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Pliny The Elder - Russian River Brewing Company

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Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder

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11,860 Ratings

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Ratings: 11,860
Reviews: 3,360
rAvg: 4.66
pDev: 7.94%
Wants: 5,758
Gots: 2,461 | FT: 81
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: 11,860 | Reviews: 3,360 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of SuperWale
3.74/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This is a good beer, certainly overhyped though. Well, its hard not to be over hyped when its the most hyped beer in the world but what can you do.

Appearance: Nice color, true to style.

Smell: fantastic, lots of citrus, pine and bubble gum. A little hint of sweetness and no apparent alcohol smell.

Taste: Nice and bright and hoppy. There is a strong piney taste on the finish and not much else. It is decently balanced but could use some more malt backbone.

Mouthfeel: Its a little dry on the palate not as much as Blind Pig, also it has some astringency that makes the overall coating of the mouth not as good as it should be.

Drinkability: For a Double IPA it is fairly drinkable but with the mouthfeel issues that I had with it I think that it certainly is not an everyday beer. If you find this beer try it, but its not the best around.

Photo of BucBasil
4.67/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Bottled on 12/17/10

Poured from the 16oz bottle into a large snifter.

A: The beer is an orange-gold color, clear, with a light tan head of over 2 fingers with moderate retention.

S: This is one of those beers you can smell from several feet away. Up close and personal, it's a hopfest. Pure chaos on the olfactory glands. Pine and orange rind at first, but then like a creamsicle sort of note comes out. Citrus rind is big here again. Balanced slightly by a bready sort of character and then washed over by hops again.

T: Surprisingly balanced, and I can see why people would say this is the best. Starts with a creamy and bready sort of character with lots of hop of course, mostly citrusy, but a light pine character in there as well. Simply tastes fresh, and has that satisfactory feeling of buying farm fresh produce and having it be amazing. Finishes nicely with citrus rind and a balancing slight malt character with just a hint of alcohol, then dry on the way down. Good stuff. As the beer warms it takes on more and more pine notes. Very nice and highlights the freshness.

D: Dangerously drinkable, and goes way too fast. This is leagues ahead of many other DIPAs just for that sheer fact alone. It's a hop bomb but somehow hides that fact with just the right amount of balance.

Photo of kfsv034
4.55/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Have had this many times finally getting around to reviewing it.

A - Pours a straw yellow with a nice frothy head that dissipates quickly

S - Fruity Pineapple, mango, citrus hops along with some pine hops, smells glorious

T - follows the noise pineapple, mango, citrus and pine hops, slight alcohol burn

M - strawy, thin bodied

D - Good at 8%, wish I had more

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

The elusive Pliny! Much thanks to itsfreeasinbeer for bringing this baby back from California for me.

A - I mean, this is the definition of DIPA to me in color and look. The head is foamy and white, the beer is dark straw, with almost amber accents in the thicker parts of the tulip.

S - Smell is fantastic. It smells like a hop... this may be pure hop juice.

T - The taste is the best blend of bitterness, fruitiness, and floral that I've ever had. Straight up. This is a very, very good IPA. I can't say anything that no one else has said.

M - Carbonation is great, flavor lasts, but in a good way. The bitterness doesn't linger.

D - I could drink this every day, all day.

Photo of mountsnow1010
4.47/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

New review:
From a trade with pitasoup. Thanks for the fresh pliny!

A - Deeper gold with a whilte head and some haze. Leaves behind a fair bit of lacing.
S - Very sweet and floral smelling. Get a good bit of lemon and grapefruit.
T - Citrusy and grassy. Grassy may be perhaps an exaggeration, but it definitely tastes "green." Bitterness sets in about halfway through, making my mouth water like crazy. A hint of alcoholic flavor but nothing super strong. Very very clean flavor.
MF - Light and creamy. I would prefer just a touch more body, but this is nearly perfect.
O - Super easy drinker, given the ABV etc. I think that Heady is better (sorry, WCers), and this time it isn't so much a function of age.
(Bottled on 3-21-10).

Older review, which was 4/4.5/4/4/4, follows.

Disclaimer: Bottled on 08-16-10. So not as fresh as most people reviewing this. However, I don't have ready access to this so this is
Pours a hazy orange with a small fluffy white head. Leaves considerable lacing. Smells slightly grassy, slightly fruity, lemony and grapefruity. Good amount of pine to the odor; interestingly, reminding me somewhat of pine nuts as well. Definitely a slight caramel element. Tastes somewhat citrusy, but I'm not getting that hoppy, mouth-puckering burst that I have come to expect from my favorite DIPAs...as it warms up (during my review) the flavor is blossoming somewhat, but not much. That being said, the bitterness profile is amazing. It begins with a mild touch of bitterness and throughout the swallow cascades beautifully (almost stepwise) down to a soapy bitter residue left at the back of the mouth. Basically - bitter profile - awesome. Fruits are lacking. I would attribute that mainly to the age of the beer.
Mouthfeel is fantastic; tingly carbonation, it could be upped just slightly even.
DB - alcohol is slightly present after warming but it is still quite drinkable for the ABV.

