1. BeerAdvocate on your phone?! True story. Try the beta now.

Pliny The Elder - Russian River Brewing Company

Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

8,771 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 8771
Reviews: 3059
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
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Reviewers | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Pliny The Elder Alström Bros
Ratings: 8,771 | Reviews: 3,059 | Show All Ratings:
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
Photo of BreweryRun


4.5/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

It's taken me about 5 tries of this beer to truly appreciate it.. When I first tried it I loved IPAs but had a much less developed palette. I've now had it both on draft and in the bottle and this bottle (bottled about 6 weeks ago) is the most I've enjoyed it by quite a bit.

Pours a beautiful dark golden color with about a half inch of creamy white head. Smell is dank, earthy, grassy and floral. Taste is much the same, malt takes a big backseat so that the hop flavors can shine though in a great balance with one another. Bitterness is there but the hop flavors are still the main act. Dry finish with flavors that linger slightly but don't stick to the tongue and leave your palette fried.

On other tastes I've been overpowered by bitterness but now I can finally perceive all the great dank hop flavors that are there. This is not a DIPA with tons of citrus or tropical hop flavors but if you can tease out the amazing earthy hop flavors that are there, it's a truly great beer. Cheers!

Serving type: bottle

02-18-2014 05:14:30 | More by BreweryRun
Photo of Catracho5


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

Presentation: green 510 ml bottle, poured into a Sierra Nevada tulip pint glass.

Appearance: orange colored, with a one finger semi-aggressive pour into the glass.

Smell: wow, the citrus smell attracted the attention of my wife, and she does not drink. Floral, pine, citrus, best double IPA smell yet.

Taste: the hops are not overpowering, smooth taste, bitter, the smoothness is what caught my attention. The various taste blend and melt into each other. What a great beer.

Mouthfeel: could feel the oil from the hops, carbonation.

Overall: great beer, I got two bottles from a local liquor store, I am really hoping to get more. This is a beer I could drink at a party or at home with lunch or dinner. It's definitely one to sip, savor, and enjoy.

Serving type: bottle

02-17-2014 03:42:35 | More by Catracho5
Photo of TNT


4.88/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Appearance- dark gold, almost copper w/near perfect lacing and great retention.
Smell- pine, honey, orange zest, apricot.
Taste-Wow, it's the DIPA of my dreams. Well balanced, yet still a hop bomb. What you expect out of this style, perfected.
Mouthfeel-Perfectly carbonated and crisp. A little oily, yet smooth.
Overall- I want more, now. This stuff lives up to the hype.

Serving type: bottle

02-15-2014 19:27:45 | More by TNT
Photo of Wolberjs


4.58/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Drinking side by side with pliny the younger at russian river brewery. So review will be stilted by the direct comparison.

A - both are beautiful clear amber beers. The elder is still bubbling away but younger is not. 5

S - Same piney notes on both, but younger has the more complex citrusy fruit. 4.5

T - younger has the more complex and pleasant taste. More citrus fruit on top of the piney taste. 4.5

M - even though elder has the more apparent carbonation the younger mouthfeel is better to me. Younger has the best mouthfeel of any ipa I've had, so it'd be a 5 in its class but doesn't compare as well to smooth silky stouts like bcbcs, etc. 4.5

O - slightly less as good younger. So... Yeah also fantastic 4.74

Serving type: on-tap

02-13-2014 20:34:00 | More by Wolberjs
Photo of Jeff17


4.81/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Bottle was less than 5 days old, and the freshness was very apparent. Clarity when pouring was the first noticeable thing. Very similar to Firestone Walker Union Jack in that term. Gorgeous color in the tangerine spectrum of orange. A fluffy head that stayed for a really nice amount of time. The greatest part of the beer was the aroma- and that is not short changing the taste- but the smell of this beer is just so wonderfully clean and complex. And that translated into the taste. Amazing how the malt characters come through so distinctly at the front with the amount of hops within this gem.

