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Pliny The Elder - Russian River Brewing Company

Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

8,764 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 8764
Reviews: 3058
rAvg: 4.65
pDev: 8.17%

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: 8,764 | Reviews: 3,058 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of BingCrosby7


3.74/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bottled: 3-10-14
Consumed: 3-13-14

I know we don't need another person to review Pliny, but…

A Very nice golden orange with some nice bubbling and lacing around the glass-good amount of head
S Intense pine with an assortment of hop varietals.
T Very piney up front, a bit rounded out by malt. Very clean aftertaste and very drinkable.
M Very delicate and very well balanced in terms of the carbonation. This is very pleasant on the palate.
O I think this is a great beer in terms of the drinkability; however, I think that this beer could be a little more complex. I think this is a very pine forward beer and that the hop varietals do not offer anything aside from said pine. I would like to see some citrus or a bit more malt. Overall, this is a fine beer, albeit a bit less complex and compelling than the populace at large might assert.

Serving type: bottle

03-14-2014 03:23:45 | More by BingCrosby7
Photo of peacemakers48


5/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is know my favorite beer of all time. I just found out that this was made by accident? This beer is better than the younger but not by much. Well worth the hype. I have not tried this in bottles but the draft is second to none. Phily is the Only place outside of the west coast to get it.

Serving type: on-tap

03-10-2014 17:50:29 | More by peacemakers48
Photo of scotorum


4.63/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Another beer I never expected to be able to try at least until the next trip to visit relatives in California. That I can do so now is thanks to the seemingly unbounded generosity of BigStein88.

Bottled 1/17/14. Nearly two months old, but I'm not unhappy with that considering it travelled from California to New England and changed hands again after that.

Poured from the 16.25 oz. bottle into an Alchemist shaker pint. Couldn't resist the irony.

a: Clear dark gold with a two inch tall white head which dissipated slowly to rocky surface foam and patterned lacing.

s: Intense pine. Some floral notes.

t; Very smooth first impression, indefinable almost bubble gummy flavor followed by moderate hop bite and some floral notes. Bitterness lingers on the tongue but is mellowed by the floral aspect. Very "refined" tasting, although it becomes predictably rougher and more bitter as it warms. 8% alcohol? You've got to be kidding. Where?

m: Slickly smooth. Little carbonation.

o: If it's this good with nearly two months on it, what is it like fresh? Definitely one of the very best DIPAs I have had. Although the hop bite is less than some, it does not hang on and get annoying, and the pine and floral flavors make this Pliny shine.

Serving type: bottle

03-10-2014 04:32:38 | More by scotorum
Photo of tikk

New York

4.99/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Absolutely the perfect beer.
Bottled 2.6.14
Thanks chickencoop
Poured into my tulip glass amazing amber color, with a thin quickly disappearing head that leaves a nice lacing as I drink this down.
Smell is amazing grapefruit, citrus, pine needles and a nice sweetness.
Tastes the same way it smells, there is an almost overpowering hop presence but the malty sweetness doesn't let it get to much, as the malt fades it leaves a nice bitter aftertaste.
The mouth feel is silky smooth and delivers the hoppiness to my taste buds.
I see how this was so mind blowing at the time it came out, almost created its own style that is often imitated but never equaled over the years.
I wish I could get this more regularly, my favorite beer of all time

Serving type: bottle

03-08-2014 03:39:59 | More by tikk
Photo of NCalement

North Carolina

5/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottle served in a Spiegelau IPA glass.

A- Light amber color with a one finger white head that shows excellent retention. Amazing lacing. Looks perfect.

S- Fresh hops, pine, grapefruit, lemon grass, citrus zest, and more hops. Perfect

T- Hops, grapefruit, citrus fruit, bitter soap and more hops. This is hop juice. Amazingly fresh and crisp hop flavors.

M- Perfect. So refreshing and no sign of ABV.

O- By far one of the best IPA's ever made. It lives up to the hype that surrounds this world class beer. It makes me want to move to Santa Rosa.

