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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.

10,555 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 10,555
Reviews: 3,173
rAvg: 4.65
pDev: 8.39%
Wants: 4,869
Gots: 1,758 | FT: 58
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: 10,555 | Reviews: 3,173 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of mentor
3.63/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a four finger yellowed head over a mildly hazed golden. Gorgeous frothy head clings and caves. Smells pink greapfruit pith, piney, grassy, and garlic.

Tastes potent hop flavored with noticable hop bitter and decent underlying malt sweet. Hop flavor consists of pith, grapefruit, garlic, tangerine, and oranges. Hop flavor is so strong that it comes across as a bit sour. Hop bitter is grassy and mixes with a clean alcohol. The alcohol dries the beer, despite a malt dextrinous. Malt flavor is absent, or at least buried under all the hop character. Md-light body and moderate carbonation. Decent, but I'm not seeing what all the hype is about.

mentor, Sep 15, 2008
Photo of madtappers
4.58/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Bought a bottle of this at my local bottle shop after reading all the rave reviews about this beer.

Poured clouded with a nice hop aroma, very drinkable IPA. Would buy again but at this price there are many other IPAs that are better for the money.

Again I recommend this beer, but there are similar IPAs out there at a lower price.

madtappers, Sep 14, 2008
Photo of Homer27
4.85/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I've been waiting over 3 years to try this beer, finally found some distributed to Seattle. I was ready for a letdown because of the hype I gave it internally but it put me in my place quickly. Like John Stewart on Karl Rove. This is the kind of beer that gets me excited as hell about beer. Not since the Stone 10th have I tasted a beer this good.

A: Light, a pale ale as the name suggests. Excellent lacing and head retention. My wife put her finger to her nose and was going for the head when a ruler smacked her knuckles.

S: Hops, Pine and I seem to be the only one that got an overwhelming smell of apple.

T: I am at a loss how they made this beer so hoppy and so smooth at the same time. Again the apple, pine, hops and citrus - mostly grapefruit.

M: Silky, but not syrup. Slight carbonation.

D: Drinks like a 6.5% max. I couldn't drink this all night but I couldn't drink anything above 6% all night. Incredibly smooth for a high ABV like this.

I'm very happy with this beer and will buy a case next time I see it.

Homer27, Sep 13, 2008
Photo of dnichols
4.72/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to imacoug for sharing this fine beer with me. I served this brew into a 12 ounce mug.

A: It poured a cloudy reddish blond body with hints of amber. It had a moderate off-white head that was about a finger deep and lingered long into the drink. There was a healthy amount of lacing given the hefty ABV.

S: Nice blend of floral and flavoring hops. Exceedingly well balanced aroma with a decent presence of malts, citrus and pine aromas.

T: This was a wonderfully balanced IPA. It had a creamy malty and sweet front with a tangy citrusy accent (mostly grapefruit) and hints of pine.

M: It was medium to full bodied with a creamy and sweet front and edgy grapefruit bite. It finished very clean with little aftertaste.

D: It was a wonderful IPA, among the best I've tasted. It is a bit strong for a session beer but I would have no trouble going two to three deep before being forced to go elsewhere.

dnichols, Sep 12, 2008
Photo of BeTheBall
4.78/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle in to my Sam Adams glass.

A: Beautiful 2 finger foamy head topping a golden bubbly, semi-clear brew. Good lacing that would not stop.

S: The amazing West Coast hops smell of citrus, grass, resin and everything good about hops. The aroma on each sip was a pleasure.

T: Similar to the aroma; aromatic cirus notes, grassy. Bitterness in the back of the mouth and throat was well contained for such an amazing hops aroma. Some residual bitterness on the way down, but very, very smooth.

M: Coated the mouth well; lively carbonation.

D: Because the bitterness down the throat is so controlled, this is perhaps the smoothest IPA I've had, ever. To be able to have this incredible hops aroma and taste without knocking your palate with a hammer is truly a first for me. My new favorite of this style.

BeTheBall, Sep 11, 2008
Photo of waltonc
4.33/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle purchased from City Beer Store.

A: 31 millimeters of head. Orange with some haze, though certainly not opaque.

Smell and taste: Evergreens, orange and yellow-colored fruits, and whack quantities of hops. I ordinarily dislike such ridiculous hoppiness, but can make an exception for such a well-done IPA.

