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Pliny The Elder - Russian River Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

10,932 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 10,932
Reviews: 3,205
rAvg: 4.65
pDev: 8.6%
Wants: 5,038
Gots: 1,910 | FT: 63
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: 10,932 | Reviews: 3,205 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of DannyS
4.75/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Finally, I have the privilege to review this one, acquired in a trade with Chaseabeer. Poured into my Duvel tulip from the distinctive 500 ml bottle with the humorous and minimalist label. Bottled on March 9th of this year.

A - Amazing. A beautiful hazy orange amber with a thick, resilient pillow of foam that clings like mad, and leaves heavy, sticky lacing. reminds me of Duvel's super-duper pure white head.

S - sweet floral pine comprises the fragrant hop aroma, backed by good malty sweetness. Citrusy grapefruit also wafts up to the nose in a delicate ballet of nature aromas.

T - Bitter? A little bit, but hardly overwhelming. The hops are so strong and flowery, but the bitterness is so subtle and subdued. Slightly sweet and grapefruity, with more pine and malt to round out this ridiculously balanced flavor profile. I was expecting a tactical nuclear strike of hops, but the attack is varied and balanced, winning the war of my taste buds. Finishes surprisingly clean, and not dry at all, with only a little bit of lingering bitterness.

M - A full, heavy mouthfeel combined with modest carbonation makes this a fairly weighty brew, but still manages to be easy drinking. Would be perfect if it were just a tad more bubbly.

D - The alcohol is hidden with unbelievable expertise, and it's just so tasty and easy drinking. If this were available in my area and had a more modest ABV, I'd drink this religiously.

Hopslam surprised me and slammed the door open to the world of DIPA's.
DFH 90 minute took the time to further entice me.
Ruination almost ruined me to the whole style.
And now, Pliny the Elder has preached to me the good word of the hop, and I'm sold. Every bit of hyperbole this beer has garnered is well deserved. Revel in its glory.

DannyS, May 13, 2009
Photo of nickporjr
3.08/5  rDev -33.8%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

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

nickporjr, May 12, 2009
Photo of portia99
4.88/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

500ml bottle (bottled on 4/7/09) poured into a Duvel tulip glass. Received in a trade from Arbitrator - thank you, thank you, thank you.

A - Poured a beautiful clear, orange gold with a dense 1 1/2" white head. The carbonation bubbles are incredibly small and fine, seem much smaller than I find in other beers. Head lasts a few minutes - dissipates to leave fine lacing on the glass. Steady stream of carbonation rises from the bottom of the glass.

S - Amazing. Very fresh bottle. Dominated by piney aromas, but mixed with citrusy, grapefruit aromas. There is no containing this. Just about perfect for me.

T - This is the best tasting DIPA I've ever had. Hops dominate the flavor. Grapefruit and pine are prominant. Enough malt to balance, but hops are the real focus here, as they should be. Everything a DIPA should be - this really sets the benchmark.

M - Full and maybe slightly oily. The incredibly small carbonation bubbles give a fairly unique mouthfeel. The carbonation is still quite prickly, but there is a real smoothness to this. Not quite like a nitro tapped beer, but the smoothness starts to approach this (don't really know how else to describe this, or how they accomplish this - a definite plus for me though).

D - For a DIPA, I would call this quite drinkable. I'm not noticing the alcohol too strongly in the flavor, but I'm already feeling it a little half way through the bottle. I figure I could have a few of these in one session though (if they were readily available in MA, oh well). Don't go down as easily as the Blind Pig (exceptionally drinkable), but I didn't really expect it to be either.

Wow...this is an amazing beer. Gotta find a way to get a steady supply here in MA.

portia99, May 10, 2009
Photo of cerveza5150
4.3/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is an exceptional beer. I only wish that it was a little cheaper (I can't find it below $5 a bottle down here in So Cal), and available more places.

This is what a true IPA tastes like to me. I also like Alesmith's IPA, but this ale edges it out slightly. The hops are so oily, and so sticky, it tastes like I'm eating a hop salad.

