1. American Craft Beer Fest returns to Boston on May 29 & 30, featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers. Tickets are on sale now.

Pliny The Elder - Russian River Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder

Educational use only; do not reuse.

11,869 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 11,869
Reviews: 3,362
rAvg: 4.66
pDev: 7.94%
Wants: 5,765
Gots: 2,464 | FT: 80
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
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Pliny The Elder Alström Bros
Ratings: 11,869 | Reviews: 3,362 | Display Reviews Only:
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

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

Poured from the bottle into a tulip glass. The appearance was amber red with a slight hop haze and beautiful white head that laced the glass. Aroma was thick with grapefruit, pine, grass and other tropical fruits. The taste follows suit. A thick hop flavor with a great balance between the hope and malts. Lighter body moderate carbonation. A treat for your senses.

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

On-tap at Naja's Place, Redondo Beach, CA

Poured a gorgeous golden orange from the tap with a smaller head.

I didn't feel the nose on this as much as anticipated. Very floral.

I don't often find myself describing DIPAs as "refreshing" but god damn. The hops are very strong but balanced perfectly as to not knock your palate off it's rocker. Classic piney, grapefruit.

Could drink these for days on end if they didn't ring in at $8 a pop for 12 oz. A beer that lives up to all expectations and still excites on that first taste.

Photo of tobin
4.34/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sampled on tap at the Russian River Brewpub

This double IPA poured a clear, amber color with white foam that settled but clung and coated the inside of the glass a bit. The smell was fruity, spicy hops with not much malt. The taste was grassy, fruity hops with a good bit of malt to balance. The hoppy flavors lingered very nicely. The mouthfeel was smooth, dry, and very hoppy with medium body and moderate carbonation. The finish was slightly astringent. This was a very nice and very hoppy double IPA.

Photo of dgfair
4.76/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

500 mL bottle poured into Duvel tulip. Bottled on 12/17/2010.

A - beautiful golden orange color with a brilliant white head that sticks around the entire way through the entire drink and leaves lacing all over the glass. Brilliant clarity, as good as an ipa can look.

S - very resinous pine aroma, probably the piniest hops i have smelled in a beer. Not a whole lot of depth here, but the pine is very nice.

T - extremely clean hop flavor with the perfect amount of bittering and earthy flavor. Mostly pine, but there is a nice little hit of grapefruit to balance the hop profile. The best thing here is while the beer is very hoppy, it doesn't kick you in the face with over the top palate crushing bitterness. A very delicate double ipa if there is such a thing. The dry but not overly sweet malt backbone is the perfect canvas for this perfect showcase of hops.

M&D - the beer is perfectly carbonated and feels so smooth going down. For an 8% ipa, i could drink these one after the other. Amazingly drinkable.

Overall, this is a fantastic beer, and right up there with the best double ipas I've ever had. Difficult to obtain, but well worth it when it is sitting in your glass at the end of the day.

Photo of leakyfaucet12
4.56/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

1 pint poured into snifter thanks to Josh in Cali. Reviewed from notes

a- Orange & Perfect. I wish that everybeer looked like this

s- Fruit, Pine, Hops, Smells like Jesus' Armpits

t- Took a huge sip of this, Tones of fruit, pine and citrusy hops. I love this beer. Makes me hate California out of jealousy.

m- Tons of carbonation and frothy

d- I want some more of this beer went down easy. Almost too easy

Photo of mjsheehan08
4.63/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5


First ever Pliny experience at teresas next door in Wayne Pa. 

Pours an orangey rusty hue. When held up to light, explodes into a fiery deep orange. Nice little cream head that minimizes after first sip and leaves a nice little rim of head. Lacing clings to the side of the glass in clumps. 

I am a little disappointed in the glass that I was served in. It was like a mini champagne flute that does not bring out alot of the aromas of the beer. I get mild floral aromas and hops. I am thinking about spilling it out on the bar to try and get a better whiff, but I don't wanna get kicked out before I have had another beer. 

Taste is amazing. Piney as hell, with alot of floral notes, pineapple, grapefruit, and a really great bitterness at the end that lingers for a while. This was def worth the wait and lived up to the hype. 

Mouthfeel is full, and it really makes it's presence known on the palate. Minimal carbonation up front and it bubbles hard in the end. 

This beer hids it's booze well in the taste, but I haven't eaten lunch and I can feel it in my head. This review is taking me forever. 

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

Served from 500ml into tulip. Bottled on 12/13/10

A - Glowing golden-orange with a thick head to start a couple fingers wide. The lacing spreads all over into a spider web of bubbly stickiness.

S - Extreme amounts of pine and then citrus of all kinds. A very crisp finish without noticing the alcohol. As I drink this beer I notice sweeter notes like butterscotch.

T - A huge hoppy beer with tastes of grapefruit, pine needle & pineapple. An excellent slightly dry and bitter finish that is just right.

