Dismiss Notice
Subscribe to BeerAdvocate magazine and get 12 issues / year of fresh beer content delivered to your door each month.

Already subscribe? to manage your subscription.

Pliny The Elder - Russian River Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder

Educational use only; do not reuse.

3,394 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 3,394
Hads: 12,785
rAvg: 4.59
pDev: 7.41%
Wants: 6,504
Gots: 3,075 | FT: 92
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: 3,394 | Hads: 12,785
Photo of anteatr23
4.26/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours golden and translucent. Two finger head. Smells of pine and citrus. Taste is bitter and clean. Mostly hop forward, but not too much to throw off the balance. A clean dry finish, somewhat peppery. Overall pretty good beer. It didn't really live up to the hype for me. I was expecting a bit more for an IPA this highly revered. Good, but not great. (361 characters)

Photo of oldn00b
4.76/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Not my first time having this but first time in a while. It's a truly fantastic beer. It is worth the hype as long as you think of it as something that changed the game and realize that there are countless other fantastic DIPAs on the market.

It looks great, perfectly clear. Head is tight and retention is solid.

The only, slight, disappointment on this one is the nose seemed a bit weak to me. I feel like I remember more floral and pine scent but there's a bit of sweetness that comes through over it.

Taste and feel are both perfect. For 100 IBUs you'd almost never guess it. I know some say this isn't supposed to be "balanced" but that's how I feel it comes across. The slight malt sweetness is present but the hop flavor profile is wonderful. It has a really great mouthfeel for DIPA.

I know I'm not saying anything anyone else hasn't before but yeah, it's incredibly good. (894 characters)

Photo of Novels
4.02/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Damn good double IPA, but definitely didn't live up to my expectations. There is a bitterness here that isn't present in better, more balanced DIPA's. Definitely worth drinking, especially at the price, but don't break your back over it. (237 characters)

Photo of RyanJohnCrain
4.91/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had two from the 6-26-15 batch and I was super impressed, Such a great beer. Tons of flavors that all blend together great. The finish is so amazing.. I want more. (163 characters)

Photo of eifster82
4.84/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Had on draft at Russian River brewpub and multiple bottles over 3 week period from bottling date.

Look - Clean, clear with deep yellow/golden color. Was surprised. I expected slightly hazy.

Smell - Overrun your nose with "fresh" smell. The multitude of hops and balance is evident from the smell.

Taste - fantastic. Refreshing, the complexity of taste is tied in well with subtle malts. This isn't punch you in the face DIPA. It's smooth and unique, and it doesn't need to do over the top bitter hops.

Feel - balanced and smooth with a malt backbone tying in the multiple hops. Can be dangerously easy to drink.

Overall - a perfectly balanced DIPA. The fresher, the better, and preferably on draft. (711 characters)

Photo of danpam1024
3.66/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Really? That's "it"?

I've been a "craft" beer drinker for over 20 years. Back when it was cool to call yourself a "micro brewery" or more simply "We make our own beer here in the back" sort of pub. I've hunted beerz all over the east coast and Europe. I certainly do not profess myself as an expert, but I know the difference between new/exciting and old/tired.

I finally got out to the west coast (San Francisco) and my wife and I made an overt effort to make sure we could try The Elder before we left. Thanks to the incredible La Trappe Cafe, we found the supposive godfather of all IPAs. Needless to say, we were not too impressed.

Frankly, I believe it not the fault of Russian RIver, but more to the fact that today's brewers have caught up. Just two weeks ago, we were at (of all places...) Busch Gardens in Tampa Florida and we were served a "Quackalope" from a local brewery named "Barley Mow". Never heard of them, but this beer was incredible. To me, the folks at Barley Mow represents how far-along newers craft brewers have traveled towards great and updated tastes.

For those of you who consider themselves unsatiated until experiencing coveted beers such as Pliny the Elder, spend more time enjoying the selections of your local brewers. They may certainly be doing it better than you realise thanks to lessons learned from trendsetters such as Russian River. (1,381 characters)

Photo of mempath
4.99/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

still massively consistent...immensely balanced on all points...the abv is hidden well...all those balanced points work together to make a synergetic leap (the whole is greater than the parts for sure)....there are 'hoppier' creatures out there, but the grand naturalist and historian's name is represented well here (which is become quite historic...nay, legendary!)....but there is solidity here with the basic package of all-out double trouble regal IPA-ish-ness....thickness and bitterness are generously slathered here, but the malt foundation serves it well to create, maintain and future fordwardfeed this enduring, timeless classic ale. so very hightly recommended. if only Nugget Nectar was as consistent... (716 characters)

