Dismiss Notice
Save $5 when you subscribe to 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine by selecting auto-renew.

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join Our Email List →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.
Dismiss Notice

Pre-order your Respect Beer "Hipster" Hoodie today!

Plus: Free shipping (US only) on orders of $25 or more until 12/18/15. Just select "Free Shipping" at checkout.

Shop now →

Pliny The Elder - Russian River Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder

Educational use only; do not reuse.

3,473 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 3,473
Hads: 13,121
Avg: 4.6
pDev: 15.43%
Wants: 6,666
Gots: 3,318 | FT: 97
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: 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: 3,473 | Hads: 13,121
Photo of beerad666
4.72/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

What a fabulous DIPA. The Pliny The Elder pours a light golden orange with a small soft off white head. The lacing that is left behind once that head resides is very nice leaving behind fine bubbles like you just washed your glass with soap. The hop aroma hits you before you even bring the glass to your nose. Citrus and pine come through so wonderfully. The taste is what you would expect from the aroma and it being a DIPA. Lots of great bite from the hops with a slight sweetness to wash it all away. It is light with a ton of complex flavors... just makes you smile. This is the nectar of the gods. I could drink this all night and still want more.

 653 characters

Photo of mongee
4.47/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml bottle (3/23/09) poured into pint glass 5/5/09

Appearance: golden orange, some head, sticky lacing

Smell: Citrus, fruity hops/pine

Taste: Spicy, dry, intensely hoppy/piny, mild malts

Mouthfeel: relatively high carbonation, light-medium body, crisp, dry, and creamy

Drinkability: my first DIPA...possibly could have another, but still getting used to IPA's/DIPA's

 373 characters

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

Very seductive DIPA. Pours a peachy amber to golden color with white head that starts thick and dissipates to a thin layer that lasts well. Lace is present.

Nose is the best feature of this ale. I get an appetizing tropical fruit, and perhaps we could call it candied tropical fruit like in those tropical versions of trail mix, where you might get some coconut thrown in for good measure. I'm also picking up something that is in the direction of mango with pineapple.

Taste is grassy and dry up front, with a reflexive mouth pucker from the hops leaping across the palate. Not a lot of malt here, and the alcohol is amazingly subdued.

The hoplover will relish this one but if you're not into the style I can see why some see it as too much.

 746 characters

Photo of rmaste6282
4.62/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

500ml bottle of Pliney the Elder from a local liquor store that has a decent selection of craft brews (Farr Better Spirits). Poured it into a typical pint at room temp.

A: Nice light amber with over 1" of head, but doesn't last overly long.
S: Great smell of hops, a little sour smelling (in a good way)
T: Good malt flavor with plenty of hops, malts last after beer is gone. Definately some citrus hints in there.
M: Pretty carbonated, medium body
D: Great showing for a Imperial IPA, can't go wrong with it

 509 characters

Photo of augustgarage
4.4/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 500mL bottle into my Dogfish Head shaped pint glass. Opened and consumed 10 days after it was bottled.

Liquid is a clear SAE/ECE amber, a large seashell head blooms rapidly with promising retention. The lacing is dense and adhesive, and fine bubbles surface continuously as you drain the glass, nearly to the very bottom.

The nose erupts with hops, but presents cleanly: grapefruit, pineapple, tropical flowers, a little grass too once it begins to warm.

A malt backbone balances the hop flavors and relieves the palate from the bluntness of astringency; though, the astringency is there in successive waves well into the finish. At the end of the finish it isn't clear if it is a mild sweetness arriving or a bitterness departing, either way it is very pleasant.

Light-bodied, highly carbonated, slightly warming...

As others have said "a showcase for hops."

 880 characters

Photo of alleykatking
4.42/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The bottle I am reviewing I got in a trade with bkrefetz...thanks Brett you made my day!

A- Poured into a pint glass. Nice hazy dark golden orange with a 1/4 inch head that stayed for a little bit leaving nice and sticky lacing on the sides.

S- Huge grapefruit smell to it with little notes of citrus. Also a little sour note to it. Very faint bready smell to it. The hops for sure overpower everything else in the smell.

T- Oh man that is a wonderfully fantastic beer. There is a nice underbalance of malts and hops with the hops taking more of a high road. But still this seems to be a really balanced beer. Does that make any logic at all??? Nice crisp hop bite with grapefruit and citrus tones to it. I can taste a little malt backbone but not much.

