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Pliny The Elder - Russian River Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder

Educational use only; do not reuse.

11,666 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 11,666
Reviews: 3,308
rAvg: 4.66
pDev: 7.94%
Wants: 5,586
Gots: 2,315 | FT: 74
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: 11,666 | Reviews: 3,308 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of rudylaw
5/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On tap @ Russian River Brewpub

Out of the tap, this is the best beer I've ever had. Ever. I even compared this to a bottle that was only 1 week old and the tap version blows that out of the water. Pours a straw color with a tick, rocky head.

Citrus and grass in the nose. Like you're mowing a grapefruit tree and you put your face in the grass collection!

So amazingly bitter and fresh. Citrus juices, piney flavors, grassy notes. Just perfect. PERFECT!

I easily finished a growler's worth of this stuff over two days. There's just no way anyone can make a better DIPA than this... but that doesn't mean they should stop trying!

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

Poured from bottle into snifter. DOB 9/23/10. Thanks emagana for the hook up!

A- Poured a golden orange color into snifter with 2 fingers of milk like head, leaves a nice lace along the glass.

S- Smells strong of passion fruit and hops. Not as hoppy as i'd imagined, but a fair deal non the less.

T- Phenomenal. Crisp bite of hops, a little grapefruit citrus taste. Finishes nicely on the palate with lingering citrus/pine notes.

M- Smooth and refreshing, Crisp and bubbly. No unwanted after tastes.

D- High. If I lived in an area where it was more available, It would be a staple in my refrigerator. Very refreshing. Amazing job RR!

Photo of DrewZ926
4.9/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

500 ml bottle into pint glass (bottled 9/29/10)

A - Very nice amber pour, almost golden in the light. Very white head with great retention. Pristine, thick lacing, as the sips went down.

S - Robust piney hops, hints of citrus, mainly lemon. Grassy too. Very fresh all around.

T - The balance was nothing short of perfect. The sharp bite of the fresh hops was rounded out by the sweet malt background. Finished very smoothly after the spike of hop flavor to start. The body was fuller from start to finish than any other beer in its class.

M - Great carbonation. In the glass bubbles emanate plentifully but complement the taste nicely once imbibed. Mouthfeel is very smooth, not the same bitter aftertaste as other double IPAs.

D - Quite sessionable despite the 8%, the alcohol was extremely well hidden and left only a hint of warmth in the mouth, added to the nice finish.

Basically, I wanted to see what all the hype was about surrounding this beer. I had my expectations set high, but Pliny certainly met, if not exceeded them. The balance of malts, hops, sweetness, and bitterness is, as far as I have experienced, unmatched. Easily my favorite IPA. If only I lived on the West Coast I would have a fridge full of these...

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

Served on tap into a 10.5 oz tulip.

A - Pours an amber, almost orange, hazy color. One finger of snowy, white head remained at the top for almost the entire beer.

S - Not a strong smelling beer at all, but definitely hints of piny hops, fresh citrus fruit and spice.

T - This is where you really start to realize why Pliny is one of the top-rated beers in the country. The taste is hoppy pine notes with definite grapefruit sweetness. The malt provides a smooth backdrop for the hops as well. Somehow manages the hop taste of an IPA without any of the overwhelming bitterness/aftertaste.

M - Definitely has a good amount of carbonation, but feels smooth and almost juicy in the mouth.

D - I could drink this one all day. The only thing that stopped me after two was the effect on my wallet. While the 8% abv is relatively high, you never taste it.

I love this beer.

Photo of Spider889
4.42/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Really gotta give a shout out to Mbpbugeye for sharing this with me. Who knows how long it would have been before I got to try this otherwise... thanks Seth!

Bottle was approximately 1 month old. Not super fresh but certainly fresh enough for a tasting. I will revisit this review when I get hold of a fresher bottle.

Pours a slightly hazy golden color with faint orange hues to it as it catches the light. Small white head, leaves decent lace on the glass.

Smells wonderful. Maybe not the best-smelling IPA I've had (Oracle may still take the cake on that one) but this was still great. Nice balance between the bitter piney hops and the less harsh fragrant floral/citrus ones. I got some really sweet grapefruit, almost to the point of a semi-ripe orange. Pine is at the forefront of the profile on this one though. After smelling I immediately thought, "this is special a beer."