M - Medium bodied that is a little creamy yet so well balanced to the carbonation. Most satisfying to the palate with some bleu cheese and crackers.

D - For an 8% beer it is highly drinkable. You would not think the abv was even that high. This brew lives up to the hype; although the chase for this beer can be a nuisance it is always greatly rewarded.

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

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. Bottling date 12/17/2010. Drank 01/13/2011. This is the freshest Pliny I can get here on the east coast.

Clear honey amber gold with a fluffy white head. The head left a nice lacing on the glass until I finished it. Perfect amount of carbonation and the head retention was spot on.

Aroma of pine and fresh grapefruit. Fresh citrus taste up front with piney resin in the middle leading to a slight malt backbone. Dry. Yum. This is anything but cloying. The balance is perfect. I can taste the hops. I'm surprised the beer doesn't have a green tint to it.

Light body masks the alcohol. So drinkable it's scary. I could have a six pack of these. Delicious.

I must make a trip to Russian River and Toronado to sample the "fresh" Pliny. This is a world class IPA and I can't imagine how good it must be within days of bottling/tapping.

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

Thanks to Augustgarage for popping my Pliny cherry and introducing me to the kickass world of California IPAs!

Poured into a dogfish head snifter- about 3 fingers of head that lingered for about a minute before residing into some intricate lacing on the glass. Smell- hardcore pine, grapefruit, big citrus flavors on the nose. I'm already aware that I'm not worthy of the beer nirvana I'm about to experience. Taste- big beautiful bitter hops hit my palate on the front, some nice brutal hop burn here. The bitter hops quickly makes way to a nice big malt backbone that evens out this hop monster. Mouthfeel- I noticed some really nice carbonation here, also nice silky finish.

This really lives up to the hype, period. Thanks again Augustgarage for the experience.

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

Thanks to Mike (mrunseen) for the trade.
16.9 Oz. bottle. Poured into my Duvel tulip.

Appearance: Golden yellow, nice billowy head initially that only dissipates to about a ½", excellent sticky lacing.

Smell: As expected big hops, heavy on the pine and citrus especially grapefruit.

Taste: Follows the smell verbatim, strong on the bitter grapefruit coupled with a pine flavor on the finish. Frankly, I'm getting little or nothing from the malt, not a lot of depth or complexity to this one, dominant hops. A nice aspect is how pleasant the grapefruit bitterness is on the palate, it does not linger. This aspect helps give this beer a clean, crisp flavor. This is a very good beer for the style, but not as multi-dimensional as I generally prefer my beer.

Mouth feel: Very smooth on the palate, nicely carbonated.

Drinkability: Very nice beer and the 8% ABV is completely masked.
I had two of these before deciding to review, the first was almost 2 months old and the latest was just a month old. I must say the younger beer was better (this surprised me, as I was skeptical with regard to "how fresh" people have said you need to drink this beer). To my taste the older beer had far more of a pine flavor, the citrus was barely there, hidden in the background behind a big pine cone. The younger had the taste I described above.

Photo of joshuaseresse
4.59/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled on 12-28-2010. Big thanks to Diomede for these Fresh bottles! Split with some people at the local liquor store:

A - pours a nice orange, bronze, amber color with a slight bit of head that dies into a foam ring. I've had Pliny's with frothier heads but it may have been the glass that I poured it in. Lacing was pretty good but just didn't stay.

S - Nice citrus notes! Pineapple, grapefruit, orange and lemon rinds. Also great pine notes and slight maltiness. Smells awesome!

T - Starts off with the nice citrus notes of pineapple, grapefruit and orange, but was also followed by a pine bitterness and resin notes which lingered long after the drink, leaving a bittering flavor in the mouth (which is not a bad thing.) Little bit of maltiness and bread but that is covered quite quickly by the fruit and pine.

M - Great carbonation and smooth mouthfeel. Refreshing and crisp.

D - Way easy to drink. I love the smell and flavor of this brew. I've been drinking a lot of DIPAs lately and this one is up there, although I do enjoy Abrasive much more :) Solid brew from Russian River and is also on my seeking list.

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

I poured Pliny the Elder into a Dogfish Head large snifter. With a dark orange hue, it looks exceptional. A cloudiness is present which makes the beer translucent. A light white colored head appears righr after the pour and lingers throughout the drink. A decent lacing also exists.

A rich hop, floral smell permeates from this beer as well hints a citrus. This continues through the taste with a nose of light citrus and a bit of pale malt flavoring. This is finish is nothing short of amazing. Lots of hops come through in the taste. The floral tastes also come through and linger after the sip goes down. For a double, the hops do create an overally bitter taste. I read in a brewing book that this effect is created by dry hopping.

The mouthfeel is great for this one. The carbonation goes great with thr flavoeing of the beer and it goes down very smooth for an IPA. I had 4 of these so far and they have all been great. Honestly I would really take their warning and drink them right away.

