowhere near as good as it smells. It's not a hop bomb, much more balanced than I thought/wanted.

Medium carbonated and extremely drinkable for an 11% brew.

I was a little let down with this one. I much prefer fresh Elder, HopSpam and Sculpin to this. A damn fine beer but nothing to push grandmothers down for.

Photo of abfraser
4.52/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The downright worship of this beer is remarkable to me. A girl at the bar sounded like she was having an orgasm after each sip. But on to the beer.

A: Beautiful orange/amber with a nice thick, creamy-looking head. Nice lacing on the glass.

S: Exceptional smell of citrus and piney like hops. The freshness is amazing. Almost an earthy component to it.

T/M: As expected, massive amounts of citrus & piney hops. Mouthfeel is unexpectedly creamy. Despite how over-the-top this beer is, it's very well-balanced. There's none of that stinging bitterness on the finish that ruins other big IPAs for me (many of the San Diego style brews). Overall, I'm impressed.

D: I had four in one sitting. I don't remember much else of the evening.

So, is it worth all the hype? Maybe. A remarkably well-made beer that's probably the best IPA I've ever had. At the same time, I probably wouldn't be driving all of the country to try it (which is what I get the impression some do).

Photo of Dukeofearl
4.52/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Tasted on tap 1/28/06 at Hollingshead Deli in Orange, CA. $4.50 for a 25 cl "half" order.

Pours a rich full deep golden orange that looks very syrupy. A very slight bit of bubbles cling for dear life at the top.

This is one well constructed beer. I went in expecting a hop bomb overload that would blow its uncle Pliny the Elder (check your Roman history for their relationship) hoppiness out of the water. I was wrong. This still has a huge strong fruity hop profile, but it is well balanced by a solid malt underpinning, with brandy-like qualities.

This is one of those dangerous beers- a sipper that is really easy to drink right down. Alcohol is nicely present, but oh-so hidden. Watch out!

A very good beer. To be honest, I like the Elder better, but that's just personal taste- this is one incredible beer.

Photo of brewdlyhooked13
4.52/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Appearance - pours a hazed light orange amber. Very little head, but after transfers from tap to growler to bottle to glass, well, I can be forgiving. A thin layer of bubbles appears and kind of limps off to the side.

Aroma - good malt base, intense pine and fragrant grapefruit following.

Taste - whew! A sweet start, the malts are there but struggling to develop because the hops are on right now! Intense in many ways - pine, grapefuit, bitter, and a late sweet orange citrus on the back of the tongue that comes outta nowhere. I think the underside of my tongue is even tasting this, and that's impossible!! :-D Very sweet and bitter on the same swallow, pretty cool. Late aftertaste is quite dry and bitter. It does the DIPA proud. A smooth warming alcohol feel as it warms. What a fine glass o' beer.

Mouthfeel - as expected, the carbonation is probably half of where it started. I still get a good hoppy burp here and there. For a DIPA the body is thicker than normal but most reasonable.

Drinkability - sickeningly drinkable. At 11%, that is a problem. No wonder pimpp offered to hook me up with a sample, he was probably very 'happy' after downing over half the growler, lol. At any rate, big karmaic kudos to him for sharing this delicious brew.

Photo of bret27
4.52/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

on tap

S: As expected big doses of floral/pine/citrus hops, w/some sweet maltiness as well.

A: Deep orange, thick white head.

T: Similar to elder, but beefed up 4% and a ton more hop flavor. Citrus, pine, floral big american hop flavors. Big bitter dry finish.

M/D: Fairly thick and full mouthfeel as to be expected of a big beer. Still not noticeably boozy or sweet. Just the pure bitterness hurts drinkability a bit.

Overall: Definitely one of the great DIPA's of the world, but IMO possibly not the best. I've heard that previous years batches were better and I might believe it.

Photo of BattleRoadBrewer
4.52/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Thanks, Prufrock, for sharing this rare and delicious treat. Served cool in a taster.

