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Pliny The Elder - Russian River Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder

Educational use only; do not reuse.

3,507 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 3,507
Hads: 13,367
Avg: 4.6
pDev: 15.65%
Wants: 6,842
Gots: 3,509 | FT: 99
Brewed by:
Russian River Brewing Company
California, United States | website

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: 3,507 | Hads: 13,367
Photo of Barracudas
5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

An exceptional beer in an exceptional brewpub! The beer has a great aroma and tastes great. It is understandable how it is rated so high. Highly recommended!

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Photo of MidasMulligan
4.09/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Being on the East coast,I've yearned for this for awhile.I had two on tap at Monks' in Philly yesterday and it was tasty.Give me Heady or even 3Lb ipa from St.Boniface anytime.Very tasty brew but didn't live up to my taste.Maybe my palate was having a bad day.

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Photo of Maticus
4.4/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to a tip from another BA on the forums I checked Total Wine and they had Pliny the Elder. One per customer, behind the counter, $4.99 a bottle. I didn't even have to know a code word. This is just seriously a great IPA. Born on September 30, 2015. A subtle understated nose, and the first sip is like a west coast sunset. Pours a golden orange with a medium head that dissipates quickly and leaves behind a good amount of lacing. Taste is bitter pine all the way with a hint of fruit on the back end. Not too sweet and with a nice full mouthfeel. If I could get this fine beer all the time and price was no object I would drink it every week. Luckily I have to hunt for it, which makes the finding and tasting that much better.

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Photo of Ready4aHeady
4.18/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This is a great beer---it blew me away the first time I had it, and several times after that---all in bottles. Since then I had it on tap at the original pizzaport, and it was even better... However, I am now a veteran of hill farmstead, Treehouse, Trillium, and MBC (Dinner)... and it has lost its shine! Sorry PtE

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Photo of dorianmarley
4.51/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Appearance is golden with light head. Nice lacing.

Nose has a lot of fresh lemon. Orange zest, clove, biscuit. Fresh pine.

Taste is butter pecan, with lots of grapefruit. Very pleasant.

Mouthfeel is smooth, with pleasant oil slickness. Steady carbonation. Ideal.

Overall, this is fun to drink. Delicious. Acclaimed for good reason.

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Photo of SHDoyle
4.27/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Description: Bright, clear, golden look that kind of reminded me of apple juice. The white head wasn't very thick but it did leave quite a bit of lacing on the glass. None of the aromas were overwhelming, but pine, citrus and floral were noticeable. The taste carried many more pine and bitter notes than the smell would have suggested and the aftertaste was very clean and dry. More hop forward than some the elite East Coast IPAs. Alcohol wasn't apparent and the feel was a little fuller-bodied than a normal IPA.

Suggested food pairing: A grilled white fish, maybe halibut

If you like this beer then you should also try: Head Hunter

Ideal time to drink this beer: This beer is so quintessentially West Coast, Central/Northern California that I can't imagine it being better anywhere else. Since that region is more commonly known for its wine production, maybe you could have a Pliny after attending some wine-centered event. It could wash the taste of condescending stuffiness from your mouth.

Overall: 4.25 (This beer is good and I would likely drink it again) This is a good, solid IPA but didn't really have anything that put it over the top for me. I thought it was better than Heady Topper, but not as good as Abner or Sip of Sunshine. As I drank the beer and it warmed a bit, I think the flavor and aroma released a little more, so if I had it to do over I may let it warm some more. It's a great example of a West Coast IPA, but I wouldn't go out of my way to find or try this. But if you have the chance it's not bad; check it off your list and move on to bigger and better beers.

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Photo of wdberkley
4.96/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

There's not much one can say when reviewing a beer of this caliber - it'd be like a finger painting 3 year old trying to critique the Mona Lisa. Believe the hype. There's absolutely nothing bad to be said about this beer - it is the gold standard West Coast IPA. I poured it into the glass and it was like the first time I heard the Beatles. I took a sip and may or may not have Jim Levenstein'd in my pants a little. It's simply amazing. Only drawback is it's easier to get a handy from a nun than it is to score Pliny in Chicago.


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Photo of CarlChitwood
4.88/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

What can be said about this brew that hasn't already been said. I had opportunity to drink it head to head with a Heady Topper one evening here, and I must say that was a battle for the ages... Heady barely eeked out the victory in my opinion, but why listen to me, go get your own and do it yourself.

