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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.

10,502 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 10,502
Reviews: 3,166
rAvg: 4.65
pDev: 8.39%
Wants: 4,845
Gots: 1,742 | FT: 57
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: 10,502 | Reviews: 3,166 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of badbeer
4.93/5  rDev +6%

Hand-filled bottle from a gracious Californian.

Crystal clear, light golden color with a soft, well-retaining, white head. The smell is nothing short of a joyous occasion; some pine resin, lemon, grapefruit, and some extra dankness that reminds one of the tropics. Bitter, resinous pine greets the tongue leading to some lemon and grapefruit, followed by more of the pine resin. Incredibly bitter, yet the hop flavor still overpowers the pure bitterness of it. Soft carbonation at about medium levels, body is medium with lingering hoppy finish. Crazy drinkable. Love this stuff and I wish I had an easier access to it.

badbeer, May 25, 2007
Photo of Erdinger2003
4.9/5  rDev +5.4%

Hand filled. Poured into a flute glass.

Pours a beautiful head that retains and I think it actually gains more head as it sits there with a shampaign-like carbonation. Color is light golden to gold. Head is thick head with a great great lacing. The smell of hops is fruity and citrus-y. The balance of hop character is very nice. I smell sweet orange and some slight lemon flavors in the backround. The taste is very hoppy and light in body. This is a more drinkable beer than I ever imagined. It's like a beer you could sit down and just drink 4-5 and love every minute of it. Mouthfeel is very good and the bubbles make a silky mouthfeel that's wonderful. Overall I wish I could have a keg of this every couple of months.

Erdinger2003, May 25, 2007
Photo of hero27
4.4/5  rDev -5.4%

Well...here's the Double IPA from the man that pretty much invented the style. Here goes..

Thick, frothy head of white foam. Translucent gold color, subtle carbonation that struggles to the surface.
Pine resin & grapefruit aroma wafts from the glass..
Soft biscuity malt sweetness remains mostly helpless in containing the relentless hops (which is fine by me). Amazing citrus flavors blend together very well. Becomes even more drinkable as it warms up a bit..mouthfeel is about as smooth as it gets.

Vinnie, if you're listening..bottle this stuff and ship it out east. ;)

Much thanks go out to wcudwight for the chance to finally sample this brew.

hero27, May 21, 2007
Photo of westweasel
4.53/5  rDev -2.6%

Thanks to RedwoodGeorge for giving this Chicago Heights DIPA lover a chance to try this!

Poured from a carefully bottled bomber into a new Sam Adams beer glass. The beer is golden yellow with a slight haze. There is a small white head and some lacing left on the glass.

The aroma is what I think an DIPA should be all about. Lots of citrusy hops - grapefruit and lemons are all over the place. A little bit of pine and even a pastry-like pie crusty smell.

The taste is great - strong hop bitterness - grapefruit and lemons, and a bit of a bready flavor. The mouthfeel was medium with a dry finish.

The drinkability is excellent - I could drink these all day. (I wouldn't be able to taste anything else - but who cares?)

westweasel, May 19, 2007
Photo of peabody
4.3/5  rDev -7.5%

Thanks Talisker, much appreciated for sure.
Pours out a wonderful straw yellow amber with three fingers of white suds with lots and lots of lacing.
Smell is a sugary blend of malt and pine and grapefruit but the piney hops are the star here.
Taste is very rich and full bodied. The sugar really balanced out the fine hops here. As it warms it mellows out and the alcohol is barely evident.
Great clean mouthfeel followed by the piney hop oil that stays in the palate for quite some time.
Even with an 8%abv this is still a great session brew.

peabody, May 16, 2007
Photo of atsprings
4.97/5  rDev +6.9%

Thanks to Talisker for the growler! Poured a crisp amber with a decent head that was mostly lasting and left spotty lacing. The aroma was of extremely fragrant earthy hops with some sweet malts. The taste was one of the most well-balanced beers I've ever had. An abundance of citrus hop flavor with just enough sweet malt for it not to overpower like many DIPAs do. The beer is medium bodied and the alcohol is well hidden, just enough to provide some warmth. This is one of the best beers I've ever had. If only they'd expand their distribution some, since I love the Wild Ales as well.

atsprings, May 14, 2007
Photo of far333
4.38/5  rDev -5.8%

Very clear and light colored, orangey amber honey hue. Long strings of tiny bubbles stream quickly from bottom to top. A half inch of pure white tightly bubbled foam sits atop and hangs around.

