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Pliny The Elder - Russian River Brewing Company

Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

8,820 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 8820
Reviews: 3070
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: 8,820 | Reviews: 3,070 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of TheStBernard


3.81/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Simply put, Pliny didn't meet the hype for me. I had it on a wonderful trip to SF at Toronado (great beer bar, btw), and just didn't love it. Give me a Fatheads HeadHunter over this any day of the week, please and thank you.

A: Good but categorical.

S: One great component.

T: Mehhhh... Average.

M: Good carbonation but nothing to write home about.

O: Average. Very, very average.

Serving type: on-tap

04-24-2014 04:15:20 | More by TheStBernard
Photo of Walshwi


4.86/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Preface: I've been around the world tasting beer and wine. I've had nearly every beer on the Beer Advocate top 250. I appreciate all styles but have a preference for Double IPAs.

Pliny lives up to its hype. While similar in style to Heady Topper, they are two very different brews. Heady Topper has a great initial taste (probably the best), but the overall taste pales in comparison to Pliny. Pliny is refined and elegant.

Pliny pours golden with a great head. As it is an IPA, don't tilt the glass when pouring! Pour it into itself to unleash the flavor.

One of the very few brews in which the smell is indicative of the flavor. It doesn't let you down. It smells of citrus, hops, and honey.

Taste is almost perfect from start to finish. It is impeccably balanced. The bitterness and malt backbone pair perfectly. The balance of hops is perfect. The sweet citrus and hop flavor flows throughout the sip. No bitter aftertaste and it has a smooth, clean taste.

This beer is perfect because of science. The most important ingredient - the yeast - is priceless. If you can get your hands on that proprietary strain, you'll be able to make your own cult beer. The other science is the blending of hops which "attack" certain parts of your palate. Much like the blending of grapes in a world-class French Bordeaux, the blending of hops in this beer is, itself, world-class.

The only negative aspect of this beer is the volatility of the hops. The taste is perishable. If it gets too hot or exposed to sunlight, the flavor profile is damaged. I've had BAD glasses of Pliny!! Some of the more negative reviews are probably based on the fact the flavor profile was damaged. When you make a trade for Pliny, it sits in a hot truck on its trek hundreds/thousands of miles. Make no mistake, when fresh, this brew is something to behold and I still haven't had anything close.

Serving type: on-tap

04-19-2014 16:22:56 | More by Walshwi
Photo of mabermud


4.74/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

I was at Russian River Brewery last week, and there isn't much to say about this beer except it is exceptional. I grew up in Escondido, California, and saw Stone grow from a roll up garage to a big, pleasant machine. Enjoy By is good, but I think Pliny the Elder is a tad better. It may be because I drink Enjoy By often, or it might be because the Pliny was fresh. These two beers are comparable, I love both of them. That is why I brought some home to Washington.

Serving type: on-tap

04-08-2014 01:45:16 | More by mabermud
Photo of Goalcam


4.5/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Since this one is so tough to find I actually had to drive up to the brewery to try it. This is a very good beer but certainly over-hyped. Very nice aroma with definite apricot overtones. It looks and smells great but tastewise it matches up to some other great beers including Belgian macro-brews. One plus is it also tastes good a few days later from a growler.

Serving type: on-tap

03-24-2014 19:25:18 | More by Goalcam
Photo of kimjongill


3.59/5  rDev -22.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

I've heard it's better in bottle, but I wasn't impressed with the draft version. good aroma and color. Taste was kind of a hop smack without much character or balance. Good mouthfeel. Way overrated, unlike the younger, which is really well balanced.

Serving type: on-tap

03-17-2014 23:07:22 | More by kimjongill
Photo of TapTitan


5/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer is pure perfection in a Double IPA, the hops burst out in a perfect symphony of flavor leaving wants and needs for more on my tongue! A warm finish sets nicely in my beer belly and a desire to down endless glasses of this is set in motion! I reccomend this over any and all double's!

