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Pliny The Elder | Russian River Brewing Company

3,554 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: 3,554 | Ratings: 13,632
Photo of MacDomer
4.47/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks for the trade, MasterSki.

A - Pours straw yellow with the slightest bit of haze. Color makes it appear a bit thin and light for a DIPA. A one finger white head that quickly faded. Terrific sticky lacing.

S - Loads of hops. Pine, pineapple, citrus, mango, cotton candy. Slight herbal, grassy notes as well. Initial hoppy nose is followed by some mild sweet bready malts. Impressive balance up front.

T - Piney hops on the open. Transitions to some tropical fruits (pineapple, grapefruit, mango). Sweet citrus through the finish. Very clean. Delicous.

M - Medium bodied. A bit on the lighter side for a DIPA, actually, but not light overall. Moderate carbonation allows this silky smooth beer to just glide over the tongue. Very smooth, creamy even. A bit of hoppy resin on the finish. Nicely dry. No alcohol at all.

D - Extremely drinkable. I'm at the end of my bottle and could easily drink another. Terrific balance.

My first bottle. This was excellent, but not the best I've had. Still, really excellent!

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

A: Lightly clouded gold color. Poured a 2 finger off-white head with good retention. Ample lacing. Lightly decanted.

S: Citrus, piny, hop aromas - that's about it.

T: Citrus and hops. Some bitterness in the finish is very cleansing.

M: Medium body. Well-carbonation. Goes down surprisingly smooth.

D: Drinkability betrays its big hoppy flavor and abv...dangeroiusly drinkable.

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

Thanks to gford217 for the Nascar LIF and the trade!

A - Beautiful looking beer. Pure white head with great retention and awesome cascading effect when poured. Very cloudy golden color that varied in shade throughout.

S - Huge citrus nose, especially grapefruit, with spices mixed in. Some caramel maltiness as well.

T - Exactly what I would expect for an imperial IPA. Big bitterness and nice hop flavor. Very acidic grapefruit and lemon notes. Spices here and there. Aftertaste wasn't as tart as I thought it would be.

M/D - Medium body and very clean mouthfeel. Oh, so easy to drink. Amazing brew.

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Photo of pwoods
4.12/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to tprokop for sending this growler awhile back. Review and score taken from notes a couple months ago.

2L cool ass RR fliiptop growler poured into a snifter.

A: Golden orange, good clarity. Strong head, retention and lacing.

S: Strong citrus, grapefruit, and pine. Not overly resinous. Good sweet biscuity malts.

T/M: Exactly the same as the nose. Bitterness is at a good level but I'd like to see more. Creamy body, medium full. Carbonation has held up nicely.

D: Actually very good for a DIPA. Much more drinkable than Younger but not nearly the same beast.

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Photo of Douglas88
4.15/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle generously shared by footbalm, thanks man! Pours a clear golden hue with a tall and thick white head. The aroma is great; tons of sweet citrus hops, a full grapefruit, some sweet fruits, and a background of pine. The flavor was so easygoing and yet so awesome; dominated by a citrus hop flavor, some bitterness getting through but the sweet ripe citrus hop flavors rule the day here. Not overly complex, but very quaffable and excellent. I could drink 20 of these. A nice full body too.

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Photo of Reagan1984
4.92/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

You can imagine how excited I was to see Pliny on the tap list at Falling Rock Tap House last night. I almost jumped out of my skin.

Pliny the Elder lives up to it's reputation. I would have NEVER guessed it was an 8% ABV. And a fresh Hob bomb.... Just awesome. Definitely not a beer living just off reputation. This is the real deal. One I wish I could drink all the time.

The beer was a light gold and very translucent. Very little head.

Aroma was unreal. Like holding a bouquet of flowers. So fresh, perfume like and full of citrus notes. One of the greatest smelling beers I've ever seen.

Flavor was so awesome and well balanced. So much hop flavor yet still a smooth and balanced tone from front to back. Pine, citrus, Pine, citrus.

Mouth feel was a little lighter than I had expected. It's bigger than most IPA's but a bit lighter than most DPA's Definitely lighter and color and feel.

Just an unreal beer. Definitely goes into my top 10. (perhaps top 5)

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

Appearance - Light golden. Very little head, but nice lacing down the side of the glass.

Aroma- hops and more hops. it smells like a flowershop on a barnyard. dank and musky and floral at the same time

Mouthfeel - kind of thick for an IPA. a little syrupy.