Although PTE is very good, I must admit I don't understand what the obsession seems to be. This is not a top 25 beer in my opinion.

waltonc, Sep 10, 2008
Photo of DefenCorps
4.65/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

16.9oz bottle received from largadeer. Thanks, dogg. Bottled on 30th July, decanted into my Duvel tulip at 2137h on the 9th of September

A: Hazy orange with a dense, two-finger beige head. Excellent retention and intricate lacework on the sides of my glass. Tons of carbonation. Very pretty

S: I've had this before, from a bottle, on tap and from a growler and every single time, I'm a happy man. Tons of hops - floral, citrus and pine. The pine is a lot more assertive than i remember it being but the delicate citrus aroma with oranges and sweet tangerines and floral notes are present and gorgeous. Excellent

T: Starts off with a sharp pine hops with citrus hops coming through adding the distinctive touch of grapefruit and orange zest. Malt is non-existent and this is a hop tour de force all the way. Excellent hop bouquet. Finishes dry, resiny and hoppy

M: Wonderful resiny hops coat the palate while the carbonation works perfectly, bursting little hop globules on my tongue and the drying finish? perfect

D: So much for savoring this. This one's disappearing all too soon :-(

Notes: I think god's playing a big practical joke. I love my dry as hell, brilliantly balanced DIPAs, most of which are outta CA and he puts me on the East Coast. Between last night's fresh White Knuckle, tonight's Pliny and tomorrow's Dreadnaught, I'm in hophead's heaven.

DefenCorps, Sep 10, 2008
Photo of koopa
4.5/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Received a couple of bottles through a trade with Slayer3604

Appearance: pale gold to light orange depending on your room lighting. Not much lacing but lots of head retention!

Smell: Just a beautiful bouquet of floral hops, a slight grapefruit hop smell, pine, perfume, and the faintest hint of orange. Well done!

Taste: I'm getting some grapefruit up front with the pine and floral qualities coming next. Finally another wave of grapefruit hits as the floral qualities subside. This is a tasty west coast IPA for sure! Really loving it. Especially because there isn't a sweet malt profile to detract from it.

Mouthfeel: Creamy, decent carbonation, with fruit sweetness from the hops balancing everything in the absence of a sweet malt profile.

Drinkability: Wonderful despite the 8% abv

Please Note: Pliny changes quite a bit as it ages and really is best enjoyed as fresh as possible. I've sampled bottles that were 2-3 weeks old and they have extra bitterness about them that opens up in the 4-6 week age range. By about 10-12 weeks old this beer seems really degraded in my personal opinion.

koopa, Sep 09, 2008
Photo of gregc
4.93/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Growler courtesy of stewdawg, showed up a day after he filled the growler, so i decided i needed to open it as soon as i got it, so it would be nice and fresh.

Pours a nice orange color with a small white fluffy head, that quickly fades away.

Aroma is beautiful...nice citrus (oranges and grapefruit) dominate the nose, with some pineapple, pine, some malty carmel and a nice breadiness. Wow this is the best smelling DIPA i have ever come across.

Flavor is amazing...bold citrus hits me as soon as it hits the lips, pine, caramel and the breadiness. Nice bitterness from the hops, this is so balanced.

Smooth, creamy mouthfeel texture with a bit of oily hops. The bitterness hangs around just long enough, then it smooths out. Nice carbonation..

what else can i say this is the most wonderful DIPA i have ever had, too bad i live on the east coast and it will probably be hard to come by again.

gregc, Sep 09, 2008
Photo of roan22
4.85/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

My pint appeared to be a gold orangey color. The head dissapated fairly quickly but I knew it was fresh because of the lovely aromas.

The aromas were brilliant, like an herbal green plant, not quite pine, not quite citrus, but an herbal spicy balance of all three.

The taste was very smooth, hops tasted citrusy like oranges. A great zesty bitterness was there, and it never tasted too tart or too bitter. The malts tasted perfect and the balance acheived in this DIPA is quite phenominal.

The taste of fresh Pliney the Elder really impressed me because unlike every other DIPA I have had, it was not too sweet or too boozy on my palate. Very pleasant, very confident beer. It tasted as if it had been brewed for 100 years.

