1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Pliny The Elder - Russian River Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

9,626 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 9,626
Reviews: 3,119
rAvg: 4.65
pDev: 8.17%
Wants: 4,413
Gots: 1,388 | FT: 52
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 Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Pliny The Elder Alström Bros
Ratings: 9,626 | Reviews: 3,119 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of billzav


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

I can see why this is the Imperial IPA that many a beer aficionado thinks of when discussing world class offerings in this style. Golden orange in color, Pliny The Elder has big notes of grapefruit up front, highlighting the array of citrusy hops. The hoppiness is complimented by roasted malt and caramel with a crisp, clean finish. It never fails to amaze me how this ale can have such a sizable hoppy presence, yet be so surprisingly smooth to drink.

Serving type: on-tap

06-12-2011 12:26:12 | More by billzav
Photo of SuperStory

Rhode Island

4.43/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Even though this beer needs no further reviews or introductions, since I got a hold of a couple I wanted to represent for the East Coast:

A: Pours a clear golden color without the slightest bit of haze.

S: The smell was the first characteristic that really struck me. Very vibrant, pine and citrus unlike any Imperial IPA that I have experienced.

T: Mild compared to some other top Imperial IPA's but not in a bad way. Extremely complex to the point that each sip brought forth a new twist. Much more piney than citrus to the taste but balanced so that both tastes are noticeable.

M: Very thin and refreshing with some body to let you know it's not a fizzy yellow offering.

O: I wouldn't say that it exceeded my expectations since it's top 5 on the planet according to BA. Very nice all around Imperial but not for those that are looking to get knocked out by hops!

Serving type: bottle

06-11-2011 23:32:50 | More by SuperStory
Photo of Airyk12


4.43/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours an amber color with a foamy/soapy white head that leaves plenty of lacing all over the glass.

Smells like pine and some citrus; a little sweetness. Some spices and more fruit.

Taste is of strong hops, with a little fruit and some maltiness attempting to bring a backbone. Strong pine and lots of grapefruit bringing the bitterness. A hint of caramel helps to balance this out a wee bit.

Smooth, creamy, and way less alcohol flavor than the 8% might indicate. Very drinkable. Medium body and good carbonation.

Color me impressed; definitely not my favorite DIPA, but for the price and "rare factor" it is good. I went into it thinking it would be disappointing, and it wasn't entirely. Still, not the over the top amazing beer I was expecting, but great nonetheless.

Serving type: bottle

06-11-2011 23:15:03 | More by Airyk12
Photo of Rifugium


4.43/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

First had: on tap at Monk's, Philly, PA

This was really good, as the hype would indicate. But I gotta say, Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA is every bit as good. (Actually better.) Uncommon a few years ago on the east coast, this beer is almost always on tap somewhere in the Philly area if you know where to look.

Pours a golden orange with a fluffy white head that laces well. Great floral aroma, rich with piney hops and citrus. The taste starts out biscuity and crisp with sweet, pale malts. The hop bitterness comes in quickly and takes over, overlaid with flavors of lemon zest, pine, grapefruit, meadow grass and flowers. Medium mouthfeel, finishes crisp and dry. Highly drinkable, and highly recommended if you can find it.

Serving type: on-tap

06-10-2011 17:42:13 | More by Rifugium
Photo of HikerCT


4.3/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I received this beer from lisomiso in Urbancaver's NOOB BIF.

1 pint bottle poured into my imperial pint glass.

This is the second Russian River I've had and so far I've been very impressed with the clarity of both beers (the other was the Blind Pig). Really remarkable clarity.

Had a good head on it that lasted for quit a while. But was a bit rocky/chunky as it fell.

In terms of IPAs, I think this was much more balanced than Russian River's Blind Pig. I can taste more malt in this beer and I dare say it's not as bitter as Blind Pig.

Initially, I'd say this beer finishes dry. But the more I drink it, the more it's developing a sweet sort of finish. This is a well balanced IPA. It's got both the malt and the hops!

