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Pliny The Elder - Russian River Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder

Educational use only; do not reuse.

12,029 Ratings

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Ratings: 12,029
Reviews: 3,398
rAvg: 4.66
pDev: 7.94%
Wants: 5,928
Gots: 2,593 | FT: 85
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: 12,029 | Reviews: 3,398
Photo of JamnesCameron
4.11/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Received in my Secret Bunny basket from mymrnngjckt. Thanks, Kevin! Bottle dated 2/17/11.

Poured into a snifter. Pours a deep gold with an egg shell white rocky head of about two fingers. Head is slow to drop. Some lacing evident.

Aromas of strong citrusy grapefruit hops. Fermented pineapple. Grapefruit zest. Freshly mowed grass. No malt to speak of.

Flavors of bitter, citrus hops, a hint of a malt backbone. Grapefruit and grapefruit zest. This is all about the hops. Finish is long, bitter, and full of grapefruit. For the amount of hops used in this, I'm pleasantly surprised their isn't a grassy note to the flavor.

Mouthfeel is medium with a mouthcoating bitterness, washes the tongue and back of the throat with a puckering bitterness.

Overall an excellent brew. But not up to the hype. I was expecting a more "wow" factor. Again, a very good beer, but not mindblowing.

Photo of eric5bellies
4.5/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Drank at Mad Monk Fremantle

Bottle dated Oct 10

A - Pours a slightly hazy, golden colour with a two fingered White head that reduces to a decent film and laces. 4.5

S - Aromas of citrus and pine with a complex mix of pineapple and a little malt.
T - Quite bitter up front, with very strong hop pine flavours that follow, a little malt ensues, before a very long crisp bitter finish, that just tops this beer off.4.5

M - Light to medium body with medium carbonation.4.5

O - I drank this beer way after its prime and still it’s one of the best IPA's that I have ever had. I will review again when I get a fresh one. 4.5

Ok This bottle Bottled on 4th May 2011.

Thanks to Nicks6217 for this one

A - Pours a clear copper golden colour with an off White head that retains well. 4.5

S - Mango and passionfruit with some pine. 4.5

T - What a difference. Nice hop explosion up front that consists of Mango and passionfruit. The piney hop are almost too much and the finish id dry, bitter and very long. 4.5

M - Light to medium body, a little sticky and medium carbonation. 4.5

O - The best DIPA that I have tried to date. 4.5

Photo of lechroy
4.8/5  rDev +3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from a bottle dated 2/2011. Is this the bestest, most hoppiest, but well balanced beer ever?
A- gold. clear liquid gold. good 2 finger head. crisp, white.
S- citrus hoppiness with a touch of pine. only a nose that hop-lovers could understand.
T- yes, a fairly bitter strike going into a nicely balanced malt bill. did I say balanced for a beer this hoppy - YES! Slight ethyl taste. Love the dryness. It's amazing to have a double IPA so dry and crisp. Way too drinkable.
O- Yes, and yes. Simcoe makes this beer just wonderful. Drink it fresh - don't get an old bottle on sale, that's bad form for this style of IPA. Yum.

Photo of jggibbs
4.92/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I lived in SF for the past 5 years and this brew was fairly easy to find. Walk to a local Whole Foods and grab a few bottles. No sweat. I've had my fair share.

Now that I moved to Seattle, this is an elusive little bastard. A distributor friend of mine says it ships every 8 weeks and only 100 or so bottles show up for the whole greater Seattle region. Bummer. I've been searching and hyping it up to my friend since I moved back here in January, we missed out on PtY and so far we were unsuccessful until this past weekend.

My buddy and I finally found a few bottles at Brouwer's. Much to my chagrin, the server told us they had it on tap this past Thursday but were all out by Saturday Happy Hour. Oh well, bottles it is.

Bottled 3.28

Poured a golden amber with a very faint cloudiness and off-white, 1 finger head. Little to no visible carbonation.

Smell is hoppy, pine and maybe even grassy. Beneath is citrus and florals. Incredibly refreshing scent. Perfect pick-me-up to remind me it actually is Spring. My amateur nose didn't detect much malt, if any.

Taste of hops, for sure, but not nearly as oppressively as I had thought in the past. I blame that on my changing tastes and my relatively new familiarity with IPAs. After the hops, i get citrus. Bitterness from grapefruit in a delicious way.

Light to medium mouthfeel. Very easy to drink.

Overall, it is definitely a favorite of mine and my friend said it lived up my hype. However, the Double Jack I tried last weekend blew me away. This is right there with it a 1 and 1a in my book.

Photo of cpmichael
4.62/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 3/21/11, if I remember correctly. Anyways, it was super fresh.

A: Pours a beautiful golden yellow, with a nice white foam retention.

S: Smells very hoppy, almost like sniffing a bag of hops. Maybe a hint of a skunk to it, but it's very pleasant.