Serving type: on-tap

03-14-2014 13:16:08 | More by TapTitan
Photo of peacemakers48


5/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is know my favorite beer of all time. I just found out that this was made by accident? This beer is better than the younger but not by much. Well worth the hype. I have not tried this in bottles but the draft is second to none. Phily is the Only place outside of the west coast to get it.

Serving type: on-tap

03-10-2014 17:50:29 | More by peacemakers48
Photo of santomark


4.79/5  rDev +3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

A - Pours a nice golden body. Amber hues, light orange. 3 finger head, dissipates very nicely.

S - Not as much of a hop bomb I was hoping for in the smell, not that this was a bad thing. You'll get a very balanced smell of hops, mild dankness, fruits beautifully blended with orange, mango, pineapple, citrus, etc. Very subtle malt.

T - Superbly balanced for a double! You'd swear you're drinking a low alcohol contented beverage. Nice mild malts, picks up with this beautiful citrus goodness of oranges, pineapple, mango, etc.

M - Light to medium body, sticky, crisp, clean, refreshing and a nice dry finish. This doesn't finish too dry, it finishes with just enough dryness to leave the palate wanting more; however, there is plenty of the sticky resin in there to leave you wanting more in a different way.

O - Beautifully crafted DIPA, does it live up the hype? IMO, NO. Should people mortgage the house and sell a lung to get this? No. There are other great DIPA's out there. This one will creep on you if you do not pace yourself. All in all, a great beer, that should be distributed more throughout bars and liquor stores.

Serving type: on-tap

03-07-2014 20:33:35 | More by santomark
Photo of berkshire413


4.39/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

On tap at Russian River in Santa Rosa, Ca

I for one enjoy hype surrounding a beer, were enthusiasts and to not get excited about a beer is just silly. Coming from the East Coast and having heard so much about this beer i was very excited to jump into a few of these on my vacation to San Francisco and the greater area. Unfortunately i thought Pliny the Elder was just Good, it wasnt Very good. I had rought a half dozen beers on the west coast i thought were better presentations. but i still enjoyed this beer

A - Great looking beer, was a deep Amber/orangish brew, had a nice fluffy head that retained well

S - Very jumpy pine and grapefruit at first gives way to a little dankier hops, but seemed less dynamic than i anticipated.

T - Grapefruite comes first and there is great balance in this beer with the strong hop notes and a nice malt backbone to hold it all together, only problem was it seemed like a short taste. there were flahses of citrus and some pine, but really not as robust and complex as many other IPAs i have had.

M - Mouthfeel was just right, had good carbonation, beer was very drinkable.

O - Overall Good beer, Very nice hop characters, very nice presentation. everything was very nice, i would buy this beer often if i lived out west, but there are many other beers i enjoy more, and i just cant give it a top score.

Serving type: on-tap

03-05-2014 22:38:42 | More by berkshire413
Photo of Selbyg


4.8/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

The Elder. This is a great beer from Russian River. I like the hop notes in the smell and the nice bold finish. When trying this beer with a group a newer beer drinkers (21year olds) I was told it was the best beer they had ever had. They don't have a lot of time with craft beers but I like to think they will keep trying more of them after a taste of this little number.

Serving type: on-tap

02-27-2014 18:16:43 | More by Selbyg
Photo of Boto


4.55/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Draught @ Monk’s: My first impression was "what is all the fuss about?" So I asked our waitress if I had gotten the correct beer. She brought me another. As soon as I saw it we realized the first one was the wrong beer. They have Damnation on tap as well and mistakenly given me one of those. The Elder pours a darker golden color with about a finger of off white foam. It didn’t linger long but did leave a little lacing. The nose was huge! Lots of grapefruit and pine notes. Hard to smell the malts, but can faintly pick some up. The taste is excellent! Hops are not overpowering. Big malt body. Extremely well balanced. An extremely good beer.

Serving type: on-tap

02-23-2014 21:03:43 | More by Boto
Photo of alucardswordlol

North Carolina

5/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On tap at monks cafe over the weekend. What else is there to say about Pliny thAt hasn't been 100 times. Terrific double IPA and the most balanced beer for its style I've ever had.

There are other IPAs that I like more but I believe Pliny is the best IPA out there true to style.

