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Pliny The Elder | Russian River Brewing Company

3,585 Reviews
For Trade:
Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder

Brewed by:
Russian River Brewing Company
California, United States | website

Style: American Double / Imperial IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 08-24-2003

User Reviews
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Reviews: 3,585 | Ratings: 13,797
Photo of ChrisSchlosser
4.5/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

My friend from California sent this to me, I've been wanting to try it for a while. I was a little surprised at the color, it was more of a dull gold color than I'm used to seeing for IPAs. Overall it was very good, maybe a little overhyped but definitely enjoyable. I would love to have it again.

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Photo of Nin10dude64
4.59/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

poured into a tulip

pours a bright orange, clear with no haze, a short head forms and dissipates

smells of sweet citrus, and I almost want to say that I picked up plum..but I am unsure

taste was bready, hop bitterness was pleasant, not overbearing, very malty

an incredibly smooth and creamy mouthfeel, this beer redefined IPA's for me. It really adds to the spectrum for me, however, I did have it almost 2 months after bottling. But I had no choice, they brought it to me from a case in the back. What was I going to say, don't you have a fresher one? I felt it was take it or leave it, and the choice was obvious. My mission will now be to drink it as fresh as possible, to see how much stronger the hop bitterness and presence can be. maybe I will have it on tap next since it seems easier to get it that way here in the Southland

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Photo of Eli2814
3.43/5  rDev -25.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

So... the almighty Pliny... we finally meet. Let us begin.
For starters, it's a much lighter color than I'm used to with most dipas, which stands out as pretty unique. I like the look of its bubbles running up the sides of the glass.
The smell is pretty standard. Can't pinpoint which hops are used, but their presence is obvious, a nice little malty "aftersmell" is present as well.
Tastes good, good balance of sweet and bitter. I'm not much of a hophead, but I would have preferred a stronger hop flavor than it has. But it's a solid taste, I can see why people like it.
It's got a clean, light mouthfeel. Very drinkable, so be careful, drink it too fast and you'll remember it's 8%!
Overall, good brew. Did it blow my mind? No. Would I stand in line for hours to buy it? No. But it is good. I'd chalk it up to being a great intro if youre looking to get into the realm of DIPAs, and I'd leave it at that.

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Photo of erk0607
4.53/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Look: Clear, dark straw, amber, white head, remains foamy/creamy
Smell: Piney, citrus zest, hoppy, smells like a tropical fruit juice you'd get in a carton
Taste: Hop forward, pine, more citrus taste than the tropical fruit you get in the nose, some bitterness you'd associate with orange zest.
Feel: medium mouthfeel, some foaming action, light, refreshing fizzy carbonation
Overall: Definitely an IPA, and it's understandable that this is the standard for an IPA. Would get again if I had the chance and I'm not even a huge IPA guy.

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Photo of Beers-es
4.72/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On tap, this beer is mostly clear yellow-gold, much paler than you'd expect from most double IPAs. Two fingers of dense white head leaves full sheets of lacing. Smell is not particularly complex, but outstanding, featuring grapefruit, orange and pine.

Taste follows, with citrus and pine and a modestly bitter but lingering aftertaste. It's lightly carbonated with a solid medium feel and an touch of smooth slickness.

Overall a very well crafted IIPA that drinks like a lower ABV beer. It doesn't explode in any one area the way so many top-level modern IPAs do, it just nails every aspect almost perfectly, adding up to more than the sum of its parts.

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Photo of Jebburrows
4.45/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Found 1 random bottle in a small fridge at Cask in downtown SF. All the way w HT and other tops. A little less creamy, thick than the others, could see through it.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
4.82/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Appearance is a yellow color similar to macro, and an amazing clarity as well. Good white head forming 3/4" depth. Awesome aroma of resinous mango, guava, tropical fruits, tangerine and citrus.

Taste is excellent hop flavors along the lines of the aroma, soft bitterness, super cracker light toasted pale malts. Drinks so easy. Pine is in there too. This was the first to pack lots of proprietary hops into a super dry light body, but with a heavy abv you won't know about unless you read it or until you feel it.