T: Hop bitterness right away, citrus notes with some lemon/lemon grass to it. Also, pine tree sap.

M/D: Perfect carbonation, not an absolute tongue bruiser, which is nice, very balanced as a dipa goes. I wish I lived on the west coast, I would buy one every time I saw it.

Photo of fewa
3.85/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is a four week old bottled directly send to my by a friend in the US, thanks. Pours a golden color with a nice fluffy head. Smell: huge American hop aromas dominates the nose, grapefuits, flowers, grass, and a bit of orange. A bit too dry in the mouth, with clean malts, more grapefruit. Very strong bitterness, not very drinkable to me. Still nice to try

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

What can I say that hasn't been said?

This beauty has all the citric, strawberry, and piny esters in exquisite balance like the other top echelon DIPAs, but it's the incredibly floral (geranial) quality of the hops that really sets it apart. Absolutely sublime.

Photo of b3shine
4.58/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A big thank you goes out to Dempsey16 for this wonderful brew (I suspect he equally enjoyed the Dreadnaught). Bottle to (frosty) pint glass. Delicious :P Hoppy, but wonderfully balanced. Perfectly sketched; drawn from the very palette VanGogh uses for his sunflowers. Beautiful on both ends. One of my top 2 beers (tied with Dreadnaught, although the edge goes to Pliny because I can't get RR with the same regularity that I can 3 Floyds.

Photo of joecast
4.97/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Nearly skipped this for another ipa at hollingsheads. Ended up choosing the classic and was not disappointed. Probably the third time I've been lucky enough to have it.

light golden appearance with a foamy white head. Plenty of froth f assist the considerable aroma.

Tempting citrus and floral aroma. Bright fresh hops, even earthy and vegetal its so fresh. The aroma you want to have when you expect hops.

By no means one dimensional. Big malt backbone (whatever that means) carries the huge hop flavor and bitterness. Incerdible balance which seems to hang on a knife edge but never steps out of line.

If you have not had this beer before and you are a hop head, do yourself a favor. This is text book how it should be done. Does not put a foot wrong in any respect. Thank you RR, fantastic.

Photo of Alieniloquium
4.75/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

500 mL bottle poured into a pint glass.

Appearance - Beautiful white head with lacing that clings to the glass. Golden with just a bit of haziness. This is what an IPA should look like.

Smell - There is no way to justify the aroma of a fresh Pliny. Hoppy, citrusy, barely a hint of malt. Strong grapefruit smell. Clearly a hop bomb.

Taste - No surprise: hops. Fresh orange and grapefruit flavors and a bit of pine. Slight sweetness, but it stays behind the hop flavor. Very little bitterness in the start. The bitterness lingers with the finish. The only reason I don't give this a 5 is that it is that the quantity of hops brings it dangerously close to a grassy taste. It's not there yet, but you can tell how close it is.

Mouthfeel - Light for a DIPA, which I think is great. Tingling carbonation adds to the freshness and brightness.

Overall - This beer is why I don't enjoy other IPAs anymore. I know what an IPA can be and I expect it out of every other one I have. This is the bar.

Photo of adman08
4.77/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A-Pale, golden straw color with a good amount of fluffy, white head that leaves excellent lace on the glass. Slightly hazy.
S-Good combination of citrus hop aroma with a bit of fresh cut grass hop aroma.
T-Very nice emphasis on the citrus hop flavor without completely overwhelming the malt flavor. You'd never guess this beer was about 100 IBU's.
M-The hops give this a nice dry finish with just the right amount of malt.
Overall, I can see why this is considered by many to be one of the best beers in the world regardless of style. The combination of citrus hop flavor and bitterness with good malt sweetness is exceptional.

Photo of PGHeppJr
4.37/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From notes SEP09

Buddy brought a couple bottles back from a western sojourn.
Can't really gush anymore about this beer than has already been posted. A real beauty to look at, bright orange with a british judge wig for a head. Nose is of pure grapefruit. Tastes like hop liquor, if it ain't made yet, this will make a good starting point. Damn enjoyable.

Two weeks later another buddy shares his growler that was filled that morning. Just as tasty with even more nose.

Photo of Chriscrundwell12
4.62/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 500 ml bottle into a snifter

A- Beautiful Golden body, 2 finger head that dissipates slowly. Excellent lacing, well carbonated
S- AMAZING refreshing hoppy aroma, sweet grapefruit, citrus, pine.
T- Taste lives up to the aroma, smooth bitterness upfront, citrus and pine notes come out right away, hints of grapefruit and malt.
M- Really smooth and refreshing on the palate, bitterness and sweetness are well balanced
O- Just an excellent DIPA, really lives up to the hype. PTE one of the best smelling DIPAs out there. A brew everyone needs to try before they die.