Now the elephant in the room: This beer is currently ranked in the top 3 beers on BA. Does it stand up to that rating? I'm not sure. It's a good beer and I definitely like it. I'd buy this in a bar. I think it's a solid example of an IPA. In terms of hoppiness, I'd say it doesn't really approach Dogfish's 120 Minute IPA. But this is still a great IPA, one that I'd buy again. Lucky for me, lisomiso was kind enough to send me two bottles, so I've got one more to enjoy! Looking forward to it!

Overall, a really well balanced IPA. I could sit and drink this all day long.

Serving type: bottle

06-10-2011 06:04:28 | More by HikerCT
Photo of tripelhops


4/5  rDev -14%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I just got a 2+ week old bottle from Eric W in California, and poured it into a tulip glass.
A - solid 2 fingers of head, clinged to the sides as it faded down
S - wonderful citrus & grapefruit aroma
T - sweet malt followed by bitterness, but nothing really strong is standing out for me
M - great carbonation, very filling in the mouth
O - maybe due to all the hype around this beer I was expecting a bunch more, and while I think it does a greta job of being balanced, maybe even perfectly so, for me there's a few others I would prefer to drink, evne if they are not as balanced or smooth. I know it's against the grain, but that's my opinion on it. Solid, would get it if I'm someplace that has it, but won't go out of way to trade for it again.

Serving type: bottle

06-10-2011 03:29:57 | More by tripelhops
Photo of IPhantom


4.18/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Nothing but good things to say about this one. Great color, amazingly light, crisp feel. A lot of balance to the herbal/citrus hops, more of an exotic (yuzu?) tang to them than the more familiar pine/grapefruit notes. Nice maltiness that doesn't at all get in the way of the finish. Just a beautiful beer overall.

Serving type: bottle

06-09-2011 21:54:24 | More by IPhantom
Photo of DarthKostrizer


3.05/5  rDev -34.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Look: Beer pours a nice copper color with visible amounts of carbonation bubbles and a half inch think head and a tad bit of lacing

Smell: The beer smells like someone crushed up dandelions in their sweaty palms

Taste: The beer actually goes down really smooth without alot of bitterness which is nice. That being said it taste like I took a bite of an orange tree branch

Mouthfeel: Medium body and a tad bit dry and grainy kinda like i chewed on some hop flowers

Overall: Not quite sure why this beer is rated so highly to be honest. If you have never had this beer before try it and then make sure and give it an A+ rating that it does not deserve

Serving type: bottle

06-09-2011 04:12:40 | More by DarthKostrizer
Photo of Roke87

Ontario (Canada)

4.83/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

500 mL bottle, chilled and poured into a Duvel tulip.
Bottled on date: April.28.2011
Thanks to evilinc for hooking this one up!

Appearance- Pours a clear golden amber colour with a big fluffy two fingers of white head that takes a long, long time to reside to a very thick top of foam and a nice bubbly ring around the glass leaving lots of lacing throughout till finish.

Smell- From the second I opened the bottle I got a strong whiff of grapefruit. Upon pouring it into the tulip it does have a very strong grapefruit aroma, lots of resiny pine smells, and lots of citrusy fruity hops in there as well, I also get a small smell of sweetness thrown in there.

Taste- Exactly what a DIPA should be, very strong and crisp citrusy grapefruit tasting hop flavours right off the bat paired with that resiny pine taste, finishes with a well-balanced malt flavour and almost sweet as well, I just can’t put my finger on exactly what it is that is giving this one that sweet aroma and taste as well.

Mouthfeel- Light to medium bodied with more than above average carbonation, this is one smooth and crisp, easy drinking DIPA and hides the higher ABV very well, not overly bitter either for such a hopped up beer.

Overall- Wow what an amazing DIPA, although it does remind me of other east coast DIPA’s that I have tried before, I do understand why it has such a big hype, this beer is simply outstanding. I wish I had regular access to this one as my fridge would probably be full of it. Great aromas right away once the bottle is opened to the great balanced tastes throughout. ISO: More pliny.

Serving type: bottle

06-09-2011 02:24:16 | More by Roke87
Photo of omnigrits


4.83/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pored into a straight pint glass.

A. Golden amber with a good white head that lingers but eventually subsides to a thin layer of bubbles. Not much lace.

S. Piney, resiny, citrusy hops but the malt is in there too not going down without a fight. As the beer warms up the malt comes through more as well as a hint of bubble gum.

