Pliny The Elder | Russian River Brewing Company

3,558 Reviews
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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: 3,558 | Ratings: 13,650
Photo of kels
4.57/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks so much to beerman207 and his wonderful wife who brought this back from a trip to Washington State. Split last night with them and bamadog.

Appearance: Pours into my tulip a light golden color with the slightest hints of amber/strawberry highlights. Skim of white oily lace is left from a 1/2 finger fast-fading head. Slippery, sticky lacing slides around the walls of the glass with the clear, somewhat viscous-looking carbonated liquid.

Smell: Smell is slightly sweet and slightly bitter, some dry, peppery rye or pumpernickel, light piney, oily hops, slightest fumes of alcohol. Really nice and surprisingly mild.

Taste/Mouthfeel: The taste is so impressively mild and well-balanced. Slight notes of many different hop profiles - floral, citrus and pine altogether. The pine shines through with toasty malts, slight stick-sweet and oily. Light bready grains and rye in the aftertaste along with a mild, yet ever-present alcohol vapor. Feel isn't terribly carbonated but really nicely matched with the style. It has some weight to it that fills the mouth well, but doesn't feel too heavy or sticky.

Drinkability: Surprisingly high for a DIPA. Doesn't drink so difficultly, but definitely puts the heat in the system quickly.

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Photo of bmcclure
4.74/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured a golden color with a thin white head. The aroma is amazing, floral, citrus, piney, it is like walking through a hop farm, exquisite.

The flavor is complex, you get some pine from the hop still, a little malt but mostly hop. This is a great beer for a hop head, I can find nothing to dislike about this beer.

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Photo of watkins
4.92/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks so much to bkrefetz for this one!

From notes:

Poured into a pint/table glass

A: Nice clear gold color with a tight head that laces nicely. Looks really deceive, in a good way.

S: Floral hops and sweet malt character combine to create a pleasant fruit/floral scent comparable to The Maharaja.

T: Immediate dirt/earthy, peppery hop flavor. God this is good. It transitions toward a fruity character while maintaining a crisp bite that isn't overpowering in the slightest.

M: Medium yet smooth carbonation wakes up the tongue to the earthiness of the hops showcased in this beer.

D: Despite the abv of this one, it is just way too easy to put back.

Well done, guys. Well done.

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

This is my first BA review. Went on a trip to CA bay area and found this in the cooler in a wine shop in Napa, and had to have it based on all the BA reviews I had read previously.

Bought the 500 ml bottles on 5/28 and noticed they were bottled on 5/26! Unfortunately we only had our plastic hotel water cups to pour into. It did pour a nice head which didn't linger long, and looked to be a deep golden color. (Hard to tell in the plastic cups.)

The smell and taste were very piney hops with undertone of grass and grapefruit. It felt very good in the mouth and had a long lingering bitter, but satisfying, aftertaste. For a high hop beer this is very drinkable.

Very good beer and very drinkable. I will definitely be getting this any chance I get! Haven't found it in AZ yet though.

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Photo of deltatauhobbit
3.95/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks to mlaroche for bringing this over from California for an in-person trade.

Bottled dated 04-07-09

Pours a bright golden/orange color with a good sized head, fades a little fast but leaves a little creamy looking head with some patchy lacing.

Smell is pretty much all bitter piney hops, slight citrus presence but wish for a larger one.

Taste is earthy piney hoppy goodness, fairly raw tasting with a bitter aftertaste, would have preferred a more citrus presence though.

A good tasting DIPA although I can't help but be a bit disappointed considering the massive hype around it.

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

Luckily, found this still available at Capone's this afternoon - 2 days for one keg of Pliny? ... Must be getting blasé

My second pour (yes, MF, I had TWO), was quite heady - about 2F of frothy white head - plenty of sticky lacing, and it was a partially opaque, orange color with some carbonation.

Lovely bouquet of floral, citrus, and piney hop - touch of malt in there as well. No turn-off from the alcohol, which can sometimes make a DIPA a bit scary.

Flavor & Mouthfeel was all-dat-n-more... Punch of west coast hop bite, but so well balanced with a rich, piney sweetness that it just makes you smile.

Drinkability for a DIPA is quite high, as the aforementioned balance keeps you coming back for more.

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Photo of mperrin
4.64/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Appearance - beautiful hazy, golden orange with a creamy white head... nice lacing

Smell - incredible bouquet of citrus - grapefruits, oranges, lemons

Taste - upfront citrus blast with a spicy bite. Back end of a sip settles into a nice, dry, almost mouth-puckering pleasingness. Alcohol is prevalent, but definitely in the background.