Aroma of sweet tangerine, some honey and understated pine, some citric peel.

Flavor is initially sweet citrus, some clover and honey. Stays fruity and juicy as it rolls across the tongue, but becomes more bitter as it finishes, turning to grapefruit and pine, which lingers as the ABV warms the back of the mouth.

Full and rich mouthfeel, satisfying. Morphs to a carb tingle, finishes dry and crisp.

Great drink, very even, not overly powerful in any respect, and very flavorful.

Many thanks to RedwoodGeorge for going above and beyond in the spirit of BA in bottling this one for transport. I am fortunate to have made his acquaintance.

far333, May 09, 2007
Photo of willjschmidt
4.9/5  rDev +5.4%

Served on-tap at the Wine Exchange of Sonoma.

A: A light amber color. Surprising for a DIPA since they are usually darker. It's so light that it's actually a bit transparent. A nice white head forms that leaves a lot of lacing.

S: A classic IPA aroma of citrus and pine. A little lighter than some other DIPA's but the this one already comes across as clean and balanced from the nose.

T: Absolutely delicious. I love IPA's and DIPA's and this is the best I've ever tasted. Great balance between the malty start and an assertive (but not too assertive) hop presence. I love that the hops are prominent yet the aftertaste is only slightly bitter and lingers for just the right amount. The tastes are big and dominant yet smooth and even. Everything is perfect and it all blends together and works so well. A "5" on the taste scale if there ever was one.

M: Excellent mouthfeel, smooth and slightly creamy.

D: I'd been waiting to try this beer and I had a lot of expectations and it met and exceeded every one. An incredibly smooth, balanced and drinkable beer. The flavors are all wonderful and work perfectly together. A flat-out excellent beer. I just wish they bottled it so I could get my hands on it more often.

willjschmidt, Apr 30, 2007
Photo of bosco7
4.85/5  rDev +4.3%

Poured from a growler filled about a week ago. I showed great restaint by waiting a whole week to consume this.

Beautiful light copper color with absolutely no chill haze and nice 2 finger head. I love the color this beer has; a lot of Double IPA's are very dark and aren't as appealing to the eye.

Aroma is impressive to say the least; complex! Lots of pine in the nose upfront with some grapefruit, peach and slight rose notes.

This is one of the best double IPA's I have ever tasted. Huge fresh hop presence. Juicy like quality up front with some sweetness. Pungent grapefruit, orange, and pine flavors. Light caramel flavors in the middle. Finishes with a wallop of clean bitterness that doesn't linger on the tongue too much.

Light carbonation and higher attenuation (for style) make this an extremely drinkable beer. Almost too drinkable.

One of my favorite beers. Best Double IPA in my opinion. Two hours to obtain this beer is a very small price to pay.

bosco7, Apr 29, 2007
Photo of jsbrendle
4.83/5  rDev +3.9%

I was lucky enough to be invited to a private tasting at the local Austrian joint of some growlers picked up by the too kind hosts some few days back on a rather long road-trip. The couple of days' time in the growlers did hurt carbonation levels, rendering the beers somewhat flat. Not prime condition for certain, but far better than never being able to sample.