Photo of OGFGabv
4.86/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Definitely lives up to the hype. This beer is nothing less than exceptional. I am totally captivated by the nose, so much so, that I don't want to stop smelling it to take a sip! Grapefruit and Pine blend together perfect in harmony. The taste totally bursting in West Coast fashion, bitter and pine resin dominate. One of the best. (332 characters)

Photo of MacPhergus
5/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Exceptional on all fronts. The often sweet malty flavor of a DIPA is not there, more like an IPA. Yet, the hop dominance and smoothness pushes the edge of good taste without without getting to an unbalanced state. (213 characters)

Photo of TheDonster
5/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The first time I had this beer, I almost couldn't believe what I was smelling and tasting. I'm not sure you can really compare it to Heady, because they are entirely different beers. While Heady may be more easily drinkable, Pliny has more of a WOW! factor. I've had this on draft, and in a fresh bottle. Both were similar experiences. (335 characters)

Photo of Jason78
5/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I had this beer on draft for the first time at a bar on 30th street in San Diego. It might be the best beer I have ever had. It definitely lives up to the hype. Awesome double IPA. I wish I could get it where I live. (216 characters)

Photo of GimmeAGuinness
4.49/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

To you fellow east-coasters who have heard but not yet tried, this beer lives up to the hype. It's on par with Heady, for sure. I hope to have this again. (156 characters)

Photo of Foggy_Memories_Beer
4.64/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Vessel: 16oz bottlepoured into a Russian River pint glass
How it poured:
Appearance : crystal clear, golden amber color. Tons of carbonation. Bright white, fluffy head.
Smell/aroma: Super dank, piney, grapefruit, grapefruit pith. Very bitter, in your face hops. West Coast style at its finest.
Taste: Upfront grapefruit bitterness, orange, pine, resinous, dank hops. Grapefruit rind, orange pith on the back end. Bitterness lingers, but the bready malts balance Pliny well.
Overall: Pliny is a crowd pleaser. It is on point for a DIPA. Yes its worth tge hypr, get it fresh as you can. Everyone has their own tastes but from my POV this is a winner. Don't skip on the Blind Pig if your in the area as well!! (709 characters)

Photo of khmel
4.46/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Incredibly, deceptively smooth. The mouthfeel is amazing! Glides down like a river of sweet hoppy deliciousness. The nose is sweet floral with a hint of dandelion and/or lavender. Alcohol is hardly perceptible, but makes itself known. This beer is truly worthy of it's fame! (274 characters)

Photo of Navypride48
5/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Aromatic, smooth which is rare for an ipa. Most of my friends hate iPa's but they will drink this over and over again. This is the best beer in the world (153 characters)

Photo of DoreenAndDave
4.99/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Beer is an attractive amber/copper with a thick white head. Very nice lacing. Aroma is dank and bready, with notes of orange rind, pineapple, and fir. Taste is fantastic and follows the nose. Some bready malt in the background and a huge, complex, balanced dose of hops: a dry, bitter finish with notes of orange, fir, and tropical fruits. Mouthfeel is great. Nicely carbonated, a bit of warming from the 8% alcohol. Overall, a fantastic double IPA. Smooth, balanced, and drinkable, but incredibly complex and subtle. (525 characters)

Photo of nheigelmann
4/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I liked pliney. I had some at the bar in santa rosa when i was in cali visiting. I bought a case to bring back to the house we were staying at. Blind pig was also very good. And they had another beer called Aud Blonde Ale that was really great. I will say though, i docked a couple points for two reasons. I dont think pliny is by far and away better than heady, larsons sip, or even sixpoint resin. Possibly my east coast taste buds prefer those brews. Also, there was a complete shitbag of a bartender working at the bar at RR. The other 3 or so bartenders were really cool and didnt have an ego stick shoved up their ass. This guy put a bit of a damper on my experience. He had an issue with me because i was a tourist, but he shut up after we engaged in great conversations with other attendees at the bar. Anyway, pliny is fucking good and they make some really good beers at RR. The food is excellent too.
Sorry for the rant (934 characters)

Photo of KarmicSkrambl8
4.55/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

really enjoyed the awesome balance...more than anything

the taste didn't smack me as anything awe-inspiring/off the charts (what beer ever lives the hype)----but beautifully balanced and very tasty

creamy feature was unexpected, but most enjoyable

overall...a extremely well done brew (287 characters)