Great hoppy bouquet, my nose was in heaven... I don't get all "piny, citrusy, grapefruity, etc..." about the hop combinations in my reviews but damn, this seemed to have it all.

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Photo of JordonHoltzman
4.53/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle dated 9/9/15, so a little more than a month old, into a snifter, pours a beautifully clear copper orange amber body with a thin head that fades to a few bubbles, outstanding lacing though.
Aroma is of bright citrus, orange, grapefruit, some pine too.
Taste matches the aroma, very clean, just like it's perfectly filtered body. Very well balanced. It's a beautiful beer, but not hop bomb like some double IPAs. I'm curious to try this beer extremely fresh, a few days old. I'll update review then. Overall it's a phenomenal beer, and a gold standard for west coast IPAs. I wish I could get this more often.

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Photo of jphipps83
4.85/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

This is the top of the line for me, and I would have rated it a 5, but I'm hopeful I find something that tops this one, one day. I'm doubtful of it, though.

Had this on tap at RR, and it completely lived up to the billing. To me, it's the perfect beer, and I'm bummed that I can't get it living in the Midwest.

The balance, smell, taste.....it's all incredible.

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

Bottled on 9/21 poured into wheat glass

A: very little head nice crystal clear body that is golden yellow with hint s of Amber

S: slight orange and apricot a little herbal and a little pine with a nice dose of malts to give this beer exceptional balance

T: nice wash of Orange and a slight taste of marmalade with edges of herbal pine and a perfect light malt back bone almost no bitterness

M: very crisp and clean easy drinking beer is very smooth

O: the easy drinkability of this beer is insane it's so well balanced with almost no bitterness it is easy to see why this is the bench mark for Double IPAs

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Photo of Premo88
3.87/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

16.9 oz. bottle poured into tulip
(6-15-15 born-on date)

L: about 80% clear gold, some definite amber in it with a slight mistiness ... still very easy to see through, though not crystal clear; thick inch-tall head of white foam that is super sticky; some lacing as it goes

S: candied orange, grapefruit ... very sweet -- the malt has had a chance to take over after four months in the bottle, but you can still pick up quite a bit of grapefruit and pine under the sweetness

T: follows the nose for the most part, plenty of orange/grapefruit, a big bitter bite with lots of mango/caramel sweetness from the malt takeover

F: fantastic ... simple, crisp, full ... super drinkable for 8% ABV

O: a classic West Coast IPA, and even at 4 months old it's still very tasty and full of hop flavor; the malt on this one has asserted its presence, for there is quite a bit of the mango/caramel-DIPA sweetness in the nose and flavor; the template here suggests a fresh one would be a big grapefruit bomb, for the hops are still pretty bitter if not overly flavorful

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Photo of WunderLlama
4.34/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Clear golden with carbonation you predicted it. Thick white foam settles to thick layer , good lacings

I have been waiting a long time to try this beer. I can see how it set a standard for its time. I can also see how other beers were modeled on and improved on the style . Very good beer but not the ultimate

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Photo of caplone
4.44/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear gold with medium head and retention. Smells like walking through a forest of pine trees. Tastes like a good does of pale malt with a dab of crystal malt followed by grass, pine resin, and grapefruit peel on the back end. Overall I find this to be one of the better balanced ipa's out there.

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Photo of Mlkluther
4.1/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I've been trying to taste Pliny for over a year. Finally got a pint at The Mayor of Old Town in Fort Collins, CO while visiting from Canada.

Great balanced IPA that still has a deep richness of flavour.

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Photo of NolaHopHead
4.68/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

510 ml (pint) bottle. Pours bright clear orange amber, head fades slowly leaving lace everywhere. Aroma jumps from the glass, resiny pine and grapefruit, fresh baked bread. Great balance in the taste, toasty malt backbone with plenty of bitter resiny pine, strong grapefruit peel, floral notes. The flavor turns earthy, woodsy just before a super dry finish. Medium full mouthfeel is super soft and oily slick. Trend now is towards the big juicy NE IPAs, which I love, but it's nice to come back to this world class resiny bomb. So delishous.

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Photo of Danmullens1
4.59/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Super pumped to open this bottle of Pliny bottled <3 week ago. A clear, pale golden pour into a snifter producing a billowy white head and some amazing lacing. Smell is almost subdued for a double IPA. I get floral hops, grapefruit, with some pine and a little dankness. Very nice. The taste is a great blend of those hop characteristics with very little bitterness. Great balance. Damn, I am sold on this stuff. Definitely lives up to the hype for me. Wish I had another.