The taste also surprised me a little. I expected a straight-up west coast hop bomb and got something a little different. The hop profile is certainly the backbone of the beer, and certainly composed of mostly pine and more spicy esters, but there is still a faint sweet citrus undertone and some very mild maltiness to smooth it all out.

As far as mouthfeel goes, this is very well carbonated, but drinks super smooth and super easy. I was amazed at the balance of flavor and sensations in this beer. Hop forward and prickly, but not too biting or in-your-face as to put one off from going back for more.

Is this the best IPA in the world? Not so sure... Is this one of the best on the west coast, and maybe the country? Certainly.

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

500ml bottle pour into a hour glass shaped glass.

Nice lightly hazy golden color thru the smaller diameter part of the glass going to a darker reddish amber in the thicker diameter of the glass. 2 finger head that bubbles down in a few minutes.

Smells of Pine, hops, citrusy grapefruit and a nice mild buried sweetness of apple to my mind! 8% alcohol is well hidden.

the Pliney (pine) hop tastes hit your tongue first along with a nice bubbly zing and hops on the tip of your tongue. Citrus then comes thru, but the fruit sweetness is pretty well buried. As it warmed the pine hops stood out more in smell and taste. Nothing overboard I preferred this.

Medium Light in the mouth. Good zip in the carbonation. Finished dry on the tongue with some bitter hop finish and alcohol warmth in the back of the throat...more alcohol warmth as it warms.

I love hops and this one was well worth trying. Great balance of pine, hops, citrus, touch of sweetness and malts to keep it all balanced nicely. I will treat myself again and again to this brew.

Photo of boomer31
4.54/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I've had a few friends travel to the coast but never had a chance to grab any Pliny...tonight I finally get the opportunity. I'm a hop head at heart though I rarely trade for IPAs as who really knows when a beerwas bottled unless it says on the bottle. This one, bottled 9/24/10

A - Golden straw and transparent. A flmy white head with bubbles that stick around with every swil of the glass.

S - Grass and pine thru and thru. This is really the standout to me.

T - The grass is heavy up front and right tru til the end. I get a touch of pine in the back. This is very dry but extremely balanced. The malt backbone is present but at 8% man this is well put together.

M - Great light carb, sticky hops and dry

D - Cannot taste the 8% here at all. This is very hop forward but balanced enough to be friendly to all

Overall I'm very happy with this one. I've been waiting patiently since I found my love for the hop and Pliny didn't disappoint.

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

Had this dozens of times from bottles and on tap, reviewing this one from a very fresh bottle. Pours a clear light orange gold with a soapy white head. Nose is very bright, loads of hops express white grapefruit rind, dank pine forest, and almost a candy-like quality. Balance of flavors is straight up deft here, walks a brilliant line between bright, bitter citrus and a chewy candy sweetness. Luscious and juicy in the mouth. Having this from a bottle at 3 weeks old or so is an awesome experience.

Photo of mkorpal
4.64/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

500ml bottle, 9/07/2010 poured into a globe glass on 10/06/2010 in honor of the first day of the NHL's season. I figured this should do it justice.

Pours a semi clear heavy duty amber to orange color with a solid wispy white head on top which leaves some nice lacing on the side of the glass. Nice looking.

Smell. Oh GOD what a nose this beer has. Huge, massive citrusy and piney hop nose hits you like a ripe hop vine falling on your face. Nose seems more citrus forward, with orange and grapefruit the main players, and a hint of lemon in the background. Pine resin is also there, giving complexity to the nose. malt sweetness creates a nice backbone for the hops to live on.

Taste is an explosion of hops again. Pine plays more of a role in the taste than it did the nose. This beer manages to pack a ton of hop flavor, yet keeps the balance between hop and caramel malt within view.

The beer is light on the tongue, allowing for the flavors to fully penetrate your tastebuds. Carbonation really releases the flavor.

This beer is so freaking drinkable. The flavor explodes in your mouth, and is so forward that each sip is a treat. Yet, the beer is light enough to never impede in your fun.