T. Dry, dry hops. Pine, grapefruit, grass. Very good malt balance. A superb finish with maybe a hint of peppery spice that reminds more than a little of Belgian yeast.

M. Medium bodied, perfect carbonation, crisp.

O. A fantastic beer without a shadow of a doubt. I doubt I could say anything about it that hasn't been said a hundred times already.

Serving type: bottle

06-09-2011 01:27:51 | More by omnigrits
Photo of stupac2


4.9/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

My favorite beer for my first review. Pours a beautiful amber with a couple fingers of white head. The smell is delicious, pine and citrus, but not quite as strong as I'd want for a 5. Taste is sublime, this beer is perfectly balanced. Mouthfeel is clean and refreshing.

Serving type: bottle

06-08-2011 22:05:57 | More by stupac2
Photo of LtCracker20


4.7/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bottled on 5/24/11. Fresh as I'll ever get it...

A- Pours a very clear and brilliant yellow orange body with a beautiful 3-finger white head with great retention and some great lace.

S- Great pine and citrus hops. Very clean and fresh in the smell. What an amazing smelling beer.

T- Citrus and piney hops up front, not too bitter but it is in there, followed by a slight hint of bready malt sweetness.

MF- Nice medium body, not heavy, and the right amount of carbonation.

O- An absolute wonder of a beer. Has to be in the top 2 of DIPAs that I've had, second only to Pliny the Younger. This is so amazing I'd like to bathe in it, then drink it!

Serving type: bottle

06-08-2011 19:56:06 | More by LtCracker20
Photo of mater


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

Received this in a trade with badboyrsl84. THANKS!

A-Pours a hazy golden yellow color with a 1.5 finger head and good lacing.

S-Citrus fruits, pine and hops.

T-Hops, grapefruit, citrus fruits with a nice caramel sweetness to back it up.

M-Moderate mouthfeel. Decent carbonation. Goes down smooth.

O-A good beer indeed, but I don't know about it being #3 on BA. My bottle was about 4-5 weeks old, some might say I need to have it fresher, but what top ranked IPA/DIPA isn't fantastic when super fresh.

Serving type: bottle

06-05-2011 08:23:52 | More by mater
Photo of dcook11


4.43/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Week old bottle poured into a snifter. Pours a light honey color with some head and minimal lacing. Smells of pine, floral notes, and not even a hint of alcohol. Very well masked for 8 percent. Taste is quite smooth...very piney with just a touch of citrus and floral components. Mouthfeel is top of the line. No abrasive bitterness, so clean. Great beers, world class.

Serving type: bottle

06-05-2011 06:17:37 | More by dcook11
Photo of rmalinowski4


4.9/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into my Mikasa tulip.

The pour is a crystal clear light amber with 2 fingers fluffy white head. Head recedes slowly leaving lots of lacing on the glass. The glass is so clear, I can read my mail through the glass.

The smell is tropical fruit and pine. Smells simply mouthwatering. The best smelling beer I have seen.

The taste is the same as the smell, tropical with a pine finish. The malt is there, but it let's the hops really shine. Very very tasty.

The mouthfeel is spot on. Medium body with moderate carbonation really compliments the flavors, they dance on your palate.

Overall, this is the standard bearer for the style. It is just about perfect. All other are judged against this.

Serving type: bottle

06-05-2011 00:08:27 | More by rmalinowski4
Photo of 28Rock


4.58/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I went in to my "specialty" liquor store to pick up a bottle of DFH Squall IPA that they had put away for me when they got a shipment of it (they called me to let me know it was in), when the owner told me that they had just received three cases if Pliny the Elder earlier that day. I ended up buying two bottles of Pliny. LOVE my liquor store!

Appearance: Amber in color when pouring it into my tulip, but definitely golden when put up to the light, with a nice, thick head to go along with its overall appearance.

Smell: An explosion of grapefruits is what I got without having to put my glass up to my nose. Very citrusy.

Taste: Bitterness hits you as soon as you take your first sip (this is expected from an DIPA). You can definitely taste the hops on this one.

Mouthfeel: Not heavy at all. Well carbonated. The bitterness of this beer lingered, especially as the beer warmed up.

