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Pliny The Elder - Russian River Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
100
world-class

10,849 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 10,849
Reviews: 3,197
rAvg: 4.65
pDev: 8.6%
Wants: 5,008
Gots: 1,891 | FT: 63
Brewed by:
Russian River Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial IPA |  8.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 08-24-2003)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 10,849 | Reviews: 3,197 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by Maxwell:
Photo of Maxwell
4.55/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours an oranging yellow with amber highlights, kind of like a sunrise… The beer forms a big, pillowy head of rocky white bubbles that are slightly off-white. The head lasts nicely, but does mellow down from its initial height to about a half-finger’s width. As the head dissipates, it leaves a nice sticky patchwork of lacing on the glass. In body the beer is crystal clear and clean, but does present a slight haze from the malt. On the nose, the beer smells of citrus and spicy pine. Floral and herbal notes dance around the edges of the nose but big citrus tangerine and grapefruit are the primary players in the beer. The nose is not blowing me away, but is just a very solid example of a hoppy beer dank pine and a touch of sweet caramel can also be sensed in the smell. As a whole, the smell tends to remind a little of a fresh pineapple blended with pine. On the tongue, the beer tastes surprisingly balanced. The bitters are big and coat the mouth, but there is a strong bready sweetness to add balance. Light stone fruit notes can be picked out in the hop character, as well. The finish sees the strongest bitter kick, which is a bit over powering and should feed any one’s bitter cravings. Acidity in the beer is light but bright on the sides of the cheeks. Again, this beer tastes like a classic DIPA. In flavor, the beer begins as sweet, candied citrus, expanding into fresh Florida oranges, with a touch of orange peel and rind. Grapefruit, pine needles, and pineapple dance in the back along with the malts superbly balanced sweet caramel bread, which helps to give the hops their candied quality. I wasn’t that taken with this beer on the initial sip, but that was foolish of me. Pliny is a subtle beast, building simple complexity from its hops, and making each sip different. Soft boozy heat can be felt in the back of the throat, but that is just another part of the complexity of this beer. This flavor is one I could sip all night. In the mouth, Pliny feels surprisingly on the light side of medium in body, with a fluffy carbonation that pillows the tongue nicely. Mouthfeel is slick, and crisp, making the beer dangerously easy to drink. Slight astringency can be felt as the beer moves across the tongue leaving the mouth only softly tingling with bitters. Saliva does gently pool in the cheeks, but overall the mouth is left rather clean and ready for further sips. Overall, this beer is a whale worthy of whaling after. Beautiful complexity and subtly make this a beer I could drink several of, which is dangerous for its ABV bracket. Where many of the modern DIPA’s slam you in the face with juicy hop character, Pliny is subtle and perfectly balanced. This will please the hop heads and even those that are skeptical to hops. My mother, a diehard stout fan, but “pale and hoppy beer” hater, actually loved this when I brought one over last night. My only complaint is that the nose is mild compared to some DIPA’s, but to be fair to Pliny, its recipe was developed before the designers of those other DIPA’s even knew they liked hops. Pliny the Elder is a pleasure to drink. I can’t wait to get my hands on more Russian River beers.

Maxwell, Dec 23, 2013
More User Reviews:
Photo of Beerampage
4.93/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. First time with this beer and I'm really stoked. Expectations can't possibly be met.

Poured lighter than expected for a double, but glassy and beautiful. Slight pale head.

Smells are what you would expect from the style. Very fresh smelling. Hops with more hops. Again, very fresh smelling.

The nose didn't lie. This isn't an overly citrus nor an overly piney hop bomb. It is what occurs when everything is balanced. Nothing jumps out and blows you up. It's just a very easy drinking, beautiful hoppy lovefest. The thing that separates this beer from its imitators and competitors is that you really want to drink the hell out of it, not just taste it over and over because it's good.

Mouthful is nice, not too resiny, and malt is clean and fresh. As soon as you swallow it, your mouth needs a refill. Just balance.

Somehow the hype matched the eexperience. In all facets of life, that's rare. By as many of these as you can and share with friends. Wow.

Beerampage, Jul 17, 2014
Photo of BeerAdvocate
4.88/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Review from BeerAdvocate magazine Vol. III Issue I:

One of the best labels in the world and a great wake-up call for overzealous über beer geeks who feel the need to age any and all beers. "Drink fresh, do not age! Pliny the Elder is a historical figure, don't make the beer inside this bottle one ... Age your cheese, not your Pliny ... Pliny is for savoring, not for saving!" Love it. "Respect hops, consume fresh!"

Light honey amber in color, topped with a big, fluffy, creamy white head with a ton of glass stickage. Massive ripe pineapple aroma in the nose, with pine, mint, sappy resins, powdery pale malts and a hint of alcohol. Silky smooth, medium bodied, with a very firm consistency and slightly chewy back. Hop presence is artfully chaotic. Nice prickly stab on the palate up front, semisharp bitterness, grassy, zesty grapefruit, deep smacking of ripe pineapple and pine. Juicy fruitiness, notes of apple and pear too. Dry middle with suggestions of chalky aspirin. Bready malts, soft and sweet, provide a nice backboard for the hops. Oily and ashy hop resins stick to the palate and follow through into a dry, bitter linger. Alcohol becomes sentient as the beer warms, speaking to us in tongues. And despite this, remains insanely drinkable.

