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Pliny The Elder - Russian River Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder

Educational use only; do not reuse.

3,507 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 3,507
Hads: 13,367
Avg: 4.6
pDev: 15.65%
Wants: 6,840
Gots: 3,505 | FT: 99
Brewed by:
Russian River Brewing Company
California, United States | website

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: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Pliny The Elder Alström Bros
Reviews: 3,507 | Hads: 13,367
Photo of Spacedog666
3.62/5  rDev -21.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

This beer was surprisingly bland! I had been waiting for over a year to find it. I finally found it on tap at Obrians in San Diego when I was home for the holidays. A surprisingly bland IPA. Very average. Not bad, but ridiculously overhyped.

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Photo of joeweis
4.89/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I had the good fortune of traveling to the PNW and then on down to Santa Rosa to get my hands on both draft and bottled Pliny. As many say the nose was the best part of this beer...until I tasted it. I got a lot of the citrus nose in the taste as well, balanced with the hoppy 'bitterness' too.

The importance of freshness is key as I notice a slight difference when I opened one last night (25 days after the bottle date). It's still a GREAT IPA and I'm sure would hold its ground against many others but the freshness is not to be taken lightly.

Pliny on draft was the mecca for me. Well done!

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Photo of Sabtos
4.22/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Proud Pliny first-timer. The second I broke the airtight seal on the cap, before I even removed it, with my nose at least 3 feet up from the bottle, my eyes widened in awe with the immediate understanding of what everyone has talked about for so long. The fact that the scent could hit my nose that quickly, strongly, and pleasantly was truly impressive.

The nose on this is definitely the best part of the Pliny experience, for me. Very tropical, exotic, transporting to some other heavenly world without being fruit juicy or indicative of any of the upcoming bitterness. I'm not sure I've smelled anything quite like this from a beer that wasn't intentionally infused with an overpowering fruit or other ingredient.

That being said, the taste of this doesn't quite live up to the preview that the aroma gives. While it is a pretty delicious brew compared to most IPAs, the light tropical scent gives way to a typically hoppy-bitter IPA. While still citrusy, it's a flavor profile that a number of breweries have been consistently providing for years. I would throw out Gangster Frog, Jai Alai, or even 60 Minute IPA in a blind taste test and bet it would be very difficult to identify Pliny based solely the flavor.

I received the bottle later than I would have liked--it was around 20 days old, but still quite fresh. However, I'm sure that affected the flavor. Still, this was definitely worth the trouble getting, and I would love to visit Russian River in person someday.

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Photo of Hutch76
4.02/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From the bottle.
Smell was a solid IPA that exploded with fresh hopes. A little disappointed in the taste didn't live up to the hype. Good overall but would be better fresh from the source.

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Photo of THSmusicman
4.75/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

On draft at Monk's Cafe

Smell: Holy wow! Tons and tons of hops! Citrus-y, slightly earthy, very resinous hops. The malt is hardly detectable in the nose. They could make an air freshener out of this beer!

Taste: This beer tastes like straight up tropical juice in a glass. Super bright flavor profile. The hops are certainly resinous and juicy but not in the least bit bitter! The flavor is just incredible!

Feel: Drinks as smooth as silk. Almost has a creamy characteristic to it. I could drink this all day.

Overall: This beer certainly lives up to the hype and maybe even exceeds it! I would prefer this to Stone Enjoy By, Heady Topper, or even Sip of Sunshine; it's that good! I will drink this beer whenever I see it on tap.

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Photo of ccg
3.99/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled 10/26/2015. I was hoping to bring this one to a bottle-share, but it's already over a month old now that I finally have it in my hands. What can I say? I was out of town for Thanksgiving, and it takes a while to smuggle this stuff all the way from California to Alabama.
Look: Great head and retention. A full two inches of foam. The beer itself is a nice, bright, clear yellow.
Smells sweet and hoppy.
The taste is smooth and a little piney. I can taste the hops but without the overwhelmingly bitterness that turns me off from so many lesser IPAs.
Mouthfeel is a bit light but not over-carbonated.
Overall: a smooth and creamy IPA.

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Photo of PintOh1759
4.08/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Great example of classic West Coast IPA. However this isn't the best IPA out any longer nor is it IMO the top 5 IPAs. For me an IPA needs to be unfiltered it gives that great mouthfeel, head, and sweet/ bitter love an IPA needs. Also the smell on this is nothing fantastic, specially when u compare it to the great smellers like heady, resin, and space dust.