I would LOVE to review this on tap; I'm sure that this would be the A+ beer that I see others reviewing it as. If anyone wants to send me a super fresh bottle just send me a BM and we can work it out.... ;)

Photo of TicklishSubject
4.9/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Little else needs to be said about this beer - it is the Ideal of DIPA, and frankly of IPA's period: crisp and clean, perfume level smell crafting, mind-bogglingly well expressed flavors, and dangerous drinkability. Only minor and mostly insignificant qualm is head, which can be weak.

Like some women, the following is due in part to it's inaccessibility (it's is still just a beer), but it's the most well crafted beer in the US and a must try for even the casual beer fan.

Photo of brew3crew
4.43/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bottled on 12/17/10. Still would like to try one more fresh
A-hazzy orange color with white head. Beautiful
S-lots of citrus hops on the nose
T-very balanced but had a nice hop profile. Expected more from this hyped beer.
M-medium body and clean finish. Slight hop bitterness is aftertaste
D- very drinkable. Suprised by abv. Wish I could have easy acess to it!

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

finally! pliny the elder! one of my whales. thanks to RBassSFHopit2ME for the bottle.

1 pint .90 fl oz bottle just above fridge temp poured into a bulb style glass. bottled on 12 28 10 (4 weeks old).

pours out a hazy deep golden orange color with a big 2 fingers of soapy, slightly rocky white head. great retention and sticky lace all over the glass.

as expected, big hop aromas. lots of citrus, orange peel, grapefruit, tangerine, some lemon, raw pellet hop aromas, pine, floral, pineapple, tropical fruits. hardly any malt detectable, just a hint of sweet malt and a touch of alcohol. its all there. the orangey citrus is at the forefront and melds with the other aromas so nicely. the aroma peaked about 5 minutes after the pour and towards the end of the glass seemed to diminish a bit.

sweet citrus, orange peel, tangerine, grapefruit, floral, raw pellet hops, lemon zest, some tropical fruits, just a slight sweet bready malt and just a bit of alcohol. a bit yeasty, but this was pulled out of the box mere hours after i got it, well see if that changes with the next bottle. no balance at all, all hops and i love it!

slightly heavy side of medium bodied. carbonation is dead on for the style. slightly acidic and a very nice lingering bitterness kind of pucker your mouth and are felt nicely on the sides of your mouth. a bit resinous.

of course this is so drinkable, i tryed to savor the glass, but it still went way too quickly. if this was available at stores around me, it would for sure be a staple in my fridge. this met my expectations, didnt exceed them, but definatly didnt fail them. i had high expectations. went very well with a moldy, stinky blue cheese.

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

Enjoyed on tap at Toronado in San Diego, CA.

Not too much new to say about this excellent IPA. Delicious from start to finish. Bright orange head with piney and citrus aromas. Excellent carbonation and well balanced hops, very lively in the mouth. Excellent IPA and extremely easy to consume.

Photo of jnelriley
3.01/5  rDev -35.4%
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.

Photo of mleroux21
4.97/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is a very aromatic IPA that is a delight to drink. The only problem is that you will drink it too fast and its hard to refill. The beer pours a golden color and has just the right amount of head. the beers smells like fruits and has the right amount of hops. I just wished i had an elder to compare this too.

Photo of boss302
4.62/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pliny the Elder, 500ml bottle, bottled 9/23/10, opened 10/14/10. 

A Orange, clear, big fluffy head. The head lasted the whole glass, which is somewhat difficult with most IPAs. 4.5

S Strong piney citrusy aroma. Very strong hop presence.  This is a great presentation for the hops and really shows them off.  There are a few beers that do this well, this is one of the best. 5

T As a DIPA, I expected it to have a hop forward flavor and was not disappointed, but what really makes this a standout beer is it's easy drinking nature. With all the hops, it wasn't overly astringent and had good balance with the malt.  Even at 8% it went down easy without any hint of the alcohol. 4.5

M This beer was medium to full body and medium to high carbonation.  Carbonation was apprpriate for the beer. 4.5

D Not nuch to say, it is a super easy beer to drink. Would love to have some more.  By far the best beer I have had in a while.  4.5    

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

Finally getting around to reviewing this - has been a regular beer in the fridge since RR started brewing and bottling this on a regular basis (as well as my local WF carrying it too). This was bottled on 1/12/11 so about a week and an half old.