Flavor-hops and more hops. And then some more hops. About half way through the glass you get some malts. you are just hit over the head with hops, but it's awesomely balanced.

Overall- Awesome.

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

A- This beer looked like a thinner version of Grade A honey, with maybe a little bit of head. I'm sure the growler pour didn't do much for the head, but whatever. I'm too excited to care about head.

S- Pine and a smidge of honey. Yum.

T- This is, by far, the cleanest IPA I've ever had. The hops are the star of the show, here, but overall it's a wonderful mix of bitterness and sweetness. To speak in terms of literature, it is the greatest example of unity in the taste of an IPA i've had. It tastes like an IPA should.

M- Clean as hell, but perhaps a bit thin.

D- The relative lack of availability of this beer in the Midwest prevents me from saying this, but I probably could have this every day. IPAs aren't necessarily my first choice, but this was really quite nice.

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Photo of GeoffM
3.6/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance - Medium-hued golden color with a smallish head that never fully disappeares. Intersting color, almost like a lager (not quite though).

Smell - Piney, smells like an evergreen forest. Hops are quite apparent, naturally. Very citrusy.

Taste - Wow, pretty darn smooth for an IPA. Certainly hoppy but far from overpowering. Very palatable, tastes much the same way it smells with pine/citrus-tasting hops dominating. Not the greatest finish, and it's best not to let it sit around as the bitterness gets worse. It took me a while to finish and the last bit was much less drinkable than at the beginning. Alcohol not hidden incredibly well.

Overall - A very nice, approachable IPA. It's hard to believe it's a double/imperial IPA since it went down easier than most "regular" IPAs I've had. Good introduction to the style.

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

Pours amber with a sizable head and very good lacings.
Aroma is strong floral resinous hops.
Taste is very powerful bitter citrus orange grapefruit hops. Just enough sweet malts to tame the beast. The resins coat the tongue so tasting any other beer afterwards would be difficult. Unless it is another Pliny.
The only drawback to this beer is a smaller than normal bomber size. 16.9 ounces. But as a special brew I give it a big thumbs up!

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Photo of hwwty4
3.7/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Julian for this one.

This is about my 3rd go around with this beer and now I'll finally get around to reviewing it. Poured a 16.9oz bottle into my Tripel Karmeliet glass. This beer pours a translucent shade of light copper with sticky lacing all the way down the glass. The aroma is like a cut fresh pine tree mixed with tangerines and just a slight bit of malty sweetness. The taste is a full frontal assault with a pine branch. The piney notes are really an affront to the palate but the strange thing is it finishes really watery. I figured there would be a bigger bang at the end. The mouthfeel is a bit boozy and astringent but it does create a nice piney mouth coating. This is a good beer, but honestly, I think its kind of a product of the hype machine.

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Photo of charlzm
3.98/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Consumed 11/07/08. Bottle labeled, "Bottled on 092208".

Beer pours a light honey tinted gold with a frothy, two-finger off-white head that soon settles to a fine froth. Copious lacing. Little active carbonation.

Very aromatic beer: piney hops. Sweet. Trace of peppery character as well.

Slightly slick, slightly thick texture.

Flavor is strong, but balanced. Some caramel and/or crystal malt segues smoothly into a citrus medley (bitter orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit), some pine and slightly floral hop finish. Bitterness is present and somewhat muted, establishing a sort of flavor floor or background of slightly hot, peppery bitterness that hovers at the edge of perception at all times.

You MUST be a hophead to truly enjoy this beer. It is well-executed and bold, but I personally find it overbearingly hoppy.

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Photo of strangebrew52
4.57/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Pours a nice golden color, decent head leaves lacing all the way down, it's a beautiful thing

S: Citrus, Piny, hoppy aromas. Smells like an IPA should

T: Nice and hoppy, citrus flavor. Some bitterness but not overpowering.

M: Medium body with some slight carbonation. Goes down surprisingly smooth.

D: This is one of my favorite IPA's, I could sit and have a few of these. I just wish I didn't have to wait until friends from out West come home to restock!

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Photo of ampzilla
4.25/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to jctribe25 for the chance to try this.
I received this as a generous upgrade for the Bonus prize in his West Coast Traveler LIF.
Bottled 081308

Ahh, Pliny. You sit in my tulip glass with a nice thick mat of fine bubbles atop your hazey coper self. Though your hops have faded some, they still dominate the aroma with a slight hint of alcohol. Your taste is first bitter with classic west coast grapefruit right behind. Little coating of the tongue, yet your dry finnish invites sip after sip.
I would love to revisit this beer fresh from the source.

