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Pliny The Elder - Russian River Brewing Company

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Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder

Educational use only; do not reuse.

11,679 Ratings

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Ratings: 11,679
Reviews: 3,312
rAvg: 4.66
pDev: 7.94%
Wants: 5,596
Gots: 2,326 | 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: 11,679 | Reviews: 3,312 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of CaptainIPA
4.58/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presented in a brown, 500 ML bottle with a bottled on date of: 06-30-10.
Now, that's fresh. Thanks to Masala Mama for visiting Santa Rosa as part of "Plan B."

Pours a bright, clear copper with a billowy white head and a lacing that sticks to stay.

Big hops in the nose with tropical essences of grapefruit rind and mango in the background. Smooth and creamy, with a decidedly medium body. Chewy and juicy as it warms.

Citrus rind and tropical fruit flavors meld with moderate bitterness and waves of fresh, green hops, pine resin and layers of biscuity malt that provide the foundation for a surprisingly well-balanced offering. Finishes bone dry.

A beer that lives up to its perennial hype, Pliny is deserving of its position amongst the upper echelon of American DIPAs. With its big hop presence, artfully balanced flavors and refreshing drinkability, this is one Elder that's virtually impossible to disrespect.

Photo of taxguyjase
4.82/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance - A creamy head with medium carbonation and a golden amber color. Pretty standard looking for the IPA style. 4.0/5.0

Smell - Lots of piney hops - definitely the most definite feature of the aroma. 4.5/5.0

Taste - Hoppy, but not bitter. Some citrus and a lightly bitter aftertaste. The mix of the malt and hops are perfect. As mentioned in previous Imperial IPA posts, I get the impression that Imperial IPAs are either over the top or delightfully subdued. This fits into the latter. The hops are flavorful and the bitterness is perfect - 5.0/5.0

Feel - Extremely smooth, not as bitter as I would expect. Aftertaste is refreshing and has a good amount of flavor. 5.0/5.0

Drinkability - I think I would have this thing on tap at my house at all times. 5.0/5.0

Photo of TKEbeerman
4.8/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured into my SN XXX glass, this beer pours a sunburnt orange with about a one inch thick head.

The aroma is dominated by pinny bitter hops. Sitting in the background is a hint of bready malt.

The taste is follows suit. Extraordinarily bitter, yet easy on the pallet. Truely the standard for a DIPA.

The mouth feel is not as full as I'd like it, however the carbonation is right on point!

Overall PTE is a very drinkable beer. IMO though, Hopslam can stand toe to toe with this big boy. I'd like to thank tlay10 for hooking me up with not one, but two bottles to enjoy.

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

many thx to doodler for this beauty

poured from a 500 ml bottel into a struise glass
bottled on 06/08/10

Dark golden with a nice 1/4" head of pure white foam. Aromas are intense. Floral, citrus, spice, grapefruit , pine , and more. HOPS! and some biscuity malts and some weed-like aromas as well. The taste is hoppy and bitter with a very deep flavor complexity within the confines of the citrus, flower, and other hop induced flavors. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, drinkability is up there. A killer DIPA. I like this brew very much.

Photo of hu5om
4.8/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

thanks to enelson for this one! split with e11a627 and newk340
a-bronze/golden orange. light white foam, soapy, mostly clear, decent lacing
s-orangey citrus floral hops
t-orange citrus, nice little hop bite that just simmers on your palate. pineapple right before the swallow. not huge, but motzart at a moderate volume is still epic.
m-almost no harshness. amanzinglt delicate for an ipa that still packs some hops. how can it end so smooth?
d-epic. should i just move to california today or tell people i'm leaving first? delicious. ambrosia.

Photo of e11a627
4.82/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a chimay chalice and enjoyed with hu5om and newk340.

A: Applejuice-color, orange, hint of light brown.

S: Instant hop aromas that seems to sting the nostrils.

T: Hoppy at the first intial taste, has a bite. Then the hoppiness quickly subsides and becomes VERY smooth and goes down very easily. It was surprising to taste so much hops at first then have the hop taste disappear - it was fantastic!

M: Aftertaste stays with you nicely but isn't overwhelming. Very flavorful yet smooth.

D: Magnigicently hoppy. YUM!