Pours a a clear amber orange with a quarter inch of creamy egg-white head which dissipates to a ring at the edge of the glass. Some small micro carbonation continually stream to the top of the glass.

A very strong, pungent hop aroma with some faint sweet wheat/grass in the background. There's also some grapefruit and musk mellon fruit aromas. This is one of the better IIPA's out there. Very well balanced.

A much more mellow half hop/malt taste profile than indicated by smell. Very well balanced with a moderate hop/bitterness bite at the tail end which lingers for a few moments. The balance between the two is what makes this an outstanding beer.

Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Enough to keeps things lively and refreshing.

This really is what other double IPA's should be measured against and Russian River has done an outstanding job with the upped production. I love the fact that I can walk down to the local WF and pick up a couple of these pretty much anytime.

Photo of jsh420
4.21/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

bottled 12-17-10

pours hazy yellow gold with a 1 finger head that left spotted lacing

smell - pine pine and more pine then some grapefruit - classic west coast ipa at its finest

taste is bitter as hell pine and grapefruit with very little malt until the aftertaste to give it any real balance

mouthfeel is light with good carbonation that is both crisp and creamy

drinkability is good but i hate to say it without me eating any food to balance out that bitterness i would not drink another back to back

Photo of MrHirschybar
4.33/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at Eureka Burger

A - Light amber color with a small head that dissipated quickly leaving a little lacing, very clear beer - nice colors

S - Crisp hop nose of floral and citrus

T - Hoppy with citrus and pine - more citrus like taste with a smooth finish off the tap then the overwhelming pine of the bottle. Bitter but agreeable in the IPA/DIPA search. Lingering hop taste pine/citrus with light chewiness.

M - Light finish, nice carbonation, clean easy to drink, light bitter linger, but mostly the pine and citrus notes from the hops lingering around.

D - Definitely preferred this off the tap in drinkability compared to the bottle. Both are great, this just seemed smoother and fresher - despite getting bottles rather quickly. Not such a smack in the mouth bitter and more the smooth finish of Blind Pig.

Girlfriend also preferred this off the tap as compared to the bottle, and it was clear and crisp as opposed to the bottle we had that had hazy bits floating in it. This was crystal clear, smooth, great taste, nice hop profile, and not overly bitter with a clean linger finish. Very very nice. This was roughly $3 for 8oz off the tap if I remember right, and locally by the 16oz bottle it runs about $5.99 or so - so very nice for a bar price and a bottle price. Definitely recommend...

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

Thanks @a74gent for making this one available to me!

Poured from a 500mL bottle into a tulip glass.

A: Copper-gold and slightly hazy. Short, dense head.

S: Citrus and pine.

T: Pleasantly bitter. The powerful hops linger. A little sweetness. Balanced!

M: Nice carbonation up front. Sticky hops hang on.

D: I could have easily drank another. Or two.

Pliny The Elder is true to its reputation. I'm looking forward to partaking in this one again!

Photo of tmcelvain
4.57/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

bottled 12/13/10 consumed 01/23/11

clear gold colored ale, with a medium to light head that quickly disapates. Lots of flaoties. Well balanced smell between floral and earthy hops. Sharp tastes that follows both the smell and style quite well. Medium carbonation creates a refreshing mouthfeel. Very drinkable. This beer is extremely well balanced and a perfect example of the style. Does not blow me away, which may be a freshness issue, but a solid effort within an exemplary style.

Photo of cdkrenz
4.62/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I sampled this fine beer at the fine establishment known as Hollingshead Delicatessen in Orange, California.

A - Pale copper body with a light tan head at a finger's height.

S - Citrus and pine hops abound. The aroma is very inviting.

T - Citrusy and pine flavored hops opposite a perfect match of rich sweet malt. This is exactly what a DIPA should taste like.

M- It has a rather smooth intake but it offers a slightly coarse texture going down.

~ This is an excellent drinker. The 'head' is topped by nearly none. I look forward to again sampling this fine brew in the future.

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

Served from tap into a pint glass. Allowed to warm about ten minutes before drinking.

Appearance - Murky Straw gold color, with minimal head and mild carbonation. Translucent body with appropriately light head for the style, and modest lacing.

Smell - Grapefruit immediately, layered with pine; it's very apparent that the hops is going to be killer. Malt and yeast smells are hard to detect under the pungent hop aroma. The beer just *smells* sticky... and citrus fruity sweet.

Taste - The hops bind up the tastebuds fairly quickly with fruity pine. The hop character is powerful enough to almost conceal the sweet rich caramel of the malt. This brew is much sweeter than most other brews with such a huge hop character. The grain even comes through with a little hop spiciness to usher it along. It finishes with remarkably little bitterness.

