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Pliny The Elder - Russian River Brewing Company

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Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder

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11,683 Ratings

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Ratings: 11,683
Reviews: 3,312
rAvg: 4.66
pDev: 7.94%
Wants: 5,601
Gots: 2,327 | FT: 76
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: 11,683 | Reviews: 3,312 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BeerThursdays
4.43/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Golden Copper color with thin white head which fades quickly and leaves a good amount of lacing on the DFH signature glass.

S - Citrius and Floral Hops with some Pine/grass smells in there too. Smell is excellent, and has a lot more in there than I can describe. Maybe something like a warm dinner roll, but it's hard to pick out.

T - Super bitter up front and then finishes with a slight sweetness. Pine and Floral hops are very apparent and hints of lemon and citrus fruits. A few more sips in open to nuts and those bready malt flavors which were so hard to detect in the smell.

M - Harsh on the pallet, but that's a good thing for something this bitter. Kind of dry, leaving you wanting another sip. No detection of it's 8% ABV.

D - This one would get a 5 for drink if I could get it on a regular basis, but it just doesn't come to this right coast. Bottle date is 071410, which is just under a month out. As it warms a bit, almost becomes chewy. Chill it to about 40, and taste the change as it gets to 55, if you can let it sit that long. I can image how good this must be fresh from a keg.

Photo of berpwillie
4.12/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

had at TND's this past weekend on a beer haul. pours a copper yellow transparent color with good off white head, good lacing, and soft carbonation. strong fruity piney smell whiched followed through into the taste. soft bitter piney taste with grapfruit hints, and some caramel malt hints as well. light grassy bitter finish. thin texture and long flavor duration. smooth and crisp. IMO this beer was very good but in no way lived up to the hype. i was expecting much better and was slightly let down. still a very good beer just a little over hyped.

Photo of nataku00
4.62/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A two week old bottle of Pliny the Elder, poured into a tulip glass. Golden color with a persistent pale white head that laces beautifully as you drink from the glass.

Smells herbaceous, with citrus and light pine as well. The head lasts until the glass is finished so the aroma is a continual part of the drinking experience.

Unlike other imperial IPA's the hops are very well balanced. Bitter citrus and pine, without tasting like you're licking pine tar or pine-sol. Light floral hops lingers for a little while.

Good carbonation releases additional hoppy aroma in your mouth, resulting in an explosion of IPA goodness as you swish it around.

While I'm not a consistent IPA drinker, PtE is definitely one of my favorite imperial IPA and have had several since my first. Any fan of hops should make an effort to try it fresh at least once.

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

I truly think this beer has become my favorite beer. Up until recently this beer has been a distant experience. Thanks the great beer shop in Orange, California, the accessibility is some what acceptable.

This beer is amazing. Anyone that likes beer will like this beer. The grapefruit smell/taste makes this beer exceptional!

Photo of Kala1073
4.65/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I had the opportunity to drink this on 8-7-10 with a friend of mine. What can I possibly say that has not already been said about this beer before. This truly is liquid pakalolo;) The smell and taste was bitter, hoppy, and had a piney resin taste that truly reminded me of the "happy weed"! One of the best beers I have had and will be looking forward to drinking more of this!

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

Poured from pint bottle

App- Orangeish. White head

Sm- Hop assault! Feel like you are in a hop farm, absolutely wonderful.

Ta- More bitter than I would have anticipated, but balanced expertly by the the double strength maltiness.

MF- Full as you would expect with a double, good, lower amount of carbonation to work with the hops.

Dr- As drinkable as a DIPA can get.

Accommodating this much hoppiness requires a master's touch and RR walked the tightrope on this one beautifully.

Photo of clarkm04
4.84/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I can't expound anymore on this beer than what has been said already.

This beer is stunningly perfect. It's complex, rich, balanced, great aroma and such a great taste. I've seriously considered moving to CA just to drink this beer.