Photo of macktbone
4.62/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I've been enjoying this as one of my "go to" top beers for a few years as well as carrying it all over the world for others to enjoy. Guess it's time to review it...

A- Beautifull rose gold color with a full and often fluffy head regardless of pour style. Lots of carbonation that lasts throughout the drink.

S- Pine, Hops,happiness.

T- tons of fresh hops with a smooth backbone that lingers just enough.

M- solid Imperial IPA bite to it that makes the combination of smooth feel, creamy head, and hoppy bite a perfect combination.

D/O- Great beer overall that has been a great bastian of beer Karma over the years. PTE as far as I'm concerned is second to only one Imperial IPA, they just happen to be related.

Photo of Azurescens
4.42/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

500mL bottle with bottling date 3/21/11 poured into snifter, reviewed on 4/6/11

A: Beautiful slightly hazed golden color with off-white head. Moderate head retention leaves some lacing around glass.

S: Lots of hops in the nose on this one, a big bouquet of citrus and pine notes, barely let any malt aroma through. Slight grassy smell hiding behind the citrus and pine. Great smell for its style.

T: Again, lots of hops. Lots of hop bitterness up front which slowly fades as the hop flavors bombard my taste buds. Some faint malt comes through in the middle and finish, but the hops are what dominate the taste. I can still taste all the hops in my mouth long after taking a sip.

M: Medium-light bodied with good carbonation, very smooth and finishes dry with a lingering tingle on my tongue from all the hops.

O: This is undeniably a great imperial IPA. Very drinkable for 8 percent, awesome hop presence through and through. Definitely one of the best in its style.

Photo of lynchtae
4.74/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Hops anyone? This is the first time I have actually saw hops in a beer. As soon as you crack it you can smell the hops. But it's balanced - nice sweet malts and alcohol in harmony with the bitterness and citrus, pine and earthy, hops. Try it, you'll love it.

Photo of inlimbo77
4.53/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Got this one via trade with baycat, thanks Ryan. Bottle dated 2/24/11. Poured into a Victory snifter.

A: Clear, pale, orange color. Nice two finger crisp white head. Lots of tiny bubbles. Great carbonation. The lacing on these beers is amazing.

S: HOPS! Lots of citrus fruits in there. Grapefruits and such. But also some piney notes. Awesome bouquet!

T: Got crisp citrus hoppiness. Mild malt backbone to control this hop monster. Very clean. Bite upfront with a mellow center and nice crisp finish.

M: Nice mouthfeel. OK mouth coating, not too agressive. Finish that sticks around a bit.

D: VERY drinkable for a DIPA. Too bad it isn't readily available in these parts or I would have sucked down the whole lot that I traded for.

Overall, this lived up to the hype for me both here from the bottle and fresh from the tap in Philadelphia. Just an extremely perfectly well done west coast DIPA. Love Russian River's methods and all their products.

Photo of timobkg
4.1/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass.

Had this on tap with Blind Pig and Younger, so will compare to those.

Elder is clearer than Younger, but cloudier than Blind Pig, with a nice head, and great lacing.

The aroma is the best of the three. It's very similar to Flower Power and Sculpin.

The taste is very well balanced between the malt and the hops - seems sweeter than both Blind Pig and Younger. It again reminds me of Sculpin and Flower Power, though more of the latter, as it's less bitter than Sculpin.

This is one of the best and most balanced DIPA's I've had. The closest comparison would be Flower Power, followed by Sculpin. I think this is a better beer than it's over-hyped Younger brother.

Photo of evanlarkin
4.36/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Samuel Smith pub glass.

Clear and golden orange with bubbles popping up. A foamy white head developed up to about 2 1/2 fingers, at which point I had to start pouring. Medium retention and some lots of lace.

Sweet and soft with lots of citrus smells and some piney undertones. Makes me think of grapefruit and fresh apricot.

Pine and dry grapefruit dominates, and the fresh (but not sweet) apricot aroma comes through even more. Sweet malt on the backend with low-medium bitterness, making for a pleasant balance. After a bit, most of the flavors peel off of your tongue, with the exception of the pine and pale malt.

Medium bodied, medium but very soft carbonation. Bubbles aren't at all harsh on the tongue.

This is a really solid IPA. It isn't really overpowering in any one flavor category, and certainly tastes delicious in all of them. What you've got here is one solid beverage that I could see myself enjoying regardless of the weather. Still, bonus if a hammock is involved.

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

A - Gorgeous orange pour with a nice .15 inch head that is white and a bit sticky.

S - Mango tangerine and slight orange notes come up front quick strong but subtle at the same time. Slight grain notes are present but its mostly a hop paradise.