As with Zombie Dust, Westy 12 and BCBS, where there is so much hype and talk, Pliny lives up to every wonderful description. I wish I was in an area where this was more accessible, I would be having a pint nightly.

Serving type: bottle

02-12-2014 17:17:54 | More by Jeff17
Photo of M_SRD


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

I sought this beer after reading reviews here is my overall impression:

Overall it had a very nice golden/caramel body, with a citrus scented overtones and has a thick, billowy head. This beer has a smooth, rich flavor with a hoppy bitterness that finishes perfectly.

This was the first time experiencing a DIPA that I actually would drink again, I typically do not enjoy hoppy beers!

Serving type: bottle
Bottled: 01/06/14
Opened: 02/02/14

Serving type: bottle

02-10-2014 05:05:07 | More by M_SRD
Photo of reebtaerG


4.94/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured 510ml bottle dated 1/17/14 into New Belgium globe

A-Pours a clean copper gold with a nice frothy one finger white head. Great lacing and carbonation.

S-Aroma is green pine needles lightly spritzed with grapefruit juice.

T-Flavor is better than smell, it has citrus with a subtle malt backbone.

M-The balance in this is exquisite. A little bit of floral spice, lightly sweet, a solid bitterness and with a drier finish than most IPAs.

O-I can see why there is so much hype surrounding this, it is quite excellent.

Serving type: bottle

02-09-2014 03:15:32 | More by reebtaerG
Photo of mjstacker

New Hampshire

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

3 week old bottle poured into a nonic glass. My 1st beer of the evening.

The color is great, kind-of a light copper/sweet orange. Mild haze, certainly not able to see through. Head was nice but disappeared quickly. Lacing all the way down.

The aroma was nice but a bit more piney and not nearly as citrus-y as i had expected.

Overall, very carbonated, nice tiny bubbles. Taste's like a world class double IPA. I like a bit more melon personally, but who am i to complain. If i lived in an area where this was readily available i'm sure i'd drink plenty of it, though i think i may prefer Blind Pig. All that said, drinking fresh Maine Beer Co. on the east coast seems just as nice. Cheers.

Serving type: bottle

02-07-2014 23:42:48 | More by mjstacker
Photo of bound4er


4.19/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Hopyard in Pleasanton, CA

Nice straw color w/ a white two finger head. Smells of pine and faint malt. Tastes better than it smells...lots of pine and faint citrus with fantastic bitterness that manages to stay away from being over the top hoppy and dry. Alcohol is completely hidden. Very good beer that is really easy to drink but the Lagunitas Fusion 20 SF I had before this was better. Glad to have finally tried Pliny but seems overly hyped.

Serving type: on-tap

02-07-2014 02:52:26 | More by bound4er
Photo of Jackofallbrews


4.89/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

My impressions of this beer were all good. I found this to be very dry, but not overly astringent. The hop aroma was strong and citrusy, with a light malt note to back that up. The flavor really matched the aroma well with no huge surprises. The dry finish and lack of alcohol warming makes this beer deceptively smooth and easy to drink, perhaps the most dangerous of the ones I tried. Folks not prepared for this alcohol content could put down a few of these before realizing just how strong they are! I have tried the bigger brawnier brother (Pliny the Younger) and that one takes it to the next level--more in line with a lot of the recent additions to the pantheon.

Serving type: bottle

02-06-2014 20:20:34 | More by Jackofallbrews
Photo of dar482

New York

4.74/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

The color is clear and light gold. It actually is really light in color.

The aroma has some deep and dank pine sweetness. It is a floral bouquet with tons of tropical fruit with peach, pineapple, mango. There's some breadiness in there too. Deep in, it's just pure hops. It just puts off the acids of the hops that few beers can do.

