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Pliny The Elder - Russian River Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder

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11,863 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 11,863
Reviews: 3,361
rAvg: 4.66
pDev: 7.94%
Wants: 5,763
Gots: 2,461 | FT: 81
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: 11,863 | Reviews: 3,361 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of bs870621345
4.5/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into my Duvel tulip glass

Pours a honey amber color with a half inch of white head. Leaves a beautiful lacing down the glass from the small collar of head.

Smells like honey/caramel malt sweetness and a big citrus/pine hop punch.

Taste has that hop punch up front with a caramel sweet finish and a pine hop after taste. This is definitely an "A" beer.

Mouthfeel is moderate with a tinge of prickly carbonation, extremely enjoyable.

Drinkability is excellent, I would love to take a few of these down.

Overall, I think this beer is a little over hyped. Given this or Nugget Nectar, I'll take NN. Glad I tried it and I would get seek it out again. Highly recommended to seek out but not the be all end all.

Photo of confer
4.47/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had this on tap at the Spinnerstown Hotel. I got there shortly after it was tapped. Been wanting to try the PTE for a long time and just walked into this. It was served in a tulip glass probably 12 oz. Amber in color with a thick white finger plus head. The smell was fantastic. The hops dominate with grapefruit up front by a small amount of lemon.
The taste was just like the smell. Hoppy grapefruit. It starts strong and fades to a creamy sweetness, unbelievably enjoyable.
The feel is very creamy especially after the beer is swallowed.
For an 8% DIPA this beer goes down so easy. It is not my favorite style by any means but now I understand why everyone raves about the Pliny.

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

Ahhh, one of the Holy Grails of the beer world. This pours a very clear and sparkling copper. The head laces the glass as the beer is consumed. The aroma is deliciously and divinely hoppy: citrus, grapefruit, cantaloupe, mango, tropical fruit, and a bit of clean and light pine. Every aroma is matched in the flavor. This is a hop head's delight. The finish is bitter. The aftertaste is clean, matching the flavors, all of which linger on the palate. This is the second time I have had Pliny and it is as good as I remember. If you like American hop forward IPA's, this is a classic, excellent and high benchmark example of the style. This beer is so exquisitely tasty, it is hard to believe it is 8% ABV. Bottled on 10-18-10.

Photo of tylernim
4.3/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Great deep orange color. Decent foamy white head. Dissipated into a ring which left lacing down the glass as I went.

This is of course the standard so you get what you should. Floral hops, on the nose and tongue. Some citrus with the tartness of grapefruit. There was a touch of malt that I don't normally pick up in other IPAs. This is really a well balanced beer.

Light refreshing mouthfeel. The alcohol will leave you a bit fuzzy in the head if you don't drink much like myself, but you definitely can't find any traces of it otherwise.

I'm not a huge IPA fan. That being said, this was really enjoyable. One I will go back to if I can get my hands on it.

Photo of stimulus
4.3/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Part 2 of a Russian River IPA tasting.
Poured from a 500 mL into a snifter.

A: Pours a clear orange with a light white head that leaves a light stream of lacing along the edges.
S: Strong piney hops, a little bit on the boring side.
T: Again, very strong pine-flavored hops, but there is a smooth malt taste in the finish to balance out these hops.
M: Crisp, light bodied, and well carbonated.
D: This is refreshing. Not even a trace of alcohol, this goes down easy, almost too easy at a higher ABV. Still good enough for a pint's worth.

Photo of MissYaJim
4.3/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

So I finally got a hold of the Holy Grail and I was not disappointed

The firs thing I noticed was the incredible smell..Yes a hint of pine but the citrus overwhelmed me. Someone said Pineapple and I agree. It was a strong hoppy Beer but so drinkable. It had a slight bitter taste but nothing that overwhelmed.

Wont be my last...special thanks to La Bodega in Riverside for having it.

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

This is my first Pliny, received in trade from generous BA ClarkGriswald. Thanks again, Mark! Poured into a snifter.