I'll never turn one down that's for sure.

Serving type: on-tap

02-22-2014 19:27:39 | More by alucardswordlol
Photo of FlopTheNuts


4.9/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Only reason I didn't give it a 5 is I need wiggle room for something I might taste down the road. But this lived up to its reputation. Double IPA that somehow manages to remain almost "light" in a perfectly balanced way. Hops were more floral than bitter. Amazing.

Serving type: on-tap

02-21-2014 16:08:58 | More by FlopTheNuts
Photo of Wolberjs


4.58/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Drinking side by side with pliny the younger at russian river brewery. So review will be stilted by the direct comparison.

A - both are beautiful clear amber beers. The elder is still bubbling away but younger is not. 5

S - Same piney notes on both, but younger has the more complex citrusy fruit. 4.5

T - younger has the more complex and pleasant taste. More citrus fruit on top of the piney taste. 4.5

M - even though elder has the more apparent carbonation the younger mouthfeel is better to me. Younger has the best mouthfeel of any ipa I've had, so it'd be a 5 in its class but doesn't compare as well to smooth silky stouts like bcbcs, etc. 4.5

O - slightly less as good younger. So... Yeah also fantastic 4.74

Serving type: on-tap

02-13-2014 20:34:00 | More by Wolberjs
Photo of bound4er


4.19/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Hopyard in Pleasanton, CA

Nice straw color w/ a white two finger head. Smells of pine and faint malt. Tastes better than it smells...lots of pine and faint citrus with fantastic bitterness that manages to stay away from being over the top hoppy and dry. Alcohol is completely hidden. Very good beer that is really easy to drink but the Lagunitas Fusion 20 SF I had before this was better. Glad to have finally tried Pliny but seems overly hyped.

Serving type: on-tap

02-07-2014 02:52:26 | More by bound4er
Photo of nreynoso90


4.75/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

An absolutely wonderful DIPA, the demand on this beer is high. So its always a little challenging to snag this beer in a bottle, but our local craft bar has this on tap every month or so. The taste is a well balanced combination of grapefruit,oranges and lime. The smell is a piney aroma tossed in with a wonderful burst of hops. A very refreshing beer that is not too high in abv but suitable for the DIPA lover.

Serving type: on-tap

01-15-2014 06:45:35 | More by nreynoso90
Photo of JohnParadee


4.51/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from tap into a Russian River pint glass at Monk's Cafe in Philly. Beautiful, inch-thick, white head. Lots of tiny bubbles. On the nose, this is the definition of what great DIPAs should smell like -- textbook piney grapefruit. Great lacing & retention. On the palate, strong pine and grapefruit/citrus florals with huge hops balance well with smooth malts. Maintains head & lacing throughout. Moderate carbonation. Mouthfeel is full and thick. Overall, a memorable experience, even if the hype was bigger than reality will allow. I drank three over the course of lunch, and could have kept going. Will definitely (hopefully) reach for this again some day.

Serving type: on-tap

01-10-2014 13:58:00 | More by JohnParadee
Photo of ACarp

New York

5/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On Tap at Monks Cafe

Dark lighting but was a golden beer with nice white head

smelled citrusy, favoring orange, at first with hints of piney dankness, didnt notice much maltiness in the nose, the complex layers of american hops took center stage

tasted like what was implied by the smell, with an assertive hop bitterness. more pine came out in the taste than the nose, balancing the citrus layers that were most forward in the nose. Malt presence was definitely there, while it was hop forward without any doubt, the malt was assertive enough to keep the hops from owning the beer and give a boost to the body. Not overly sweet, the malt played its role and supported the fantastically complex orange, lemon/grapefruit, pine layers of the hops

Definitely a noteworthy IPA, now I understand where the hype comes from. reminded me a bit of jai alai with a splash of green flash ipa for some reason

Serving type: on-tap

01-08-2014 05:21:55 | More by ACarp
Photo of kwc017


4.5/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

Okay. I was so psyched to try Pliny the Elder I was like a kid on Christmas morning. I was on vacation and went to the Horse Brass Pub, which is freaking amazing, and promptly ordered a pint. It is a really, really good beer but I think the hype and wait got to me. I wasn't blown away but I think that may be my fault. It is super hoppy, not much malt just the way I like my IPA's. I think my expectations were just unreasonably. I have tried it since and I think it is one of the top 5 IPA's I have ever had.