That all being said I love this beer and will continue to pay double the price to smuggle it back to Alaska so I can enjoy it over the holidays every year.

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Photo of Ozzylizard
4.14/5  rDev -10%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled 111015 at 42 degrees into snifter
Aroma of citrus fruit, generic and strong, lasts entire beer but weakens
Head average (Four cm, aggressive pour), off white, frothy, diminishing to irregular two to ten mm creamy ring and partial frothy layer
Lacing excellent – nearly complete rings of tiny bubbles
Body medium yellow, hazy
Flavor begins with some citrus acidity and rind bitterness as well as some generic citrus flavor, ends with a light bitter chalkiness
Palate medium, watery, lively carbonation

Appearance 4.25, Aroma 4.5, Flavor 4, Palate 4, Overall 4. IMHO, this DIPA is generally over rated; it is good, but is not something I will seek out again, unless I happen to be in Santa Rosa, CA.

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Photo of MVotter
4.69/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

L - hazy straw color, clingy white head

S - citrus, diacetyls, grapefruit

T - follows the nose, sweetish hop flavor. There is a little bit of bitterness/tartness, after-taste is lemon iced tea.

F - effervescent, medium body, lighter than expected

O - hop party on the palate, delicious, very forward brew which lives up to its legacy as one of the ultimate representatives of the style.

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Photo of Vylo
4.33/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

Be aware my rating comes as someone who hates IPAs.

I always heard of this as being the best IPA and got my hands on a 17.25 oz bottle. It lives up to the hype.

While the bitterness and dryness of it being an IPA makes the taste less appealing to me, the carbonation is perfect, the smell is pleasant and the beer looks beautiful. Won't make me an IPA drinking, but its an impressive brew.

Worth a try even if you aren't into IPAs, I can believe it being a must have if you are a fan of the style.

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Photo of TriggerFingers
4.62/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had many times...in bottle and on tap. Lots of great memories with this beer....in bottles with brother at GGF in Berkeley ...3000 miles removed with brother on-tap in Philly....RR in Santa Rosa...bottled 2 days old before buying on my B-Day.

I dunno...this beer has a lot of hype around it. Its really good (don't get me wrong) but not something I would try too hard to get. If you can taste it...great! If you can trade for it...nice! It is really good....but it isn't my end-all-be-all IPA.

Fresh is best!

I chose 2 pints of Row 2 Hill 56 Pale over this at RR on my B-day....

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Photo of TheIPAHunter
4.71/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Thanks to @PatrickCT for this one. It's been a minute since I've danced with PtE; quite frankly, I missed her. Intense aroma in the nose. Honey layered malt bill is prominent. Grapefruit rind, and a bit of citrus, too. New car scent pine aroma lingers. Smoked barley on the tongue, amazingly. Ripe tobacco leaf, a tinge of spearmint and over ripened grapefruit. Creamy on the front end, semi-dry on the finish. Perfectly balanced. Pronounced head that lingers like the ex-girlfriend who won't move on. Beautiful. This is a master class in brewing. Cheers, Vinnie.

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Photo of MatthewWalters
4.31/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

There are better reviews, so I'll keep it short. Had this out of a fresh bottle, alongside about 6 other 97+ rated ipas and dipas. This was not my favorite. I would have liked to have seen more cloudiness in the appearance, but the head was nice and lingered. Smell fresh hops with some pine tint to it. Honestly, less of a bomb than some of the competition. It'd be a treat to drink this regularly, but on this occasion I preferred green street, all green everything, and mosaic (ya I know, different styles).

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Photo of Stephen_Woods
4.69/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Got this from a friend who went to the brewery while on vacation. Wow, so, so smooth. 8% but barely a trace of alcohol on the nose or palate. hoppy but doesn’t carry the overwhelming bitterness that is expected with a 100 IBU beer. balanced and smooth. Worth the hype & wait. Cheers

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Photo of scottsoileau
4.44/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Finally got my hands on this thanks to a friend who brought it back from San Diego. Bottled on 9/30. Good looking beer with nice somewhat subtle aroma. Great balance of bitter and sweet taste that lingers. Medium very enjoyable mouth feel. Probably impossible to live up to the hype, but this is obviously a fantastic beer.