M- Good carbination..making the mouthfeel lighter and seem to float over the palate. Nice hop oily feel on the tounge that makes this beer stick around for a while once it goes down the hatch.

D- This thing is so dangerously drinkable. I only say that because I could see myself drink a lot of these if I didn't have to trade for them. Once I do get them in though they never last long.

Russian River I am angry that I can't get you in Indiana. Luckly I have college kids who come into my store that live there and bring some back for me at times. Or else I have to trade.

 1,335 characters

Photo of zeff80
4.84/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A - Poured out a somewhat cloudy, orange color with golden highlights. It had a small, thick, foamy head that left soapy trails of lace.

S - Tons of grapefruit aroma; really amazing! There were mild notes of pine and caramel.

T - It hits you with a tart ruby red grapefruit taste and sweet orange peel flavors. The burnt toast caramel flavors add balance to the strong fruit taste.

M - It was crisp and sharp with a dry finish. A medium bodied ale.

D - This truly lives up to the hype. Fans of HopSlam will like the Elder, too.

 531 characters

Photo of bwd110
4.65/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Received this in trade from jadamski1 (thanks josh)

Have had the elder on tap in the Philly area a bunch of times now, good to sit down with a bottle relaxing at home...

on label: bottled on 04/07/09
500ml bottled poured into DFH snifter

A: Golden straw color, somewhat murky. Nice fluffy pearl white head. Somewhat short retention, yields way to sudsy lacing.

S: Just beautiful. Sweet citrus and grassy pine notes dominate. Hint of breadiness suggests good malty balance in this brew. A delight to sit back and breathe this in.

T: I'm ready to move to California. Wonderful citrus and tropical fruit notes mixed nicely with grassy, resinous pine hops. The blend of the hops and malt is perfect. No real sweet or caramel notes from the malt, just a nice earthy balance to the intense hop flavor.

M: Perfect carbonation, medium body, covers the palate well. The perfect finish. I'll say it again - creamy smooth, then dry bitter crisp and gone in a heartbeat. Perfect.

D: You couldn't pry this out of my hands. Why doesn't a Russian River pipeline to my home bar exist?

There's nothing else to say about this beer that others haven't. Damn fine beer, wonderfully crafted.

 1,179 characters

Photo of HalfFull
4.17/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Unimpressed by Blind Pig on tap I gave it a chance from the bottle. It failed but I thought I'd do the same for the Elder. Decent on tap but not overwhelming, I've found a sample bottled all of 7 days ago. Fresh is best they say, doesn't get much fresher.

Poured from a 500 ml. bottle into a large wine glass, this guy pours a similar golden honey in color yet offers a nice half inch of medium density slightly off white head which leads to some nice lacing, eventually just some scattered surface bubbles remain.

Smell too is improved in the bottle vs. the tap. The same blast of hops is there but a bit more complex. Improving as it warms to offer some ripe fruit and occasional pine notes.

Taste is interesting with some citric notes initially, a hop oil flavor in the middle, finishing somewhat coarse and bready. At first this hit me a bit too hard and had a smoky flavor, becoming more balanced with a little exposure. Somewhat creamy on the feel as the carbonation settles a bit too swiftly exposing the malt underbelly and segueing to the thinness of it's tap version. Still highly drinkable, particularly given the strength, and I can now see some association to the Younger in this bottled version.

Surely better than the tap glass I had and surely much fresher at 7 days old. I might have confused this with Pure Hoppiness, though perhaps a bit more viscous and buttery. Yet in the end good, quite good, but not great.

 1,435 characters

Photo of richtersf
4.62/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Requested this at the Co-Op in Moscow, Idaho and was very pleased when it came in due to its reputation. Was a little sad to see it priced at over $6. Whatever, picked 2 up and brought them home to find myself very happy with the beer.

A- an orangy brown with pure almost guiness white head

S- medium to heavy hop scent with hints of orange

T- heaven. Tried the first beer freezing cold but found more flavor waiting as it got warmer. Great hop mix blended well with notes of orange, perhaps pine, and definitely grapefruit. Tastewise, has the complexity I wish every beer did.

M- good carbonation, a bit heavy on the texture for me, but still a good medium texture

D- a little on the filling side but still couldn't get enough

Overall, a fantastic beer tastewise and in my top 5 ipas. Wish it wasn't so expensive but it's understandable. Cheers!