Serving type: bottle

03-07-2014 20:42:18 | More by NCalement
Photo of santomark


4.79/5  rDev +3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

A - Pours a nice golden body. Amber hues, light orange. 3 finger head, dissipates very nicely.

S - Not as much of a hop bomb I was hoping for in the smell, not that this was a bad thing. You'll get a very balanced smell of hops, mild dankness, fruits beautifully blended with orange, mango, pineapple, citrus, etc. Very subtle malt.

T - Superbly balanced for a double! You'd swear you're drinking a low alcohol contented beverage. Nice mild malts, picks up with this beautiful citrus goodness of oranges, pineapple, mango, etc.

M - Light to medium body, sticky, crisp, clean, refreshing and a nice dry finish. This doesn't finish too dry, it finishes with just enough dryness to leave the palate wanting more; however, there is plenty of the sticky resin in there to leave you wanting more in a different way.

O - Beautifully crafted DIPA, does it live up the hype? IMO, NO. Should people mortgage the house and sell a lung to get this? No. There are other great DIPA's out there. This one will creep on you if you do not pace yourself. All in all, a great beer, that should be distributed more throughout bars and liquor stores.

Serving type: on-tap

03-07-2014 20:33:35 | More by santomark
Photo of BeerZombies1


5/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

American double / Imperial IPA
8% ABV
100 IBU

APPEARANCE: Pours a bright, vibrant golden hue. Seems to glow or burn like fire dancing with orange highlights. Dense, billowy three fingers of head with great lacing.

AROMA: Did I just snort a line of hops? In your face hops, intense pine and resin. Very dank and earthy that starts to give way to a fruit bomb of grapefruit, mango, papaya and citrus. End with light floral and grassy notes.

TASTE: like tiny angels dancing on my tongue! First taste is that hoppy bitterness that takes over your mouth. Once you get used to it the layers of sweetness from the fruit really shine. Light lemon grass and floral hits with that great bitterness remaining throughout.

MOUTHFEEL: Medium body with lively carbonation. Coats the entire mouth allowing the complex layers to really come out. Finished perfectly dry with nice lingering bitterness.

OVERALL: This is the IPA I hold all others up against. For me and my pallet it's perfect. I 100% understand the hype behind this beer. From popping the bottle to the last sip out of my glass it never disappoints.

RATING: 5/5 Zombie Heads!

Serving type: bottle

03-07-2014 10:02:06 | More by BeerZombies1
Photo of Gfunk


4.96/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Amazing hop flavor,nice and clean and crisp. A friend of mine makes a Pliny clone home brew and it's spot on. Love this beer. Just wish I could get it more often. Haven't had the younger yet, but I've always been asking for it. Reminds me a lot of Heady Topper.

Serving type: bottle

03-05-2014 22:51:37 | More by Gfunk
Photo of berkshire413


4.39/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

On tap at Russian River in Santa Rosa, Ca

I for one enjoy hype surrounding a beer, were enthusiasts and to not get excited about a beer is just silly. Coming from the East Coast and having heard so much about this beer i was very excited to jump into a few of these on my vacation to San Francisco and the greater area. Unfortunately i thought Pliny the Elder was just Good, it wasnt Very good. I had rought a half dozen beers on the west coast i thought were better presentations. but i still enjoyed this beer

A - Great looking beer, was a deep Amber/orangish brew, had a nice fluffy head that retained well

S - Very jumpy pine and grapefruit at first gives way to a little dankier hops, but seemed less dynamic than i anticipated.

T - Grapefruite comes first and there is great balance in this beer with the strong hop notes and a nice malt backbone to hold it all together, only problem was it seemed like a short taste. there were flahses of citrus and some pine, but really not as robust and complex as many other IPAs i have had.

M - Mouthfeel was just right, had good carbonation, beer was very drinkable.