The only way the mouthfeel could improve, would be to throw in a little more of the hops that cause the long lasting bitterness after a sip. That would make it a 5 star beer for me. But I agree it is world class, an excellently brewed.

At 8% it is absolutely at the extreme end of my tolerance, so drinkability gets marked down just a touch. Can only have one pint of this if driving.

roan22, Sep 09, 2008
Photo of Aimstatus
4.18/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

First off amazing.
A: A light medium caramel colored liquid with one to two inch head , that remains long after pour, with reasonable lacing that clings pleasantly to the glass.
S: scent of pine or forest like smell but in a good way. It's the kind of beer you imagine having at a summer bbq but better. The smell is neither over powering or to weak but just right the barely and hops are balanced perfectly.
M: I noticed the carbonation mostly immediately after my first gulp I had to do manly custom and burp. The beer was a thin liquid neither clung to the mouth or left a bad after taste.
T: well I believe I already mentioned, but to restate it amazing.
I want one now as I'm typing this review. So in general I think I'd have to say its one of those beers you can and/ or are going to want to drink every day.

Aimstatus, Sep 09, 2008
Photo of russpowell
4.55/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Got this one from tpd975, Cheers Greg!

Updated rating: the last few bottles had a much better nose! Not as good on draft IMO...

Pours an effervescent apricot with slight chill
haze & 2 fingers of thick egg shell colored head. Great head retention & good lacing

S: Citrus & pine, plus floral & grapefruit hops

T: Grapefruit, pine, breadyness, some dryness & resiny hops up front. Grapefruit & resiny hosp seize the flavor focus as this warms, some breadyness sneaks through as well. Finishes with much grapefruit, resin & a touch of toffee & pineapple

MF: Medium bodied, with medium carbonation & some creamyness to this. Great balance

Drinks pretty easy for the style & ABV, A pretty good DIPA, which I presume is even better on draft

russpowell, Sep 09, 2008
Photo of MiScusi
4.9/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A- no double IPA ever looks better than this. Clear rich Golden in color, generous white head. It can also look very pale yellow or orangish depending on the lighting.

S- sweet sticky pine. No DIPA comes close to the appeal of this smell.

T- Starts out with a light tasting pale malt combined with sweet hop resin. Citrus flavored hops try to poke through the pine cuts through it. Lingering pine and bitterness in the finish.

M- slick but not too slick. Still light enough to enjoy without it feel like you're drinking syrup like lots of other DIPA's out there.

D- self explanitory.

I have had this beer numerous times on tap (at Russian River brewpub and locally in So. Cal), and a handful of times from the bottle now. This bottled version is close enough to the fresh tap version for me. Fresh tap might be just a bit more intense in flavor and aroma. But there's no debating with me that any DIPA even comes close to displaying the hops and not letting the the malt interfere too much and create a cloyingly sweet hop soup like plenty of other DIPA's out there. Ok, maybe it's neck and neck with Alpine's Pure Hoppiness :)

MiScusi, Sep 09, 2008
Photo of RickSawyer
4.43/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a brilliant amber red with golden highlights. A pillowy head rises and falls to a finger thick disk. Lacing leaves draping patterns across the glass. Smells wonderful. Piney, resinous, buscuity malt, spearmint, hints of citrus. Beautifully balanced! First taste is very solid! Carmel sweetness, bready malts give way to piney, slightly spicy / peppery hops. Not incredibly complex but something amazingly simple about it strikes my fancy. Just the slightest bit of alcohol on the finish. Soapy, solid mouthfeel. A highly drinkable DIPA from the guys who helped pave the road.

RickSawyer, Sep 09, 2008
Photo of GilGarp
4.45/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours from a 500ml bottle into the Sam Adams glass. Lots of warnings all over the bottle telling me to enjoy it now, not later. The dude abides...

Pours a golden orange color with lots of head that sticks around and leaves awesome lacing. Good, but not perfect, clarity.

Aroma is full of fresh hops, pine, lemons, limes, and a hint of sweetness like honey or maybe brown sugar.

Flavor is excellent too. Grassy up front followed by bitterness and it finishes slightly sweet. Nicely balanced for a double IPA, it never feels like an attack on my taste buds.