Pours an amber yellow with nice white head that dissipates but leaves good lacing.

Nose is big with pine and floral notes, I like it over the more common overwhelming grapefruit of most west coast IPAs.

Taste is superb! What PtY is most notable for is what's missing. There are no defects in the flavor of this beer, no cloying sweetness, no stale hops or pungent maltiness. Can't stand Imperial IPAs that are syrupy or reek like barleywines.

Mouthfeel is moderate, not nearly as heavy as any other 11% beer I can name off hand. Thanks, Vinny, for making it so damn drinkable. A half gallon disappears fast.

PtE from the growler is the best beer I've ever had and keeps its crown, but the mighty son is a very close second. My bucket list certainly includes visiting RR in person to have PtY directly on tap.

Photo of JAXSON
4.52/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed this op tap at Flanigan's Boathouse in Summer 2006, just rating it now for some reason. Maybe I'm just sobering up from that strange mid-afternoon event, held on Monday of all days. Fresh bursts of pine cones and grapefruits on the nose, with a lingering sweetness. Orange body, slightly darker than its elder kindred. Just such a wonderful flavor, an explosion of the aforementioned, more candi sugar than the Elder, swirling lighter fruits mingle into an extraordinarily balanced, large, and impressive IIPA. Not the grapefruit peel wonders of Dreadnaught, but an exceptionally balanced utter assault here.

Photo of khiasmus
4.52/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Many, many thanks to Wespatrick for sharing this gem. Had at a tasting last night, Feb 13th. Reviewed from notes.

"Well, here we are then, gents. It's officially.. well, apparently, the best in the land."
"Go ON then, let's have at it!"
A hissy-pop and up swings the cap, as the aroma already begins to waft about the room, blending with the cheese-and-crackers upon the table, and making quite a name for itself, though we have yet to tilt it.
A glug-glug and it's in the glass in front of me, and the seriousness of evaluating comes due.
There's an almost-clear orange with tiny specks afloat throughout... "What is that?" "What?" "The specks there." "I don't see them." "Don your glassies then, old man!" "Ah... I suppose just a lack of filtering, then, and perhaps tiny hop-pebbles." "Lovely."
A finger-thick head rises up but settles quickly, at first gives the illusion of lace, but then shows itself to be sliding down after every savory sip.
A long, enjoyable whif, and the loads of grapefruit and resin come out. "Gents, it smells just like Sculpin!" "Ah, come off it, not just like Sculpin!" "No. Really."
The aroma and flavour are both monstrously grapefruity, with just a bit of resin thrown in... "Come along fellows, let us be honest, all of us know what a grapefruit tastes like, but when was the last time you chewed pine needles?" "Ah... what time is it? About... eight hours ago." Guffaws all round.
The percentage really does little to show itself except in a bit of warming after each swallow. The carbonation is medium-high, the body is rather thin, it's a tad boozy. But just a tad. "Really though? Have you ever had an 11% that was so drinkable?" "Yes sir. Unearthly." "Ah. Touche."
It only makes sense, as Wes pointed out, that this be the number one DIPA on the site, with Sculpin being the number 1 IPA. I could not get it out of my head that this beer is precisely imperial Sculpin. Just the same dangerous drinkability (As in, if a drinkability scale could go higher than five, this beer would be there), the exact same grapefruit-dominant hop profile, an excellent and well-crafted beer. The best DIPA? Not to my palate, but obviously well-deserving.

Photo of LaChupacabra
4.52/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Really late on posting this. Notes are from February. Had it on tap at Surly Goat, Father's Office, Tony's Darts and Churchill's Pub within a few weeks of each other.

A: Pours a very clear golden-orange. One finger of medium-white head. Head dissipated very quickly, leaving nice lacing behind.

S: Lots of grapefruit and orange. Behind that there is tropical fruit, floral scents and pine. Smells very sweet.