The flavor follows with pine, sweet mango, some tropical fruits. There then is a lingering bitterness that just cleans up the beer. The malt backbone is gentle, but strong enough to keep this beer balanced. The pine though is what stands out. It has a light malt body, tastes like pure juice, and stands out with lots of pine flavor as well as earthiness.

And that's the word, balance. With the huge aroma, the complex hop characteristics, and then that malt backbone. This beer really has everything wonderful about Double IPAs. The alcohol is not there at all and this could even be mistaken for a regular IPA.

Having had this again, the pine stands out for me, but it exemplifies the "pure hoppiness" of beers like Zombie Dust and Heady Topper. It attacks your teeth with the acidic hops.

In the end, this does it better than other DIPAs, but is not a game changer. Still, sets the standard and is still a world class beer.

Serving type: bottle

02-02-2014 06:42:02 | More by dar482
Photo of beergoot


4.64/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Bottling date of 010614 and acquired at Coaltrain Wine and Spirits in Colorado Springs.

Deep, golden yellow body with excellent rising carbonation and a thick, billowy white head; sticky rings down the glass. Cantaloup and ripe, red berry aroma with a citrus scent undertone. Gentle, warm toasted malt; biscuit and a touch of caramel all wrapped together with a bold yet soothing hop bitterness flavor. Medium-heavy body; smooth; clean and dry finish.

After hearing so much about this DIPA, I am glad to see my experience generally agrees with all the hype. Juicy body with a sweet melon tone melds together nicely with an all-encompassing hop bitterness that nicely complements the malt components. One of the best DIPAs out there and in the league with Moylen's Hopsickle, Oskar Blues G'Knight Imperial Red, Victory's Dirtwolf, and To Øl's Overall IIPA.

Serving type: bottle

02-01-2014 22:03:01 | More by beergoot
Photo of hopsputin


4.84/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

a: clear golden amber with some faint faint purple. 2 finger solid marshmellow white head

s: grapefruit, pineapple, mango, freshly baked rolls, caramel malts, crisp apricots, and loads of passionfruit. this is a tropical fruit bomb backed with nice sweet malt.

t: just as the nose suggests, all those tropical flavors. mango and pineapple dominate out the gate. then your hit with the passionfruit, which is smoothed out by the sweet (but not at all heavy feeling) malts. you're left with some slight grapefruit and tea leaf bitterness as you open your mouth to get the next sip. this is a balanced and harmonized as they say it is

m: perfect really. its medium with the right amount of carbonation to push the tropical fruits through and make them pop and shine over any real bitterness

o: well. this one lives up to the hype. it is the definition of balance and harmony. sweet, fruity, and bitter. its refreshing and savory and packed with juicy flavor. comes as close to perfect as an DIPA can for me

Serving type: bottle

02-01-2014 05:40:43 | More by hopsputin
Photo of BellsFan


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

Appearance. poured from the bottle into two pint glasses. With only two bottles I had to share. A thick tan head subsided to reveal perfect lasing

Aroma. Holy cow! The nose is amazing. Hops must be in my nose!

Taste. Just like it smells. This is the best

Mouthfeel. This is an 8% DIPA but it drinks like a regular IPA. Smoothest IPA I've ever drank.
Overall. Amazing. This particular bottle was packaged 31 days ago. It's clear that Pliny is best when fresh.

Serving type: bottle

02-01-2014 01:30:37 | More by BellsFan
Photo of hombrepalo


4.48/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

An amazing IPA. Great nose on this beer. Lots of citrus fruit. The mouth feel is good and I like the ABV at where it is at 8%. I think any higher and you would be able to taste the booze in the beer. I don't think it is as high as quality as Heady Topper or some of the Three Floyd's beer that has been out there, but still a amazing beer.

Serving type: bottle

01-29-2014 13:08:56 | More by hombrepalo
Photo of mikejonze


4.81/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Bottled 1-6-14. Poured into a tulip glass on 1-26-14.