If only there was a Glad plug-in to go with this beer, cause I would love for my house to smell like this beer.

Photo of OakedCanuck
4.45/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

500ml poured into cervoise. Bottled 82610. Reviewed 101010.
From notes.

A - Clear golden amber to apricot. One finger pure white head which dissipated fairly quickly leaving behind great lacing.

S - Grassy, pine, orange zest to a blend of other citric fruits.

T - Foresty pine and spruce, citrus fruits of grapefruit, orange, tangerine. Very slightly sugar malts in the back.

M - Medium body. Initial juicy, oily resiny hops. The malt comes through with a bit of dryness and offsets the bitterness with a touch of sweetness as well. Incredibly balanced the whole way through.

D - All day, every day. An incredible beer that deserves its ranking and accolades.

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

So I finally had a Pliny. I guess my conclusion is that it does live up to the hype.
The beer pours a light yellow and is somewhat clearer than I expected. It may only look gorgeous because I knew what I was about to drink. I guess the look is just all right, but nothing extraordinary. I have to say I expected it to be a little cloudier, so it does have a nice clean look. There was a one inch very decent head.
The smell is just fantastic. Best smelling IPA ever. Just pure piney hops.
Taste is also exceptional. Hops up front, little and subtle malt background. Some citrusy flavors, bitter and bone dry. Also, you couldn't tell it was an 8%ABV beer. Alcohol is well hidden in this one.

I shared a fresh Pliny with a couple of friends and we just loved it. But what really puts this beer apart from any other IPA I've tried is its fantastic smell. Very nice.

One of the BAs I tried this one with summed it all up quite nicely: "If there were an eau de toilette with this scent, I'd wear it every day".

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

I felt I needed to drink this beer a few more times before attempting to review it.
At first I thought that the explosive taste and bold flavor might have been a fluke. I've had beers before that were inconsistent from bottling dates, so I've tried 3 different "vintages", all consumed within 30 days of bottling.
So far, and this appears to hold true in speaking with other aficionados of this beer, the quality is remarkably consistent.
What is really vexing about this beer is that it is produced in small batches and can be quite hard to get.
One of my local stores has a "waiting list" on which I'm number 31. It comes in once a month, the beer manager starts to call the names on the list, and it is all gone within a couple of hours from the time it arrives. It is also limited to two bottles per customer.
That being said, it's now time to talk about the beer itself...
The beer comes in 500mL brown bottles with a simple green label with red symbol and white writing, nothing fancy.
It does have several admonitions to drink fresh, not to age or "save for a rainy day".
It is best served cool, not super cold, as the flavors and aroma come alive at about 50 degrees.
Poured into a large tulip glass, the head upon first pour measures about 1.5 inches, then settles to about half with time.
The aromas of citrus and hops aren't overpowering, just right.
The color is golden with a touch of copper in it, very pleasant to the eye.
Then there is the flavor...
Like I said before, it's bold, explosive and utterly memorable.
Definitely not for the faint hearted, this beer has complex flavors that play on your mouth without the nasty bitter aftertaste some of the hoppier IPAs can leave on your mouth.
I am not a technical beer drinker, I don't analyze the contents, the ABV, the density or the bitterness units. I leave all that to the experts.
What I am is an avid fan of this amazing, fantastic beer, and though it lessens my chances of getting it regularly, I tend to
extoll its virtues every chance I get.
So, in short, (although it might be too late for that) if you run across this beer by choice or chance, get it, enjoy it and count yourself lucky. Some of us have to visit 3 or 4 stores daily to get it very seldom, if ever...

Photo of ratedz
4.13/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 09-21-2010, consumed 10/10/2010.

Poured into a SA Perfect Pint glass. Pours a clear golden color with about an inch of off-white head. The head is very slow to dissipate as it is being fed by a constant supply of bubbles coming up from the bottom of the glass. A lot of lacing is left on the glass.

Nose is loaded with pine and juicy grapefruit/pineapple scents.

Taste follows the nose, but isn't overly sweet or overly bitter. Very balanced with the sweet citrus notes and the piney notes taking turns assaulting your taste buds.