 852 characters

Photo of Thorpe429
4.2/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Jerk44 for this one.

A: Orange colored with a good head and plenty of lace.

S: Lots of hops, backed up by some nice citrus and tropical fruits.

T: Much like the smell, with the hoppiness taking over a little bit in a good way.

M: Medium-bodied with a good amount of carbonation. The alcohol is barely present.

D: All around a very good beer. Absolutely cannot wait for August to get out to California and try this one on tap.

 441 characters

Photo of Yesac
4.02/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to supermanjace for trading me this 500ML bottle with a bottled on date that is 3 weeks old. Umm fresh Pliny.

A- Very clear orange in color. Small bubbly white head.

S- Big freshly cut grass fresh hop skunk smell.

T- Along with the smell.. fresh cut grassy tones.
Very sweet bold bitterness from the hops. Piney. Punget fresh hops cling to the palate and taste is residual in between sips. So where is the balance? Ninja bready malt notes rise up at the very end. There is malt here indeed. This brew lacks complexity.

M- Thick bodied. Great coating of taste evenly layers the palate. Medium/high carbonation.

D- Hop heads dream in a bottle. Easy drinking. I love the freshness. I think overall the bitterness is just a tad over the top.

 751 characters

Photo of YonderWanderer
4.3/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a clear, clean copper with a thin layer of foam on top. It fades quickly leaving slight rings of lace.

S: Big pine hops lead the way. Hints of resin, and a bit of citrus around the edge. This is one hoppy f'n beer.

T: Taste follows suit. Huge pine hop flavor with an edge of resin on the side. A tinge of citrus lasts throughout as well. Malt is there to provide balance, but doesn't really impact flavor. Alcohol warms a tiny bit, but is hidden by the hops.

M: Crisp, smooth, and proper carbonation. Nice dry, hoppy finish in this one.

D: This is a powerfully hoppy brew, and one sure to destroy your taste buds with its hoppy goodness. Great brew for a hophead. I could drink 'em all the time.

 712 characters

Photo of amneziak
4.57/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Like Russian River's other IPA, Blind Pig, Pliny the Elder pours a bit lighter than one would expect of an IPA. This one is a slightly cloudy pale orange color with a very nice amount of lacing that coats the glass. There is not a severe amount of head, but enough to really help carry the aromas and open the beer up in the mouth.

Smell: The smell is one of the truly remarkable elements of the beer. I don't think I've smelled an Imperial IPA that is this clean before. The hops are very bright here and smell just like you'd want them to smell. It doesn't take on too much of the pineapple and mango qualities as much as it does peach and mango. This is definitely one of the more supreme smelling hop beers I've tried.

Taste: Along with the aroma, the taste of this beer is very clean and hoppy. There is a fair amount of bitterness that does take over the flavor. I'm surprised at how light this tastes, but that is one of the great things about Russian River - they always make clean and intensely flavored beers. I'm really loving just about everything that's hitting my mouth right now.

Mouthfeel: I would say this is medium bodied just bordering on being light. As I said, the bitterness is very nice and the light nature of the beer makes this very enjoyable on the palate. If this were something I could get on a regular basis, this would be my BMC of choice. Very drinkable indeed.

Overall: As with most people outside the small distribution area of Russian River I had really high expectations for this beer. I can tell you that my expectations were met and maybe even exceeded a bit. I had previously had the Blind Pig, which seemed very subtle (yet well-made), and the same can be said about Pliny. While it is definitely more intense than Blind Pig, it's not as big as some of the other greats (Dreadnaught, Hop Stoopid, Hopslam, etc). It is, however, worthy of all the praise it gets and deserves to a place in the ring with the others.

The Grand Ole Hopry

 2,040 characters

Photo of nanobrew
4.67/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A - Has a golden/orange hue with a strong off white head. There is a constant flow of carbonation bubbles flowing to the top. Film left on the glass follows the beer as it lowers, the head does dissipate after a while.

S - oranges and pine

T - There are definite pine notes from the hops, but well balanced with malty sweetness. The hops bitterness tingles first, followed by the smooth sweetness of the hops. There is a slight refreshing burn at the back of the throat, either from the hops or the alcohol.

M - Crisp, slightly burning from the hops, but smoothed by the malt.

D - easily drinkable for all occasions, especially with the relatively high ABV.