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

After having this beer multiple times, it's finally time for me to sit and review this. The body is a seductive mandarin orange color that is slightly murky from hop resin. The appearance of the head reminds me of a still photograph of seafoam but with a creamy light tan color.
The aroma is wonderfully juicy and cirtrusy. The taste is reflective of its scent but better. Big juicy orange citrus hops with a sweet malt undertone.
It's a medium bodied beer that finishes a little dry at the end. although, the dryness at the end makes you beg for another sip.
This beer never gets old to me.

Photo of newk340
4.87/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

sampled with hu5om and e11a627.

A: a golden amber with a slight cloudiness. gold at the bottom with amber towards the top with a spattering of foam on the surface. minimal but persistant lacing.

S: citrusy hops gently sting the nostrils inviting the impending sip.

T: zest of lemon and orange lend some spice to the flavor while hints of pineapple round off each sip. flavor explodes and permeates all corners of the mouth/throat/nostrils at once.

MF/D: sizzle of carbonation that quickly dissipates for a smooth swallow. my favorite IPA! yum!

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

This beer had a lot of hype to hold up to and it absolutely surpassed that. I went into this with an open mind and said mind was blown. absolutely incredible. best ipa i have ever had in my life. poured a dark copper...not a lot of head or apparent carbonation. Immediately I could smell hops, wheat and peaches and the taste matched just that.. very complex but not overdone. Tastes of peaches.. but not too sweet..nothing like a lambic or sour mash so do not get that impression. This beer had the perfect amount of hop-ness and bitterness to go with the fruit and earthy feel. Mouthfeel was great.. perfect amount of carbonation gave way to a very clean finish. If it wasnt at 8 percent..I could have quite a few of these.. but they do pac a punch.


Photo of dmgnyc
4.94/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottled on 6.21.10, drank it last night. Really can't say anything that hasn't already been said a million times, except that it's quite simply unbelievable that an 8.0% is this easy to drink. The mouthfeel and smoothness is simply unparalleled; it's practically a pine-y, citrus soda. It's not a stretch to say you could easily put away three bottles in an hour were it not for the 8.0 ABV. Not sure how Vinny does it.

And if they ever found a way to construct a perfume based upon the nose, I would demand my wife wear it every day.

It's times like this I wish I didn't live in NYC.

Photo of Pittsburgh
4.8/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

The much anticipated Pliny review, I was half expecting fireworks to start shooting out of the bottle and then it would offer to get me another and magically refill itself. Once I got by my expectations and began to focus on the beer, I began to realize how good it was.

At first I thought this could go toe to toe with some other DIPAs I've had, but this one stands out, due to the extreme hop presence, and excellent flavor of the beer. Crisp and clean and perfectly balanced. The hops don't stop, and the finish is unbelievable. I don't think another beer could duplicate this if they tried. Not too thick and syrupy either. perfect combo....well done, lived up to the hype, which is hard to do!

Photo of NWer
4.9/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 500 ml bottle into a pint glass until the foam overtook the top of the glass (not to worry, no spill).
Finished off the pour into a brandy snifter.

A - Beautiful perfectly clear golden beer, solid bronze head leaving behind a persistent lace that only disappeared where I tilted the glass. Even after the glass was emptied, the abundant lace was there to remind me of my experience.

S - Most full aroma I have experienced so far. I was beginning to think I had a nose problem I had such a difficult time picking up aromas with other brews. Not this time.

T - Nice pleasant citrus taste that reminds me of all the good IPA's but a notch above.

M - Aftertaste complements perfectly the experience. I don't want to get carried away, but this is one damn good beer.

O - Exceptional DIPA - Flowery balance complements the hop feel almost perfectly.

Photo of djmichaelk
4.75/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Growler from the brewery, into a perfect pint (many, many times...). Had this many times, finally sitting down to review it in the perfect environment -- home!

A - Huge four-finger head on the initial pour, pillowy at first, then receding into a somewhat thick, rocky cap that lingers forever. Golden straw color, fairly clear with just a bit of haze. Plenty of lacing down the glass. Simply beautiful.

S - Very likely the best smelling beer I've had to date. From the moment you pour it, the room is filled with grapefruit, mango, passionfruit, and citrus aromas. This is the kind of beer that makes you keep your nose in the glass for hours.

