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Pliny The Elder - Russian River Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
100
world-class

12,318 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 12,318
Reviews: 3,472
rAvg: 4.66
pDev: 7.94%
Wants: 6,171
Gots: 2,790 | FT: 93
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: 12,318 | Reviews: 3,472
Reviews by phillybeer7779:
Photo of phillybeer7779
4.97/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On tap in a pint glass at Monk's.
A- Orange/gold color with the right amount of head and lacing.
S- This smells of pure hops, amazing and lets you know what you're in for.
T- This is the best tasting beer I have ever had. Strong citrus notes, especially grapefruit. Overall, though, it s totally balanced in its unbalanced-ness, if that makes sense.
M- Hops coated my mouth while drinking, perfectly carbonated.
D-While not exactly a session beer, I could drink this all day with no regrets. This is the best beer I ever had!

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 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 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 MartzMimic
4.9/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Pours from the bottle a clear golden apricot with two fingers of white head. It reduces to foam, leaving heavy lacing. Loads of citrus, tropical fruits and pine in the aroma. There's plenty of piney hops, but it's nicely balanced with grapefruit, mango and pineapple. There's enough malt to give it a nice creaminess. Medium mouth with a touch of lingering bitterness. This certainly lives up to its reputation. Being Valentine's Day, it reminds me of my wife: Close to perfection and better than I deserve.

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 dikebrewery
2.75/5  rDev -41%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.25

If this beer had a vagina I'd definitely have sexual relations with it! I'm seriously considering divorcing the wife and starting a new life with Pliny the Elder. I want to make babies with this beer and pick out window treatments on a Sunday while the big game is on and you know what I don't care about missing the game because I'm in love! And if you can't respect that then Gtfoh!!

Photo of GregSpeaksHisMind
2.23/5  rDev -52.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

One of my fraternity pledges from California brought a bottle of this back after spring break... I bonged it to the dome and yacked everywhere. Honestly it felt better coming up than going down. Never again will I drink this weak shit.

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 jow_42
4.95/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

16oz bottle (4 days old!) poured into a Russian River pint glass

A - crystal clear, golden amber color. Tons of carbonation. Bright white, fluffy head.

S - Super dank, piney, grapefruit, grapefruit pith. Very bitter, in your face hops. West Coast style at its finest.

T - Amazing stuff. Huge grapefruit bitterness, orange, pine, resinous, dank hops. Grapefruit rind, orange pith on the back end. Bitterness lingers, but the bready malts balance Pliny well. Very easy drinking for an 8%

O - I've had Pliny tons, but having a 4 day old bottle in So Cal was a treat. People say this is a fast fader, but it doesn't get much better than this - for the West Coast style - when fresh. Highest of recommendations.

Photo of Rabae6
5/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Muy bien equilibrada, amargor persistente en el fondo de la boca, sabores cítricos, piña y pino.

Photo of johnhatesgreg
4.85/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

this @gregspeakshismind is total RUBBISH!!!! He chugs his craft beer?? Do not take a young boy like himself serious. Just had this TODAY, the smell is grand, taste, look, and when slightly chilled, it's fantastic. Overall very satisfied with this craft beer.Do no listen to him and report him if you can, he only writes negative reviews. Gregspeakshismind, stick to naty ice if you love beer bonging so much, little boy. LMFAO.

Photo of Jjski
4.83/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Golden shimmering with light
Glorious tiny bubbles
Aroma of pineapple , lemon zest, candied orange wedges
Taste as smell with sweet tart citrus zing, bittering dry finish. Not a bitter bomb, as there is some malt sweetness with nuances of Mango
Lightish mouthfeel thatt corresponds to 8% Abv. Not syrupy or tongue coating. The lingering perceptions is dry hops, not sugar.

It really is THAT good. It's hard to believe that it lived up to the hype. If you are looking for an astringent, bitter, hop overload to point of excess: it's not for you. Try Palate Wrecker or Devi Dancer. This has fineness, subtlety, and craftsmanship while bringing hops to the forefront.