T: The alcohol on this one is hidden really well. Has a well balanced citrus and tropical fruit sweetness with a malty backbone. Very crisp and drinkable. Less hop bitterness than the Elder on this one.

M: Medium-light body with medium carbonation. Has a great stickiness to it, which is probably my favorite part of this beer.

O: This is a very well balanced, refreshing and drinkable beer, especially considering that it comes in at 11%. With that said, I prefer many other DIPAs (yes, I know this is a triple) to this and I don't think it's worth going nuts over.

Photo of pkalix
4.52/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

well, I finally got to try it. bought the raffle tickets at Beachwood BBQ so didn't have to wait in the line. $40 in raffle tickets produced one pint=a deal better than waiting in that long line and with the weather lately, that works.
much creamier head than I expected, and much more fuller and thicker, too! lots of pine, lots of sweet aroma; even the family said it smelled sweet from their prospective locations at the table! malty, bready, pine-y, sweet and bitter finish. not too much like The Elder, as others have said, but very good. in fact, not even close to Elder when considering the volume of different DIPAs and (T)IPAs out there and the amount of differing flavors of them (and the Blind Pig after, I thought, was much more stable and tastier!). nice lacing down the sides.
overall, I finally tried it! I would drink it again, but without the lines and the raffle tickets. I would very much prefer to sit at the pub and line them all up- the Plinys, Blind Pig, the Row 2, etc.... and just taste them all altogether. and then, of course, come back the next day and do all the wild ales...! but saying that I would drink it again without the lines says so much, doesn't it? it's good, but not worth the lines.

Photo of Bajasith
4.52/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Making a 125 mile trip worthwhile. Feb 13, 2010 was the start of a brew tour beginning at Port Brewing to grab some Red Poppy Ale and Angels Share Grand Cru.
Later spent the afternoon at Stone Brew and Bistro for some 2010 Baleywine and other famous Stone brews. Stone Brewerie had PtY on tap Thursday and were all out Saturday. I was told a local pub would have it on tap later in the evening.... I am there...
After 18 months I was able to have some Pliny the Younger in my hands so here it goes...
A: Pours radiant golden color with slight copper haze around the edges. Small frothy head that dissipated rather quick with nice lacing.
S: Very similar to PtE with a stronger smell of thick hops hanging around the fizz of alcohol. Reminds me of a thick forest after a rain.
T: Very well balanced. I am not sure if alcohol content of PtY helps balance the bitterness of the hops but let me tell you, it felt like a sweet tinge at the end.
M: Heavier and almost chewy compared to PtE.
D: Have to be carefull with this one. High ABV can hit you rather quickly since there is no end with PtY. Lighter ABV would make this brew highly drikable one after another.
Overall, PtY is the best DIPA I have had (for now)...

Photo of IceAce
4.52/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Billed as a Triple IPA with an ABV of 11.0% according to the taphandle.

Pours orange / copper in color with excellent clarity for an IPA of any type. The nose is seductively fruity sweet with a very strong backdrop of resinous floral hops.

The foretaste scrubs the front of the tongue with 'just right' carbonation while the hops perform a vise-like grip the full length of the sides of the tongue. Even the midtaste is dominated by the aggressive hopping while the elevated ABV begins to show a warming effect toward the aft of the mouth. The finish is thick with the generous grain bill while the hops begin a slow, slow exit stage right.

Mouthfeel is thick-n-chewy and only the over the top alcohol content reduces drinkability by ½ point.

Pliney the Younger is a big, complex beer and well worth almost any journey in an effort to seek out its hoppy goodness.

Photo of JerryBullfrog
4.52/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Drank this on 2/15, two 17 oz. mugs at Hollingshead's in Orange, CA. From the notes I took at the time:

An orange, golden color with copper shades at the edges. A small, slightly off-white head that dissipates quickly.

Aromas of grapefruit, orange, tangerine, apricot, and pine needles. It's got a boozy kick to it as well, but it dissipates after a while. Everything I could want in an IPA.