T - Bitterness from the hops wallops you in the face. The citrus in the aroma doesn't quite come through in the flavor as much, but it definitely there. I've never has the sensation of eating fruit with an IPA as much as I do when drinking this beer. There's a sweet acidity to it, but again the bitterness just overwhelms it. No alcohol to speak of. Fantastic.

M - Thick and sticky, this coats my tongue like any substantial beer should. And then after a minute, it's very dry. It's very there and then it's not. Carbonation is perfect.

D - Well, the abv is there, no doubt about it. A few of these, and you're thinking about which cab company to call. But... every sip I take has me thinking to myself, "how do I get more of this?" The flavor just leaves you wanting more and more.

O - Up to this point, I can't think of an IPA or DIPA that I enjoy nearly as much as this one, and really only one other beer in general. I'm lucky to live where I do, in that I can have this pretty much any time with a short drive. And I no doubt need to take advantage of that more often.

Photo of philbe311
4.28/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Slightly more than a fingers worthy of big chunky batter-like slightly off white head... Modest retention fades to leave an uneven lacing that is veiled in sections and chunky in others with a full ring of faom around the edge of the glass... A dense medium golden orange color with a slight glow... Sparse small bubbled sluggish carbonation rises along the sides of the glass... Loads of lacing cling to the sides of the glass...

S - A subtle and elegant earthy floral hop aroma... Some piney notes... Slightly pungent... Cracker... Subtle malt base... Simple, well balances, and quite enjoyable...

T - Hop forward, but far from overwhelming... Earthy, piney, and pungent all at the same time... Cracker and bready malts...

M - Medium to full bodied... Slightly dense and heavy... A strong carbonation bite... A bit of a chalky finish... Crisp...

D - As sophisticated a DIPA I've ever encountered... Not the hoppiest... Not the most well balanced... But this one has a certain undeniable aura of greatness...

Photo of Khazadum
4.17/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

500 milliliters bottled on 5/26/2010, served into a 12 ounce brandy snifter, drank at 50 degrees and 55 degrees. Received via phone order from a California store.

Poured in low light in my front room. It appears at first to be an aged honey color with one finger of snowy white head. When held up to a light source it shifts to the color of movie theater butter while holding its virgin white head. The lacing is truly something to be admired in this brew. It defies gravity on the edges of the snifter and pleases me as I agitate for the bouquet. Long after it has been consumed, a lacing exists around the glass.

Upon first breath it holds a mysterious sweetness that is missing in most double IPAs I've seen. It takes a second attempt to identify tangerines. The citrus is unique as of this date for my smelling pleasure. There are brief hints of pine but only when searching for more.

Flavor Profile
The smell was not misleading me. Citrus flavors explode initially on the palate and lead me to believe there is tangerines in my brew. They fade appropriately leaving a finish that starts hinting of pine, but quickly erupts into a mouth of tree branch.

The close is like walking through a winter forest looking off into the distance. Calm, quiet, clean. Everything is as it would seem. You notice the snow on the trees around you, but unfortunately you missed that tree branch that just rammed itself into your mouth. A quick punch of pine before it goes down the hatch making you wonder if it was really there as you continue staring at the scenery.

It is not a clean finish, but its damn close. The bitterness lingers pleasantly but does not overwhelm. I welcome it to play with my taste buds. All flavors blend well and play at their allotted times sip after sip. There is no one note, but a grand symphony.

Oral Sensations
When it comes to mouth feel I wasn't expecting the enjoyable body that Pliny has. It flows and lays its gentle head upon my tongue, but after swallowing it only lingers for a moment. The feel is exactly as it should be.

It is one of the most drinkable DIPAs as of date. No problem consuming the entire bottle solo, and would drink another if desired.

As a double IPA, it is most certainly a pleasant experience but not my favorite one. Bias and hype may have raised my hopes too much for this beer, but that does not mean it didn't come close to meeting some of them.

Photo of KickInTheChalice
4.55/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Lots of thanks to realmpel for shipping this to me. As an IPA lover (in all forms - DIPA, IIPA included), this was THE one I have been waiting for. Poured from a 500 mL bottle into a tulip. Freshness date 6/21/10.

Appearance: Great looking right from the start. A slightly hazy orange amber color with a tight fluffy white head, with a few large errant bubbles on top. Some resplendent carbonation rises from the bottom of the glass. Pretty good retention, and there are rings of lacing down the glass.