Mouth feel is good...light and refreshing with a perfect amount of carbonation. Drinkability is high.

Obviously, this is an excellent beer that I would never turn down the opportunity to have. That said, are there DIPAs that are equally as good, if not better, that are more readily available to me in Kansas City? Absolutely.

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

Appearance - orange/gold color as others have mentioned, nice white head.

Smell - Pine, and grapefruit smells pretty good.

Taste - Follows the smell, is very well rounded. Not too bitter, not too sweet. The grapefruit flavor I get off of it was excellent.

Mouthfeel - Great carbonation, good mouthfeel.

Drink - Very easy to drink.

This is a very good beer, was shocked at the flavor the first time I had it. I got it at a fair price too, the local beer store went out of their way to go pick up a case in California, which was really cool of them. I think they sold the bottles pretty much at cost too. Reviewed from short notes from a tasting.

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

Bottled 9-23-10 Consumed 10-9-10

Rich straw in color, with a stark white, creamy head with lots of big bubbles.

Aroma was intense with citrus fruits (mainly grapefruit), bitter hops and bready malt backbone.

Taste was pretty spot on with the aroma with lots of grapefruit and citrus, nice finishing bitterness and nice balancing malt characters.

Feel was pretty much medium bodied, slightly crisp, and clean.

Easy drinking.

EDIT: Drinking Pliny first, instead of during a tasting definitely helped me take notice and appreciate it more.

Aroma was more noticeably floral. Taste was more noticeably lingering, with a combined intense bitterness and malt sweetness dancing on my tongue long after the sip. Picked up more of a slick, creamy mouthfeel.

I think I'll put this back on my wants now that I've savored this in it's entirety and by it's lonesome.

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

My first review here, after trying this double IPA I just had to write a review to express my love for it. Also, I'm just a noob of a beer drinker but I'm just lovin craft brews.

8.5% alcohol I believe, and a double IPA. Golden-straw like in its color, slight head but barely there.

I love double IPAs, I hate IPAs since I dislike overly hopped beers but double IPAs use the hops to smooth out the strong alcohol content and this the is perfect example of a double IPA.

You'd think this would be a heavy, syrupy beer but it isn't at all, surprisingly light and drinkable with a slight carbonation. just fabulous.

The taste is amazing, nice presence of hops, citrusy and pine tastes, tomato vines too. The more interesting flavors is that there is prominent lychee taste to it, a very interesting tropical tone. Usually for beers with this alcohol content the alcohol itself would overwhelm or be detectable but it's hidden quite well here with gorgeous tasting hops.

This beer really is quite exceptional and really is one of the top beers out there. It is so incredibly refreshing and drinkable, i just really love it and would totally rank it as one of the best beers I've ever had so far. truly phenomenal.

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

Poured from a 500 mL bottle into a Sam Adams Boston Lager glass. Shout out to Azurescens for the hook-up.

Appearance: Pours a hazy, light brown color. Has a rocky, foamy head that dissipates slowly and leaves some impressive lacing.

Smell: Hops, hops, hops. Citrusy, grassy, and piney hops. One of the most intense smells I've had in any beer.

Taste: Hoppy as anything I've had. However, it doesn't beat you over the head like most DIPAs; it comes in strongly but smoothly. This may be the best hoppy ale I've ever had.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and nicely carbonated. Perfect.

Drinkability: This beer is absolutely fantastic. I can completely understand the hype around it and hope to have it again someday.

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

Poured from 500mL bottle into 16oz Samuel Adamps Perfect Pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a slightly hazy golden-orange color with a large, very thick white head that has a slight orange hue. Head dissipates very, very slowly and leaves behind many spots of lace.

Smell: All kinds of hop aromas- pine and earthy aromas are the most prevalent, with some passionfruit and tropical aromas, and even mild floral hints. Every imaginable West Coast hop aroma seems to be represented, and represented well.

Taste: Begins bitter with some sourness and a piney flavor. Finishes with herbal and citric hop flavors and just enough buttery malt flavor to keep this from being overpowering. This is extremely hoppy, but it is not an all-out hop blitz. Wonderful.

Mouthfeel; Lighter body than expected, still in the medium range though. Balanced, natural carbonation and a finish that begins sticky and finishes dry.