Appearance was a clear golden-amber in the 5oz "beer expo" glass I was using for sampling. As I indicated, by no fault of its own the carbonation levels were quite low so there was no head unless swirled to create one, in which case there were still some nice white bubbles possible. Aroma was a big dose of hops, the sort of sharp & grapefruity sort. There was a whiff of alcohol in there too. Flavor was nice... my kind of hop:malt balance. I was reminded of several other DIPAs I care for.

A poor food choice (szegediner krautfleisch, a dish full of hot and mild paprika, large pieces of garlic, long-simmered kraut and tender pieces of pork loin) on my part rendered the other beers I was sampling (the Younger included) watery and bland, but this beer still cut through. Prudence said to hold off on further sampling until after dinner. My favorable impression of the beer improved once all those big spicy flavors were washed away by some water. To my taste there was a nice sweet malty backbone to the beer that supports the hops, there is clearly some alcohol there but it is well masked and ends up with a slightly drying quality to the finish. The 8% does decrease long-term drinkability, but treated with appropriate respect. Oh, wow. Amazing stuff.

jsbrendle, Apr 25, 2007
Photo of nlmartin
4.78/5  rDev +2.8%

Mad Beer Karma to Clockworkorange for sending me this growler. The beer was served in an Imperial Nonic.

Appearance: This beer has the coloration of iced tea. The beer color is orange amber combination. The head was off white approximatly 1/2 inch high. The retention of the head was perfect. A thick webbing of lacing remained behind on my glass.

Smell: I knew this was going to be a great beer experience as soon as I cracked the growler open. My nose was greated by an symphony of hops. Upon pouring into my glass I could better appreciate the smell. I was experiencing full on lupilin shift as the hops hit my nose. The hops provided a combination of smells pine resin, tangerine, grapefruit and other floral notes.

Taste: The taste of the beer was mostly pine and grapefruit. Then the beer went briefly sweet with malt. This quickly gave way to a drying bitterness with a touch of grass.

Mouthfeel/ Drinkability: The beer has a very creamy smooth medium body. The carbonation is perfect. The flavors mesh together very well. This was a most excellent beer drinking experience. I split the growler with my wife and was sorry I had to split it. I think I could have drank several of these back to back. In summation this is bliss in a glass.

nlmartin, Apr 25, 2007
Photo of bradford
4.68/5  rDev +0.6%

Sampled on 4/24/07
Appearance: Poured out of my kegerator a dark orange with a thick white head. Served at about 50 degrees to get the perfect amount of sweat on the glass during this warm Central Coast day.
Smell: The best smelling beer I have ever put up to my nose. Hops are over the top but still incredibly balanced in the nose.
Tast: Creamy, smooth, with a bitter hop kick that rolls perfectly on the tongue.
Mouthfeel: Great considering all the hops, malt and alcohol in this one.
Drinkablility: I could drink this beer all day everyday for the rest of my life. Well worth the 4 hour drive it took to procure this keg.

bradford, Apr 24, 2007
Photo of jmalex
4.88/5  rDev +4.9%

Sampled on-tap at Capone's in Norristown, PA on 4-18-07 as part of a side by side comparison with Pliny the Younger. This review is from notes taken that night.

APPEARANCE: Amber bronze in color with not too much of a head at all.

SMELL: Perfectly subdued, yet extremely aromatic. Citrus, floral, and a hint of strawberry. Huge smells without being sickeningly sweet. Simply perfect.

TASTE: Huge flavors of the same floral, pine, and citrus, and everything is up front and in your face. A thick malt backing exists but can't seem to break through the huge hops flavors. No sticky sweetness whatsoever.

MOUTHFEEL: Very syrupy with a fine-bubbled carbonation. Nice.

DRINKABILITY: Easiest drinking DIPA anyone will ever have. I'm not an IPA guy, yet I'm absolutely blown away by this.

The more balanced of the 2 Plinys. A serious winner.

jmalex, Apr 22, 2007
Photo of Enola
4.58/5  rDev -1.5%

Many thanks go out to Redwoodgeorge and mntlover for the chance to have this brew.