A - great golden-amber color, beautiful white head on top.

S - all the things a DIPA should have - citrus, orange, some vanilla, wheat grass, a creamy sweetness.

T - same as nose, but with a definite hops tartness that balances out as a creamy sweet finish on the back of the palate.

M - the great carbonation and slight maltiness make this brew almost float across the palate while adding great flavor from the hops and citrus.

D - I only have two but could go all night. Awesome!

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

Enjoyed on one of a few BA/Rare Beer Night Tastings during the month of September 2010. I was not able to take deatiled notes on this one, but I did make some shorthand and took mental notes in order to prepare a small review. I plan to take more deatiled notes on my next opportunity to try this rare find.

I was able to try a "fresh" one and one a few months old during the 9/2010. Enjoyed them both as fine examples of a hop flavor fwd IPA with citrus character. More on the dry side for an IPA, looking fwd to trying one again and taking more detailed notes.

Photo of StephenRich
4.32/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Another infamous beer is siting in front of my face. A few months ago I was able to enjoy the Westvleteren 12, the highest rated beer on the planet. Now I am about to enjoy a bottle of the Russian River Pliny the Elder; the second highest rated beer on the planet. I have learned quite a lot about drinking these so notoriously famed beers, most notably is not to concern yourself so much with its fame. This could be the most powerful influence on your perception of taste before you have even had the beer. So to best enjoy and evaluate the beer you must ignore it. So I will say no more of its rank.

Russian River's Pliny the Elder is a West-Coast Double American IPA. Pliny the Elder was actually a Roman Naturalist, scholar, historian and writer. Russian River seemingly dedicated this beer to Pliny's memory because he was among a few who created the botanical name for hops, lupus salictarius, which later became known as humulus lupulus. There is no IBU measurement listed on bottle or the web site, but simply because of its dedication and origin, we can rightfully expect something pretty hoppy.

The Pliny comes in 500ml bottles and is available year round in California. I do like that Russian River is selling it in a 500ml bottle rather than a 355ml. Honestly for a quenching IPA, even one at 8%, more is better, and 355ml usually just wont cut it.

I opened the Elder up cool around 8C (45F) and poured it into a few snifter glasses to share with my friends. The pour was smooth and silky unfolding out of the glass with a oil-like texture. It hit the glass hard and built up with a heavy glowing amber liquid. A head was slow to form, but by the end of the pour a solid pale white foam had build 1 inch over the beer showing relatively dense carbonation and a creamy cap. The beer was really shinning at me. It was a bright and shimmering orange with hints of amber brown and big golden streaks beaming through it. The Pliny was totally opaque, and settled into a smooth and attractive beer.

The nose is all hops showing a resiny punch of west coast, and highly aggressive earth aromas. The biggest up front is a sticky pine and woodsy aroma that bring with it a soft wave of citrus, grapefruit and lemon peal. It has hops written all over it and is brimming with the oily aromas of fresh humulus lupulus. Malt sweetness shows hints of sugary caramel and a balancing act of mellow pale malt, but they are nonetheless only there to help showcase the triumph of centennial, warrior, chinook, simcoe and columbus hops. It is actually very nice and smooth and not pungent or sharp. Great aroma.

With my first few sips I tried to get through the wall of hops to try and find some malts, which I did... But there was no fighting it. This beer was built with a purpose. Smooth and gentle waves of hops ride into your palate showing a layered complexity of hoppy flavors. Piny fresh needles, citric fruits, clean zest and sweet earthiness all play along together in a harmoniously quenching hop symphony.

There is a mellow and smooth malt sweetness that does shine though. It is clean and gentle with classic pale malt and gentle caramel flavors. Smooth and easy is its duty here as to not disturb the presence of the hops. At the back end of this beer hops still shine though. The tangy sweet hops that came in front brought tropical flavors of pineapple, orange zest and grapefruit. Now though I am being quenched more by earth, apples and pine needles. This is a hopehead's beer, that is for sure.