Serving type: on-tap

12-24-2013 03:44:25 | More by kwc017
Photo of ilovebeer2013


5/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Excellent American Double Ipa. Had It ON Tap In Ca, Nice Head, Caramel Color, Very Complex Flavor Palate But Very Balanced And remarkably Drinkable And smooth. This Is Easily On Of Top Beers I Have Ever Had Wish It Was Available Outside A Small AreaIn CA

Serving type: on-tap

12-20-2013 17:55:24 | More by ilovebeer2013
Photo of berlinabb


4.46/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

Smells like cannabis in a glass when fresh. Not worth drinking if it's more than a month old. So much fresh hops in here to count or even make sense of.

Pliny has long been regarded as the best Double IPA around, however competition is fierce this days and there are more than a few breweries that can give it a run for it's money (Alpine, Societe...)

Bottom line, Pliny will always hold a special place in our hearts because it was the first and it is a damn good beer.

Serving type: on-tap

12-11-2013 23:42:30 | More by berlinabb
Photo of PJ60


4.94/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The folks at Russian River never cease to amaze me. Pliny sets the bar for all others. You could spend your remaining years searching for something better but you keep coming back. Gorgeous golden smooth pour. The hops are so intense they turn the corner and mature into a lovely malty finish. Heaven....

Serving type: on-tap

12-08-2013 06:04:27 | More by PJ60
Photo of micromaniac129


3.94/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The last time I had this beer was maybe ten years ago and they have since pulled back thier market.
I remember having both a pliny the elder and younger on a Wed. night for a catholic school charity dinner back then.
So today I got to try it again as it is part of the hop fest at my local watering hole in Bucks co PA.
What a let down.
Poured a murky orange amber with barely any head.
The aroma I remember was quite fragrant not today.
The taste was hoppy and bitter with a balanced malt and hop taste but not nearly the hop bomb from days past.
I feel sorry for all those people who drank it for the first time today, they definitely are not getting the best or freshest.
Perhaps todays hoppy IPA's have caught up to this one time phemnom making pliny well ordinary.
I'll try it again with an open mind when the oppertunity arises.
For me the only beer worthy of any hipe is still KBS.

Serving type: on-tap

11-16-2013 20:14:19 | More by micromaniac129
Photo of Siriusfisherman


4.65/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

L: Bright clear gold with a nice white head and some excellent lacing.

A: Big piney, citrusy hops with some light stone fruit and pineapple notes. The malt is clean and neutral, just some nice breadiness, and the yeast character is super clean.

T/M: Big bitterness upfront, moves into some big piney simcoe notes and some softer citrus notes as well. The hop flavor is met with some clean, crisp malt and fades out into a big, bitter and dry finish. Pine and citrus rind notes linger on the palate for some time.

Overall, a very highly regarded beer that lives up to the hype. The perfect example of what a West-Coast IIPA is all about, not to mention that it is the original. If this isn't World-Class beer, I have never had it.

Serving type: on-tap

11-14-2013 03:14:13 | More by Siriusfisherman
Photo of Murp


3.98/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Not sure what to say about Pliny. It's basically perfect, but at the same time it's not terribly interesting.

The appearance is exactly the light copper it should be. The smell is balanced (you'll see that word a lot here) with notes of plant, citrus, pine and resin. The taste mimics the smell, with just enough sweetness to balance it out. Mouthfeel is good, neither to thick or thin, with a little lingering resin.

The end result is just right, but somehow less than the sum of its parts. I certainly enjoy Pliny, but it's never made an impression that lasts. It's an exceptionally balanced double IPA, but it's basically the same IPA everyone makes, just executed better.

Serving type: on-tap

11-11-2013 23:39:36 | More by Murp
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Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 8,820 ratings.