I thought about this all night. I know I'm crazy. This beer reminds me so much of a higher quality Lagunitas Sucks. Anyone else get this? It's better but all I could think was Sucks

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Photo of Back_in_the_Saddle
4.43/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Bottle sent. Thanks Kate.
This was poured into a snifter.
The appearance was a hazy bronzed golden orange to amber color with a beautiful one finger white foamy lacing running around the glass.
The smell started off with a sly bittersweet luscious pine rolling into a citrus rind-like and pulp-like hoppiness. An ever so slight grassiness wants to balance.
The taste was moderately bittersweet take the citrus and the pine to hit each other like two freight trains colliding. I'm getting it all at once. There's the burst of the sweet and the burst of the bitter. Its all there.
The mouthfeel was about medium bodied with a sly sessionability about it. Carbonation seemed to feel exactly right for a DIPA. There's enough bitterness as a DIPA and enough sweetness to cling to my tongue extremely nicely.
Overall, wow, just wow, just what an absolutely awesome DIPA coming in from California for an exceptionally nice trade. I know I would definitely have again.

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Photo of woolybully67
4.29/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Maybe if I had this a few years ago it would have left more of an impression. There are just so many amazing IPAs out there now it's hard to say this was the best I've had. Definitely delicious and at the top of its game, wouldn't hesitate to order it again.

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Photo of Ztenad
4.84/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Fantastic! Had it on tap at the best beer joint in Philly, Monks! The flavor was as expected, fresh, clean, with a ton of hop. Cant wait for my next!

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Photo of wesinator
3.85/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Unfortunately I was very disappointed in this beer. I don't know if it's overhyped or if my pallet judges it unfairly because I have regular access to lawsons, and have had other top east coast I.p.a.'s. I found the flavor to lack depth and I struggled to find any juicy hop flavors

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Photo of ddugan
4.75/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Have had both in bottle and at RRBC on tap. Pours a golden color with a thin white head. Smell is just amazing every time. Awesome citrus and pine hop aroma. Taste is very smooth and balanced. Medium mouthfeel with medium bitterness. Lingering hop flavor. Low/medium carbonation. One of my favorite beers of all time and the ultimate West Coast DIPA.

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Photo of drned
4.5/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Another great IPA out of Russian River. Hops lean to citrus instead of pine. The draught lace does not stand up , but this an appealing beer. This is why to seek out Falling Rock Tap house in Denver, because they always have it.

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Photo of mradamhimself
4.75/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Fellow BA member sent to me in the mail from NoCA to IL - 510ml bottle

Has the unique combination of being refreshing, satisfying, nonabrasive, and just about perfectly-balanced with malt/hop/alcohol flavors. I enjoyed the hint of baking bread on the nose, and the nice symmetry of sweetness on the front of my tongue and bitterness on the back of my tongue and roof of my mouth. Properly carbonated with medium/medium-heavy mouthfeel and no unpleasant aftertaste. Clear orangey-amber with dissipating white head that laced nicely on glass and lingered there. Lovely beer to drink and ponder while I caught up on work today.

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Photo of Jonboy418
5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

From Florida and reviewing post-drink. I have a brother who lives in Northern California and whenever he visits, he brings The Elder. I trade him some Cigar City Jai Lai and call it good.
Love this beer.! Best IPA out there. Bold in hopiness, but not overly pretentious and very smooth. Starts with some sour citrus notes and moves into a pine flavor. I love it so much, I've got the t-shirt.

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Photo of Stolenface1
4.52/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very clear golden color with long lasting white head. Aroma of pine, grapefruit, pineapple, floral, orange, resin, and malt. Flavors are all of the above with a bready/crackerlike note with a nice balancing malt character that balances the bitterness all the way through. Mouthfeel is med-med/low carbonation with a slick hop oil on the tongue. Overall I cant find much wrong with this beer other than maybe a little more aroma.

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Photo of leroybrown10
4.56/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours a bright golden orange color. Large off-white head dissipates slowly. Excellent clarity. Masses of sticky lacing left behind.

Bright, tropical aroma. Pineapple and grapefruit. Floral and piney hops notes prominent as well. Just hints of cracker like malt.

Hop flavors are very smooth and balanced. Grapefruit, pine, something floral. Pineapple and orange. Light malt, cracker-y. Some mild caramel as well. Provides good balance. Pine really comes through at the end.

Medium body with a very smooth mouth feel. Medium carbonation. Very well balanced. Mild bitterness. Hops linger, tropical and piney.

A truly excellent IPA with amazing hop flavors that dance on the tongue. Bold but balanced. Drinks almost like a session IPA.

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Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 3,507 ratings.