 661 characters

Photo of Duhast500
4.85/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

My 150th review:

Poured from a 22oz. bottle into a pint glass.

The color a light yellowish orange, hazy with a great amount of foamy and bubbly white head.

The smell is very piny. The floral hops are very evident here. It tickles your nose and gives you a preview of things to come.

Finally the taste, the taste that has been building for months and it is good. The amount of hops is pushing through all other flavors. Being an IPA it gives you just the right amount of hops, floral and some citrus hops as well.

It has a great feel to this beer. It is a fantastic brew. An IPA for the ages and it really is worth the wait.

 628 characters

Photo of jake19drinks
4.97/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Ive been fortunate to have had Plenty before and I would definetly have to say not as excited due to the last batch. This one had a light amber ale appearance. The previous one was a much lighter color close to yellow. Still all and all I thought it good representation.

S: The smell is overwhelming of wonderful hops. Highly intense aroma right off the bat. Very pleasing to the nose for
those who love a good wake up call.

T: The first sip I took was wonderful. Immediately covering my tongue with some intense hoppy oil. Not really much of a trace of malt. I mean it's there but that's not what you'll find in front. It's something I can sip on all day and night.

M: Mouthfull is very nice. It's makes me want to swish around my mouth for a while then finish up with a nice gargle before swallowing.

D: This is a no brainer. If I could get this on a regular basis I would be their biggest contributor.

 915 characters

Photo of drgonzo3705
5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottled 04/07/09

A: It pours a beautiful pale amber color with a thin soapy looking head. Nice sticky lacing left behind.

S: Huge grapefruit up front with some other citrusy flavors blending in. You also get a really big whiff of sweet oily hops.

T: Big on grapefruit and citrus again. Nice oily hop flavors saturate your tongue on its way down. Finishes slightly dry with a very pleasant bitterness.

M: Its actually pretty full bodied, but its not as heavy as some other full bodied IPAs.

D: I love fresh Pliny. Phenomenal example of the style I would drink this beer anytime, anywhere!

 595 characters

Photo of katan
4.2/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml into a pint

A - Pours an orangy hue of a color. Head formation is fairly strong, but breaks down to a light white film. A bit hazy - not very filtered, but I don't think it is yeast.

S - Ahh - a RR beer, can't miss it. Very earthy spicy hop slap to the face. Reminds me of a field on a hot Iowa summer day - like pollen. I can't detect much more than hops, hops, and more hops.

T - Starts off more sweet than I thought it would be - generous amounts of two-row sweetness here. Mid-stream the bitterness builds very quickly. Finishes with a hard hit of the earthy hops detected in the smell. Aftertaste is more of the same hop bite, but it almost tastes like a malt+hops science experiment on my tongue. By far a hop assertive ale, but not near as out of balance as I found blind pig.

M - I find this beer to be moderate to light in weight for the DIPA style. What is there is built on a creamy body and not really from the carbonation. The alpha acids that this beer is undoubtedly made from leave an oily texture on the tongue.

D - Not sure how to define drinkability here - this beer's abv isn't too bad but at the same time the alpha acid beat down does begin to wear on me. Not filling - so as far as DIPAs go, I can probably handle this one well.

A strange experience - I love the beer but at times I feel like I'm gnawing on a plant while walking beans back home.

 1,382 characters

Photo of JamesP123
4.82/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served from bottle. Bottled on 4/7/09 - drinking as I type.

A. A dark yellow hue, not quite an orange or amber color. Half inch of slightly off white head. A tad bit darker color and it would have been a 5.

S. Oh man, great piney scent, grapefruity with a little malty sweetness. Smell is intoxicating.

T. Amazing balance of hops and malt. The flavor is delicate yet powerful, and not over the top. Mildly bitter, just enough to keep you coming back. Not going to eat your tastebuds like other IIPA's.

M. Mouthfeel is smooth with small carbination. Crisp bite rolls across yuor tounge. Not overly thick or resiny as one might expect from all the Hop flavor.

D. May be the most easliy drinking IIPA I've ever had. A truly epic beer that sets the bar for IIPAs

 763 characters

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

Poured from a bottle (bottled about a month ago, 03/23/09) into a large red wine glass.

A: Pours a semi clear orange amber, with about a finger of near white head. Pretty good lacing.

S: Strong smell, of hops, pine, hints of fruit. Smells great.

