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Pliny The Elder - Russian River Brewing Company

Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

8,783 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 8783
Reviews: 3062
rAvg: 4.65
pDev: 8.17%

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: 8,783 | Reviews: 3,062 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of Beejis60

New York

1.83/5  rDev -60.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

Bottled 2/24/11

A: straw
S: good, nothing epic, had better smelling ipas
T: bad. And the the hype surrounding this beer made it taste even worse. Tasted like cigarettes, burnt toast, and alcohol. Needs A LOT more malt.
M: sharp from the carbonation, bad from the cigarette-ness. Went down partially smooth, I suppose
O: Again, was very disappointed in this beer, especially with all the hype it gets. Will not drink the other three I have in the basement.

Serving type: bottle

03-20-2011 04:50:59 | More by Beejis60
Photo of VicSlick


2.2/5  rDev -52.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 3

I dont know I f I got a bad batch of this beer but it is definitely NOT WORTHY OF AN A+!

Bought four pint bottles from Whole Foods Cupertino. Thre reason I bought four is because I was expecting an awesome brewski.

Appearance is average. It pours a Budweiser Yellow. Lets be honest.

Smell is okay. I dont really judge any beer off its smell.

Taste. This is where it gets weird. I took the first sip of beer and I tasted the intense flavor of ALCOHOL. I know a Double IPA is gonna be a strong beer but the smell and palate feel was that of a post vodka shot. I hope this is a bad batch, cause I really wanna enjoy this beer. I just didnt.

Mouthfeel. SEE TASTE.

Overall, I would not pay $5 a pint for a beer I had a bad experience with ever again, but if a friend buys me one, I would be open to trying it again in hopes that the batch was on point.

Serving type: bottle

07-14-2011 00:59:43 | More by VicSlick
Photo of wolfio62


2.4/5  rDev -48.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

I expected BIG things from this Ale. TOTALLY OVER RATED!!! One dimensional with no sophistication . Tasted like a pine cone or kitty litter, take your pick, Very short after taste that finished like balsa wood. Can't figure out all the hype??? I tasted this with 2 other Beer Drinkers, and we all felt the same.

Serving type: bottle

11-07-2010 14:14:13 | More by wolfio62
Photo of Dennrat

2.4/5  rDev -48.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 1 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Does it live up to the hype?No. I guess I'm the odd man out. The Emperor is wearing no clothes. Aroma is good, sweet and astringent, apricot/orange and orange peel.The appearance is fine. The taste is unbalanced. The bitterness bubbles too strong to the back of the mouth leaving an unpleasant aftertaste. The palate is fine. Overall for my taste, sweetness and bitterness should have been blended better. Being a new beergeek, I'm not that sophisticated yet, so I'll take a Dogfish Head 90 Minute over "The Elder" any day.

Serving type: bottle

11-07-2012 03:53:55 | More by Dennrat
Photo of cjnuxoll


2.63/5  rDev -43.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pliny was a huge letdown... First, it took me a month of going from store to store to track it down. And when I finally found it in stock, I was rationed to two bottles.

I mean I was really, really disappointed. Maybe my palette was off? I was tired and waited until the kid was in bed. I had nothing but water leading up. The pour was strange; no head. Low carbonation. It was reddish in color. It was very hoppy in flavoring in the front, but due to the low carbonation, it lacked any yeast or wheat taste, which I like. It had a strong bitter finish that I just couldn't overcome. Not as strong or spicy as Knee Deep's Simtra, which has a better flavor. Pliny wasn't worth the search or wait. Stone Enjoy By is much, much, much better. Maybe my expectations were too high; I don't know. I'm really bummed. I'm not sure how it got a 100 on ratebeer.com or a 100 on beeradvocate.com.

Serving type: bottle

07-30-2013 15:07:22 | More by cjnuxoll
Photo of IpaBeerDrinkers


2.64/5  rDev -43.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.75

Very basic and uninspiring offering. Huge dissapointment. Taste is of a traditional west coast IPA, which is fine, but its a very unimaginative attempt at the style. Have had this fresh twice, felt the same way both times. Heady Topper is vastly better, as are most quality west coast ipas coming out right now.

Serving type: bottle

03-31-2014 17:17:54 | More by IpaBeerDrinkers
Photo of chevega


2.7/5  rDev -41.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Not sure the hype of this beer. Seems most people are willing to kill to get their hands on such a mediocre beer. It's supposedly a double IPA, but in my opinion lacks the hoppiness to be even called a West Coast Style IPA, less that of a DIPA. The smell is reasonable, the taste is just ok. For the money and availability of this beer, the number of other beers outweigh any reason for me to enjoy this product. The color is nice, but that's hardly an achievement. If I could get this everyday, I could rate it higher.