Photo of diomz88
4.5/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

S - fruity, flowey and citrusy, with a little scent of hop there too.
A - golden orange, whittish head,
T - HOP! right away the hop. but it's the hop that you will like and appreciate in a great brew. Citrus, caramel, and malty.
M - very smooth, medium to full bodied. no aftertaste, for me.
D - oh so drinkable, one of the great beers out there.

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

I understand that PTE is brewed with 40% more malt and over twice the amount of hops as compared to Russian River's already hoppy IPA beers. I was able to acquire a Pliny bottled on 12/13/10 from a contact in California. The beer poured a golden/copper light hue; remarkably clear. This beer gave off a bitter hoppy taste initally and then picked up heavy hints of pine. Admittedly, it lacks some "oomph" that some IPAs do. I can see why this is a popular beer among Imperial IPA purists, but I might think this is an overhyped beer as the #2 beer in the world via Beeradvocate. I am glad to have drank this highly sought-after beer which will serve as a nice benchmark against other Imperials. I very much look forward to trying Pliny the Younger on tap someday.
Updated: Tried a more fresh batch from January 2011 and this beer tasted way better than the December batch. Therefore, I've upped my rankings from a B to A.

Photo of jbertsch
4.49/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottled on 12/17.

Appeared orange with soft edges. Faintly clear and faintly hazy at the same time. A half-finger, white, sudsy head dissipates to a film but hangs out for the duration. Laces well.

Aroma is bright - as bright as I've ever smelled any beer to be. Grapfruit and pine hops are very upfront. Also a bit floral with subtle notes of white grapce and orange.

The taste offers up tons of fresh hop flavor - and hops is the star here. Citrus notes are dominant. Finishes bitter, but the bitterness doesn't linger too long.

Properly carbonated and alittle prickly on the tongue.

Drinkability is good in slow moderation.

I see what the hub-bub is about, but I honestly feel there are other DIPAs out there that are just as good. WOuld love to have this again, but maybe not worth jumping through hoops to get it again here in Massachusetts.

Photo of basica
4.7/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a bright, hazy orange-golden into my snifter with a one-finger thick milky white head and medium to good retention; moderate carbonation was visible amidst the liqui (4.5)

S - Upfront hoppiness on the nose with notes of citrus and pine along with big fruity suggestions with notes of grapefruit and passion fruit (4.5)

T - Pleasantly hop forward on the palate with an intense fruit explosion, well blended with a moderate touch of sweetness; fruity suggestions include notes of grapefruit, passion fruit and other delectable juicy, citrusy flavors. Past the middle and towards the finish, pine flavors were revealed along with some malty notes and a slightly above moderate amount of bitterness which, surprisingly, only comes around the finish, lasting into after taste along with the fruity notes. This is, by far, the best tasting DIPA I've ever had (5)

M - Medium-bodied thickness with a slight syrupy stickiness, apt for the style; slightly higher than moderate amount of carbonation and a creamy smooth texture as it goes down with a slight and pleasant warming (4.5)

D - First off, the PtE is the fruitiest DIPA I've ever had; in fact, it's almost to the point of being juicy and definitely to my delight. It's also not as intense or as bitter as some of the West Coast DIPAs; very juicy, delicious yet balanced for a DIPA and not overly bitter as well. Thus, very drinkable and a session that every DIPA lover would wish easy access to (4.5)

The PtE is the final of the 5 DIPAs in my horizontal taste comparison. I am glad to say that the PtE did not disappoint on the taste factor though I was expecting to be slightly more blown away by the nose and the feel. I loved the fruitiness and "juiciness" in the PtE and am very keen to revisit the Gordon Ale from Oskar Blues which I also recalled to be very fruity.

So without further ado, here's the ranking of the 5 DIPAs: 1st - Pliny the Elder (4.7), 2nd - Moylan's Hopsickle IPA (4.45), 3rd - Stone Ruination IPA (4.1), 4th - Dogfish Head 90 Min (4.1), 5th - Souther Tier 2XIPA (3.8). I would not strictly put the DFH 90 after the Ruination as the DFH is something you can easily enjoy a few pints of at a sitting whereas the Ruination would have destroyed your palate after half a glass.

In terms of hoppiness, bitterness and fruitiness on both the nose and flavor, the West Coast DIPAs easily trump the East coast variants and the Ruination sits on top when it comes to bitterness; Hopsickle ranks second and PtE third (Ruination and Hopsickle were considered a bit too bitter). The East Coast DIPAs were just touched with just a slight bitterness that was no where near the intensity of the West Coast IPAs. Appearance wise, none of them are stunners or a big story to bring home but the Hopsickle and the PtE looked a cut above the rest. The most easy drinking of these DIPAs (without too much of a flavor comparison here) would have to be the DFH 90 with the PtE following in second place.

Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 11,869 ratings.