T & M - Taste starts off with some delicious mango hints. Followed by more citrus and orange, grapefruit notes that are perfectly intense. Citrus bitterness follows with some slight resin notes. Smooth malt grain notes are in the middle of the beer. Slight bread and sweetness. Floral notes and some nice dry bitterness finish off this near perfect beer. Extremely balanced brew that lives up to all the hype. Mouthfeel is perfect. Oily and silky and with great carbonation to make it refreshing as well.

O - This beer is a gift from above. Great hop and malt profile with a heavy citrus, floral hop component that is present yet not too overwhelming.

Photo of BrewCrew2010
4.72/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Thanks Thickfreakness for the Pliny and an awesome trade.

A: Pours a hazy golden orange with a fluffy white head that last a while and leaves decent lacing.

S: An explosion of hops that can be smelled across the room. A beautiful smell of citrus & tropical fruit with a hint of pine.

T: Taste is just as hoppy as the nose. Wonderful bitter hop upfront with notes of pine and citrus. Middle is slightly sweet and ends again with a hoppy bitteriness. Very well balanced with a long lasting finish.

M: Very smooth, but the texture wasn't what I expected. Moderate carbonation with a medium body.

O: An amazing beer that I am so glad to finally try. Going to open a second bottle here soon and will try to trade for more in the future!

Photo of OddNotion
4.92/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Have now been lucky enough to have this beer 3 times from the bottle and once on tap. I will review the bottle I am currently drinking. Bottle dated: 2/24/2011.

Appearance: Poured into my DFH Signature Glass. Pours a deep yet transparent orange with a quickly receding one finger white head. The beer produces bubbles from the bottom of the glass from many different points, and keeps going throughout the times it spends in the glass.

Smell: Great hop bouquet. It is hops hops and more hops. I can smell citrus and pine. It is so inviting and radiates from the glass.

Taste: I love this stuff. Hops right off the bat and they keep on coming. There is just the right amount of bitterness to back up the fruitiness. I do taste some malt backbone, just the perfect grain bill to balance out the hops. My mouth is always watering for more.

Mouthfeel: Nice and bubbly. Perfectly smooth. Too drinkable especially for an 8% beer but each sip is just dry enough to leave you thirsting for more.

Overall: I love this beer. The perfect DIPA, so far only Surly Abrasive can compete IMO. I have had this beer side by side with others in the DIPA style and none of those hold a candle to this. It deserves the high rating and hype it receives. No disappointment here at all.

Photo of Jimmys
4.44/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

generously gifted to me from some friends that just got back from san francisco.

A: hazy light orange. big fluffy slightly off-white head. hangs around for a little bit before shrinking to a more manageable size.

S: highly pungent. smells like stinky weed. big hop citrus and pine. grapefruit/orange juice. beautiful showcase of american hop varietals.

T: similar to the nose, big time hop flavors. stuffed grape leaves. a linger of citrus that cuts between tangy and earthy. however, both the upfront flavor and linger provide fairly refreshing characteristics.

M: silken almost. low carbonation works great on this body for the hop element.

D: everyone knows the name. a solid DIPA and arguably the best example there is. i actually had 2 bottles of this stuff gifted to me and felt this review needed to be revisited.

Photo of veinless
4.51/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a beautiful crisp and clean caramel burnt orange, with creamy whipped pure white head on top that laces like a dream.

Smells very citrusy (grapefruit) and floral, with lots of pine in there too. Resin is large and in charge as well. Caramel malt is big too, even in a less than week old fresh batch. Maybe I'm biased from having just had Surly Abrasive, but this beer is great but has clear superiors in my mind in the smell department.

The taste follows suit, as the hops are strong, and the pine is all over the place, to go with tons of citrus. However, the bitterness is so well spread out, and the malt sweetness in the back keeps it so balanced, that this thing never gets out of control. Smooth from start to finish, with a spectacularly clean finish that is between dry and sweet...and toes that line so well that I just want to keep drinking more of it. I've had better, but can't say there have been too many.

Carbonation is perfectly balanced with the hops and citrus to leave a tingle on the tongue to go with the pine, but is flat enough that you really get a feel for the beer and can taste everything without struggling to cut through the bubbles. Drinkability is on another planet due to the balance and finish, and the 8% abv is a complete nonfactor. I could have as many of these in a row as my body would allow, and it would be just as good at the end as at the beginning. At 4 bucks a bottle, there is no better deal on earth than this.

Photo of mactrail
4.02/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A pure and clean hop explosion.

Carbonation and related mouthfeel is not anything extraordinary. Color is beery amber. Aroma is powerful, big beautiful hops. Taste is hot, rich, and spicy. It tastes like chili pepper hot to me. A nice mouthful of flavor, but hard on the cheeks with all the slicing intensity. Long burning flavor goes on and on. Bitterness is a never-ending story. Great example of Hops Uber Alles.

I'd say the "sippability" is good, as long as you don't intend to actually taste anything after it. Drank this at the Pizza Port in OB, San Diego, served in a snifter.

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Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 12,029 ratings.