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Photo of Jwale73
4/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Generous extra received in a recent trade with Mauerhan (thanks Topher). Served in my DT tulip. Poured a translucent orange-gold with a half inch frothy, off-white cap embedded with copious tiny ringlets; some tiny bubbles also present in solution. Head dissipated into a soapy skim in the center with a band of ringlets that coalesced around the edges; some spatters of lacing present during the tasting. Nose off the cap was sweet grapefruit and a little bit of piney hops. Flavors were much more balanced; not overly sweet not overly bitter; a residual aftertaste lightly lingered between quaffs. Mouthfeel fell between light and medium with a mild effervescence consistent throughout. Easy drinking with a well-hidden abv. I'm not really an IPA fan, but I'm really starting to dig DIPAs. I can certainly appreciate the qualities of this brew, but I prefer them a little sweeter.

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

Awesome BEER!!! I was stoked to try this in their brewpub in santa rosa. Awesome piney (pliny?) but not too bitter hop finish...great depth all over the mouth. It tastes like a good mix between normal super strong imperial IPAs and a solid normal one. This was a terrific beer that i savoured for about an hour.

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Photo of tpd975
4.85/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed on draft at Falling Rock in Denver

A: Pours a lovely golden hue with a nice tall foamy head. Nice carbonation and very good retention. Sheet after sheet of lace left from top to bottom the the pint glass.

S: As in your face as any beer in the world. This one screams hops. Bold citrus hops with tons of fresh green grass, spice, and marijuana.

T: Hops to the Maxxx. The taste marries the nose in such a wonderful way which is so wonderful if you are a hophead. Bold grassy hops with fresh citrus. This one can give you bitter beer face in such a good way.

M: Bold carbonation really carries the flavor clear into the throat.

D: Very drinkable, many would disagree but I could drink several pints of this one.

Overall I have now consumed this one in the bottle, on draft, and via growler. No matter how it comes it is no doubt on of the best beers in the world.

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Photo of leif86
4.2/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Bottled on: 08/13/08

A: Hazy yellow-orange body. Cream colored and frothy head that leaves copious lacing.

S: Citrus, flowers, and pine. Tasty hop smell.

T: Same as the smell with a little alcoholic kick at the end. Nice lingering bitterness.

M: Well balanced - not sticky, not watery, not creamy.

D: For an imperial IPA this is incredibly drinkable. Pass the Pliny please.

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

Thanks to BgThang for the trade. Love this on tap and growler, needed to try the bottle.

A: Nice slightly hazy straw color. A nice white head that fell very quickly to form some patchy head around the edges.

S: Smelled it as soon as the cap was cracked. Hop assault. I actually considered pressing charges but it's not rape if I'm asking for it.

T: The hop taste is raw but the bitterness is within limits (my limits at least). A ton of sticky pine right up front but the lack of an overwhelming bitterness makes it entirely delicious. There is a good amount of sweetness that in the aftertaste although that might be my perception of the hops.

M: Only medium bodied in spite of the boldness of the hops. Very nice.

D: The best part about this is after you drink half a glass, you can refill from the bottle to top the glass off!

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Photo of hopdog
4.25/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at the Drafting room in Exton, PA. P

oured a lighter golden color with a smaller sized white head. Aromas and tastes of citurs, with some light pine. Light maltiness in the finish. Starts medium bitter and ends lightly sweet. Lacing left on the glass.

Notes from and tasted on 8/26/05.

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

500 ml bottle (9/22/08 bottling) into a pint glass.

Pours an attractive, straw-golden hue with a two finger's width of off-white head that sticks around for a minute or so, leaving some sticky rings of lacing on the glass as the level drops. The aroma is heavenly, and much cleaner than many IIPA's I've encountered, with the hops coming off as green & juicy. Light citrus and floral hop qualities are also present, and the maltiness is soft, sweet, and clean.

All other amazing qualities aside, Pliny the Elder is one of the most crisp, refreshing, and easy-to-drink IIPA's out there. The hoppiness is in-your-face with bitter pine, fresh greenery, and floral bursts; however, it never gets too resiny or overly bitter. Plus, the malts provide a beautiful balance of light biscuit and caramel that neither cloys in its sweetness, nor outshines the hop character. Mouthfeel is crisp, perfectly carbonated, and refreshing, with a medium body and lingering hoppy bite. The alcohol is almost undetectable, and I kind of like it that way. Although the Elder came across more like a single IPA than an imperial one, I didn't mind. The hops were well-utilized and the drinkability was top-notch. Does it belong in the top 10? Maybe... Is it a fantastic brew deserving of any hop-head's palate? Absolutely.