Typically, I've been disappointed by beer hyped on BA. It seems that nothing I taste comes close to the gushing reviews but Pliny the Elder is different. It truly equals the hype. A truly delicious beer and it was such a pleasure to drink.

Photo of Mavajo
4.52/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear golden color that explodes with a fluffy white head. The nose is an absolute burst of hops - never smelled a more intense fragrance of hops before. Resin, pine and citrus. Unfortunately, while still being good, I felt like the taste didn't quite measure up to the aroma. Tastes of resiny hops and pine primarily, with citrus/grapefruit under that. Body is great - medium bodied, good carbonation.

All in all, a total hop assault - but without being offensive. The malt backbone appropriately compliments the hop showcase. Never had a DIPA quite like it - the hype is justified.

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

Bottled 7/14/10. Smell has lots going on resin, pine caramel, orange and grapefruit are all present and intermingle with each other nicely. Taste has pine and grapefruit dominating with a very light almost charcoal character to it as the bitterness makes its presence known towards the end. It's almost too bitter for me at the end, which is really the only thing wrong with it. Mouthfeel is slighty sticky and oily but overall is light but viscous. Alcohol isn't really noticeable at all making this easy to drink.

Photo of dbossman
4.66/5  rDev 0%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A: Light, golden, and so bubbly; the bubbles just float effortlessly to the top collecting among themselves into the frothy, white, billowing head

S: Wonderful grapefruit and lemon hoppy quality sits on top of a graininess; a touch of candied sugar but not as much sweetness as most of the style

T: Smoother than most IPAs; the bitterness is so balanced by the grainy malt backbone; not as sweet as most DIPAs; actually kind of dry--like mustard without the tang; grapefruit, pine permeate strongly as well

F: So bubbly; the beer doesn't quit--it just sits on top of the mouth beautifully

D: The most drinkable 8% or higher beer I have ever had; so drinkable and delicious

Photo of Mubbly
4.4/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a St. Bernardus glass.

Golden amber color with a good head. Some lacing.

The nose is strong grapefruit, sweet, spicy, and floral.

Enters the mouth with a carbonation tingle, followed by bitter grapefruit. Bitterness lingers in the mouth like DARK chocolate - very nice. Good hop fix here.

Medium mouthfeel. Dry and refreshing.

This is really easy to drink; depth of flavor and smell keep this interesting.

Fantastic beer from my home state. My wife shared this bomber with me, and enjoyed it, but I didn't want to share. Whatever. PtE is a great beer, respected by even the casual beer drinker because of the complexities of smell and flavor. Well polished and loved by all! :)

Would love to have one of these beauts with a meaty and greasy pizza...

Photo of uustal
4.65/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a light orange with a pearl white head. Good retention and the lacing is unbelievable. Great looking DIPA. Strong floral and citrus hop aroma, very enjoyable. This one is for hop lovers. Floral, citrus (predominately grapefruit) strong hop flavor off the bat. Followed by a strong pine and spicy hop. All the hops are incredibly balanced and showcased. A bready, semi-sweet malt shines through near completion before finishing with another kick of strong pine hops. Awesome job balancing the big flavors.

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

Russian River Pliny the Elder

From bottle to pint glass

Bottled 06/30/10, consumed 07/10

A: Pours a cloudy, golden tan with a one inch, off-white head. Lacing is present but not overly sticky and most of it dissipates after a few seconds, tracing the glass with small, circular islands.

S: Spicy, piny hops amongst a citrus backdrop. The bouquet of scent is strong and almost overwhelms the nose. This beer can easily be distinguished from a small sniff.

T: Pliny the Elder unleashes an avalanche of flavors, which starts with vibrant, spicy-hop bitterness and a citrusy, orange-grapefruit sweetness. This is a very hoppy beer, but sweetbread-like malts so perfectly balance the hop bite that a singular flavor forms. This combines with alcohol overtones, especially as the pint warms. Notes of lemon zest, mint and honey can also be detected (the honey also becomes more distinguishable as the beer warms). Because of the bitter-sweet balance, the aftertaste doesn't linger, finishing dry and leaving your palate clean and refreshed.

