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Pliny The Elder - Russian River Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder

Educational use only; do not reuse.

11,681 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 11,681
Reviews: 3,312
rAvg: 4.66
pDev: 7.94%
Wants: 5,597
Gots: 2,327 | FT: 76
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:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 08-24-2003

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 11,681 | Reviews: 3,312 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by RyanSchwam:
Photo of RyanSchwam
4.5/5  rDev -3.4%

More User Reviews:
Photo of Beerampage
4.92/5  rDev +5.6%
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.

Photo of BeerAdvocate
4.87/5  rDev +4.5%
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.

Photo of Jason
4.5/5  rDev -3.4%
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.

Photo of Antnego
4.73/5  rDev +1.5%
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!

Photo of Cheynem
4.78/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Pliny the Elder is a very fresh and delicious double IPA with great balance.

It's not a miracle beer. There are better DIPAs in my opinion like NightTime from Lagunitas. But it's one of the best in its class for sure.

I think people tend to overrate this beer because it can be hard to find a really fresh, balanced DIPA. So they get one for the first time and go crazy for it.

These days though it's not terribly difficult to find competing brews at several places in CA.

Photo of RoyalT
4.47/5  rDev -4.1%
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.

Photo of obiwan_k3n00bi
4.25/5  rDev -8.8%

Had it too many times to care, it's good. But no one cares any more.

Photo of SportsandJorts
3.99/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: a yellow to dull golden color. Fairly good clarity but some slight haze to it. A finger of a frothy head that hardly fades at all and leaves a huge lacing on the sides. A damn good looking dipa

Smell: pine, citrus, herbal. Lots of hops but a fairly generous amount of sweet and lighter crystal malts to it. The malts are just a touch too sweet for me.

Taste: opens up with a good dose of sweet crystal malts. Backend is full of hops. Pine is first, then comes herbal and some floral. Some citrus. A bit of bitter resiny hops.

Mouthfeel: medium body. Nice strong bitterness. Some lingers but not too much.

Overall: this one doesn't disappoint me. It's not the greatest dipa, but I didn't expect it too. Great strong bitter hops too it.

Photo of 1jstafan
5/5  rDev +7.3%

Had to adjust my rating up to a 5 just drank a fresh Pliny for the first time, only thing better would be on tap.

Photo of BeerCountry
5/5  rDev +7.3%

This beer is like giving a grapefruit permission to discharge in your mouth. I always tried to deny that I liked grapefruit, but this beer helped me come out of the closet.

I love this beer and I purposefully bring different friends to the store every Tuesday (delivery day) so that they can buy the maximum amount that is allowed per visit (2). Then once the closing clerk is on the clock, I tell my wife that I'll bring her to dinner if she'll come in and buy separately buy her 2 Pliny's (they only allow 3 Pliny's to be sold per group).

On a good week, I enjoy 8 Pliny's. On a better week, I go to the bar 1-2x's and help them sell it out in the first 1-2 days that it's delivered.

Yes, I know that I have a problem. At least I get to enjoy my problem more than you.

Photo of Sam-VW
4.48/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Bottle poured into Nordic pint glass

A - pours looking like a macro lager but with a better head leaving great lacing

S - grapefruit, pine, freshly cut grass

T - grapefruit, lots of pine and a very sweet citra style finish with freshly but grass and pine

M - so smooth it's ridiculous. Perfect carbonation for this style

Photo of oberon
3.91/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Finally....finally I have a bottle of this beer.
Bottled on 2/17/11,fresh as well.Poured into an imperial nonic a rich burnt orange tinged golden with a large blooming white that left broken chunks of lace behind as it settled into a frothy mass.Much lighter aromas than expected,resin and grapefruit mixed with a firm dryer malt base,a little iron is in there as well.Resiny and bitter flavors are the main component flavor-wise,again the malt base is dry wich is good with way to many of the style to sweet.The alcohol is incredibly well hidden mainly because the sweetness is in check,its a very good beer but I gotta say I have had better of the style.While I like Hopslam,Dreadnaught,Oracle,and Hercules better, its a good beer,worth the rating?....Not so sure.

Photo of IronCity1822
4.5/5  rDev -3.4%

Photo of mojohawk21
5/5  rDev +7.3%

Photo of aszatk01
4.5/5  rDev -3.4%

Photo of braugon
4.22/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

I had two on tap in Philly. Very excited when the waitress mentioned it, because like many, I thought I might never get to taste it. This beer has a golden-red, rather clear hue. A small white head. An amazing citrus smell that you know is gonna taste good, just from one sniff. Taste is very crisp, refreshing, and citrusy. Grapefruit mostly, with medium body. Could drink a lot of these in a single sitting. I still give an edge to Gandhi Bot as slightly better tasting, because as a local, I have my biases =), but I liked Pliny so much, I thought I would add to the chorus of complimentary reviews. Worth the hype in my opinion, of course I was lucky and didn't have to wait in a line or trade to get a taste, very fortunate on my part. Right bar, right time.

Photo of cam477
5/5  rDev +7.3%

Photo of DaPeculierDane
4.31/5  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.

Photo of pbsmooth
5/5  rDev +7.3%

Photo of DanGeo
4/5  rDev -14.2%

Photo of Supersweetshirts
4.92/5  rDev +5.6%
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!

Photo of wahba
5/5  rDev +7.3%

Photo of Smokesnotes
4.87/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Photo of tectactoe
4.87/5  rDev +4.5%
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.

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Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 11,681 ratings.