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

Many thanks, again, to brother BA mikesgroove for spotting me this gem... Consumed on 11/02/08...

On opening and dispensing into a snifter, this brew offers a clear, golden to orange hue with a respectable head that left a sticky lace throughout. Aromas are bold and in your face with spritey, juicy, tangy hops. The flavor followed suit with great balance with the hops and malt body playing in excellent concert with one another. The alcohol is very well hidden here. The finish is dry. The sweet malty backbone and hoppy bitterness leaving something of a twang on the palate.

Without a doubt one of the best double IPAs I have had to date. Very solid and undeniably drinkable.

Zum wohl!

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

I've had this a few times before on tap, but always after drinking something else...so not sure if those tastings really did it justice. But today I had a plan to find some at Beverage Warehouse...and they actually had it! And to celebrate my fortuitous find...I am going to drink it. Sweet. Poured into my nonic which was just the right size for the whole pint and a bit.

A: Yellowish orange and fairly clear. It's a bit hazy I guess...you can't see through it. Not much head, I got about one finger of whitish head that quickly faded. Very nice lacing on the sides though. Just a typical looking IIPA.

S: The smell is almost all hops, strongly citrus and floral. There is a bit of sweetness, but I think that's from the floral hops more than anything else.

T: Opening has a touch of sweetness that I would describe as orangey, but I wonder if it's just a little hop sweetness. The hop character is mostly floral to me with a bit of grapefruit. The sweet citrus flavor is present throughout and gives a nice balance.

MF: Medium bodied, a bit syrupy. Carbonation is there but it's pretty low. Hops are a bit astrigent but not as much as some others. Finish is quite wet, aside from a bit of dryness from the hops. This is a beer that you want to sip and savor, but the feel makes it easy to glug.

D: The drinkability of this beer is sickening. The balance of flavors is just superb. There's really no telling where the malt ends and the hops begin, which I feel is pretty rare for this style. And yet I don't feel like the hops are toned down...no question this pleases the hop head in me. The alcohol is not particularly high for a DIPA, either, so a couple pints of this wouldn't be out of the question. This is truly a beer that lives up to the hype, and truly one of the best in the style. I am thrilled beyond words that they're actually bottling and distributing this widely enough that I can pick it up in LA.

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

Thanks to FrancisWeizen for this extra in a recent trade.

A: The ale is a copper color, a shiny penny. The ale is clear and has a lighter orange-yellow color at the narrower parts of the glass. The ale is amply carbonated, coating the sides of the glass with thick foam.

S: The nose is loaded with hops, thick and resiny. Pine and grapefruit notes dominate, sickly sweet with a hint of tree. Not much balance, malt-wise though.

T: The first sip reminded me of how delicious this ale is. The hops are blindingly bitter, sweet with grapefruit and citrus notes. A floral, herbal flavor, hop-driven, adds a unique sweetness to the ale. The ale is quite fragrant, loaded with hops and not ashamed about it. The caramel malts are most evident in the aftertaste, adding a graininess that mixes nicely with the hops.

M: The mouthfeel is plucky, deceptive and enjoyable. The hop profile is the star of the ale.

D: The 8% alcohol is hidden behind the Spector-esque wall of hops. A masterpiece.

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Photo of brewcrew76
4.7/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Golden with copper orangish highlights and a soap scum white head with sticky lacing.

S - Tropical fruits, pine, perfumey hops, fresh cut grass, nice sweet balance but not in the heavy sweet caramel way like a lot of DIPA's.

T - Piney hops with tropical fruits, slight herbal resin, sweet bready malt followed by citrus rind and a linger piney herbal hoppiness. Amazing how hoppy yet balanced this is.

M - Smooth and creamy, medium mouthfeel due to the resiny hops and a dry lingering bitterness. The alcohol is not even noticeable.

D - I have brewed the homebrew recipe Vinnie has given out over the years and it is damn close but the real thing is so much smoother. This beer proves to me that my favorite IPA's focus on later addition hops creating a nice balance without the complete mouth puckering bitterness. Amazing how much hop flavor and aroma you can put in a beer and still make it appear balanced.

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Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 3,554 ratings.