Overall: I really enjoyed this beer. If you're a fan of hoppy beers, than this is a beer you must try. If you're not really into bitter beers, but are willing to give one a shot, then I highly recommend this one. This beer has a bite, but the tangerine flavor and smell will help you get through you glass with no problem at all...

Serving type: bottle

06-04-2011 06:31:44 | More by 28Rock
Photo of Dope


4.28/5  rDev -8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

11 day old bottle sampled in this review.

A: Pretty typical of a DIPA, a nice medium amber color. Very fluffy off-white head with good retention.

S: Immediately apparent and quite strong. Smells like pine most of all but you can detect the bready malt in the background too. A nice combo and the kind of aroma you keep coming back to sample some more.

T: Instant up-front hop bite typical of West coast style IPAs. Very piney with a bit of citrus rounding it out. Surprisingly well balanced, it's not ridiculously hopped just for the sake of being the biggest palate ruiner (like a Ruination might be). Malt backbone is apparent but not intrusive. A sort of bready graininess sticks around in the aftertaste. No indication of alcohol at all despite being 8% ABV.

M: Medium in body with a bit of oily mouth coating that you get from big IPAs. Not as bad as some but it's there. Very smooth, carbonation isn't harsh at all. Aftertaste sticks around for a while but isn't annoying.

O: Overall a very impressive beer. It does everything well. Honestly for as much hype as this beer gets I thought it would be better (like KBS or Westy 12 type "wow" factor). It's quite good but not out of this world. This isn't a strike against it, it's easily top 3 DIPA for me. I think this is better than Maharaja (Maharaja being a bit too big and malty and overpowering in general) but a little worse than Hopslam (which blew my socks off). Different strokes for different folks though, and this is clearly an excellent beer. I have rated it as such.

Serving type: bottle

06-04-2011 04:12:43 | More by Dope
Photo of biga7346


4.93/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Obtained a fresh growler from my new best friend Azurescens, he said I was in for a treat and that might be one of the biggest understatments ever.

Poured into a Duvel oversized tulip

A - Rusty, clear and firm, good foam dissipates quickly and leaves nice soapy lacing

N - Wow. Fresh tangerine, tropical but not sugary fruits maybe pomegranite? Just such a bright, perfumy nose, so much going on. The tangy characters wrap around a dense, resiny hop character. A little fresh squeezed pineapple juice, some orange peel more cedar to piney resiny notes, the breadiness comes in more like golden raisins or figs, and very subtle in the backdrop is strawberry, or some fresh picked fruit, I believe.

T - Wow. Fresh cedar or pine up front, a nice thick blanket of hop character kind of sits on the palate, definitely a rib sticking beer (would love to pair this with bbq brisket), a little warming brandy-like in the finish, love it. Fleeting suggestions of tangerine, orange peel and definitely big fresh pineapple is present. I can't think of another beer or food that this reminds me of (maybe a lemon tart desert or pineapple upside down cake), everything about this is world class. The unsung hero here is the wonderful texture, very rich and velvety, nothing I mean nothing overpowers this beer. It has a real savory, umami component.

D - If I was stranded on a deserted island...well, you get the picture. Overall, I can't say enough positive things about this beer. Once again, my outlook on craft beer has been jolted. Big shout out to Azurescens who got this for me as fresh as I will ever have it living in MI.

Serving type: growler

06-04-2011 00:16:57 | More by biga7346
Photo of danieelol


4.78/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A: Light yellow, slightly small but good head, excellent lacing.

S: like a pine tree or pina colada. Pineapple, juicy. Also has some umamiish characteristics reminiscent of Parmesan. Heavy on the malt which only further contributes to the tropical aromas.

T: Tastes...supremely well balanced. Like a pine milkshake. A bit bitter and dry but also a bit sweet and really gentle going down. 5

M: Really highly carbed. Rips itself off your palate so you can down some more. 5

O: Amazing. Obvious why this is rated so ridiculously highly, even though this bottle is 3 months old and has been shipped to Australia. Does taste malt-heavy but is still very enjoyable. 4.5

Serving type: bottle

06-03-2011 03:23:15 | More by danieelol
Photo of caddyguy


4.43/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Was at a picnic this weekend, when a friend pulled 2 bottles of this out of the cooler. Mind you, everything else was BMC stuff. I really has to convince him to let me enjoy one of them. He's my new best friend!