One of the best DIPAs on planet Earth, ever.

BeerAdvocate, Sep 20, 2010
Photo of Jason
4.5/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

NOTE: If you are drinking this beer about 2 months past its freshness date then you are not getting the full experience.

500ml brown bottle with a bottled on freshness date.

Mildly hazed orange golden color, solid two fingers of head leave a nice crowning of sticky lace that leaves thick rings on the glass. Big hop aroma of evergreen, clementine rind, pineapple and fresh cut grass. Super smooth with a modest amount of carbonation. Prickly spicy hop bitterness with citric, mint and wild flower flavors that linger far into the aftertaste. Hint of nutty yeast and a big handful of biscuity malt are thrown at the palate and actually shows that this beer has balance. Full bursting orange grove flavor. The 8.0% stays hidden for the most part yet does yield a slow warmth about half way through the pint, a bit of ripe tropical fruitiness within from the esters. Finishes with that long drawn out hop bitterness and flavor as it leans towards the dry side.

Epic, a deserving epic as well even with all of the hype surrounding PTY. Pliny The Elder is the poster-boy for Double IPAs. Every hophead needs to put this on their must try list.

Jason, Feb 24, 2010
Photo of Antnego
4.73/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Popped open a bottle and poured into a chilled stein ... Big shout out to Neil at Red Carpet in Rancho Cucamonga for providing a bottle out of his personal stash!

A: 3.75 - Deep golden hue with almost no head on a slow pour, very thin and dark cream colored. Has an appearance of a typical adjunct lager. Lacing is insane, dense foam clings to the side of the glass.

S: 5 - BIG grapefruit, citrus and floral notes smack you in the nose, trailed by a dense, woody pine backdrop. I'm also detecting some dried fruit like cherries, peaches and figs. The fruitiness of this beer is VERY assertive.

T: 4.75 - The taste follows the smell, with a burst of citrus fruits, dried peaches, and deep pine notes. There is also a strong malty backbone with this one that keeps it from being overpowered by its intense hoppiness. The aftertaste is of strong bitterness from the hops that lingers for an eternity. It might be too much for the uninitiated, bit for hop-heads, it might be paradise.

M: 4.5 - Moderate carbonation, silky-smooth mouthfeel, intensely refreshing on the way down. Coats the tongue and throat quite nicely.

Overall - 4.75: All in all, this is my second divine experience tasting a Russian River offering. Normally, I'm not an IPA fan, but the fruity blend of hops here is so excellent - it's perfectly balanced with strong, sweet malt that keeps the aggressive hop flavor in check. The aftertaste was a bit strong, but that was easily remedied with another sip. The worst part of this beer is that it will be gone soon and I'll have to wait until I can reserve another!

Antnego, Jun 15, 2014
Photo of RoyalT
4.47/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - This came out a hazy, beautiful orange in color with a big, hefty white head.

Smell - This fella has a monster hop profile. The Pliny is piney, that's for sure. There actually seems to be a couple variations of pine smell in here along with some strong floral notes that carry that raw "off the vine" hop fragrance. The citrus hops are rich and sweetish.

Besides all that, this puppy has a huge malt profile. They aren't really toasted at all but have more of a caramel character. All and all this thing is packing quite a wallop!

Taste - This is a big, bountiful DIPA, full of all the delicious flavors from the aroma. All of the hops work in harmony to provide an amazing hop experience with every sip. The malts don't let up for a minute, either. The thick, caramel malts remind me of the 90 Minute. Everything is big yet very well balanced, in a massive hop-head kind of way.

Mouthfeel - This is big but I'd still call it medium-bodied. It is slickly smooth in the cheeks and dangerously easy to drink.

Drinkability - This goes down like none other. The Younger is bigger but doesn't go down as easy as this. At 8.0 ABV I'm sure this has snuck up on many a Russian River patron over the years.

Update - I first reviewed this in 2006 and had a chance to sample it from the bottle again in 2010. It is raw this year and has a monstrous pine aroma. The flavor will cause the uninitiated to dial 911. As massive as the hops are in this beer, to me, still as I said four years ago, it is the malt backbone that separates this man from the boys. I've seen a few examples like this of hop overkill, but this is the only really big monster hop beer that tries to be a true, complete, well-rounded beer if you know what I mean. Most won't even notice the malt base as this one is so hoppy, but it's that almost unnoticeable malt backbone that completes the package.