Serving type: bottle

03-12-2012 10:39:10 | More by chevega
Photo of charlesw

New York

2.73/5  rDev -41.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

To be something that I would enjoy drinking it would need... More color, head that lasts longer, less harsh bitterness and more body.

Now, I could look this one up - check it out, make sure that it's really not to style. But, hey, I guess I'm not going to. Instead I'm going to be the guy who gave it a bad rating.

Would I feel badly saying directly to the brewer that I didn't like it? Yup. Would I still say that it's one dimensional - low on the body and malt flavors, wicked bitter and one dimensional? Well, maybe not in those words, but I hope that I would. I mean, hey, it's wicked bitter and one dimensional - and I like bitter beers. Ah. I like bitter beers with some balance to them.

So, yeah, I'll probably just delete this review at some point. Of course, 1,000,000 people jumping off of the bridge can be wrong...

I greatly appreciate the opportunity to try this one out! Beer trading rocks and if I can set you up with something, hey, let me know.

Serving type: bottle

10-25-2008 20:27:23 | More by charlesw
Photo of scott


2.88/5  rDev -38.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2


Fresh / dated 07.10.08

Pours nicely with a fair amount of carbonation building a nicely formed loose head that has some staying power. Light copper coloring, minimal passive carbonation after sitting a moment, lots of lacing.
Aromatics are pleasant, but this does not transfer to the tongue. Soapy and bitter. I have wanted to get my hands on this for sometime and it did not deliver. There is nothing that makes me go "Wow!". No complexity, nothing to savor, nothing that entices the palate, nothing that slakes the thirst. Huge let down.

Serving type: bottle

08-04-2008 23:56:34 | More by scott
Photo of dleemiller


2.93/5  rDev -37%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I was quite surprised to find a bottle of this in Steamboat, CO. It seems to be a rarity in most parts. As a lover of all things IPA, I had high expectations, which were not met.

Before drinking the beer, I probably knew less about it than most who purchase it. I like my IPAs heavily dry hopped, but the pleasantries of the dry hopping procedure were greatly overwhelmed and sidelined by the bittering hops. I was somewhat uncertain that the beer had even been dry hopped. I also felt the beer was overly thin in the mouth resulting from a total lack of malt.

Overall, I found the beer quite uninteresting. I'd be willing to try it again from tap, but not in a bottle. Maybe it loses its qualities in travel, but it could not have been very old, considering the extremely short length of time it's available in store coolers. I suspect that the hype for this beer has been manufactured by limiting the supply, as I can think of at least a half dozen DIPAs that I would prefer. All I can say is try it yourself (if you can), but don't throw away your palate just because it's been so well reviewed.

Serving type: bottle

06-25-2011 03:18:08 | More by dleemiller
Photo of Jammies


2.93/5  rDev -37%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A- pours a yellowish orange with a quarter an inch of foam. Great retention, decent lacing

S- light and slightly hoppy, not much there

T- Mild citrus notes. very bitter! Nothing can really compare with the bitterness.

M- smooth and watery. Rolls off the tongue nicely

O- for being a top rated beer on a lot of forums, I'm disappointed. I've had plenty of IPAs that are both comparable and better overall.

Serving type: bottle

10-02-2011 15:23:44 | More by Jammies
Photo of jnelriley


2.98/5  rDev -35.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

I had high expectations about this beer, its reputation certainly preceded it because it seemed to appeal to most beer drinkers. This is a beautiful beer, it has good color and looks quite appealing, however I thought that the mismatch of its grapefruit aroma and it's highly tart smell and it's low citrus draw made it oddly unstable on the palate. The extreme hop flavor was overpowering and only on the back end did I get any of what I was expecting. The taste is, as an Imperial IPA should be, a kick in the face of flavor, but it left me confused and wondering what the brewers thought when they tasted this paradox of smell versus taste. There are other Imperial IPAs that are true to their aromatic profile and I think that this beer seems to be an ultra-hopped beer in disguise. A good beer, but not something that I would tout as an example of a perfect beer.

Serving type: bottle

01-25-2011 02:50:59 | More by jnelriley
Photo of deebo


2.98/5  rDev -35.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Too many other beers I wanted to try at RR so I brought this one home to enjoy. Bottled 020612 so only a few days old.

A-With a vigorous pour from bottle into pint glass this one pours 3 fingers of rocky white head, that laces the glass while you drink and maintains a layer while drinking. Completely clear with a golden color.

S-Hop bomb. Citrus (tangerine), piney and slightly floral. Actually smells a bit buttery/creamy. Plenty of malted barley aroma as well.

T-The hops are in charge upfront and in the finish. Really heavy on the pine needle and sap character. Some fresh grass here too. Some malt in the middle but is quickly dominated by more hops. Finish is long and definitely bitter.