8% is a little too much for me to have more than a few, so this is a good ale to enjoy.

cerveza5150, May 10, 2009
Photo of happybrewer
4.93/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance- Golden amber in color with a thick head that slowly dissipates. Good carbonation, looks tasty.

Smell- Smells very hoppy and citrusy. I instantly smell grapefruit.

Taste- Very strong and hoppy beer. Again big grapefruit and citrus character. Sweet strong and very well balanced. The abv is a little deceiving, given the balance.

Mouthfeel- Nice lighter body. Good bite on the tongue between the carbonation and the hops.

Drinkability- I love everything about this beer. Great balance.

happybrewer, May 09, 2009
Photo of dublife1
5/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This Famed Double IPA really deserves all the hype. This beer is truly one in a million! Now on to the review. 500ml bottle poured into my trusty Duvel Tulip.(bottled on 4/07/09) As soon as I opened the bottle the citrus and pine smells were apparent. Tastes were grapefruit up front, followed by more citrus notes and pine of course. Very, very smooth for a double IPA. I could live with just this beer for the rest of my life. Simply incredible!!! Double IPA is my favorite style and this is at the very top of my list! I would love to try the younger when it gets to the Philly area again. The 2 hour drive would be well worth it. If ever there was a beer I would praise as perfect, this would be it! Cheers and go Find Pliny!!!

dublife1, May 08, 2009
Photo of stonequarrywest
4.45/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is one beautiful beer..all the way around.
Pours like orange gold with a fluffy white airy head that leaves some lacing..

Could be the best smelling DIPA I have ever dipped my nose in...Bid Citrus, Piney, grassy notes...some Pinapple in there also.

Taste as good as it smells. Good hop bite that ios followed by an excellent malty balance and a tiny spice to it.

Medium body with a good carbonation..Could definitely drink another and another. so I will.

stonequarrywest, May 08, 2009
Photo of miramanmike
4.7/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Look- orange/gold some head that fades quickly.
Smell- Great big hoppy smell that I love. I can smell it as I pour it,MMM!
Taste- Hoppy bitter bite with a grapefruit kick then sweet malty goodness. nice.
Mouthfeel- light to med. body nice carbonation. I like this a little colder myself.
Drinkability-After the big bitter hop slap the sweet malty goodness finish it off just right. I can drink this down like crazy, but be careful the 8% alcohol is no joke....Great DIPA

miramanmike, May 07, 2009
Photo of Plenum
4.93/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Had this beer on tap at Russian River Brewery the day after it was kegged. Perhaps the best IPA ever made (though I haven't had PTY yet). Hops were so fresh it was like eating them. This is a must-have if you're fortunate enough to be in the greater Santa Rosa area. Poured a golden yellow, great mouthfeel (like you'd want to keep it in there forever, and skip breathing).

Plenum, May 07, 2009
Photo of beerad666
4.7/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

What a fabulous DIPA. The Pliny The Elder pours a light golden orange with a small soft off white head. The lacing that is left behind once that head resides is very nice leaving behind fine bubbles like you just washed your glass with soap. The hop aroma hits you before you even bring the glass to your nose. Citrus and pine come through so wonderfully. The taste is what you would expect from the aroma and it being a DIPA. Lots of great bite from the hops with a slight sweetness to wash it all away. It is light with a ton of complex flavors... just makes you smile. This is the nectar of the gods. I could drink this all night and still want more.

beerad666, May 06, 2009
Photo of mongee
4.45/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml bottle (3/23/09) poured into pint glass 5/5/09

Appearance: golden orange, some head, sticky lacing

Smell: Citrus, fruity hops/pine

Taste: Spicy, dry, intensely hoppy/piny, mild malts

Mouthfeel: relatively high carbonation, light-medium body, crisp, dry, and creamy

Drinkability: my first DIPA...possibly could have another, but still getting used to IPA's/DIPA's

mongee, May 06, 2009
Photo of yemenmocha
4.81/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Very seductive DIPA. Pours a peachy amber to golden color with white head that starts thick and dissipates to a thin layer that lasts well. Lace is present.