This was my favorite of the pliney's. The beer was a nice orange in color and there was a fair head. The smell is absolutly wonderfull. Sweet hops abound. The taste was very hoppy too with bitterness but not chemical like bitterness. Just a nice sweet hoppy beer that I would certainly drink daily if I could. The mouthfeel was nice and sticky and the beer was well balanced, even at 8%. This beer is worth the hype and I would advise you to try it if you like hops. I will most likely try to obtain more of this in the future.

Enola, Apr 19, 2007
Photo of alohaC
4.97/5  rDev +6.9%

On tap at Toronado, Ben n’ Nick’s, Liar’s Club, O’Brien’s and too many times to count, so it’s about time I review my boy, Pliny. Pours golden and slightly amber-ish with a nice, rock steady head. Sticking your nose in the glass in one of the true pleasures in craft beer - lots of sweet, fruity hops and caramel malt in a near perfect symphony. Tastes like it smells, only better. Resinous, sweet citrus hop candy with just the right balance of caramel and biscuity malts. It glides across your tongue and finishes super clean, a bit dry and with no alcohol burn. For me, this beer defines everything a IIPA should be. Extremely drinkable, sessionable - a brewing masterpiece. My favorite/#1/ if stuck on a deserted island beer of choice.

alohaC, Apr 19, 2007
Photo of BlindPig
4.93/5  rDev +6%

A- Thick just off white head on a clear copper body.
S- Huge pine hops with citrus coming through too. Nice big juices just coming out of this one. It has a very complex hop aroma to it. Slight malt body in there also.
T-Big fruit juices just coming out all over in the flavor. This is all mixed in with some pine hops also. Malt comes through a bit and gives the hops a nice platform to stand on. Nice big bitterness is left on the tongue afterward along with the flavors of fruit juices (like grapefruit, orange, and others along those lines) and pine.
M-Full body with low, to maybe just scratching a little on medium, carbonation.
D- I think this is REALLY good! First time I tried it (just had a sip) I think I missed A LOT! Glad I got to try this again. VERY nice! Maybe my favorite DIPA.

BlindPig, Apr 15, 2007
Photo of JFazekas
4.83/5  rDev +3.9%

Presentation: Standard pint from tap

Appearance: Deep golden yellow in color.

Smell: Medium maltyness blended with a rich hop tone.

Taste: This immediately tastes what you think of when someone says the word 'beer'. One drink brings forth a blend of malt and hop. The taste keeps coming drink after drink. As the beer warms the flavor remains just as potent on the last drink as the first.

Overall: A truely great beer. Much more balanced and drinkable than its younger brother. The two most incredible things about this beer are the great hop quality and the amazing balance. Definately a beer I would put in my all time top 10.

JFazekas, Apr 14, 2007
Photo of rkuhnel
4.72/5  rDev +1.5%

his was on-draft in a 16 oz glass from the Russian River Brewpub in Santa Rosa. I have heard a lot about this, so was looking forward to seeing if it lived up to its reputation. The brews were all listed in various color chalks on a board behind the bar, and according to it this one checked in at 92 BU’s and 8% ABV. When it was set in front of me I could smell the hops from two feet away. This one is potent! The odor just leaps out of the glass with piney and floral hops. You don’t need to take a big sniff to get what is going on here. Besides the hops, there are also some wonderful rich malts, nuts toffee, caramel, and fruit. I cannot imagine a beer smelling any better than this. As a pub pour it came without any head, but after drinking off the first inch, and almost swooning in the process, I swirled it and got a nice fat off-white head that left lots of fat chunks of lacing on the sides of the glass. A beautiful light orange, this is a feast for the eyes and as the head slowly settles down you are so taken by its overall beauty you almost hate to disturb it. The flavor is similar to the nose, and while the malts and the hops dominate, there is a serious bitter finish worthy of a DIPA. The mouthfeel was excellent, very rich and creamy and simply glides across the teeth and tongue. It tastes just as good going down the pipe as it did at first sip. The brew is simply incredible. It has that wonderful bitterness that all great DIPAs should have, and hides the alcohol very well. It is too bad this is only available on tap, because I would love to share this with my friends so they can appreciate it also. I have been saving a score this high for just a brew like this. Ranks with the best beer I have every had the pleasure of drinking. Maybe Pliny the Younger will be that perfect 5.0 if I ever get to taste it