M-Is a bit pine sappy and sticks to the palate with resiny bitterness. It actually starts making my mouth water after putting a few ounces down. Plenty of lively carbonation there as well. Alcohol is non existant-well done at 8%.

O-This is a must for hop heads-definitely leans heavy on the pine tree type hop flavor. I prefer more of a tropical hop bite versus this resiny pine tree style. If you like your bitter receptors pounded into oblivion this is a great beer for you. I'd rather have a Bell's Hophead that balances the hops with a little more malt backbone. A fun beer to try-but I dig others much better than this one.

Serving type: bottle

02-10-2012 02:35:01 | More by deebo
Photo of HinsdaleILbeerdrinker


3/5  rDev -35.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

While vacationing in Southern California, went to the Stone brewery in San Diego. They are the distributor for Russian River. Bottle was three weeks old. Being from Chicago, looking forward to my first taste of Pliny. Smell was okay. didn't get the pine smell others mention. Taste is best described as boring. I didn't get any hop bite or tingling or malt sweetness. Definitely easy drinking but that's not what I'm looking for in an 8.0 abv beer. Overall, glad to try but reaffirmed that there are plenty of great local (Midwest) beers to enjoy and much better West Coast options.

Serving type: bottle

08-29-2013 02:44:57 | More by HinsdaleILbeerdrinker
Photo of spazaru


3.05/5  rDev -34.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I had this on tap at O Brien's in San Diego.

Let me just say that this must be one of the most overhyped beers on BA. Moderately hoppy, slightly floral smelling, and an average mouthfeel. Nothing really stood out.

It smelled, tasted, and felt like a regular IPA. Not bad certainly, but nothing special. Alesmith, Stone, Bear Republic, Oggi's and even Green Flash make much better West Coast IPAs.

Kind of made me feel good because I thought after the reviews that maybe I didn't live in the IPA capital of California.

SoCal can relax. We aren't threatened by the wine country yet!

Serving type: on-tap

01-08-2006 04:35:16 | More by spazaru
Photo of DarthKostrizer


3.05/5  rDev -34.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Look: Beer pours a nice copper color with visible amounts of carbonation bubbles and a half inch think head and a tad bit of lacing

Smell: The beer smells like someone crushed up dandelions in their sweaty palms

Taste: The beer actually goes down really smooth without alot of bitterness which is nice. That being said it taste like I took a bite of an orange tree branch

Mouthfeel: Medium body and a tad bit dry and grainy kinda like i chewed on some hop flowers

Overall: Not quite sure why this beer is rated so highly to be honest. If you have never had this beer before try it and then make sure and give it an A+ rating that it does not deserve

Serving type: bottle

06-09-2011 04:12:40 | More by DarthKostrizer
Photo of SteveMi

North Carolina

3.05/5  rDev -34.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Light colored and and pretty clear. Moderately carbonated.

S - Grapefruit is right up front. It's pleasant but nothing unique or special.

T - I was a little disappointed here. It's hoppy, but I get a lot more grapefruit than anything else and I've had that with many other west coast IPA's. I do see the balance but I think I personally like more of a hop bite in my IPA's.

M - Clean and crisp. Slight carbonation in each sip. Almost the refreshing you can get from wheats.

O - It's not bad by any stretch but I didn't feel it as special as many other reviewers do.

Serving type: on-tap

11-16-2012 23:12:49 | More by SteveMi
Photo of nickporjr

New York

3.08/5  rDev -33.8%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

overrated. have been waiting to find this beer for a while now, and when i got it, wasn't special. boring color, no head, the hops caused an imbalance of taste. had alot better balanced ipas in vancouver. hopefully plindy the younger tastes better when I come around to actually find it, but this time i won't be so hyped to try it.

Serving type: on-tap

05-12-2009 20:15:40 | More by nickporjr
Photo of bgramer


3.13/5  rDev -32.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to Slatetank for the trade!

I opened a bottle and poured into a tulip glass. The color is a deep reddish-copper and golden color with a great head reaching just short of a finger. The carbonation isn't too much to swallow but leaves nice wispy swirls in the head as it settles in. The lacing and viscosity leaves a nice finish hanging onto the glass as I swirl it a bit and drink it down.

This is a strong beer with a great hoppy, somewhat citrus-y flavor and smooth body that finishes with a dry bitter taste. While you definitely taste the alcohol, it just feels warm and doesn't overpower the flavor.

This is pretty good DIPA but IPAs really aren't my thing.

Serving type: bottle

02-28-2008 21:38:19 | More by bgramer
Photo of pgetchell


3.13/5  rDev -32.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Head was nice and it was consistent with the appearance. It maintained the head for an average amount of time
Smell was very mild with the obvious presence of hops.
Taste was too bitter for my palate, I did not enjoy the hoppiness. This also was reflected in the mouthfeel. I had a bitter aftertaste for more than a comfortable amount of time after I swallowed.