Nose is the best feature of this ale. I get an appetizing tropical fruit, and perhaps we could call it candied tropical fruit like in those tropical versions of trail mix, where you might get some coconut thrown in for good measure. I'm also picking up something that is in the direction of mango with pineapple.

Taste is grassy and dry up front, with a reflexive mouth pucker from the hops leaping across the palate. Not a lot of malt here, and the alcohol is amazingly subdued.

The hoplover will relish this one but if you're not into the style I can see why some see it as too much.

yemenmocha, May 04, 2009
Photo of rmaste6282
4.65/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

500ml bottle of Pliney the Elder from a local liquor store that has a decent selection of craft brews (Farr Better Spirits). Poured it into a typical pint at room temp.

A: Nice light amber with over 1" of head, but doesn't last overly long.
S: Great smell of hops, a little sour smelling (in a good way)
T: Good malt flavor with plenty of hops, malts last after beer is gone. Definately some citrus hints in there.
M: Pretty carbonated, medium body
D: Great showing for a Imperial IPA, can't go wrong with it

rmaste6282, May 01, 2009
Photo of augustgarage
4.4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 500mL bottle into my Dogfish Head shaped pint glass. Opened and consumed 10 days after it was bottled.

Liquid is a clear SAE/ECE amber, a large seashell head blooms rapidly with promising retention. The lacing is dense and adhesive, and fine bubbles surface continuously as you drain the glass, nearly to the very bottom.

The nose erupts with hops, but presents cleanly: grapefruit, pineapple, tropical flowers, a little grass too once it begins to warm.

A malt backbone balances the hop flavors and relieves the palate from the bluntness of astringency; though, the astringency is there in successive waves well into the finish. At the end of the finish it isn't clear if it is a mild sweetness arriving or a bitterness departing, either way it is very pleasant.

Light-bodied, highly carbonated, slightly warming...

As others have said "a showcase for hops."

augustgarage, May 01, 2009
Photo of alleykatking
4.43/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The bottle I am reviewing I got in a trade with bkrefetz...thanks Brett you made my day!

A- Poured into a pint glass. Nice hazy dark golden orange with a 1/4 inch head that stayed for a little bit leaving nice and sticky lacing on the sides.

S- Huge grapefruit smell to it with little notes of citrus. Also a little sour note to it. Very faint bready smell to it. The hops for sure overpower everything else in the smell.

T- Oh man that is a wonderfully fantastic beer. There is a nice underbalance of malts and hops with the hops taking more of a high road. But still this seems to be a really balanced beer. Does that make any logic at all??? Nice crisp hop bite with grapefruit and citrus tones to it. I can taste a little malt backbone but not much.

M- Good carbination..making the mouthfeel lighter and seem to float over the palate. Nice hop oily feel on the tounge that makes this beer stick around for a while once it goes down the hatch.

D- This thing is so dangerously drinkable. I only say that because I could see myself drink a lot of these if I didn't have to trade for them. Once I do get them in though they never last long.

Russian River I am angry that I can't get you in Indiana. Luckly I have college kids who come into my store that live there and bring some back for me at times. Or else I have to trade.

alleykatking, Apr 30, 2009
Photo of zeff80
4.85/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A - Poured out a somewhat cloudy, orange color with golden highlights. It had a small, thick, foamy head that left soapy trails of lace.

S - Tons of grapefruit aroma; really amazing! There were mild notes of pine and caramel.

T - It hits you with a tart ruby red grapefruit taste and sweet orange peel flavors. The burnt toast caramel flavors add balance to the strong fruit taste.

M - It was crisp and sharp with a dry finish. A medium bodied ale.

D - This truly lives up to the hype. Fans of HopSlam will like the Elder, too.

zeff80, Apr 30, 2009
Photo of bwd110
4.65/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Received this in trade from jadamski1 (thanks josh)

Have had the elder on tap in the Philly area a bunch of times now, good to sit down with a bottle relaxing at home...

on label: bottled on 04/07/09
500ml bottled poured into DFH snifter

A: Golden straw color, somewhat murky. Nice fluffy pearl white head. Somewhat short retention, yields way to sudsy lacing.