T: Much like the nose, hoppy but balanced, great hop aftertaste. All kinds of flavor, and the alcohol is hidden.

M: Good carbonation and smooth, a little sticky.

D: Could keep going and going, but the ABV would eventually put an end to that.

This is a great beer, and you should try it if you can. On tap if you can find it, but from the bottle it's still great.

 614 characters

Photo of alovesupreme
4.42/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in a snifter. It should be noted that the bottle was about 6 months old.
A dark yellow color with a little haze. An interesting head that was not foamy but bubbly and looked like soap bubbles.
Lots of pineapple, honey, a little alcohol and white pepper.
Spiked pineapple juice is probably the dominating feature. Once again honey is present along with orange and a slight hop bite.
Very syrupy consistency, would be nice if a little more carbonation was present.
A fantastic beer. Im sure that when this beer is fresh it is at the absolute top.

 553 characters

Photo of seaoflament
4.7/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I bought this bottle yesterday at SouthBay Drugs and Liquor. I first reviewed this beer from the tap during the Stone 11th Anniversary Event, back in the summer of 07. Just recently I noticed that I haven't reviewed this beer from the bottle and that tap review doesn't do this beer justice so now I'm reviewing this beer from the bottle. Bottled on: 040709...How is that for fresh!

Into my Pizza Port pint glass it goes. Pours a golden orange color with a rocky two fingers of foam. Great retention with some lacing.

Juicy orange, grapefruit, sweet lemon, and hints of pine with a sweet cracker and caramel malt background. A little more pine and some grass later on. More tropical aromas of tangerine, apricots, papaya, nectarine, peach, and some mango. A bit of orange candy too.

Very similar to how it smells. Starts off with a combination of bitter orange and caramel malt with a bit of toast as well. Medium bitterness with orange zest, lemon zest, caramel malts, toast, and a pine finish. There's also some bitter nectarine, un-ripe apricot, and a fruity alcohol just barely noticeable in the finish. A bit of orange candy near the middle with dry and bitter lemon in the finish. After a few sips I can taste hints of papaya near the end...not a big fan of papaya but I sure don't mind it in my pliny. There's just so much flavor in this beer. There is quite a bit of hop flavor (fruity, citrus, piney, grassy, slightly herbal) and then the light caramel, cracker, and toast malt so perfectly balanced.

So smooth with medium-low carbonation. Truly a benchmark for the double IPA category.

 1,600 characters

Photo of mullenite
4.03/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Not a 100% fresh bottle but I won't get to drink this again anytime soon so I'll review it anyway. It's about 3 months old.

8/17/09 - Had a fresher bottle (about a month and a half old) last night so I will update my review as such.

Poured a slightly hazy light orange with a TALL foamy white head and thick beautiful lacing all the way down to the bottom of the glass.

Smell is very strong pine hops, no notable malt character to the scent at all, just pine hops. [Fresher bottle had a slightly more noticeable citrus/grapefruit thing going on mixed in with the pine but not very strong. Scent is still dominated by pine]

Taste is, again, mainly pine hops. Maybe a slight biscuity malt flavor in the background but the pine malt stands out the most. Some grassiness as well with very little grapefruit lingering on the back of the tongue. [The slight malt flavor in the taste of the older bottle isn't there, the beer is not overly bitter but the flavor of the hops is the strongest part.]

Medium body with perfect carbonation and a bit of a sticky finish. The hop taste lingers for some time.

Very easy to drink, I can't imagine how hoppy this stuff is a couple days away from the brewery.

[Overall, having the notes to compare to there was little difference in a 3 month old bottle and a month and a half old bottle, despite what the brewery says this beer seems to hold up just fine for at least 3 months. It's close enough that I don't need to change any of the review numbers.]

 1,492 characters

Photo of Nick3
4.38/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Beer has a bottled on date of 030909. Poured into my Piraat tulip, the cloudy apple juice colored beer looks more like an unfiltered hefeweiss than an IPA. 3 cm head fades quickly but leaves some nice lacing. Nose is pure floral hops and it smells great, nothing else there that I can detect though. Taste is very smooth and perfectly balanced. Hops linger from the start to finish but are never over pronounced. Malt balances the beer throughout. Beer is light bodied and it's tough to detect the alcohol, hard to believe we're looking at 8% on this one. I feel like I could session this beer but I'm sure it would catch up to me quickly.

 639 characters

Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 3,473 ratings.