The prototype.

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Photo of sjdevel
4.77/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Huge billowing foam with a moderate pour from a 16 oz. bottle. Not just bubbly, but frothy! Great head retention! A beautiful light golden/copper color that is crystal clear (clear enough to read fine print through).

The aroma is pretty powerful. It is citrusy and very floral. Slight tart smell and slightly fruity. There is also a hint of caramel and malt.

There is a nice PUNCH of hops at first. Very crisp and “bright” tasting. The bitterness is pretty strong at first, then it fades a bit to let the other flavors make their appearance, but then it seems to come back. During this gracious pause from the hops, you get flavors of sweet caramel and a savory buttery flavor. There is also a nice roasted woodsy / earthy flavor as it starts to trail off. As the other flavors and hop bitterness fade, you are left with nice citrus and a slight charred wood after taste.

Upper light to low medium mouthfeel. Doesn’t feel this as it stays quite bubbly the whole time in the glass. It does feel quite slick (probably form the larger amounts of hop oils).

Great! Not sure about this being the perfect beer though. It is balanced quite well -some more sweetness would be ok though. All of my favorite hop flavors are in this one. This brew never lost its fizz and never a gap or hole in the foam. This was earthier than I expected. It definitely got better tasting after it warmed a bit.

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

Pours deep amber with golden highlights, wide white foam head. Aroma is excellent, hops with fruity, citric, floral characteristics. Taste is hoppy and malty, extremely well balanced. Aftertaste is spectacultar. This beer is imposible to get in Mexico, a friend brought it to me from San Diego, very fresh. Amazing beer.

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

Thanks to MadDawg for sharing. Awesome DIPA of course. Wish it was readily available, but happy to have it. Juicy as all hell and just a near perfect beer

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Photo of ptykozoon
4.07/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a bright honey, the head and lacing are strong and linger.

Sweet honey and a bitter forest.

The balance here is fresh overpowering lively piney hops with a touch of sweetness. Bitter and refreshing.

Mouthfeel is bright which only adds to the abrasion of this beer. Lots of resin. ABV tastes around 8.5.

A legend and the definition of a benchmark. RR should be proud of their consistency.

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Photo of JeffGilmore
4.82/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Pliny is definitely one of my all time favorites and worth the considerable effort required to procure. After two years of regular consumption I have found it to be a bit sweet for my changing taste buds, but compared to off- the-shelf doubles, it still reigns superior.

A: Golden with a thick creamy head

S: Citrus and pine

T: Sweet and smooth

M: excellent, slightly thick and a bit of lingering sweetness on the finish

Overall, one of my favorite beers but I would highly urge any IPA lover to try Blind Pig at the RR brewery.

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Photo of The-Adjunct-Hippie
4.43/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I feel bad as this was bottled 6 months ago, but I was just given this now. So it's as fresh as I can possibly get it, since we don't get it in my area.

The pour is magnificent with mango-apricot glows highlighted by pale edges as its light struck. Slight haze, 10% opacity. Head is huge, 3 fingers, and develops a reverse bowl in the middle.

Aroma is...holy smokes. Perfect combination of pine and fruits. Uhhhh...mazing? It's got herbal notes, spicy notes, as well as the trademark freshly peeled orange, cored pineapple, and pine needles. Touches of raw avocado, sushi style. As the head recedes, onion and dank resins come out that slightly distort the pure aromas here.

Taste? Wow. Pliny is neither overwhelming nor plain. I was expecting a palate buster but that's not the case. It scrubs the tongue slightly with a bit of oils and resins, but for the most part it stays very tropical with a hefty dose of malty biscuit notes. Mango, papaya, melon, cantaloupe, orange, pineapple...then the resins come in to dirty it up just a touch. Finish is dirty pine, dried mango, and hop resins.

Feel is thick, juicy, and enough carbonation to let it slide down easily and make it pleasurable.