Mouthfeel - As I said before, very nice refreshing citrus up front followed with the impending dryness experienced by any IIPA.

Drinkability - Unbelievably refreshing, I could (and probably would if given the chance) drink this until sleep or unconsciousness sets in. The best IIPA I've had in terms of drinkability.

Overall, one of the better IIPA's I've had, though not the best. Overwhelming citrus taste, but lacking the complexity I expected. However, I would drink, refill, and drink again.

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Photo of Backer2004
4.49/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Okay, what a fantastic surprise to see this bottle sitting right in front of me for all to share last night at our beer festival meeting. It took all the power in the world to pay attention and not crack this one open right away. An hour into, however . . . it was very good, but honestly, not the best Imperial IPA I've tried. Yes, loads of citrus hops that were fantastic to the nose and tastebuds, but this beer's reputation was a little higher than what got. Still would love to get my hands on more, however.

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Photo of stephens101
4.67/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

My first RR brew. Highly anticipated, highly legendary, and I'm highly thirsty for some of that addictive bitter elixer called the double IPA. Thanks to jwelsh for the hookup.

Two fingers of foamy and bubbly light tan head sit atop a hazy and visually pleasing bright copper and orange brew. As the head recedes some broken sheets of lacing appear at first, and eventually diminish, turning into small dots. My wife likes the aroma, and that is promising. Or not. An initial whiff reveals some effulgent citrusy hops with some resiny notes mixed in. Upon a second whiff some orange peel, sweet bread and a hint of sweet malts figure into the equation. All the aromatic elements are distinct, yet concerted.

On the palate, citrusy and oily hops, sweet malts, bubblegum, cotton candy and lemon all exist. The taste is surprisingly subtle, and it's not the hop-bomb that was expected. This subtlety is it's genius, and sets it apart, as all the elements are noticeable, but cohesion usurps the extra bitter superfluity many DIPA's strive for. The alcohol is well concealed (although it becomes a bit more apparent as the brew warms) and the drinkability of this beer is stellar, especially taking into account the style. Mouth-feel is a pure medium; not overly heavy, and not overly light.

When I approach a beer that is this highly regarded across the board I have two initial thoughts. First I think that hype and trend probably sway a lot of folks, and it really can't be THAT good. Secondly I wonder if I might subconsciously rate the beer higher than I normally would, just because of the aforementioned hype, which can be very subconsciously persuasive.

I can honestly say negative to both counts, as this is beer lives up to it's name, and shows us why we rate beers, which is so we can explore our doubts, work through our skepticism and hopefully realize what each unique beer means to us good or bad.

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Photo of GarrisWH
4.77/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

poured from a 500ml bottle into a pint glass. Bottled on 4/29/09.

A - Pours a slightly hazy golden color with about one finger of white, fluffy head that leaves ample, sticky lacing. Nice retention on the head as well.

S - Very floral hops with a slight, sweet maltiness in the background. Complex hop aromas including citrus(grapefruit), some "flowery", and a bit of pine.

T - Quite similar to the smell. Citrus (mostly grapefruit) and pine flavors dominate with a very nice floral, hoppiness that has somewhat of a "flowery" quality to it in the background. Very intense and complex hop flavors with just enough light, sweet maltiness to balance it out. Nice level of bitterness that isn't too overdone.

M - Medium bodied with a fairly resinous mouthfeel. Fairly light on the carbonation. Smooth drinking.

D - For a DIPA clocking in at 8%, this beer is extremely drinkable. Very well balanced and it has so many nice hoppy flavors.

I must admit, I was somewhat expecting this beer to be overhyped, but overall, it is really just VERY well done. My first experience with Russian River, and certainly won't be my last.

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

WoW. This is one incredible brew. It has taken me way too long to try one of these.

500ml brown bottle with a bottled on freshness date.

Mildly hazy golden color, one finer of head leave a nice sticky lace.

Big hops on the nose, evergreen, lemon grass, orange citrus. I feel like there is a bit of pineapple there also but not sure.

taste is big hops up front as well. not too carbonated as evidenced by the look. a taste of yeast as well.

mouthfeel is full but silky smooth. this is a perfectly balanced DIPA IMO. I wish I had bought two of these right now.

drinkability - considering that i am almost finished with my 500ml before i finished the review says it all. I could have one of these a day... for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

cheers russian river

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

Had on tap at the RR Brewpub in Santa Rosa. While not quite up to the standard of its Younger nephew, a damn fine beer. Like the Younger, poured to a light orange-amber color, with thin white head and good lacing. The nose and taste, while a little subdues than PTY, were still strongly citrus hops with a hint of floral, as well as alcohol kicking in at mid-glass. Mouthfeel was dry and bitter, all rounding to a long, somewhat bittersweet finish.