Photo of Biggiekrock627
4.76/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Very floral smell and taste notes that round out a very hop forward beer. The taste and feel in your mouth is so well balanced that the heavy ABV is barely noticeable. (167 characters)

Photo of Chcshammonde
4.5/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

All hail the Pliny! Spoiled that I have easy access to this beer. It's a great one. I always pick it up when available. Russian River is special because you can tell that they really try their hardest to focus on perfecting their product. Creamy mouthfeel, sharp and intricate hop flavor, great body, and delicious all around finish. Pretty hard to beat! (360 characters)

Photo of ThisWangsChung
4.31/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

HUGE thanks to aViewFromTheHOP for this one! 500ml bottle into a teku.

Appearance: Pours a gorgeous golden color. The head is three fingers high, and vaguely off-white in shade. Retention is fantastic, while the rocky head leaves behind thick webs of lacing on the glass. This one looks absolutely killer. (4.5)

Smell: This is a fairly typical DIPA aroma, all told. I can see where so many beers in the style got their influence from. Piny, grassy notes seem to dominate, though I do pick up hints of grapefruit. The malt backbone is wonderfully neutral - it brings touches of cracker and white bread, and that's about it. I admit gravitating more to the new school of DIPAs. But still, I'm not exactly disappointed by the nose by any stretch. (4)

Taste: At first, I get gentle hints of spruce, grass, and flowers. The more I drink, the more floral the flavor becomes. Malt appears past the midtaste (a bit more than the nose suggested), with some caramel, white bread, and sugar cookie flavors. Maybe even touches of earth, wood, and toffee. I could say that nothing about this brew really stands out...but I won't. No, every flavor here seems to pop with a bit more definition than MANY other DIPAs out there - and that's saying something considering how this is far more complex than the typical DIPA. (4.25)

Mouthfeel: This is amazingly crisp, and DRY (when I say dry, I mean frickin' dry). Some malt sweetness and heft does appear, but it's a feature that is less annoying than many others in the style. I could drink this one all day, that's for sure. I don't really notice the carbonation one way or the other - translation, it's doing its job perfectly. (4.75)

Overall: I knew this wouldn't be some super innovative, new school DIPA loaded with Galaxy hops. Nope, this is to DIPAs what Black Sabbath's self-titled album was to heavy metal. Even now, this has the finesse and sophistication that many in the style wished they had a tenth of. The first sip didn't bowl me over, and then I kept drinking it...and drinking it...and drinking it. Around the halfway mark, it dawned on me: "this is a fantastic DIPA". This isn't something you sample 3-4 oz of, this is something you down pint after pint of at the Toronado in SF, all while Dark Angel is blaring in the background (screaming match with surly bartender optional). (4.5)

4.31/5: Should be considered the quintessential west coast DIPA, even with all the pretenders flooding the market (2,455 characters)

Photo of PBRmeasap1980
4.46/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Hum, I may have missed something here. Bottled 6/10, ok 2 1/2 weeks old... good, but not great. Got a smokiness from it. Do they smoke any of the malts on the grain bill? (173 characters)

Photo of dro7
4.43/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From bottle poured into Stella Artois chalice. Strong floral and hops smell, smooth yet bitter mouth feel. Taste of bitter hops, but not too bitter. This is an excellent IPA, it's exactly what an IPA should look, smell, and taste like. One of the best. (252 characters)

Photo of invertalon
4.22/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Was a very good Imperial IPA overall. I think there are better ones out there for sure, but it was still a delicious beer. A bit more malty than expected, but had a nice pine flavor profile from the hops that worked nicely. The bottle I had was 2.5 weeks old, so I don't think I will get much fresher in Ohio! (309 characters)

Photo of Justin8mypants
4.58/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Bottle dated 5/15 so a tad over a month old. I've been waiting for this.

A- Creamy white head disappeared into a thin whisky head with nice lacing. Pours a hazy yellow.

S- Grass, pine, orange peel, nice floral notes

T- really delicious. A lot of grass and pine with some citrus notes as well. Much more balanced than I expected. Really pleasant hop flavors without a big punch to the mouth. The finish is fairly clean, some hop character lingers.

M- medium body, creamy, perfect carbonation.

O- worth its reputation. Not a super hop bomb, but a more balanced DIPA. Really nice fresh floral grass and Pune notes and a perfect mouthfeel. Very happy I was able to try this. (676 characters)

Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 3,394 ratings.