Mouthfeel - More carbonation that what is visible. Sticky as soon as it hits, creamy while it's in the mouth with almost no alcohol burn. The mouth and tongue become numb after a while between the hops and the carbonation. Quite memorable.

Drinkability - Order as many as you can, if you don't mind destroying your taste buds for a session. A glass goes by so fast they really can get away easily. Excellently drinkable.

Photo of bradleyp
4.2/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the Bier Stein in Eugene, OR

A: Light hazy copper color

S: Thick hoppiness, I could tell this was going to be a hop bomb.

T: Hoppy goodness through and through

M: Nice carbonation, the hoppiness just melted down my throat.

D: What can I say? I still don't get the hype about this beer. It does taste like heaven in my mouth, and I'll drink it any chance I get.

Photo of Vdubb86
4.47/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in a modified tulip glass

Thanks to hannydawg for this beer.

Bottle dated 1/12/11, so still pretty fresh.
Pours a clearish golden color with a nice decent head of white foam when poured aggressively. The smell is of piny Pliny...sorry I couldn't help myself. I like how the backer too it is sweet in nature after the strong hop citrus notes on the palate. There is a malt bill note to the beer that I must admit give it a nice overall balance. This beer is extraordinarily easy to drink.

Photo of pburland23
4.82/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 500 ml bottle into my Great Divide Brussels glass.

At long last, I was able to get my hands on a bottle of Pliny and damn it was worth the wait.

Pours a brilliant, bright, clear orange with about two fingers of thick, white head that slowly receded to the thickest, most luxurious lacing I've ever experiences.

Smell is of piney hops with hints of citrusy, grapefruit notes. Closing your eyes and taking a deep inhale makes you feel as if you're in the middle of a coniferous forest.

The taste also highlights piney hops and a mellow grapefruit flavor on the back end. It's a wonderfully tasting beer. The hops don't overpower. They're balanced and not overly bitter. There is just enough malt backbone to balance out the intense hopping.

The carbonation is spot on for this medium bodied DIPA. The drinkability is insane. Pliny is so balanced and so incredibly smooth, I could sit around and drink it all night long. Wow.

My first Pliny experience definitely matched the hype. I loved that it's just 8% and not a stereotypical hop bomb. It's an inviting and complex brew. A crowning achievement for the guys at Russian River.

Photo of titosupertramp
4.6/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Big thanks goes out to JRod1969 for the opportunity to try this.

A: Hazy orangish color with about 2 fingers of slightly off white head. Very sticky lacing surrounds the glass.

S: Aggressive. Pine and grapefruit are what you notice right away. There's a sweetness to the smell that very enjoyable. Tropical. Very complex, very inviting.

M: Excellent flavor. Like the nose, grapefruit bitterness and pine are front and center. Underneath the hop assault is a sweet malt profile. Getting more of a tropical fruit flavor towards the end. Wonderful.

M: Oily. Dry, but not as much as you'd expect such a hop forward beer to be.

D: Alcohol doesn't show itself at any point. It's a wonderfully crafted beer that I could plenty of if readily available.

Sublime. The accolades that this beer receives are well deserved indeed. Pliny the Elder is a brilliant example of the style and I can now see why it's at the top of everyone's list. Thanks Jared.

Photo of anycrew
4.6/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Enjoyed the beer in a tulip glass. The beer had an opaque golden color. This beer did not smack you in the face with aroma or taste. the 2 were very well balanced. The beer accentuated an entire hop profile from citrus in the forefront to more herbal pine on the back end. The bitterness did not overwhelm. The beer finished dryer than I expected but the hop bouquet lingered on the palette.
This beer was very drinkable for a IIPA. A very refined and complex beer.

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

Poured into a Duvel Tulip

Bottled on 12/13/10...I know many will say 5 weeks is too long for an adequate review, but I will update this when I get some fresh Pliny, which is due my way in the next couple weeks (note editing review to reflect review on 02/02/11, bottled on date 01/12/11)

A: golden to amberish in color- clear body, huge 2.5" white head, recedes to a modest cap....clarity in the body, this is a beautiful beer, cap stay constant, lots of messy lacing

N: PINE, some tropical fruits, similar to Hopslam in the nose in that it smells like freshly opened hop packets and every bit as vibrant, in two words--- world class

T: very piney, similar to Stone IPA in flavor profile imo, not blown away (3 week bottle did blow me away), great hop flavor, very dry and very little malt profile coming through....bitterness is vibrant but not overbearing, this is pretty awesome, more citrusy in the 3 week bottle than the 5 week old bottle. I matched this one head to head with a Hopslam (bottled 01.11.11) and they were neck and neck for me.

M: light and pleasent for an Imperial anything, very good and a wonderful chewy consistency, not as easy drinkability as Hopslam, but every bit as enjoyable

D: high, high, love it

Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 11,860 ratings.