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Photo of sittinggc
4.44/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into Teku glass and less than 2 weeks old.

Look: Clear golden color with a sticky white head. Good retention.
Smell: Pine and grapefruit.
Taste: Similar to the aroma with lots of pine and grapefruit. Hops are well supported by a nice malt presence. Though the malts compliment the hops and do not overpower. Nice bitterness.
Feel: Smooth with a good level of carbonation.

Overall: Always a pleasure to knock back a pint of Pliny. Has earned its spot as one of the best IPAs around. Cheers!

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

The beer comes in an amber color. The aroma is pretty muted with some pine, malt, and citrus coming through. The taste is an even distribution of sweet malt, hop bitterness, and citrus. It's a great double IPA but I'm not a huge fan of the west coast malt profile.

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Photo of erushing
4.33/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Probably the cleanest IPA or DIPA I've ever had. Similar reaction to the clean taste of a fresh Sculpin the first time I tried that. Very well balanced, very light drinking for a DIPA or 8%. Again, exceptionally smooth, clean and balanced and it's obviously very well made, but the hype is a bit much. For flavor, I'd still prefer Cafe Racer 15 for a DIPA, but they're just different styles of DIPAs. I personally prefer a bolder taste, but if you appreciate cleanness and balance, then I'm not sure how you could do better for this style of beer.

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Photo of aceseth13
4.87/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Look: An orange amber color, ever so slightly cloudy with a inch of white foam. 4.5

Smell: Leads with the hops and immediately turns to a tropical, pineapple that lingers in the nose. Definite sweetness to the trail end of the smell. A tiny bit of alcohol. 5

Taste: Not as bitter as I expected at all, the hops come through, which leads into a citrus, then grapefruit with a slight taste of pineapple to finish the segment. The taste then shifts backs to hops, and the pine and resin come through in the aftertaste. For an 8% beer the alcohol is nearly undetectable. 5 (I'm a sucker for the hint of pineapple, very refreshing)

Feel: Very good mouth feel, crisp, not too much carbonation. 4.5

Overall: I am blown away by this beer, my favorite IPA up to this point has been the sculpin and I feel this is much much better. It appears once a month at the liquor store by my house and is limited to one per customer, so Ill be hunting for another. 4.75

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Photo of Cook82
4.95/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Poured into a New Belgium snifter bottle date 9/2/15 about 3 1/2 weeks old.
As far as west coast ipa's go this is the standard for me. Perfect balance of piney hop flavor and bitterness. One of the few dbl ipa's I've had where the smell and taste are equal (both amazing). Being an east coast guy I see a lot of similarities to Maine Beer Co Lunch but this is a bit better imo. Excellent brew!

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Photo of Elan
4.24/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Good but not great. People are a bunch of sheep customers. Limit this shit and everyone goes gagga for it. Put it out as much as Ballast Point Sculpin and I guarantee it goes from a 100 to a 92-94. Anyhow. Bullshit marketing vs good beer.

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Photo of ajm5108
4.6/5  rDev 0%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Nice medium lacing, gives an inviting visual to accompany the intoxicating aroma. Just waves of floral hops with a such a freshly squeezed vibrancy you'd think you were smelling it right off the vine. The taste is so smooth & elegant for an American IPA. This is the standard because they don't just toss massive amounts of hops in to hammer you with the flavor or the bitterness. You get a great sense and balance of the different hop flavors, so while it might not taste vastly different than many other great IPAs - your orange citrus, your grapefruit, your pine, etc - it is the balance and the ability of it to draw forth subtle hop variances to the surface that makes this such a well regarded beer. It is slick but not oily, lighter on carbonation than I expected and it has just a faint lingering bitterness but it never overpowers the palate.

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Photo of lowers87
4.97/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Look: A classic golden amber, mild carbonation.
Smell: Wonderful hop smell. Doesn't overpower the senses, slight floral aroma. Light pine.
Taste: Tastes exactly how it smells. Very refreshing and extremely drinkable. Classic IPA. Great out of the bottle. Its not extremely complex, just done very well.
Feel: Consistent throughout. Just the right amount of punch. Doesn't drink like an 8%
Overall: I can't find any faults. If you like IPAs, drink this. Lives up to the hype. Great out of the bottle.

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Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 3,507 ratings.