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Photo of BitterPachyderm
4.64/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A huge thanks to Fetus for this one...once again, I will reiterate my not being a huge fan of DIPAs which kind of made me nervous about this brew. I didn't want to fall into that category of people who hate on the Elder.

I read the freshness date on this hop monster, 120508, and again, I have no clue what that meant. I read it as December 5, 2008, meaning...NOT FRESH! But I don't really know for sure...

Poured into my SN pint glass. So far, it reminds me of Blind Pig...two finger creamy head, with some sticky lacing. The body was a bit hazy with a burnt copper color.

The smell is not at all what I expected. It was somewhat simple like an IPA. Mostly spicy hops with some citrus notes. No real malt detected...very floral...lilac???

Taste...WOW!! Good solid hops up front, not faded as I would have expected(maybe I can't read the freshness dates right). There's that sweetness again. Is that a West Coast thing? This is what I call balance. Nice bitterness midpalate.

The mouthfeel is thick, yet smooth. It seems low on the carbonation, but it works here.

Drinkability...the alcohol is well hidden, making this a super refreshing quaffer of a beer!

Overall, is this the best beer in the world? IMO, no, but is it worthy of all the praise? Yes! If I could have one of these everyday, I would!

Rock on West Coast!

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Photo of jsapunor
4.65/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer is somewhat hard to find in my area but I was finally able to get a bottle and see if it lives up to the hype.

Poured from the bottle the thick white head sits atop the hazy golden beer. Hops dominate the aroma with stong pine and more subtle fresh fruit notes. The carbonation is just right. This is a smooth drinking beer.

This tastes terrific! Piny hops and some bitterness but not out of control. Russian River has kept this beer in perfect balance. Some alcohol later on. A refreshing sipper.

I'm a believer. Pliny is as good as they say.

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

500mL bottle at refrigerator temperature poured into a snifter. Bottle reads: "Bottled On: 040709." Acquired in a trade with twelvsies!

A - Clear golden brown with thick gorgeous head. Wonderful clarity and body.

S - Absolutely wonderful. Oranges, peaches, fresh flowers, a touch of pine. The hop character here is one-of-a-kind.

T - Crisp and fresh, this brew has the best flavor profile of any IPA I've tasted. The bitterness of the hops is perfectly matched by the malt. Lots of citrus - the orange and peach flavors stand out, as they did in the nose. I love the tropical fruit flavors, too: papaya, mango, even a touch of pineapple! The finish is long and complex - the floral notes on the nose come forward most prominently on the finish. So well-balanced and so addictive.

M - I can't get over the deliciousness of the citrus flavors - drinking this brew feels like biting into a ripe summer peach.

D - The hype is very well-justified on this beer. This is an absolute joy to drink. I would say that this is the best IPA I've ever tried, and maybe even the best beer I've ever tasted. I'm so glad that I finally was able to try this beer - do yourself a favor, and get your hands on a bottle! I can't imagine pairing this beer with anything; it is so exciting and extraordinary that it stands on its own.

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

Served on-tap at TND in a tulip glass

Pours an amberorange color with 2 fingers of fluffy white head with lots of lacing on the glass

All grapefruit - maybe a hint of pine at the end, but an amazing citrus presentation

A complex beer - citrus, a bit of spice, a bit of sweetness from the malts. Unique.

A sharpsmooth paradigm - the hops have a bit of a bite, but an oily smoothness at the end. Crisp, piny, and delightful. I could have a few but not too many in one sitting.

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Photo of gory4d
4.32/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled "040709."

Pours perfectly clear, a ruddy orange color with a white head three fingers high; the bubbles that make it up are pretty big, and there's a constant stream of little ones through and up. Lots of lacing down the tulip.

The smell is powerfully floral, like dandelion crossed with honeysuckle, maybe a little cedar scent.

The taste is all of those, with pine, leather, honey, some mineral tang. The finish is plenty bitter but not overwhelmingly so. There's very little alcohol burn. As it warms, the floral notes come out stronger.

It's mildly carbonated, seemingly a little more viscous as it warms.

It's one you want to gulp, but sip out of admiration.

An excellent beer. Wish it were easier to get out here in NYC.

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

bottle says 08/25/08
Too bad I couldnt find it fresher but wow what an experience. I paired with some spicy meaty spaghetti which really added to it.