O - Overall Good beer, Very nice hop characters, very nice presentation. everything was very nice, i would buy this beer often if i lived out west, but there are many other beers i enjoy more, and i just cant give it a top score.

Serving type: on-tap

03-05-2014 22:38:42 | More by berkshire413
Photo of PSU_Mike


4.29/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Bottle poured into a tulip. Bottled 2/6 enjoyed on 3/4

A - Beautiful beer. Nice big fluffy white head, crystal clear body, lively carbonation. Pretty much perfect.

S - Citrusy cat pee. Sweet malt in the background. Pretty muted unfortunately.

T - Grapefruity hops. A hint of cat piss astringency. Very subtle sweet malt in the background.

M - Smooth as silk. Alcohol is not noticeable. Bubbles tickle the tongue. Just a subtle hint of bitterness lingers on the tongue. Really nice mouthfeel.

O - It really lives up to the hype. I could crush a couple of these really easily. I can think of a handful of beers I'd grab before this one but it's really well made and enjoyable.

Serving type: bottle

03-05-2014 02:11:35 | More by PSU_Mike
Photo of Copernicus


4.71/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured a 510 ml bottle into a Sam Adams custom (wish I had a craft IPA glass for this). I let it warm for about 45 mins before I poured it, too.

A: Pours a sharp, deep golden and shimmers with light amber fire. The clarity is sexy perfect. It forms some gnarly head, slightly off-white, many fingers, tight, and web-like with fabulous retention. I could stare it down all afternoon.

S: Better than the appearance. Bitter-sweet with fresh and cool pine sightly girded by sturdy citrus of grapefruit and tangerine. The malt is perfect; receding into the background, it leaves a delicate trace of light crunchy caramel and graham cracker. There is also a light fruit garnish of apricots...why not?

T: The most complex thing I've had to date. The front is floral and gives way to an apparent resiny hop presence. The malt structure is there but not the star, yet nor are the hops. The balance is the star--the narrative journey tasting this takes you on. It moves and changes within the seconds so overtly that you notice the process and the change. Very cool stuff.

M: Smooth and velvety.

O: See taste. It evolves. Every sip is a different story.

Serving type: bottle

03-03-2014 20:58:29 | More by Copernicus
Photo of Abra


4.71/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

The honorable Pliny the Elder!
I can't compare to Heady Topper since I haven't had the opportunity to try it yet, but this one takes the IPA crown for me.

Expertly balanced with a beautiful mix of interesting, diverse floral hops complemented by a smooth piney backbone. The malts do a wonderful job of calming the typical assertive bitterness of an IPA, and especially a double. That's what won me over...even though it has a high IBU, it definitely didn't come across as so.

The hype is most assuredly justified!

Serving type: bottle

03-02-2014 14:18:37 | More by Abra
Photo of MarkAvery


4.78/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Received a bottle in the mail from a good friend out in California. Having tasted Heady and knowing of the greatness of Pliny, I HAD TO HAVE IT!! Poured into a Tulip. Beautiful clear golden color with about a 1/4 head as compared to a more cloudy golden color of Heady. Smelled of amazing floral hoppyness. As far as a mouthfeel I felt it was a little thinner than Heady. VERY similar in taste to but with a little different finish at the end of a sip than Heady. All in All this beer is amazing and delicious. And left me wanting more and wanting to move to California for the rest of Russian River's lineup. Great stuff and I see why Heady and Pliny get so many comparisons.


Serving type: bottle

02-28-2014 15:48:59 | More by MarkAvery
Photo of Selbyg


4.8/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

The Elder. This is a great beer from Russian River. I like the hop notes in the smell and the nice bold finish. When trying this beer with a group a newer beer drinkers (21year olds) I was told it was the best beer they had ever had. They don't have a lot of time with craft beers but I like to think they will keep trying more of them after a taste of this little number.

Serving type: on-tap

02-27-2014 18:16:43 | More by Selbyg
Photo of BoardwalkBock

New York

5/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Thanks for Sebowksi for the trade. Had Pliny a few times before. Very fresh bottle. 2/14/14 This will be my first 5.