Drinkability: I now know where all of the hype comes from. This is quite possibly the perfect beer. Definitely not for the uninitiated, but this is beer nirvana. A wonderful brew that I must savor, as I cannot readily get this on the East Coast. Time to end this review, to go back and savor.

Thanks to Azurescens for bringing this from Washington (state, obviously) and trading. This next sip is for you!

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

What can I say about Pliny that hasn't been said? Not much, but I'll add my voice to the consensus that this is one of the very best American beers.

Poured from the bottle into a pint glas, we get a light amber color, suprising clarity for a beer this big, fluffy persistent head, nice lacing.

The nose on this one is just tremendous. Pine, pineapple, bread, lots of hops. Mouth feel is difficult to describe, smooth, almost oily. Taste if malt, fruit, then hops hops and more hops. Unlike some of the hop bombs out on the market these days this is really nicely balanced beer, a rather amazing feat considering the huge hop flavor.

Basically, this is how you do it. Much imitated but never duplicated. One of the great ones.

Photo of OWSLEY069
4.13/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clean yellow color with a orange-ish hint, and a white head. In the aroma, sweet citrus, grapefruit and orange rinds. In the taste, grapefruity to orange citrus hops and a sweet maltiness. A small bite and medium bodied mouthfeel, with a dry citrus hop aftertaste. Big west coast hops, hides the alcohol, easy drinking and great.

Photo of birchstick
4.38/5  rDev -6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled on 9/21/10; consumed on 10/4/10. Thanks to Murchmac for sending a super fresh one my way!

A - pours a faint copper with a nice one-finger head; similar in color to a tiger's eye mineral. This is clearest beer I have seen - it is like a glass marble.

S - loads of cascade / citrus hops that has an equal amount of pine. Huge aromas.

T - starts off with grapefruit hops that fade in a barrage of piney bitterness. There is a bit of caramel malt, but it is barely there. The more this warmed, the sweeter this became and bitterness seemed to recede a little. This is a hop bomb all the way. Pretty solid DIPA here.

M - nice medium body that goes down smoothly, albeit a tad watery

D - I am glad I was able to get my hands on this. I can see how this is so highly rated. Fantastic DIPA with excellent drinkibility for a DIPA. I wish this had a tad bit more caramel malt to balance out the hop Blitzkrieg.

Photo of aval89
4.32/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottled 09-23-2010. Poured into Stone IRS snifter.

A: hazy golden/orange. Nice fluffy finger head that settled to an 1/8 inch cap. Leaves a beautiful lace on the walls.

S: absolutely mind blowing. BIG on the tropical fruits. Citrus, mango, orange, grapefruit, pineapple, pine, small amount of alcohol detection with caramel notes. Just a wonderful smell.

T: more tropical fruits on the taste. Lots of citrus flavors! Mango, pineapple, some sweet caramel. Finish is piney, with orange peel bitterness & grapefruit bitterness. Small booze detection & warming effect. Finish is dry & leaves a big lingering taste.

MF: smooth and soft coating in the mouth. Medium light body with medium light carbonation.

D: pretty easy drinker.. It can go both way really.

Final thoughts: although this is an excellent beer, I expected it to blow me away & it didn't. Its still a wonderful brew.

Photo of calir1
5/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Hands down my favorite beer of all time. What else is there to say that everyone else has not put. If you ever have a chance, drink this at the bar and not at home from the bottle. The atmosphere @ the bar and this beer with a thing of drew bites is amazing

Photo of Lagerglatze
4.83/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Quite simply one of the most complex, well-balanced, easiest drinking beers you'll ever enjoy. Its myriad flavors are somehow blended in a way that accessible to even the most novice beer drinker. It's a brew that completely lives up to the hype. If you're ever in NorCal, it's worth a stop in Santa Rosa.

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

A- Hazy copper. Light head that dissipates rapidly.

S- Citrus and pine.

T- Hops are balanced and complex. Slight sweetness and fruity esther.

M- Light carbonation. So smooth, almost a silica quality.

D- All night long.

Pliny is the finest beer in this Style; hands down.

Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 11,666 ratings.