S: Just beautiful. Sweet citrus and grassy pine notes dominate. Hint of breadiness suggests good malty balance in this brew. A delight to sit back and breathe this in.

T: I'm ready to move to California. Wonderful citrus and tropical fruit notes mixed nicely with grassy, resinous pine hops. The blend of the hops and malt is perfect. No real sweet or caramel notes from the malt, just a nice earthy balance to the intense hop flavor.

M: Perfect carbonation, medium body, covers the palate well. The perfect finish. I'll say it again - creamy smooth, then dry bitter crisp and gone in a heartbeat. Perfect.

D: You couldn't pry this out of my hands. Why doesn't a Russian River pipeline to my home bar exist?

There's nothing else to say about this beer that others haven't. Damn fine beer, wonderfully crafted.

bwd110, Apr 30, 2009
Photo of HalfFull
4.15/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Unimpressed by Blind Pig on tap I gave it a chance from the bottle. It failed but I thought I'd do the same for the Elder. Decent on tap but not overwhelming, I've found a sample bottled all of 7 days ago. Fresh is best they say, doesn't get much fresher.

Poured from a 500 ml. bottle into a large wine glass, this guy pours a similar golden honey in color yet offers a nice half inch of medium density slightly off white head which leads to some nice lacing, eventually just some scattered surface bubbles remain.

Smell too is improved in the bottle vs. the tap. The same blast of hops is there but a bit more complex. Improving as it warms to offer some ripe fruit and occasional pine notes.

Taste is interesting with some citric notes initially, a hop oil flavor in the middle, finishing somewhat coarse and bready. At first this hit me a bit too hard and had a smoky flavor, becoming more balanced with a little exposure. Somewhat creamy on the feel as the carbonation settles a bit too swiftly exposing the malt underbelly and segueing to the thinness of it's tap version. Still highly drinkable, particularly given the strength, and I can now see some association to the Younger in this bottled version.

Surely better than the tap glass I had and surely much fresher at 7 days old. I might have confused this with Pure Hoppiness, though perhaps a bit more viscous and buttery. Yet in the end good, quite good, but not great.

HalfFull, Apr 29, 2009
Photo of richtersf
4.65/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Requested this at the Co-Op in Moscow, Idaho and was very pleased when it came in due to its reputation. Was a little sad to see it priced at over $6. Whatever, picked 2 up and brought them home to find myself very happy with the beer.

A- an orangy brown with pure almost guiness white head

S- medium to heavy hop scent with hints of orange

T- heaven. Tried the first beer freezing cold but found more flavor waiting as it got warmer. Great hop mix blended well with notes of orange, perhaps pine, and definitely grapefruit. Tastewise, has the complexity I wish every beer did.

M- good carbonation, a bit heavy on the texture for me, but still a good medium texture

D- a little on the filling side but still couldn't get enough

Overall, a fantastic beer tastewise and in my top 5 ipas. Wish it wasn't so expensive but it's understandable. Cheers!

richtersf, Apr 28, 2009
Photo of Thorpe429
4.18/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Jerk44 for this one.

A: Orange colored with a good head and plenty of lace.

S: Lots of hops, backed up by some nice citrus and tropical fruits.

T: Much like the smell, with the hoppiness taking over a little bit in a good way.

M: Medium-bodied with a good amount of carbonation. The alcohol is barely present.

D: All around a very good beer. Absolutely cannot wait for August to get out to California and try this one on tap.

Thorpe429, Apr 27, 2009
Photo of Yesac
4/5  rDev -14%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to supermanjace for trading me this 500ML bottle with a bottled on date that is 3 weeks old. Umm fresh Pliny.

A- Very clear orange in color. Small bubbly white head.

S- Big freshly cut grass fresh hop skunk smell.

T- Along with the smell.. fresh cut grassy tones.
Very sweet bold bitterness from the hops. Piney. Punget fresh hops cling to the palate and taste is residual in between sips. So where is the balance? Ninja bready malt notes rise up at the very end. There is malt here indeed. This brew lacks complexity.