rkuhnel, Apr 08, 2007
Photo of wcudwight
4.93/5  rDev +6%

Thanks to RedwoodGeorge!!! You are the man!!! Also thanks to mtnlover for helping with the hook-up.
Pours a crystal clear bright golden color with a 1/2" White head with decent retention. Lot's of sticky lacing clings to the glass.
Aroma: If they bottled the aroma as a perfume and put it on my wife I would not be able to keep my hands, lips or ____ off of her. Lot's of tropical fruit. Mango is the most noticable.
Flavor: Believe the hype! It is that good. Although it may not be what you are expecting. I've had more bitter DIPAs with the in your face hops, but I haven't had a better DIPA. Hop profile is true to the nose with heavy mango, pineapple, grapefruit flavors. Nice sweet honey like malt flavors and just a touch of the alcohol shines through to warn you to not drink this like a marathon runner drinks Gatorade.
Mouthfeel is silky smooth, crisp and yet hoppy.
I could easily session this ale. It's that balanced, that smooth, that good!
This beer was hand bottled by RedwoodGeorge and the quality of the bottling and packaging is impeccable.

wcudwight, Apr 06, 2007
Photo of Prufrock
4.38/5  rDev -5.8%

growler into a pint glass. orange-gold with an inch of frothy, foamy white head, which was great to see, as the growler had made a cross-country trip. tons of thick rings of lace and a few rising bubbles.

initial aroma, apparent as soon as the top is flipped, is a grassy, abrasive raw hoppiness. follows with a thickly sweet, candied hop aroma. strong pine and grassy component, along with a gummi candy-like fruitiness. mango, pineapple, grapefruit. smells fantastic.

starts surprisingly light and balanced, with a medium, slippery body and a gentle carbonation. a hint of balance and a slight honey sweetness, until the finish is overwhelmed with a nicely abrasive, but impressively nuanced, grassy and hoppy bitterness that lingers. very drinkable, in spite of its impressive hop profile; the growler may not last the two nights i'd hoped it would. drinkability weakens slightly as the beer warms; i think it needs to be a little colder to take a touch of the edge off. but overall, a fantastic beer that completely lives up to the hype.

Prufrock, Mar 25, 2007
Photo of barleywinebrewer
4.13/5  rDev -11.2%

thanks to fartingdog for this growler straight from the brewery!

I have debated DIPAs vs Barleywines with many before. I have even had via trades more DIPAs than I would've bought on my own. This beer keeps coming up as a definative version of the style.

I'll leave the drinking notes to others. Is it good - yes! I do think other brewers are starting to catch this or surpass this. That said, enjoy it if you can! Don't sell the house for it, but definitely one that must be tried and appreciated. I would gladly have another sir!

barleywinebrewer, Mar 23, 2007
Photo of northernbrews
4.65/5  rDev 0%

Handbottled 22oz bottle from the PtE handbottling project in PA. Received in a trade from BeerBeing.

Thanks again Alex for the opportunity to try this rare beauty.

Appearance: Pours a clear orangish-yellow with a nice two finger off-white head. The head leaves some nice lace as it slowly fades.
They did a great job with getting the carbonation right on this one.

Aroma: I was hoping the hand-bottling wouldn't hurt the aroma on this. The only way to get a better aroma, you'd have to sniff straight hops. Truely fantastic aroma. Starts off with pine, grapefruit, apricots, and slight alcohol. This is balanced out by some nice malt notes. This is the exact aromas I want from a Double IPA. Not overkill, but just right.