Pliny the Elder keeps a thick and tall pillowy head all the way down with light carbonation. it is cloudy with very little amount of floaties. It does so much more than leave lace, it adds a whole white screen around the glass.

the smell is of citrusy hops and maybe some barely there caramel malt. The hops are so, idk, rich like passion fruit.

t- early light caramel right citrus and then more grassy hops, very enjoyable. an exciting load of candied mandarin oranges.

m- all the complexity of great hops and lots of hops with a great body. Now I am going back and raising my rating just one level because it lingers so nicely spicy almost sweet before it is a only a little bitter.

drinkablility- really good lingering and not very bitter, i notice no alcohol at all but i didnt notice until i started it is 8% abv.

incredible and worth trying for anyone that would ever like to drink a beer at all in a lifetime.

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

Appearance: Golden almost amber, Clear. Thick frothy head, most dissipated after first few sips, some remains.

Smell: Great hoppy smell, backed by floral aromas

Taste: Complete wonderful hoppiness followed by a smooth but bitter finish

Mouth feel: Moderate carbonation

Overall a great beer, been away from the hops for a while through the winter but this one hooks me right back in. Would recommend most definitely.

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Photo of theopholis
3.96/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance- Very clear, deep amber body. Nice, foamy, 1 finger head with lots of staying power and lace. No effervescence at all once it settles down. Very nice looking tho.

Smell- Clean, hoppy, slightly bready. Notes of citrus. Quite inviting.

Taste- Mmmm...hoppy....aurghghgh. But seriously, nice blend of up-front hops with malt and malt sweetness. Obviously, the hops dominate. Notes of pine and citrus come through loud and clear. This ain't the best DIPA I've ever tasted, but it's pretty damn good.

Mouthfeel- Medium body, good carbonation. Nothing great, but it fits well within the style guidelines.

Drinkability- It's delicious, but one is definitely enough for a sitting.

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

Appearance: Deep golden color. Thick head that dissapates relatively quickly.
Smell: Hops, hops and more hops. Need I say more?
Taste: So good it should be illegal. Big on the hops, but yet it has a good malty backbone. The alcohol is fairly well hidden. Damn tasty brew.
Mouthfeel: Great carbination that dances on the tongue.
Drinkability: Luckily for me the only place that I can find it near me is relatively far away. If not I may become more of a drunkard. Excellent brew worthy of the hype.

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Photo of porntipsguzzardo
4.87/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Excellent. Piny, citrusy, flowery, but with a slight, sweet malt backbone - though not too sweet. Perfectly balanced. Smells of flowers and oranges and puppy dogs and other lovely things. Not too strong, which means it's extremely drinkable (though hard to find and kind of expensive). My new favorite IPA.

Edit: Would like to go back and renege on my "expensive" comment. I think maybe the place I found it at last was dillweeding the prices. Surprisingly cheap whenever I've had it since.

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

A- deep gold, crystal clear, creamy head disappears, leaving beautiful white lacing

S- huge floral and piney hops!

T - hops are clearly up front, a touch of sweetness on the back, but pine, resin bitterness is prevalent

MF- clean, smooth, with a light to moderate carbonation

D- absolutely on my drink again list.

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

Super Fresh dated 042909 - I'm really gled to try this as fresh as possible.

First impression: Delicious but disappointing. I was really expecting this to be way better than Hopslam and Nugget Nectar.

Lighter in color than most DIPA's...moderate head. Aroma is of fresh hops, like you just opened a package.

Taste is predominantly fresh hops. The malt is a bit thinner than Nugget Nectar but a bit thicker than Stone IPA. The crafting of this beer is impressive. It is not a hop tea, but the malt does not get in the way of the all. It is very well "balanced". Maybe a bit heavy on the grapefruit for me...

Carbonation is a bit high, but the mouthfeel and drinkability are both excellent.

This beer is delicious, but I wouldn't say it is much better than fresh Stone IPA...definitely not 3X as good.

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

golden, light orange....very little finger head that becomes a thin layer leaving very sticky lacing

not much going on in the nose....sweet caramel malt is present...dominated by hops...citrus with some hints of pine

nice balance of citrus hops and pine accents...sweet malt and caramel...light toasted grain...predominant grapefruit as the beer warmed

medium bodied,,,moderate carbonation...creamy with a slight bitterness on the tongue

this is a beer to savor if it only makes brief appearances at you local beer bar...being on the east coast we rarely see this beer so i try and make the best of it when it comes around

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Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 3,558 ratings.