A: Poured a very nice butterscotch color, with about a 1 finger foamy head.
S: Aroma was rather intoxicating. I could smell citrus, grapefruit witha hint of apricot. The presence of hops was enjoyably unavoidable.
T: Very clean taste, refreshing, seems to mask the alcohol.
M: I felt it crisp, not chewy at all, but finished with a fair amount of carbonation.
O: I enjoyed this quite a bit. It's a shame here in Ct. , it's quite hard to find. I'll savor the memory for a while.

Serving type: bottle

06-02-2011 18:58:08 | More by caddyguy
Photo of MikeM40


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

Poured from a 500 ml. bottle into a SA Perfect Pint glass. This beer pours a golden honey amber color with a large foamy head which leaves a ton of lacing. Aromas of pine,hops,citrus...particularly grapefruit and touch of malt rise from the glass. Fresh citrus is up front which gives way to a strong pinyness,followed by a hoppy bitterness. The finish is balanced off with a slight malty sweetness that tails off to a dry finish. Mouthfeel is very good and there is plenty of carbonation to accent the crisp,clean nature of this beer. Alcohol taste and presence is well hidden. For me this brew lived up to expectations. 

The bottle reviewed was 2 weeks old.

Serving type: bottle

06-02-2011 16:17:26 | More by MikeM40
Photo of vfgccp

New York

4.47/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A – Crystal gold amber with a fluffy white head.

S – Herbal forward with clove, sage, dill and soft thyme. There’s an interesting sweet note that almost comes off as a thinned out condensed milk. Delicious orange zest and pineapple citrus throughout.

T – Soft malt sweetness into a smack of grapefruit and pine. The bitterness is broad but resists escalating out of control. Middle to back end brings out flavors more akin to the nose; thyme, orange, and pineapple.

M – Medium body with a soft mouthfeel. Well carbonated. Lingering herbal bitterness.

Serving type: bottle

06-02-2011 02:57:01 | More by vfgccp
Photo of jmeyers78


4.65/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Glassware: pint glass

A- bright amber, 1/2" thick white head

S- like being punched in the nose with pungent hops. Strong pine

T- a nice balance of bitterness and smoothness of the malt

M- the real star for me. Smooth and creamy. The flavors lingered as the temperature of the beer increased

O- I waited along time to get my hands on one of these and it was worth it. The bottles that I got were about 2 weeks old when I tried them.

Serving type: bottle

06-01-2011 19:01:14 | More by jmeyers78
Photo of sgoro


4.35/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Glassware - Tulip

A - Pours a hazy amber color with a nice, fluffy 1/4 inch off-white head.

S - Nice citrus notes on the nose highlighted by grapefruit aromas. The hops come through nicely and are very inviting.

T - Bitterness comes at you from the start but is balanced nicely by the grapefruit and finishes with even more dry hops. You can tell from the start this is a classic West Coast IPA.

M - Medium bodied with a little creaminess coming through as well.

O - An outstanding and enjoyable beer. Wish I lived in Cali so I could grab this anytime!

Serving type: bottle

06-01-2011 02:34:27 | More by sgoro
Photo of Devi0us


4.3/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this Bad MoFo on tap at Toronado SF.

A- Pours a golden yellow color. Had a 1 finger white head and good amounts of lacing.

S- All I can smell is some Grade A Medical Cannabis and possibly some pine and citrus. I wish every beer smelled like this.

T- This had 3 levels of flavor. The beginning was smooth an I was yearning for more. As the beer warmed, the hops dominated and felt like a Jackie Chan side kick to the jaw. The ending tasted just like the beginning, made me want more.

M- Pretty damn smooth with the perfect amount of carbonation. I can see what the hype is about.
O- This brew makes your senses go to work. From the Grade A cannabis smell to the 3 layers of flavor. This is a complex beer and definitely a brew you wanna drink on the warmer upcoming months.

Serving type: on-tap

05-31-2011 09:15:43 | More by Devi0us
Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 9,626 ratings.