Serving type: on-tap

09-20-2012 19:44:46 | More by pgetchell
Photo of Nektar-der-Gotter

New Jersey

3.16/5  rDev -32%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.25

This was my second DIPA (had Lagunitas Maximus in bottle the prior day). Was out in the Bay Area so drove up to Santa Rosa to try it right at the source - the Russian River Brewpub. Had a pint at the bar before dinner. It was definitely unique but not something I would seek out for future drinking. For me it finished too bitter and like the other DIPA I had (Lagunitas Maximus) had a hint of something rank on hitting the tongue. Comparing the two it was definitely preferable to the Lagunitas with more interesting flavor components and a smoother mouthfeel. I ended up getting a sampler of all 15 beers they had on tap after this pint, and ended up preferring several of their other beers (Perdition, OVL Stout, almost everything except the sour ales). Obviously YMMV and if you like DIPAs I can only assume you'll love this. Thinking about my preferences, I'd take a good Bock/Eisbock/Barleywine in the cooler months and a tasty Hefeweizen/Lager in the warmer months over Pliny any day. I'd still be up for trying a pint of Younger if I am around here in February just to make sure this tasting wasn't a fluke.

Serving type: on-tap

05-06-2013 04:00:56 | More by Nektar-der-Gotter
Photo of azorie


3.18/5  rDev -31.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 1

I like to thank KickbacksSteve and James for my 2 bottles.

I usually do not review beers I not a big fan of but if your given 2 500ml bottles, you might as well review the stuff. So this is from a non IPA fan point of view:

The first bottle I had was nearly 2 months old, so I did not review that 1, this 2nd one is 1 week old.

A: Poured into a mug at 45F. It is clear looking no yeast, brilliant, pale gold body with a sudsy, enduring, white head.

S: Well its a hop bomb as expected. flowery pine tar bomb, citrus oils, resinous pine, and even some fruit.

T: Some sweetness from the malt. The alcohol is not bad, as it warmed up the pine increases,lemon oil. pine needles swimming in pine tar sap,some grapefruit, fruit hints with some spice after notes. not to bad.

M: Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation. oily

D:dry, hoppy, pine tar bomb, as expected. I could not stand another, not as easy to drink as some DIPA I had. But its not terrible.

Notes: i liked the 2 month bottle the best. it mellowed some and while its not fresh as it should be, I could enjoy it more at that stage, but then again i prefer balanced beers.

Serving type: bottle

08-11-2010 14:26:43 | More by azorie
Photo of chromemittenman


3.18/5  rDev -31.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I waited a long time for this...I was on a trip to Colorado and not only found it in bottles, but found it on tap too, along with several other Russian River brews which I tried.

I must say, I was let down, I thought for a Double IPA Pliny was very weak. I actually blind taste tested this against 3 other DIPA's and had 2 other people try them and they chose Pliny as the least tasteful each time. I thought it was quite boring actually. I mean it was a good drinkable DIPA, but doesn't pack much punch, lacks on the alchohol, and lacks on the hops...maybe thats why it is so popular, is a more of an "appealing to the masses" style, rather than a good 13% or so DIPA like many others I've tried that will knock your socks off. I tried 7 RR beers, including Pliny the Younger and have to say I don't see where all the hype is AT ALL.

Serving type: bottle

07-22-2011 09:48:40 | More by chromemittenman
Photo of BAstoutsNsours


3.18/5  rDev -31.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

500ml bottle served in a snifter.

a-golden pee color with a decent head and lacing, clear, which is usually not a sign of what a like in a good IPA
s-smell of fresh pine, generic citrus, cat pee, and marijuana
t-not at all blown away here, taste is muted for a DIPA, more pine.
m-not as sticky as say Abner or Heady, decent carb
o-not impressed, yes I could drink this every day without problem, but nowhere near a top contender among others like Abner, Double Sunshine, Heady, Sculpin, and Nelson. I'm happy to receive it as an extra but wouldn't trade just for it, meh.

Serving type: bottle

01-01-2013 02:30:18 | More by BAstoutsNsours
Photo of SBXLII

New York

3.19/5  rDev -31.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had an 8-23-13 side by side with a 6-1-13 Heady Topper. The Pliny does not hold a candle to the Heady. It had basically become a malt bomb whereas the Heady literally tasted as good as the day it was purchased in Waterbury.
Terribly disappointed in all the hype.
Green Flash Green Bullet was literally better than Pliny. Sorry, Russian River.

Serving type: bottle

11-13-2013 21:59:47 | More by SBXLII
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Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 8,783 ratings.