M- Thick bodied. Great coating of taste evenly layers the palate. Medium/high carbonation.

D- Hop heads dream in a bottle. Easy drinking. I love the freshness. I think overall the bitterness is just a tad over the top.

Yesac, Apr 27, 2009
Photo of YonderWanderer
4.33/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a clear, clean copper with a thin layer of foam on top. It fades quickly leaving slight rings of lace.

S: Big pine hops lead the way. Hints of resin, and a bit of citrus around the edge. This is one hoppy f'n beer.

T: Taste follows suit. Huge pine hop flavor with an edge of resin on the side. A tinge of citrus lasts throughout as well. Malt is there to provide balance, but doesn't really impact flavor. Alcohol warms a tiny bit, but is hidden by the hops.

M: Crisp, smooth, and proper carbonation. Nice dry, hoppy finish in this one.

D: This is a powerfully hoppy brew, and one sure to destroy your taste buds with its hoppy goodness. Great brew for a hophead. I could drink 'em all the time.

YonderWanderer, Apr 26, 2009
Photo of amneziak
4.58/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Like Russian River's other IPA, Blind Pig, Pliny the Elder pours a bit lighter than one would expect of an IPA. This one is a slightly cloudy pale orange color with a very nice amount of lacing that coats the glass. There is not a severe amount of head, but enough to really help carry the aromas and open the beer up in the mouth.

Smell: The smell is one of the truly remarkable elements of the beer. I don't think I've smelled an Imperial IPA that is this clean before. The hops are very bright here and smell just like you'd want them to smell. It doesn't take on too much of the pineapple and mango qualities as much as it does peach and mango. This is definitely one of the more supreme smelling hop beers I've tried.

Taste: Along with the aroma, the taste of this beer is very clean and hoppy. There is a fair amount of bitterness that does take over the flavor. I'm surprised at how light this tastes, but that is one of the great things about Russian River - they always make clean and intensely flavored beers. I'm really loving just about everything that's hitting my mouth right now.

Mouthfeel: I would say this is medium bodied just bordering on being light. As I said, the bitterness is very nice and the light nature of the beer makes this very enjoyable on the palate. If this were something I could get on a regular basis, this would be my BMC of choice. Very drinkable indeed.

Overall: As with most people outside the small distribution area of Russian River I had really high expectations for this beer. I can tell you that my expectations were met and maybe even exceeded a bit. I had previously had the Blind Pig, which seemed very subtle (yet well-made), and the same can be said about Pliny. While it is definitely more intense than Blind Pig, it's not as big as some of the other greats (Dreadnaught, Hop Stoopid, Hopslam, etc). It is, however, worthy of all the praise it gets and deserves to a place in the ring with the others.

The Grand Ole Hopry

amneziak, Apr 25, 2009
Photo of nanobrew
4.65/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A - Has a golden/orange hue with a strong off white head. There is a constant flow of carbonation bubbles flowing to the top. Film left on the glass follows the beer as it lowers, the head does dissipate after a while.

S - oranges and pine

T - There are definite pine notes from the hops, but well balanced with malty sweetness. The hops bitterness tingles first, followed by the smooth sweetness of the hops. There is a slight refreshing burn at the back of the throat, either from the hops or the alcohol.

M - Crisp, slightly burning from the hops, but smoothed by the malt.

D - easily drinkable for all occasions, especially with the relatively high ABV.

nanobrew, Apr 24, 2009
Photo of Duhast500
4.85/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

My 150th review:

Poured from a 22oz. bottle into a pint glass.

The color a light yellowish orange, hazy with a great amount of foamy and bubbly white head.

The smell is very piny. The floral hops are very evident here. It tickles your nose and gives you a preview of things to come.

Finally the taste, the taste that has been building for months and it is good. The amount of hops is pushing through all other flavors. Being an IPA it gives you just the right amount of hops, floral and some citrus hops as well.

It has a great feel to this beer. It is a fantastic brew. An IPA for the ages and it really is worth the wait.

Duhast500, Apr 24, 2009
Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 10,932 ratings.