Perfectly carbonated with a medium body, but the alcohol is definitely there. Like the aroma, it subsides after some time. There's a whole mess of piny flavors followed by grapefruit, apricot, and a hint of the finest herb. The bitterness lingers for quite a long time.

It's a hoppy, bitter, and just plain angry IPA. Damn near killed my taste buds and killed my appreciation for any other IPA for the next week, which hampered it a bit (hence my wait for the review)... can't drink too much of it. But the best IPA I've ever had? Well, I have a lot of IPAs left to try, but compared to the ones I have tried, this ranks #2, right after Exponential Hoppiness.

Photo of spoony
4.52/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Cheeky Monk into a tulip-style glass.

A-This brew looks like a IIPA, i.e., very little head and a clear brew with a orange-tinted, slightly off-pale coloring.

S-The smell is intense and complex. I detect citrus flavors ranging from grapefruit to orange to lemon. I also detect a honey and pepper. This brew is on the fruit forward end of things, but there is still a light whiff of dank pine and sage.

T-The taste is not a complete fruit bomb like the smell. I still get grapefruit and other citrus as dominant, but there is more chalky, earthy, oily, dank flavor from the hops that moves on the stage here. I also pick up a hint of caramel malt, which makes for a nice balance. The concentration of flavor and balance of hop and malt are impressive.

M-The feel is mildly slick and oily. The carbonation is low and the weight is medium bodied.

O-It is hard for a brew like this to live up to the hype, and I'm not sure it did, but this is a damn good beer. The impressive thing here is the balance of malt and hops (and ABV, which is nearly imperceptible) combined with such an intensely strong flavor. Other brews that strive for intensity come of as overly bitter or one-trick ponies, but this brew does a great job of drinking well at 11.0% while maintaining full flavor force.

Photo of bradford
4.53/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Had on cask at Naja's Place on my 21st birthday.
I was excited watching the beertender pump this one out of the beer engine and my mouth was salivating as she handed me my first legal "good beer." The beer was a dark orange with very little active carbonation, but a uge white frothy head. The taste was... well it's Younger. It's fantastic. Hoppy, creamy, smooth, hoppy, delicious. This was a most fantastic beer, I wish I could drink more of it, but it was my 21st and I was at Naja's and there were way too many other beers I had to try that night. I might not have been the best "advocate" that night, but dammit, how many times o you turn 21 at Naja's? Fantastic stuff, highly reccomended.

Photo of Celismisser
4.53/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

Stood in line for 3 hours, got my ticket, and had this at my home brewery...Tustin Brewing Company.

Not many beers I would wait 3 hours for...and only waited that long because my beer drinking buddy was adamant that this is the best beer ever created in the history of mankind. Usually when someone tells you something is the best you end up disappointed...not this time.

Great beer, you can tell it has high content but it is still very easy to drink with a great high hop flavor.

Best thing I can say...I will be standing in line to get my ticket again next year.

Photo of TheFightfan1
4.53/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Thanks to the Hulmeville inn for this one.Limited to one per person but my wife who is pregant did not want any so WOOHOO!!! Two for me.

Poured a slighly hazy auburn color with a thin white heading. Lacing did stick around through every gulp and until the bitter end.

Smell is a little deceiving at first although the hops are clearly there in the taste there is more a lighter malty body in the nose. Bitter hops blast through with a nice hello.

Taste is smooth and malty as soon as the brew touches the tongue but a heavy citrusy - pineapple blast takes over.Very tasty indeed.

Mouth has excellent carbonation with a nice medium body. The pineapple grassy notes linger around for a long while. Again very alive on the palate.Alot lighter in the mouth than I would have anticipated not like a heavy syrup that you would find in other IIPA's.

Well this is good but honestly I don't know what all of the hubbub is about this brew with you CA folk. This is a very tasty brew but you can easily find other great IIPA's for less the hassle and wait but still a solid brew.

Pliny The Younger from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 2,470 ratings.