From start to finish this beer was quenching and very delicious. What impresses me is the complexity and layers of flavor that the hops bring rather than just a simple one sided hop blast. The texture and mouthfeel too are perfect with a smooth and elegant feeling balancing off moderate, but appropriate carbonation. It finishes cleanly with more citrus and pine leaving you with a fresh palate, and wanting more. The only thing I could still want is a slight more malt. Enjoy the Elder with spicy foods, chicken wings, steak, soft cheeses, dark chocolate deserts, or a cigar.

Pics at: http://definitionale.com/2010/11/10/tasting-the-russian-river-pliny-the-elder/

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

500ml Bottle

Bottle acquired in a trade with swedes21 - thanks buddy! Bottled 10/18/10

Appearance - The beer pours a slightly hazy amber/orange colour with a fair size fizzy and frothy off white head. There is a very high amount of carbonation showing and there is some very nice lacing on the sides of the glass. The head stuck around for around 5 minutes before it dissipated.

Smell - pine, hops, pineapple, citrus zest, floral notes

Taste & Mouth - There beer has a spectacular mouth feel - it doesn't feel as carbonated as it looks. It has a nice light feeling while remaining creamy and velvety. The beer starts with a sweet sugary pineapple flavour and then leads into a piney hop bitterness. It finishes with a strong hop aftertaste that lingers within my taste buds even after a few minutes have passed.

Overall - I wasn't sure what to expect with all of the hype about this beer. It is without a doubt the best imperial IPA I have had to date. You can really tell that they used very high quality ingredients in this beer. Worth seeking out.

Photo of digita7693
4.12/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have now had several bottles of this, ranging from 8 days old to 6 weeks old and all of them were quite good.

A orange/gold, slightly opaque and a very small head that goes away rather quickly, but leaves a small white layer. some lacing, but not a ton

S citrusy deliciousness. grapefruit, orange, orange blossoms, some pine. why cant i get this in a scented candle:)

T bitter citrus, with a hint of malts. great example of what a dipa should taste like

m/d very drinkable and almost a coating, creaminess of hops and citrus on the tongue

this definitely did not disappoint, though in the range of bottles Ive had my feelings have been from one of the better DIPAs ever to this is good, and had nothing to do with age. So I have to take something away from it.

Photo of russwbeck
4.77/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks to DJMichaelk for this! Bottled on 9/21/10

A: Nice gold color with little head, but nice lacing. I didn't get the big fluffy white head I see most experienced with this beer, must have been a poor pour.

S: Really inviting smell. Citrus, floral, hoppy, and piney.

T: Refreshing taste. Very light for a double IPA, but the taste is phenomenal. Hops hit the mouth first, malts smooth it out, and a nice dryness finishes it off.

MF: Medium bodied, but lighter than I would have expected.

D: Extremely drinkable, if only I had access to it!

Photo of wolfio62
2.42/5  rDev -48.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

I expected BIG things from this Ale. TOTALLY OVER RATED!!! One dimensional with no sophistication . Tasted like a pine cone or kitty litter, take your pick, Very short after taste that finished like balsa wood. Can't figure out all the hype??? I tasted this with 2 other Beer Drinkers, and we all felt the same.

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

I was fortunate enough to have some Pliny shared with me. This particular beer had been bottled only 28 days before we opened it, so I feel confident it was a fairly accurate representation of how it should taste. This poured a deep golden or copper color with a decently sized white head. Head retention was good and it left a little lacing. Smell was of citrus and fruit in addition to the hoppy smell. I found it interesting that the smell highlighted the citrus but the beer has more of a pine flavor in the taste. Starts out with the citrus and a little bit of pine hop, then hits the little bit of malt in the middle and finishes off with a bitter pine hop. Mouthfeel is good, light/medium body with moderate carbonation. At first I didn't really appreciate Pliny, but I think I get it now. It's been a few months since I tried it last and now, as I sit outside a SoCal bar I appreciate Pliny. It still isn't my most favorite IPA or DIPA but it definitely makes the top 3. This is some dang good beer.