APPEARANCE: Dark, hazy orange/gold with glowing corn yellow highlights. Looks absolutely beautiful. Single-finger bubbly white head that quickly settles into a thin foam that sits on the surface for the duration and leaves beautiful, slowly descending lacing on the sides of the glass – some of the best I've seen, especially for this style.

AROMA: Hops in your face! Fresh, piny, resinous hops. Very robust, earthy herbal & floral notes. Actually reminds me of the scent of weed. Once you've gotten accustomed to the blast of piny hops and that dank earthiness, the citrus notes start to come out: fresh pineapple, grapefruit, tangerine, maybe even a little mango. Loving all the different ways this thing is waking up my sense of smell.

TASTE: Medium to moderate hop bitterness hits you hard initially, but then tails off and doesn't stay with you, slowly morphing into a mixture of citrus fruits and sweet bread. The hop flavor still remains present throughout, but the other flavors come out and balance it all out very well. Pretty dry finish, but without leaving mouth feeling dry. Virtually no bite on the back end, 8% ABV is very well hidden.

MOUTHFEEL: Light to medium body, crisp and lively on the tongue, but somehow also feels very soft and smooth in the mouth.

OVERALL: An extremely well-balanced, heavily aromatic, complex double IPA. Mostly lives up to all the hype and definitely worth seeking out if you can't get it where you live. Feel very fortunate as a Michigander to have been able to get a couple bottles.

Serving type: bottle

01-27-2014 15:15:15 | More by mikejonze
Photo of PaulyB83


4.64/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Bottled on 1/10/14, so I think this counts as fresh. Poured from 16oz. bottle into a tulip glass.

A- Light amber, very nice clarity, got a nice high white head that dissipated to a thin film. Very good retention.

S- Big dank pine, evidence of lots of Simcoe. Sweet and bitter grapefruit with a light papaya. It's not that punch in your face, smell from across the room hops that Heady Topper is but surely nothing to sneeze at.

T- Again lots of pine, got a much less bitter hop punch than I was expecting considering many of it's Sierra Nevada, Stone, and Green Flash counterparts. I like the smoother West Coast bitterness in this one though, really adds to it's drinkability. As it warmed I did detect the alcohol more but still very well hidden and right in that sweet spot of 8%. Also got some light tropical notes and a backing light toasted malt.

M- A bit lighter than I was expecting but it really adds to the drinkability.

O- A very impressive beer. I can see how it can both be overhyped as well as disappointing to some people. To be honest, my first reaction was of disappointment. But then I realized I was just mistaken as to what this beer is supposed to be. It is just meant to be a perfectly balanced IIPA and it is perhaps the best balanced and drinkable IIPA out there.

Serving type: bottle

01-25-2014 10:19:39 | More by PaulyB83
Photo of Bartos


4.84/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottled on 01/10/14, opened 01/14/14

A- A vibrant golden color with a thick, fluffy pure white head. Significant lacing on the glass.

S- Complex, deep hoppy smell. Quick top note of citrus followed by a subtle aroma of pine and resin. A bit of lingering "dank" smell at the tail end.

T- Similar to the smell, a nice balancing of bright citrus and biting. hoppy pine flavors. A slight sweetness to counterbalance the hops. Starts bitter, goes sweet and then back to bitter. But all balanced and none overpowering. Lasting aftertaste of slight bitter hops that sticks to your tongue.

M- Nice, medium bodied beer. Great carbonation that provides a crisp, clean feeling. Lingering hoppiness gives it a slight "chewy" feeling

O- Near perfection. A wonderful change from the movement toward the over the top Citrus flavors in many IPAs. The lingering aftertaste of hops really sets this apart from many other IPAs. This is a beer that I could drink all day or linger over just one glass. The hop taste I'm left with is neither overpowering nor is it fleeting and disappointing. For me, most IPAs I can only have 2 of before I feel I have "wrecked" my palate for the evening. Having recently just had Zombie Dust, which is so smooth that you almost don't notice you're drinking a hoppy craft beer, I feel that Pliny succeeds at not being too smooth so you can still recognize the craftsmanship and hops.