A: Tranparent, almost glowing golden hue with hints of straw and orange when held to the light.

S: Huge aroma. Citrus, grapefruit, pine, earthy notes. Bready malt background. Papaya? I dont know. Not trying to decipher this completely.

T: Simply amazing. Citrus, grapefruit, papaya, pine, resin. Big malt body. Alcohol is definitely detectable at the end but I don't mind. Very balanced.

M: Rather heavy. Nice bitterness. Smooth and crisp.

O: Pliny is amazing. Even better when it is super fresh. Always try this beer if you have the opportunity. Wish we could get this out here more often. True to the DIPA form.

Serving type: bottle

02-27-2014 02:41:07 | More by BoardwalkBock
Photo of LimpHarness


4.35/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Don't get me wrong, it's a superb beer...I just don't think it's worth the hype it receives, which I believe is due in large part to it's limited releases. I personally think Stone Enjoy By is an all around better crafted double.

I really hate having to type 250 words. The beer is good, but not the best...that is all.

Serving type: bottle

02-25-2014 22:54:30 | More by LimpHarness
Photo of Boto


4.55/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Draught @ Monk’s: My first impression was "what is all the fuss about?" So I asked our waitress if I had gotten the correct beer. She brought me another. As soon as I saw it we realized the first one was the wrong beer. They have Damnation on tap as well and mistakenly given me one of those. The Elder pours a darker golden color with about a finger of off white foam. It didn’t linger long but did leave a little lacing. The nose was huge! Lots of grapefruit and pine notes. Hard to smell the malts, but can faintly pick some up. The taste is excellent! Hops are not overpowering. Big malt body. Extremely well balanced. An extremely good beer.

Serving type: on-tap

02-23-2014 21:03:43 | More by Boto
Photo of macher0


4.73/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Thanks to Jake_ramrod for the share. He's the man.

Bottled on 2.6.14. Strong for enjoying in KY.

A. Light straw. Very translucent. Excellent clarity. Poured a minor head that quickly retreats to a fine-bubble rim.

S. Minor aroma. Very fresh. Fruity hops. A little straw.

T. Fresh and clean. Extremely smooth. The malts are very minimal and the hops very pronounce. The hops are more piney and resiny than fruity. No booze at all.

M. Super, duper smooth. Moderate carbonation. Light body.

O. Bam, a dang fine ale. I'm lucky to have the opportunity to try one. Worth the hype and certainly worth the trouble. The booze is extremely well hidden, considering the ABV. This has session written all over it.

Serving type: bottle

02-23-2014 00:39:23 | More by macher0
Photo of alucardswordlol

North Carolina

5/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On tap at monks cafe over the weekend. What else is there to say about Pliny thAt hasn't been 100 times. Terrific double IPA and the most balanced beer for its style I've ever had.

There are other IPAs that I like more but I believe Pliny is the best IPA out there true to style.

I'll never turn one down that's for sure.

Serving type: on-tap

02-22-2014 19:27:39 | More by alucardswordlol
Photo of dionito


4.68/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Bottled on February 6th, 2014, drank on February 19th, 2014.

Orange, super bright, white rocky head. Looks great in the Russian River pint glass I've been reserving for this for so long. We want this beer in WA!!

Really interesting beer. After serving it the hop aroma starts invading the room. Can feel it 2-3 feet away. Putting the nose in the glass makes it obvious, but not overwhelming. All kind of hops, dank, piney, fruity, citrusy. Malt is there too, way behind, though, but it's there.

Taste is hop forward, but balanced. So balanced it's incredible. Nothing goes out of proportion in this beer. Everything is exactly where it should be, everything is there but nothing is obvious. Not extremely bitter, highly drinkable. Something is sweet, but just right sweet. Just to balance the hops.