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

A - Pours gold/light amber with adequate slightly off-white head. Dissipates to a thin ring leaving plenty of laces on the glass.

P - Sweet malts with plenty or dry hopped aroma. Hop profile is floral,citrus, piney. Very inviting aroma. Hop forward.

T - Hops dominate and flavor follows the aroma. Smooth bitterness. Dry hopped vegetal finish, but not overwhelming.

M - Moderate body. Average carbonation bite. Warm alcohol on the swallow. Leaves a resinous hoppy coating in the mouth. Lingering bitterness.

D - Very drinkable.

Overall - I had heard a lot about this beer and I had to find it when visiting CA. I had one on tap at Stone Brewing and was extremely impressed. This review is on the bottled form. This beer is everything expected. The smoothness of the drink, specifically the bitterness and balance with malt, is amazing. It has that extra "something" that sets it above.

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

Thanks to BigBlacke for helping me find this in Florida.

A-beautiful gold, thin white head. looks like liquid gold, tho that might just be because of the anticipation

S-oh wow the hops the pine, its absolutely perfect and complex

T-yes i understand the hype. this is all around perfect. the hops, the pine, everything. its a perfect amount of bitter as well. it starts with the pine and ends with the wonderful hops. this is just a complex beer. i don't know how to describe it in words. i could go on forever about the perfect balance between the hops and malts

M-medium carbonation, extremely creamy

D-i will never grow old of this. this is my new favorite IPA. the abv doesn't hit quickly either

Photo of jbone78
4.35/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I have had this beer on tap at the brewery, but this review is a bottle shipped to me from a beer buddy.

Pours yellow/golden with a light haze. smells nice and piney with citrus and pine flavors very well balanced. If I could get this here, I would drink all the time. Very easy drinking for an 8%er. Great Beer!!!


Photo of strangefate
4.62/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pint on tap at the Hulmeville Inn, 10/29

Pours a golden amber/yellow with a nice head and great lacing.

Scent is citrus - orange and grapefruit with a bite of pine. These are obviously high alpha hops.

Taste is a floral hoppiness upfront with citrus - grapefruit, orange, and a hint of lemon. Very hoppy with both a bitterness and fruitiness. All kinds of 'nesses.

This is the perfect mouthfeel for the style - medium bodied, good carbonation and a great stickiness from the hops.

An incredible beer that I could drink all night or at any time for that matter.

Photo of misinformed
4.57/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

500ml bottled on 10/8/10, enjoyed 11/3/10 in a pint glass.

A- Clear golden orange beer with active carbonation. On this occasion I only got about 1/4" of large bubbled white head that quickly faded to a small slick. Nice blobby lacing left behind as well as thick glass coating curtains when swirled.

S- Excellent smell. Inviting sweet citrus & fruit with pine undertones. Sounds cheesy, but this is my definition of an intoxicating aroma for sure.

T- Doesn't dissapoint one bit. Great citrus and pine flavors up front with a touch of mellow malt for backbone. I almost can't taste the malt at all. Finishes with a mellow, but long bitter/pine finish.

M- On the lighter side of medium, I'd say. Good carbonation. Faint mouth coating which helps with the lingering bitter finish that keeps me reaching for my glass. Incredibly clean.

D- Destined to disappear fast. I wouldn't have guessed this was classified as a DIPA. Incredibly smooth and easy drinking. The balance leans towards the hops of course, but the taste is just perfectly balanced between the citrus and pine hops. A supremely drinkable, enjoyable and all around awesome beer, although there are other IPAs and DIPAs that may be more interesting flavorwise.

Photo of ejimhof
4.47/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: light color with a white head and lacing

Smell: hops and pine.