Previous double/single ipa favorites: NEBCO Ghandi Bot, Bells Hopslam, Founders Harvest Wet Hop, Deschutes Chasin Freshies: This is right there at the top with its perfect balance of flavors and mouthfeel.

Art in a glass. Great beer makes me slow down and savor every sip. I didn't want this one to end

Photo of Originalredman
4.47/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Great great great beer!!
Thank you beer mail

Photo of KATCanada
4.95/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Great beer, could drink it all day.

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 Pazzy30
4.4/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

The most balanced DIPA I have had but didn't live up to the hype for me. But overall very enjoyable. Mouthfeel is exceptional.

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 1sophrosyne1
4.32/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a lovingly shipped aliquot (thank you MNishCT77) born on 021115 into IPA glasses and enjoyed in both sips and gulps over 30 minutes.

It fills a lustrous golden base with stinging clarity and ample lines of rising carbonation. Those bubbles feed a white head of soap suds that hangs on nicely, maintaining frothy clumps down to nearly the last sip. Lacing is pretty, but finer than the cap would predict.

The nose is surprisingly mute--not unpleasant at all. But dank and toasty in a way that mutes the expected fruits and evergreens. There's even a touch of musty, fermenting earth under the pineapple, mango, and dried spruce. With warmth, the bouquet gets a little more interesting with some apricot and unripe raspberry notes.

Flavors are so intricately woven together and shrouded in a thin coat of barley, that nothing stands out here either. It's a testament to expert craftsmanship, but also lacks compelling taste -- I find myself reaching for another sip and another and another looking for the flavors I thought would jump over my teeth. This creation does leave room for a nice note of sweet soil and organic hen blend, though. After a bitter beginning that is cut short by the feel of bubbles, there's a breadfruit and mango essence that slides across pithy citrus into just the right amount of hop twang and funk. But then, there isn't much to follow apart from a nutty chew that's part of extended length that offers only flavor suggestions in an almost watery watermelon and guava quench. Papaya comes out when it's warm. Bigger gulps offer more compelling hits of flavor and there is more fruit clinging to the yeast in the bottom, but man would it take a lot of drinking to enjoy it that way...

The mouthfeel absolutely tops the list of elements here. It feels so good to keep drinking and playing with, despite my yearning for more intense flavor. It appears to have more carbonation than it delivers; and that's just right for the light but clingy hop oils and muted earthiness. Those bubbles bring out a hint of spice mid-palate that helps it go with food (enjoyed my pork BBQ)--but this may be the easiest drinking double I've ever had because of how it lays out over the tongue and slides down.

This beer is remarkably assembled. I find it downright soft and buoyant, and there's nothing out of balance. Sadly, though, I find the lack of seams and absence of powerful flavors a bit disappointing. It lacks character, even though I appreciate just how technically sound it is. It's like listening to finely filtered Kenny G piped into an art gallery instead of John Coltrane live. I might pick up that album and listen again and again to marvel at the technique, but I'd really rather be in the smoke and sweat of a jazz club, even if going back means it won't ever be the same twice.

Photo of mattcrill
4.8/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Major thanks to Tammisbutler for the opportunity to sample this one.

Aroma: Big piney notes hop out of the glass. As the beer is swirled pineapple, grapefruit, and orange aromas are noted. Fermentation character is clean.

Appearance: Crystal clear amber pour with a 2-finger white cap that retains well. Leaves sticky lacing on the glass.

Flavor: Huge rush of pineapple and grapefruit character right out of the gate. There is a bit of orange slice sweetness in the background that lends a cool counterpoint. I think this light sweetness makes it drinkable and incredibly tasty so the hops have something to work with. Balance is to the wonderfully bitter and flavorful hops. Finish is bone dry. Aftertaste is lingering and powdery bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Light bodied, moderately high carbonation, and slightly oily. No heat or astringency.

Overall impression: A wonderful treat. Definitely worth the hype. Will seek out and have again.

Photo of Ccagno15
4.52/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Finally got this in a trade it definitely lives up to the hype this is a ridiculously well balanced dipa

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Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 12,318 ratings.