Pliny is one HELL of a beer. It's no wonder it scores a 100 out of 100 on BA. It's a fine choice and makes it easy for me to finish the whole thing. Might as well say it - the best DIPA on the planet.

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Photo of Mateo2699
4.5/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

After all the talk and series of beer trades, finally got my hands on this. Dated 2-12-16, almost 2 months old. Hoping this doesn't affect the quality knowing fresh fresh is always way better. But took my chances anyway.

Pour is an almost-opaque golden/copper. Pretty clear without much haze to it. Foamy, two finger thick head that doesn't dissipate very quickly. Moderate lacing.

Smell is more citrus and pine foward than anything. Almost an earthy and grassy smell. Very slight tropical flavors, some mango and pineapple. But the fruitiness is very subtle. Pine tree bark and citrus pretty much dominates.

Taste is simple and effective. Very easily drinkable for a double IPA. No taste of alcohol, just the perfect balance of the sweetness, malts, and hops. Quite possibly the most balanced IPA I've ever had. But is that a good thing? Depends on what you're looking for. Because nothing with Pliny really "stood out" as far as flavors go. Moderately piney, moderately tropical, nothing expiremental. But maybe that's a good thing.

Overall, very well balanced and nothing over the top. Maybe I'm too spoiled by these big hoppy malty DIPA's. Or too spoiled by these NE-style juice bombs. But this is just right and in between of the two. I guess this is why it's so highly rated. Nothing expiremental but nothing too complex. Just right.

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

Pours a cloudy golden orange color with a thick white foamy head. There is quite a bit of a soapy lacing. The odor for me is pine, grapefruit, resin, orange, lemon, herbal, some tropical fruit, floral. The taste for me is pine, lemon, resin, grassy, bread, grapefruit, slight orange, some bitterness.

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Photo of akolb
4.91/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Trying Pliny for the second time, out of a bottle. Big fruity aroma. Orange, pine,pineapple, and flowers. Taste is very bright with mango and other tropical fruits and pine balanced out by some earthy malt. Super flavorful. Moderate bitterness closes things off, along with some alcohol. This is a really wonderful IPA, very bright and drinkable. The 8% ABV is well hidden. Complex, tasty, and delicious.

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Photo of Jay_P22
4.98/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

The mothership of DIPAs. Brings instant jealousy. The standard for a west coast IPA. Drank from a snifter.

Looks like a bright orange to copper clear beer. Medium, head with even lacing.

Smells like citrus and pine. That's what it is supposed to smell like.

Tastes incredible. Super hoppy, pine, citrus and incredibly balanced.

Feels like a mouth of pine and citrus, with a touch of perfect bitterness. It's not for hop newbies.

Overall it's the standard for DIPAs. My favorite double on the market. It's worth every hype and accolade it receives.

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Photo of Gipsy_Danger
4.77/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Well-balanced. Nice little bite of hops on initial quaffing. Solid mouth feel and lingering taste.

Think it's a little bit overhyped, but fantastic DIPA nonetheless.

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Photo of jngrizzaffi
4.56/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear light amber color with a thick foamy head. Head retention is decent as is lacing. The aroma is just awesome. Big, big juicy orange citrus and hoppy resin. Big juicy citrus taste, strong piney resin. Everything you would hope for in an IPA. It is very astringent at the end though. Soapy aftertaste. LIght bodied with moderate carbonation. Drinks more like a regular IPA and not a DIPA, though. Been wanting to try this one for a long, long time. Parents went to Napa and shipped a couple of bottles back.

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Photo of Sourbatch18
4.94/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Ahhhh finally. I don't want to sound like a hype beast but this beer was so delicious. Got it on tap at Toronado here in San Diego and felt like I was in heaven. Aroma was dank and piney with a hint of grapefruit. Taste was so balanced with hops and malts. Definitely crossed this off my bucket list

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

Bottle from 2/19 and poured 3/22. Given to me unexpectedly from Tony -- as if you haven't seen it enough, thanks a ton! Obviously been high on my wants list since I started drinking craft beer. This is a big thing for me.