Taste: slightly bitter but I do not taste the grapefruit or citrus that others have reported

Mouthfeel: very light bodied for a DIPA

Drinkability: much better in a bottle than on tap wish I could afford to buy more than one of these

Photo of adrock7309
4.65/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to bauermj for the trade! Poured a 9/23 PtE on 11/3 into a nonic. A solid one inch of glorious white head. Fell over 5 minutes and left a nice lace around the glass.

The color is a bright apricot peachy orange tint.

Aroma is heavy on the citrus and grapefruit mixed with a bit of a pine sap eeking through.

Taste is off the hook citrus bitters and followed by a balanced butterscotch sweetness. The finish is a touch more of the bitter only slightly piney.

mouthfeel is very balanced. I love when you dont notice a thinness or a heaviness to the beer.


Photo of itsfreeasinbeer
4.7/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A-Amber, finger and a half of head.

S- Hops, humulus lupulus, and some more hops.

T- Intense hops,sharp pine, grapefruit and a bit of sweetness. A perfectly balanced DIPA, a straightforward hop attack with just enough malt to balance the beer into perfection. An amazingly focused DIPA.

M- coats the tongue, just enough carbonation. The resiny hop goodness is what makes this so palatable, not the carbonation.

D- If I could get this every day, I would drink it that often. Its dangerously drinkable, and every sip explodes with hop flavor yet is so balanced as to leave me reaching for another sip soon after I've finished. I need to try this one on tap.

Photo of dbhall
4.57/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

wow. i dont even think this is the freshest bottle ever, but wow this is one heck of beer. it pours well, with a little head, and has great lacing. it smells like the one of the best double ipas ever. thats really the best i can describe it. but there is definitely are piney smell, with a lot of citrus and some hops. the tast is awesome. just perfectly balanced with hops and citrus. the finish is really clean with just a little hops aftertaste.

like it a lot, not the greatest double ive tasted, but it is really all you need

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

Bottled 10/08, poured into a snifter at 52.8 degrees, warming slightly during the tasting.

A: Absolutely beautiful hazy orangish copper color with a large white head that dissipates slowly. Very thin collar remains with exceptional lacing that decorates the glass with each sip.

S: Pungent aroma consisting of red grapefruit, grass, and hops. Surprisingly, to me, the hops are not dominant, but rather, in perfect balance with the citrusy and grassy aromas to make it a very "deep," layered smell. There is also a hint of coniferous foliage, but you have to work to find it hidden behind the dominant aromas. Very, very nice.

T: Corresponds well with the smell, with fresh grapefruit and hops tamely biting at the tongue. Lively resin and spice blend in on the finish for a wonderful, long-lasting aftertaste that is quite memorable.

M: Very well carbonated, with tiny effervescent bubbles that make this exceptionally smooth yet full and coating. Not overly dry nor bitter, which makes this stand out quite a bit from others in its class.

D: Overall, this is very, very drinkable, but certainly one to savor, especially if it's not readily available. I'm very glad I was finally able to give this a shot, and will seek it out again. Really a remarkable beer.

That being said, I was a little let down by all the hype. There is another DIPA, which will remain unnamed, that is almost identical in every aspect, and shines a bit more to me than this. PtE, while exceptional, seems to stand out due to a self-fulfilling prophecy. Nonetheless, it's a damn good beer!

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

500ml bottle shared with cgymatt oct19 2010

A slightly hazy golden orange with just a few bubbles moving the suspended particles around and feeding a big off white head that falls to an island surrounded by a thin film that leaves a few partial rings of lace

S lots of pine with grapefruit rind, pineapple and some caramels, no complaints here

T more pine then I could smell, somehow this is possible to my surprise, and just enough malt to form a balance.... a lopsided balance but it's something. still lots of citric hops and it's right up my alley, tasty stuff

M bitter and dry with a fair bit left behind in your mouth, medium bodied and pretty smooth

D no booze is detected at all and I could drink many of these without complaining

thanks hoser for bringing this one back it is great beer that I'm glad I got to try. not the best DIPA I've ever had but well up near the top of the list, its nice when a beer lives up to all the hype

Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 11,863 ratings.