Smell: An elegant aroma, extremely hoppy but oh so balanced on the nose. Pineapple, grapefruit, a bit of orange, and tons of pine overwhelm my olfactory system.

Taste: Starts out and stays strongly hoppy the whole way through. Such a wide range of flavors that all work well together. Pine is the single strongest noticeable flavor, but orange, pineapple, grapefruit, and a bit of herbal goodness are present throughout each sip. The malt is not of the same strength as the hops, but it does not let me down like in some pure hop bombs. Some soft sweetness and a little spicy flavor keeps me interested. Lingering bitterness after the sip, but I do not mind it.

Mouthfeel: There is not a way to make this smoother while keeping the great crisp feel. The carbonation is not overdone, but it is a smooth operator, bringing a great pop to the taste.

Drinkability: This beer keeps getting better and better. There was absolutely no way it could have met my expectations, but it came pretty close. It would be a treat to have this available more often.

Photo of cbak999
4.82/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I was lucky enough to receive this bottle from a friend. I was super excited knowing the hype that surrounds this and many other Russian River beers. The bottle was dated 5/10/10. I poured the beer into a snifter.

A: A golden orange color with a 1/4" of head that laces the glass with each swallow. I could count the number of sips as I neared the end of this great sample.

S: All hops. Very earthy and piney with a hint of citrus.

T: Again...hops. But not overbearing. A super nice balance between the hops, alcohol, and malt. One of the best balanced IPAs out there.

D: As decribed by the taste, this is super good going down. Not knowing the ABV, you would think it's in the 6.5 range.

After drinking my half (I shared with a friend), I now can appreciate this beer as the 6th best in the world. It was amazing!!!

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

I finally snagged an ever-elusive bottle here in Southern California. I got the last four bottles of a 3 case shipment that just showed up a few hours ago. Man, this beer disappears fast.

A - Bright gold, clear, with a nice bubbly, foamy head that dissipates fairly quickly and leaves a thin lacing.

S - Floral and piney, a classic and vibrant IPA bouquet. The wonderful smell of hops just leaves me eager to drink it.

T - A light and smooth start, the hops don't hit immediately, but slowly find their way onto the tongue, unleashing a refreshing and intense burst of bitterness and flavor. Pine, citrus, sweet, floral, all combine simultaneously in a wonderful balance. Most IPA's feel very divided to me in their flavors, and the hops can be too harsh, simply for show. The Pliny melds them in a perfect combination - nothing is too overpowering or unnecessary.

M - Smooth and simple carbonation, not very bubbly after a few minutes. A stronger carbonation might help stir up the flavor more, but still, it is light and soft on the tongue, which provides a nice contrast to the bitterness and lends to a clean and crisp finish, sweet and satisfying.

D - One of the most drinkable IPA's I've ever had, particularly for a double. A wonderfully complex and satisfying drinking experience from start to finish. This is my new favorite IPA, perhaps my new overall favorite.

I can see the attraction, almost obsession that this beer creates - it is well deserved. The man at the store I picked up the beer at (do I dare say where?) said that they can't order near as much as they would like to - the demand far outweighs the supply Russian River can turn out. Hopefully soon that won't be a problem, but in the meantime, I will continue the search for this Holy Grail of IPA's.

Photo of HosP
4.53/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Received from Scottfrie in a trade, thank you very much!

A- Golden, with a slight haze. Small head that left lace down the glass.

S- Very hoppy smell. citrus and pine mostly. Not as strong as I imagined it would be.

T- Full of hop flavor, just like it should be. Bitterness is there but doesn't take over the beer. Just enough malt taste to keep it smooth!

M- Medium body. Good balance between hops and malts. Good amount of carbonation.

D- Makes me wish I lived on the West Coast! I am a big fan of Dreadnaught, which isn't normal, but this is an ideal dipa! If I had one dipa to drink from now on, this would have to be the one so far!

Where can I get more of this?!?!

Photo of dpnelson1978
4.47/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes.
Originally tasted: 5/1/2010

On tap (at Toronado!) into a glass pint.

S: Pine hope aroma gracefully dominates with hints of apricot citrus floating in the background. Well balanced and far from aggressive. Hits you in the face and makes you say, "thank you."