Serving type: bottle

01-24-2014 16:38:06 | More by Bartos
Photo of KCBeerNerd


4.75/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Bottled 17 days ago, poured into a snifter

A: Golden beer with an inch and a half of white head that settles to a foam.

S: Floral, piney, and citrusy, there is also an air of freshness to the nose of this beer.

M: The feel is crisp and clean. For a double ipa, this beer has a surprisingly light body to it.

T: The taste is citrusy, grapefruity, piney, hoppy, but not overtly hoppy. There is almost no bite on the back end, however you can slightly taste the alcohol, but not in an unappealing way. At first the hops overwhelm your senses, but after your sip you are left refreshed desiring to taste more.

O: This beer is incredible, and makes me ponder moving to into its distribution area, well maybe not entirely. This is my first time trying this beer thanks to a trade I made earlier this week. This beer is crisp and flavorful. The hops in this beer work so well together. Makes me glad I have another on the way next week!

Serving type: bottle

01-24-2014 02:59:17 | More by KCBeerNerd
Photo of Beerzebub


4.25/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Finally reviewing this one. Bottle is 10 days old.

Pretty golden color with green highlights, and a nice frothy almost white head.

Fresh, hoppy, clean aroma. Citrus, flowers, grass, and pine notes. Quite pretty.

Quite tasty. Citrus- and pine-driven hop flavor, light and clean malt with just enough sweetness for balance, a touch of grassy astringency, and bold bitterness that lingers on the palate for quite a while.

Excellent texture - cushy carbonation, some nice slickness but just light enough to be extremely drinkable (especially with the long, dry, bitter finish).

Serving type: bottle

01-21-2014 07:34:48 | More by Beerzebub
Photo of MrBoz21


4.81/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Pours clear straw-gold with thick white cap. Moderately effervescent.
Aroma: Amazing fresh Citrus, juniper and slight floral.
Taste: Liquid hops, fresh balanced flavor of grapefruit hops. Nice malt across tongue. Fresh balanced finish.
Mouthfeel: Moderately dry, and smooth.
Overall: So hard to describe, because all the intangibles are there. Few beers carry the hops like Pliny. Lives up to the hype. A near perfect beer.

Serving type: bottle

01-19-2014 20:02:59 | More by MrBoz21
Photo of gregb13


3.7/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

I've sampled this beer many, many times; always very, very fresh and under optimal conditions. To start with, Pliny looks nearly as good as you could imagine in the glass. The nose is citrusy and inviting, but too tame and subtle for me. Taste follows the nose. Mouthfeel is very nice; medium-bodied and extremely smooth. Pliny is very balanced and an overall excellent beer; however, there are several IPAs I would recommend over Pliny, that are much easier to find. Good beer but don't jump through hoops to get it, and don't swallow all the hype.

Serving type: bottle

01-19-2014 08:11:39 | More by gregb13
Photo of jmac11420


4.84/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

A: Nice light copper color
S: Not too much nose usually but can anticipate hoppiness
T: Super crisp, hoppy, tart citrus...unmatched
M: grapefruit and citrus, hops, piney
O: Another favorite from my college hometown, had this beer so many time before I realized its prestige. The beer that defined, and continues to define, the west coast IPA

Serving type: bottle

01-19-2014 04:35:14 | More by jmac11420
Photo of nreynoso90


4.75/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

An absolutely wonderful DIPA, the demand on this beer is high. So its always a little challenging to snag this beer in a bottle, but our local craft bar has this on tap every month or so. The taste is a well balanced combination of grapefruit,oranges and lime. The smell is a piney aroma tossed in with a wonderful burst of hops. A very refreshing beer that is not too high in abv but suitable for the DIPA lover.

Serving type: on-tap

01-15-2014 06:45:35 | More by nreynoso90
Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 8,771 ratings.