Mouthfeel is light, easy drinking. Maybe this is what drinkability means and not what the guys from the drinkability ads sell. Sip, gulp, want more, repeat, repeat. Darn, it's gone. Are you sure it was 8% ABV? Felt like nothing. I'd have another two, or three.

Not sure if it's the best IPA I've ever tasted it, but it's darn good. I hope I can go to Santa Rosa soon. I'll pack two cases of it and drive back. It will be an amazing month when I do it.


Serving type: bottle

02-22-2014 03:54:36 | More by dionito
Photo of FlopTheNuts


4.9/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Only reason I didn't give it a 5 is I need wiggle room for something I might taste down the road. But this lived up to its reputation. Double IPA that somehow manages to remain almost "light" in a perfectly balanced way. Hops were more floral than bitter. Amazing.

Serving type: on-tap

02-21-2014 16:08:58 | More by FlopTheNuts
Photo of Matt_Schlamann


5/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The perfect Imperial IPA. (In my opinion). The limited availability, even for Southern California, makes it more of a scavenger hunt to find it. The aroma is a dank, hoppyness that can't be beat. The taste is amazingly mouthwatering, getting better as you go. Mouth feel is a bit dry, but that's what I look for out of my beers. 5 across the board for this legend of west coast IPA's. Pay your respects to the originator.

Serving type: bottle

02-21-2014 12:23:06 | More by Matt_Schlamann
Photo of lanciloti


4.53/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into a snifter glass. (bottled 1/31/14)

Appearance: Nice, very clean and refined. Clear as can be with a nice white foamy head. Tiny bubbles with barely any alcohol legs. Golden sunset orange color.

Smell: Super piney and hoppy with some dankness. Just a tad bit of malt.

Taste: Great. Very smooth for 8%. You can tell this beer is made extremely well. Would like a little more malt for my taste, but not too bitter.

Mouthfeel: Dry and slightly bitter. Just enough malt and carbonation. Easy to drink compared to many others.

Overall: Very good, well made brew. Goes down very easy for a DIPA. Very piney and hoppy. Definetly worth seeking out and I will try to do so again. Cheers!

Serving type: bottle

02-21-2014 06:40:18 | More by lanciloti
Photo of mlhyatt


4.54/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottled1/31/14 drank 2/19/14

A- dark hazy gold. Thin head that dissipates to an outer lace.

S- pine is the main smell. Followed by some grapefruit lemon and other dry fruits and maybe some honey?

T- that hoppiness stands out so well in this beer. Fresh pine followed by a sugary molasses. Leaves a rather pleasant bitter woody finish. There is a thick malt backbone that helps support the hop character. Very nice taste. the fruitiness in this beer is very subtle but it lets you taste the sweetness after you endure the bitter hoppiness. Honey is present on the back end of the beer that blends well with the bitterness.

M- a little harsh. Pretty carbonated as well and finishes with a bite.

O- a very good beer. Although it tastes very similar to ither IPAs i've had. I love the smell of this beer the most. The taste is amazing with a balanced back bone of malt infused with the pine., It would probably take the list as my favorite if the fruits came through a little bit more in the taste.

Serving type: bottle

02-20-2014 06:11:05 | More by mlhyatt
Photo of brianmandell

New York

4.56/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle dated 2/6/14; 2 weeks old.

Pours a very clear golden color with retained fluffy head.

Smells so nice. Floral, pine, orange citrus hops on a background of sweet malt.

Taste of slightly sweet malts up front as the hops hit with floral and fruity light citrus tones. There are some light piney notes, almost a hint of mint. The finish ends long and dry with just a touch of spice and booze. There is some lingering grapefruit bitterness.

Medium bodied with a slightly viscous mouthfeel. Active, creamy carbonation.

Wonderfully balanced but big DIPA. This is one heck of a hoppy beer. The first time I tried it a number of years ago there was nothing else like it. Still top tier. I may prefer Abner and Heady.

Serving type: bottle

02-20-2014 02:06:10 | More by brianmandell
Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 8,764 ratings.