A: Deep amber body filled with shimmering haze and topped with a big loose head that recedes quickly leaving a generous sticky lace and a thin bubbly ring around the base.

T: Sweet caramel and bready backbone showcasing an undeniable pine intensity and lovely grapefruit flavor. Well balanced throughout giving way to lingering bitterness.

M: Medium body and medium carbonation. No resin stickiness. Bitterness prickles the tongue.

D: Great beer, but not something to overdo. Have one and enjoy it, then process it. This is a special drink.

O: Worthy of the hype. A special DIPA and a special beer period.

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

Baby steps. The first time I had this one I wasn't prepared. Now I've revisited it after some "seasoning".

Looks great in the glass. Nice off white head with a clear amber color and some bubbles dancing around the edges. Smells of a wide range of citrus, with the hoppy bitterness promised but somehow not overwhelming.

This is exactly how the beer tastes, but everything blends ideally to make something that is unbeatable for the style. Pine, juniper, maybe even cedar, jumbled amongst orange and grapefruit rind with lemon in there too. Enough sweetness to actually do some good balancing.

Resin never overwhelms the palate, with medium body and carbonation. Shockingly drinkable, probably because it tastes so damn good.

Even if you don't take price into consideration, this is a stupendously good beer. For $4, it probably can't be beat.

Photo of sm007thie
4.44/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- golden color, slightest haze, lumpy creamy head if poured aggresively.

S- smell is absolutely fantastic. if you take your time, you can smell every fresh hops odor imaginable. grassy, citrus, piney, resinous goodness. wow!

T- exeptionally smooth given the intense hops character. each sip has a pleasant grapefruit flavor followed by an split second of hops bite and a sm007th, complex hops finish. malt is present enough to balance, but is definitely playing a minor supporting role.

M- carbonation seems to reverberate off of the toungue giving pliney a refreshing feel.

D- obviously a beer of this intensity and ABV wasn't formulated with "drinkability" too much in mind. however, everything works together so well to create an invigorating brew.

Photo of earthling
4.9/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Like so many other obsessed enthusiasts and alcoholics, this is one of my all-time favorite beers. Its heavy, strong, and sometimes overwhelming aroma is incredible and inspiring. The pungence of Pliney commands any pot smoker to drink beer and any beer drinker to pay attention. Pliny is the secret mistress of any IPA lover, its contact-high inducing aroma erecting senses and inducing appreciation.

Pliney the Elder makes people happy, as does its proclamation "DO NOT AGE!"

Any home brewer leaves incredulous after tasting this beer for the first time, whether he likes it or not.

Pliny's intensity nearly commands a new classification for beers. It's so well crafted that the incredible amount of hops used don't contribute unduly to its bitterness. The citrusy, evergreen, even piney of pliny balance the bitterness and malt to create a truly amazing beer.

Photo of TMoney2591
4.47/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in a Dogfish Head snifter.

Thanks to stoutjimmy for this bottle!

My second Pliny, but first review thereof. It pours a hazy, golden amber-straw, topped by a quickly-dying finger of white froth. The nose comprises a hella-ton o' pine, along with some grapefruit, orange peel, maple sap, and a tiny bit o' caramel in the back, trying to maintain some semblence of a malty backbone. It's got me convinced it's hoppy... The taste follows very similarly, though the two DIPA elements are both sharpened for battle: The hops are especially fruity and flowery, while the malts (caramel and toffee, natch) are stronger, more up to the task of balancing out the hops. I gotta say, the hype has been dead on: this is the most balanced DIPA I've had in a long time. And quite tasty, too. The body is a light-ish medium, with a moderately active carbonation and a fairly dry finish. Yup, this old Roman naturalist lives up to the hype. Get some!

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

A: Hazy, ice tea brown. Bubbles racing too the top. Quickly dissipating head.

S: Excellent. Excellent. Sweet, pine, apricot with very mild hops. Beautiful smell. Apple juice too. Can't detect any alcohol.

T: Not too bitter, like I find many IPA's to be. It has more depth than most IPA's, multiple flavors that come in parallel. The bitterness is separate from the almost fruity, tea like layer. Interesting and very nice.

M: It's not special, but it's very good. It lightly carbonated, and feels great going down.

D: great. If you can hang with the bitterness of IPA's this is among the top.

Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 11,679 ratings.