Mouthfeel is good but a little high on alcohol and the bitterness gets me in the back of my cheeks.

Drinkability is very good for a beer of this high hoppiness and ABV.

It's a great beer overall and I hope that Russian River brings more offerings to the rocky mountain state.

Bottled on date: 7/30/08

GilGarp, Sep 09, 2008
Photo of thethrone
4.55/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

With Russian River just starting to appear in the area, I was excited to get a chance to try Pliny, but I was a bit worried about whether the beer would live up tot he hype that had been generated.

Rest assured, that you are unlikely to be disappointed if and when you get a chance to try it. Its a textbook example of what a DIPA should be, with a terrific hoppy smell and taste, while mantaining an excellent balance. The 8% abv disappears in the flavor, making it very drinkable, which many DIPAs struggle with.

Highly recommended.

thethrone, Sep 06, 2008
Photo of Dubbercody
4.38/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

500mL bottle, purchased locally...whoo Hoo to that! 081308 bottling. It's a really nice beer. The hops blend into the malt so beautifully. Nicely sweet with an awesomely hoppy bitterness. Great balance, there is a reason this beer is one of those "must have, everyone talks about it, no really will you trade me some, ISO, etc. etc. etc." beers.

Dubbercody, Sep 06, 2008
Photo of Deuane
4.93/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This will not be my typical A,S,T, M, D review. I respect and love this beer too much for that.

To put it simply this beer is about as close to DIPA perfection as one can get. From the orange/pine aroma to the BIG citrus hop smack in the mouth to the lively body and the oh so smooth yet assertive body. This beer has it all in the realm of cream of the crop DIPA's!

PtE is,without a doubt, one of the Godfathers of the West Coast DIPA revolution. Along with the sadly retired Frank's of Pizza Port fame, PtE is one of the greatest beers of it's style, plain and simple. All beers in this genre can only hope to be mentioned in the same breath.

I flat out love this beer. I have absolutely nothing negative to say about it. From the hops to the body to the quaffable 8% aspect...it ROCKS!

So, if you are lucky enough to to get a pint, or six, of this wonderful nectar do not hesitate! Grab one and enjoy! Pliny the Elder is about as close to perfection as a West Coast DIPA gets! Kudos to Vinnie and the entire Russian River team for creating and brewing such a wonderful product!

Deuane, Sep 05, 2008
Photo of Brewlore
4.83/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bottled on date of 8.25.08, imbibed 09.03.08

Having this on tap several times I'm quite curious to see how it holds in bottle form.

Poured a nice clear orange/amber color that soon formed a nice white head. The head however, quickly ran away and left a ring of lacing. A very attractive beer.

The aroma is outstanding. I got a huge whiff of it while pouring. A plethora of hop scents abound. There's a sweetness in the aroma as well (that'll probably be the malt). Big grapefruit and pine coming from the hops. Hint of orange (citrus) coming through a bit providing a slightly sweet scent too.

The taste has more of the aforementioned qualities but is a bit heavier on the pine traits. Surely not a bad thing. The bitterness I felt was very smooth. It didn't attack and maul you. It was more like being hunted then slowly being picked apart by hop beasts. Lightly spicy in the end, a quenching combo of pine, citrus, and some floral hops again but is flanked by a nice touch of the sweet bready malts.

Light to medium body and feels great on the palate. A bit lively too.

For hop lovers this beer is easily drinkable. It's quite potent at 8% but the alcohol is well hidden. Careful with the Elder.

Of course, having this on tap is where it's at, but trapping Pliny in the bottle is still damned good. One of my favorite DIPA's. It's a real treat to imbibe the elder.

Brewlore, Sep 03, 2008
Photo of chrisafari
4.53/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark amber brown with very nice white head. Aroma is sweet citrus and pine with a background of hops. Flavor begins with a great and unique palate of roasted nuts, almost like creamy peanut butter. Nice finish of hops and citrus. Great medium body, very easy to drink. Unique and amazing double IPA.

chrisafari, Sep 02, 2008
Photo of RodBurg
4.43/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Let me start out by saying I was super stoked to try this one. Had it on tap at Russian River in Santa Rosa. Pours a deep golden/amber and has a nice chunky white head that leaves good lacing.

Nose is all hops. Strong pine, grapefruit and lemon zest.