RoyalT, Mar 25, 2006
Photo of IronCity1822
4.5/5  rDev -3.2%

IronCity1822, Nov 08, 2013
Photo of aszatk01
4.5/5  rDev -3.2%

aszatk01, Mar 11, 2012
Photo of cam477
5/5  rDev +7.5%

cam477, Dec 19, 2012
Photo of DaPeculierDane
4.3/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On tap at Toronado. Bright amber orange with a full white head. Head lasts well for an IPA. Body is medium to full with intermittent carbonation attacks. Aroma comes on complexly featuring an appealing amount of pineapple on top of a subtle pine/juniper base. By far, however, the pine is overshadowed by citrus juice, peaches, and grapefruit. The aroma could be described as candy like if it didn’t trigger receptors in your brain that say: Warning Hop Blast A’comin! Feels tangy and acidic with a citrus medley blast of lime, lemon, grapefruit, and nectarine. Perfectly balanced (for the style) with a sweet malt base and only residual pine oils in the flavor. More delicate then expected. My tongue is not destroyed after two glasses. I guess that makes this one a drinker.

DaPeculierDane, May 22, 2006
Photo of pbsmooth
5/5  rDev +7.5%

pbsmooth, Dec 14, 2011
Photo of DanGeo
4/5  rDev -14%

DanGeo, Jul 09, 2013
Photo of Supersweetshirts
4.93/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This was the perfect double I.P.A., no question about it. The beer pours a hazy golden color with not much head. I found it to have more carbonation that some of the other double I.P.A.'s I've had. Pliny gives off an incredible aroma of pine with barely a hint of fruit. It was a little too cold for our first few tastes so the hop explosion was very intense, but as the beer dropped in temperature you could taste every element to this beer perfectly. An initial hop explosion that leaves a citrus, grapefruit, taste lingering behind with absolutely no undesirable aftertaste. The only thing that I can find wrong with this beer is that it is incredibly difficult to find. Places were sold out of it or had limited quantities. If you are ever on the west coast, this beer is a must!

Supersweetshirts, May 28, 2011
Photo of wahba
5/5  rDev +7.5%

wahba, Mar 05, 2012
Photo of tectactoe
4.88/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 5

Finally got to try this one thanks to Johnny Ramirez. Can't thank him enough! This has been on my wants list as long as I can remember. Pours a perfect amber color with amazing clarity - something not necessarily expected from a DIPA. Very clean looking with a long-lasting head, super white, thick, and foamy.

The aroma is, bluntly put, motherfucking outrageous. Simply amazing. Heavy ass pineapple and citrus aroma, right along with orange zest and lemon. Hops-to-the-walls; piney, leafy, floral, perfume-like. This amazing balance on the nose between sweet-bitter and fruit-hops is incredible. The pineapple kills me - powerful and pure, not fake or artificial in any way. A total forest of hops, trees, pines, fruits, mangos, pineapples, etc. I want a goddamn Pliny the Elder air freshener.

The taste starts off with an up-front smash of hops; wet, bitter, and assertive, but not harsh, overpowering, or off-putting. These hops are perfect in every way. Piney, oily, and resinous. Alcohol presence is noticeable but never intrudes and is always welcomed. Heavy malt backbone balances everything perfectly. The sweetness from the pineapples and mangos are well-timed and synchronize perfectly with the hops. The flavor profile on this beer is executed eloquently and masterfully. Medium-thick body, mild stickiness, perfect carbonation.

I was scared the hype would ruin this for me. How can a beer seriously live up to the ridiculous amount of hype that Pliny regularly gets? Not only did it live up to those expectations, it surpassed them. I promised myself I wouldn't be swayed by the reviews and wouldn't "say I liked it, just to like it" - but it's impossible. There's a reason this beer is so highly acclaimed. It's ridiculously amazing.

tectactoe, Dec 10, 2012
Photo of ricke
4.43/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Deep golden color with a sticky off-white head that leaves nice lacings.

The aroma very intense with a big punch of exotic fruits - grapefruit, pineapple, mango, you name it. Grassy and resiny hop aromas as well, and hints of tobacco. Crisp malts underneath provides a lovely balance.

The flavor is fairly sweet with a nice crisp maltiness of caramel beneath an abundance of hops. Hops, hops and more hops. Great juicy fruit aromas and notes of pine-needles. The finish is bitter and resiny with lingering fresh hop notes.

Big body, smooth mouthfeel with a nice semi-dry finish.

As far as Double IPAs goes, it doesn't get much better than this. Easy to drink is an understatement for this one.

ricke, May 21, 2010
Photo of jedschlueter
5/5  rDev +7.5%

jedschlueter, Feb 26, 2014
Photo of DavyJones
4.25/5  rDev -8.6%

DavyJones, Apr 10, 2012
Photo of t2grogan
3/5  rDev -35.5%

t2grogan, Oct 09, 2014
Photo of OhioBobcat
4.75/5  rDev +2.2%

OhioBobcat, Sep 08, 2013
Photo of MadScientist
4.25/5  rDev -8.6%

MadScientist, Mar 18, 2013
Photo of CavemanRamblin
5/5  rDev +7.5%

CavemanRamblin, Aug 10, 2014
Photo of jono0101
4.5/5  rDev -3.2%

jono0101, Nov 27, 2013
Photo of MaxT
5/5  rDev +7.5%

MaxT, Jul 28, 2013
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Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 10,849 ratings.