M: If the tight carbonation and large foamy head weren't enough of a clue, the tiniest sip will leave little doubt that this is one oily-rich IPA. The beer feels thick and rich and viscous on the tongue, but the light carbonation carries away any residue, leaving the finish perfectly clean.

D: As mentioned, the combination of bitter hops and sweet malts is perfectly balanced (I mean PERFECTLY) leaving the 8% alcohol an afterthought. Dangerously drinkable. As drinkable as any session beer you might have a sentimental attachment to, but too high in alcohol and hard to acquire to become a regular "party beer". The full flavors with little lingering aftertaste make this as drinkable as soda, and also make PtE great to experiment and couple with a wide range of food.

There's no question this ale lives up to the hype. I've been drinking PtE for some time and it's evolved into its own, trademarked "Pliny Flavor" on my palate, so I really had to sit down and notice the nuances, which are many. One of the most striking things about this brew is, as mentioned, the perfect harmony of bitter and sweet. Truly one of the most balanced ales in existence, and a brew that beer geeks and novices alike will find delicious, even on the first sip. One of the best beers on the planet and the standard-bearer for DIPA.

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

My New Years resolution for 2010 was to drink as many different beers as I could possibly find. So Far so good. I have had 597 different beers from January 1st at noon until today July 30th and Pliny The Elder is by far my favorite. A friend in California has managed to get me not 1 but 2 of these to Massachusetts (thanks Sue!) and I can honestly say that this beer makes me want to move to California. The Aroma will hit your nose from two feet away as soon as you pop the cap. Grapefruity and inviting. If you have ever eaten something so delicious that you find yourself craving it weeks later...well....you know where I'm going. I have read reviews knocking this hoppy delight and reviews praising it. My opinion after almost 600 different beers in 7 months is...get one ...drink one....it really is an outstanding beer. There's Filet Mignon...There's Dom Perignon...and looking down on both of them is Pliny The Elder.

Photo of glazeman
4.15/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 500 ml bottle into a snifter. Bottled on 7/5/2010, split with airohead2001. I had this one time on tap in Portland, Oregon, but this review is strictly from the bottle

A: Golden straw color, in general I like my DIPAs a little more amber or orange than this. Nice one finger white head. Moderate retention, Excellent lacing

S; Intense smelling beer, but not all that complex as I get mostly pine, with a little bit of floral notes in there.

T: Lots of pine throughout. Nice balance though, as it is not overly bitter until the after taste, then you get a hit of the hop bitterness. Other than pine, there is a tiny bit of grapefruit. In fact, to be honest, I didn't get much citrus, but there's some malty sweetness at the beginning that mellows this out a bit up front. I would characterize the malt profile as light syrup. The hops though, are really the star here and are quite good.

M: Very nice mouth feel. A little more than average carbonation for a DIPA but it works well here as it gives the beer some crispness in the otherwise medium body.

D: Excellent. This would be a great beer to have with dinner and goes down smooth and easy. Not a top 10 beer in my opinion, but very good, and a must try.

Photo of airohead2001
4.1/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The DIPA of DIPAs - one I've had several times before, but have never taken the time to review. This one is fresh - bottled 07/05/10 - courtesy of glazeman.

A - Slightly hazy, yellow, orange with a one finger head that soon fades to a few bubbles that line the rim of my pseudo-snifter. Excellent lacing that coats the walls of the glass. This is a bit lighter looking than many DIPAs, but overall, this is a nice looking beer.

S - The nose on this one is sort of disappointing. Smells great, but is very non-descriptive to me. I get a little bit of mango and grapefruit, but that's about it. Some citrus and piney hops - but not intense enough for me to be part of the "explosive floral and mango hops" team.

T - This is where Pliney shines. It's easy to be let down by a beer that has so much hype, but honestly, I am not let down at all. This beer just about has it all - a blend of citrus and piney hops through out with a harsh, cutting bitter finish, right before we get a taste of the oranges again at the very end.