Malt backbone hits the palate for a split second and is then taken over by the hop bitterness. Intense pine and grapefruit. Medium body. Finishes nice and bitter with a touch of alcohol. Deceptively drinkable.

Very good version of the style. I wish it was more widely available down here in the IE.

RodBurg, Sep 02, 2008
Photo of Domingo
4.63/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I've had this a few times at the yearly GABF, but it's always hard to tell how great something may or may not be based on samples.
Luckily this is now bottled and in the Denver area.
This brew is somewhere between bronze and copper with a nice amount of head, but not too overbearing or rocky.
This beer is all about hops...I mean a TON of them. Piney, grapefruit, pineapple, but still having a european floral presence in the background, too. There's even a little of the whole leaf spearmint in there, too. It's a hop tour-de-force, but it doesn't get tiring or overwhelming either. The malt doesn't really play a role here, but for some reason it has enough backbone to keep everything drinkable.
For an 8% brew, this goes down really easy. No burn or overblown sweetness.
This rocks. If you want to get something hoppy that isn't freakishly sweet or boozy, this is IT. This is *the* hoppy beer.

Domingo, Sep 02, 2008
Photo of murdoch22
4.65/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a short-lived coarse foam; some lingering fizz on the glass, and a very unusual orange color, with more red than most pales.

Smell it once; it's an IPA. Smell it again, carefully, deeply. Go on and get your nose in it--you're not going to get hurt. Yes, you'll be smelling hops for the next three days, but what else? I think shampoo manufacturers would call that essence "botanical." As a beer drinker who's had more than one tonight, i call it "hops dragged through a field of mint." Sure, there's the familiar grapefruit smell, but some sweetness, some chlorophyll, and some other unidentifiable elements come through.

It's smoother and more complex than most IPAs, especially imperial IPAs, which can suffer from being too strong, too sour, and too well-reviewed. There's a vague sense of citrus that you'll look for every time you sip it, since it's so fleeting, but so pleasant. It doesn't come off as being as strong as it is...does that add or subtract from the drinkability score?

As far as drinkability, there's a continuum, running between "session" and "imperial." Those which advertise themselves as "imperial" are far too strong to be drinking for hours on end. They are special examples of brewers' skill which should be sampled and enjoyed occasionally, and which most definitely don't lend themselves to excessive consumption. Though i wouldn't drink more...well, not much more...than a bottle's worth of this in a sitting, i can't get enough of it. I keep wanting to remind myself of the brilliance and complexity of this masterful beer, as well as to renew its flavor on the palate, which fades to a bitter (but not unpleasant) flavor of grapefruit rind, given a few minutes of typing without drinking. All in all, an impressive and unique take on the IPA style.

murdoch22, Sep 02, 2008
Photo of dirtylou
4.8/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

ah yes, Pliny the Elder

16.9oz bottle obtained from a Damian and enjoyed after a long bike journey on labor day sunday

appearance: poured into my hopleaf tulip glass - the body is a bright and glowing orange tone with a nice frothy beige cap and moderate sticky lacing. Pliny is elegant and calm - a nice looking DIPA

smell: very aromatic as expected - pungent grapefruit pulp, citrus hopping, light pine. This beer has that bubblegum trait that i commonly pick up in 3 floyds beers that provides another nice twist on the nose

taste: The flavor profile is all hops highlighted by a bright (not bitter) grapefruit presence, lemon zest, bubble gum, tropical fruits and other citrus hopping. Alcohol presence is pretty minimal and the bitterness is low enough to make this insanely drinkable and one of the flagships of the style

mouthfeel: on the lighter side of my expectations, vibrant and alive on the tongue with less than full bitterness

drinkability: great

dirtylou, Aug 31, 2008
Photo of BigJTrucker
4.35/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Now that Russian River distributes to Oregon, I get the chance to try this popular brew. Pours a beautiful copper color, thick white head with heavy lacing. Nice grapefruity aroma is just right. Taste is lots of citrusy bitter hops up front but seems to get piney as I drink more, low alcohol presence, and a healthy bit of malt sweetness. Mouthfeel is very sticky as a good DIPA should be. A very, very, very good beer. Well done Vinnie.

BigJTrucker, Aug 31, 2008
Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 10,555 ratings.