Taste: The taste is less pronounced thatn the aromas. Some of this may be due to the hand-bottling. Lots of the same flavors are there, just not as intense. Pine, apricots, and grapefruit are balanced by some nice malt.

Mouthfeel: The hop flavors coat the roof of my mouth for a little bit. They make my tongue tingle a bit. I wish this were a little more creamy followed by more hop tingle. I'm sure both of these would be much better if this was fresh and not hand-bottled.

Drinkability: This is very tasty and balanced. The hops are the focus, but the malt balance these out to make this dangerously drinkable. This drinks better than most IPAs...I wish I had more of this.

Overall: This is one of the best IPA's I've ever had. I can see why this keeps racking up the medals for Russian River. If I were drinking this fresh from the tap in Santa Rosa, it would likely get straight 5's. This is one of the many beers that have put Russian River on the map. I just wish Vinnie would start bottling this and more importantly shipping these wonderful beers to MI.

If you see any Russian River product, especially this one, you'd be a fool not to pick it up, because if you don't, you'll be missing out on one of the best beers from the Best Brewery in the World (in my opinion).

northernbrews, Mar 22, 2007
Photo of Risser09
4.75/5  rDev +2.2%

750mL Bottle From The PtE Bottling Project - 2006 Vintage - Served At 45 Degrees Into a Snifter

Appearance: Pours a vivid orange with a thick, white head. Bubbles range from tiny to the large ones at the surface. Lots of carbonation gives life to the beer.

Smell: Aromas of pine and grapefruit are heavy. Sandalwood, cedar, and leather. Very big aromas but not as floral as other DIPAs.

Taste: Bittering hops aplenty. Pine is the foremost flavor followed by some citrus and a buttery cream finish. For this reason I think this beer shine with its complexity. From the strong aroma, to the pine and then the creamy finish makes it unlike most beers. It's a roller coaster that ends on a very satisfying note.

Mouthfeel: Pinchy at first with hops and carbonation. The creamy finish is outstanding and make the aftertaste desirable. Smoothe and quenching.

Drinkability: Awesome. This is a spectacular beer. The hoppiness isn't going to knock you down and the soft finish will keep you coming back for more. THe 8% alcohol by volume is hardly noticable. Top notch beer.

Risser09, Mar 18, 2007
Photo of jasonjlewis
4.4/5  rDev -5.4%

A great beer. More mild than pliny the younger with less of an in your face smell. The taste is more balanced with a great hoppiness with some caramel malting to balance without getting in the way of my hop fix. The mouth feel is crisp yet malty and hop oily. I could drink this all day and the 8 percent alcohol doesn't bother me at all. Go try this beer. NOW!

jasonjlewis, Mar 13, 2007
Photo of Matthew
4.93/5  rDev +6%

On tap at Russian River March 1st.
Pours a Golden amber color with a small frothy head, opaque lacing covers the inside of my glass. Theres a new ring of lace after each sip.
Deeply pungent aromatic fresh citrusy and earthy hop emanate from my pint glass. Behind each initial burst of deep hoppiness is a toasted caramel grain like aroma, almost like a sweeter cereal smelling mash with tons of rich hops. Sugar smacks cereal maybe? Pungent and very flavorful. The hop profile is grassy wrapped in pine, bits of orange rind and a finish that has just a hint of hope spice. The spice is followed up by the lightly caramalized malt backbone to try to blanance out the wallop of hops. The hoppiness isn't overly bitter, the citrus, pine, and grass character along with the maltiness blend nicely to leave your mouth with an almost smooth wood like flavor in the finish.
Incredibly flavorful. A DIPA whose hops don't invade your taste buds harshly but still take control without pillaging the malt.
If this was available to me all the time I may not remain as appreciative of this beer but would be drinking it all the time none the less.

Matthew, Mar 09, 2007
Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 10,502 ratings.