M - Again, Pliney excels in mouthfeel. Less carbonated than many DIPAs - as the brew first enters your mouth, it is flat as can be, but manages a copious amount of bubbles that bring out the fresh, juicy, hops right before it heads for your belly.

D - Very drinkable. I split this with glazeman, but easily could have downed a bottle or two on my own. Smooth, crisp, and no EtOH burn. I wish this one was closer to home - thank God for beer shipments from the west coast...

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

Poured from a bottle into a Chimay goblet. Bottled on 6/30/10.

A- pours a crystal clear shade of orange with a one finger pure white head. Lacing is very good.

S- strong, beautiful citrus and tropical hops. I think I'm actually getting some mango out of it too...absolutely amazing.

T- fantastic tropical fruit hops with a nice finish of that piney bitterness. I'm also getting some pepper and maybe a little spice in here...the balance is amazing.

M- feel is great...thick while not being syrupy, thin while not being watery.

D- goes down sooo smooth. Amazing beer

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

Big big respect to Spdkilz (Carleton) for being such a great BA!! Pliny bottled on 07/05/10. I'd say this pours honey orange with a great poofy white head that sticks around for a while. After that head fades it leaves a fare amount of lacing around the sides of my Duvel tulip glass. The hop aroma coming off of this beer is something I've never experianced. It is like I am sticking my head in the hop fridge at my home brew supply store. 1st resinous piny hops, then citrus and grapefruit huge aroma. The taste is a hop assault. The malt profile is just so that it allows the hops to shine. Bitter, citrusy, fruity and sprucy/piny and oh so good. I think this is the 1st beer I've given 2 5.0 ratings too. The mouthfeel is what I would expect from an ipa. Yes folks pliny is great, but whether I could drink more then 2 of these guys is another story so a little lower score for drinkability. Man this is some great beer.

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

A: pours clear golden yellow with a bit of white head. The clarity is wonderful.

S: Smells of piney hops, slightly floral and a touch of spruce.

T: Clean malts are quickly overpowered by pine resin and faint floral hops.

M: Smooth body and clean finish.

D: Probably my favorite aspect of this beer, it is extremely drinkable for a DIPA. Well balanced and a great representation of the style. The hops are clear and purposeful but not overwhelming or muddled in any way.

bottled on 6.30.10, drink mid-july.

Photo of jsanford
4.72/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured into my Duvel tulip, bottles on 6/8/10

A - Pours a slightly hazy honey color with 2 fingers of a sudsy off-white head that leaves beautiful lacing.

S - Wet, piney hops, not unlike walking through a forest after a thunderstorm. Grapefruit and lemon. Has a slight ganja quality to it ;)

T - More BIG grapefruit and pine resin with a mild biscuit malt backbone and a subtle honey sweetness. Amazingly balanced for such a hop-bomb, this is truly world-class!

M - Very smooth and creamy with a great crispness that can't be beat. Carbonation is nice and perky, the bubbles do their dance on your tongue.

D - Amazing drinkability, this bottle disappeared quickly. There's a reason there's so much hype for this beer, it's easily one of the best DIPAs on the planet. Wish it was easier to get in Georgia.

Photo of CONOR8832
5/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is truly one of the greatest IPA's I have ever tasted!

A - If you can imagine what a million dollars lokks like in a glass, that is what this beer looks like, beautiful golden honey color with just the right amount of head.

S - (pour in sniffer glass) The expolosion of hops, hops, and more hops, slightly citrusy, fresh clean grassy aroma about it.

T - Your palate explodes with the hopiness of the beer at first sip and then it is tamed by a slight smoothness that leaves your mouth watering for another mouthfull of hops. Great combination of flavors in the beer. It is like a magic trick, hoppy bitterness at first then it finishes extremely smooth.

M - Good clean smooth feeling, quite refreshing.