Appearance: Beautiful, clear, light amber color. There's a bright white head that dies down and leaves a shallow head on top with quite a bit of lacing. Plenty of carbonation coming from the laser etching at the bottom of my glass... seriously good looking IPA.

Smell: A little juicy, but very piney and resinous. Nice sweet malt. Very "clean" on the nose. It doesn't show its alcohol at all. Really enjoying the pineapple and mango aromas as it opens up/warms up a bit.

Taste/feel: In terms of a DIPA, I think it falls short of the best ones I've had only because it's a bit thin and light tasting -- but at the same time, that's what impresses me about this beer. At 8%, it drinks like 6% -- no alcohol, light yet intense flavor, and all-in-all delicious. This is such a stupidly well-balanced beer. There's a bitterness on the end that lingers a bit with a pine flavor, but I love it: it has me constantly coming back for more. The feel, as I alluded to, is a bit light. It drinks a bit more like a regular IPA, as it doesn't have a full feel... yet it doesn't bother me. It impresses me. The carbonation is perfect

I'm really trying to rate this as objectively as possible -- it's tough because my expectations have always been so high for this beer. I will say that it is absolutely fantastic, but that it's not a total one-of-a-kind beer that needs to be traded for at all costs. The chances are, if you've had one of the many world-class DIPAs out there, you've tasted something similar to this.

Without a doubt though, find this beer. There's so much history with it. Not only that, the balance is perfect for the style (leaning a bit towards more bitter, which I love), and it's so -- I know it's vague -- pure tasting that it's something every beer connoisseur ought to experience.

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Photo of fireazzi
4.02/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pliny of the "big" double IPA's did not win in a blind taste test. I am definitely more biased to east coast doubles but even in the blind test it didn't take me away. I still saw blind big is one of the best beers I've ever had. Younger was way better than this as well, the hops weren't as dominant as I like, but maybe that's a good thing for a double IPA.

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Photo of AdamAlway
4.68/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

L: Crystal clear orange body with a very small white head with very little retention. Leaves behind lacing around the edge with a see-through film across the center. Little streams of bubbles continue to rise throughout the whole experience.

S: A ton of citrus hops with mangos, oranges, malt and a bright pine finish. Lots of sweet aromas that are tempered slightly by the hops and malt.

T: A lot more hops and malt, especially upfront. Soft citrus and orange follows with a small twinge of bitterness that isn't overpowering and lingers nicely. Perfect balance of flavors!

F: Medium body, but very light finish due to the carbonation. Very drinkable and compliments the taste very nicely.

O: I couldn't be happier with the flavor balancing. Very sweet on the nose, but doesn't negatively affect the flavor and helps keep the bitterness under control without squashing it. Definitely lives up to the hype if you don't want/expect a bomb of hops.

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Photo of rypkr
4.16/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottled 2-19-16

A - Poured hard into a snifter. Hazy pulpless orange juice looking with a very soapy looking frothy white one finger head.

S - tons of citrus, very tropical. Pretty sure this was fermented from a can of concentrate banana-orange-mango juice my poor family bought from the dollar store growing up.

T - extremely subdued and not what I was expecting. Very clean/crisp/bright but also much sweeter than I expected. Zero alcohol. Very good, extremely drinkable.

M - High carbonation but thin. Drinks like a light beer.

O - I have no complaints with this beer really. It's well rounded and very good. But there's nothing "WOW HOLY SHIT" about it. If this beer is a 100 then it's a 100/115.

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Photo of Dopen993
4.56/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

510 ml into tulip. 1/25/16

First time drinking.

L. Golden orange with a touch of haze. 1 finger head with nice sticky lacing.
S. Lovely mix of malts and hops. Lots of tropical fruits such as mango and orange mix with a touch of pine and sweetness.
T. Balance is near perfect. For 8% I don't receive a touch of alcohol. A nice blast of hops up front leads to a sweet and smooth with a bit of a pine bite on the finish.
F. I'd say it's just on the the lighter side of medium mouthfeel with average carbonation.

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Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 3,585 ratings.