D - A must for any IPA drinker, drink one or two and you will see what I am talking about. Enjoy and be glad.

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

Thanks to bierenutz for the great birthday gift.

A - Pours a very nice hazy apricot/honey color with an inch or so of slightly tan head and leaves top notch lacing all over the glass.

S - Big citrusy hop aroma, hop bitterness, honey type sweetness, pineapple, grapefruit, and it is just really great smelling.

T - The hoppy bitterness hits first, then the honey sweetness, and grapefruit. Very well balanced!

M - Smooth and creamy mouthfeel, good carbonation and pretty luxurious in the mouth.

D - Ya this is damn good stuff but most people already know that already. Pliny is just delicious, plain and simple. Drink one NOW!

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

Yes, I'm reviewing this a third time, this time out of a growler. Why not?

Growler filled on 7/18. Refrigerated since then and opened 7/22.

A: Pours a clear golden-amber body with 4 fingers of off-white head. Great retention and tremendous lacing. Clings to the glass with ferocity. I honestly can't picture a better head, better lacing, and better retention for a DIPA. Top marks.

S: Pine to the max. Kind of a wet pine needle aroma with an undercurrent of citrus. It's not as pungent as I remember, though not lacking in aroma.

T: A weed-like, pine-needle flavor sets the tone. There's a biscuit malt flavor that provides just enough contrast, but the one-two of pine and citrus is too much for the malt backbone. Grapefruit, lemon, some orange. The only thing that stops it from getting a perfect 5.0 is that Vinnie brews a better IIPA (Pliny the Younger) and of course, Citra has moved in.

M: Drier than some of the big DIPAs I've been drinking lately. I don't know why I used to call this beer balanced; even for a DIPA, it's really not. Not a ton of malt or residual sugar or presence: just a hop delivery vehicle. At the same time, what sugars there are mask the alcohol pretty well. Great carbonation: very cleansing.

D: I'm on course to finish a full growler myself. When it's on tap I always get it. I can't really name a beer I would drink more. It merits a 5.0 here.

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

Stopped at Russian River Brewing Company because one of us was sure that they brewed Pliny the Elder. One of us was right.

Reviewed on tap on Tuesday July 20, 2010. Paired this with Kasseri Cheese and Carr's Table Water Crackers.

Wiseman Justin Reporting:

Appearance: The lacing is of the wall; simply beyond belief. It's golden amber in color. Clear in appearance. Epic lacing ability. Lacing is a 6 on beer advocate's five point scale. I ding points for a truly unimpressive head.

Smell: Wet, Piny hops. Citrus. Specifically lemon and grapefruit. Smells somewhat like weed which is a good thing in an IPA. Well done but somewhat on the weak side.

Taste: Very delicious and hoppy. But I am cursed to want every beer to taste like Union Jack. First of all pair this beer with your favorite cheese and crackers. Very awesome. This beer has hit the balance jack pot. It's piny, hopy, and phenomenally easy to drink for an I2PA.

Mouthfeel: Very easy and light (especially for it's style). Slightly slick, doesn't really stay with you other than a slight after taste.

Drinkability: Even more "drinkable" than most IPA's The 8% will catch up to you. But it won't stop you from wanting another Pliny.

Pairing Score: A. IPA's pair well with cheese.. No surprise.

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

Final bottle from a trade with mfielden. Thanks!

A: Clear, light-to-medium amber color. Thick, dense foam slowly fades to sticky lacing.
S: Slight pine nose, fairly bitter. Bright grapefruit and citrus hop aromas.
T: Well balanced. Very fruity hop flavors fade to slight bitterness. Malt flavors present in a non-intrustive, supportive way.
M: Pleasantly carbonated and smooth. Brisk.
D: Extremely high. Alcohol is very well hidden, could drink this all day. Possibly my warm weather beer of choice, if I were so fortunate.

Very good beer that I'll always enjoy drinking. Nothing far-fetched or enticingly creative, but a quality beer on all fronts.

Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 11,683 ratings.