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Pliny The Elder - Russian River Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

10,187 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 10,187
Reviews: 3,135
rAvg: 4.65
pDev: 8.17%
Wants: 4,675
Gots: 1,623 | FT: 55
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
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Ratings: 10,187 | Reviews: 3,135 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of modernartblues


4.6/5  rDev -1.1%

Poured into a Duvel Tulip

Bottled on 12/13/10...I know many will say 5 weeks is too long for an adequate review, but I will update this when I get some fresh Pliny, which is due my way in the next couple weeks (note editing review to reflect review on 02/02/11, bottled on date 01/12/11)

A: golden to amberish in color- clear body, huge 2.5" white head, recedes to a modest cap....clarity in the body, this is a beautiful beer, cap stay constant, lots of messy lacing

N: PINE, some tropical fruits, similar to Hopslam in the nose in that it smells like freshly opened hop packets and every bit as vibrant, in two words--- world class

T: very piney, similar to Stone IPA in flavor profile imo, not blown away (3 week bottle did blow me away), great hop flavor, very dry and very little malt profile coming through....bitterness is vibrant but not overbearing, this is pretty awesome, more citrusy in the 3 week bottle than the 5 week old bottle. I matched this one head to head with a Hopslam (bottled 01.11.11) and they were neck and neck for me.

M: light and pleasent for an Imperial anything, very good and a wonderful chewy consistency, not as easy drinkability as Hopslam, but every bit as enjoyable

D: high, high, love it

01-21-2011 22:07:43 | More by modernartblues
Photo of RyanWo


4.93/5  rDev +6%

Poured from the bottle into a tulip glass. The appearance was amber red with a slight hop haze and beautiful white head that laced the glass. Aroma was thick with grapefruit, pine, grass and other tropical fruits. The taste follows suit. A thick hop flavor with a great balance between the hope and malts. Lighter body moderate carbonation. A treat for your senses.

01-19-2011 03:39:19 | More by RyanWo
Photo of TheCrowsNest


4.85/5  rDev +4.3%

On-tap at Naja's Place, Redondo Beach, CA

Poured a gorgeous golden orange from the tap with a smaller head.

I didn't feel the nose on this as much as anticipated. Very floral.

I don't often find myself describing DIPAs as "refreshing" but god damn. The hops are very strong but balanced perfectly as to not knock your palate off it's rocker. Classic piney, grapefruit.

Could drink these for days on end if they didn't ring in at $8 a pop for 12 oz. A beer that lives up to all expectations and still excites on that first taste.

01-18-2011 18:41:05 | More by TheCrowsNest
Photo of tobin


4.3/5  rDev -7.5%

Sampled on tap at the Russian River Brewpub

This double IPA poured a clear, amber color with white foam that settled but clung and coated the inside of the glass a bit. The smell was fruity, spicy hops with not much malt. The taste was grassy, fruity hops with a good bit of malt to balance. The hoppy flavors lingered very nicely. The mouthfeel was smooth, dry, and very hoppy with medium body and moderate carbonation. The finish was slightly astringent. This was a very nice and very hoppy double IPA.

01-17-2011 19:44:33 | More by tobin
Photo of dgfair

North Carolina

4.8/5  rDev +3.2%

500 mL bottle poured into Duvel tulip. Bottled on 12/17/2010.

A - beautiful golden orange color with a brilliant white head that sticks around the entire way through the entire drink and leaves lacing all over the glass. Brilliant clarity, as good as an ipa can look.

S - very resinous pine aroma, probably the piniest hops i have smelled in a beer. Not a whole lot of depth here, but the pine is very nice.

T - extremely clean hop flavor with the perfect amount of bittering and earthy flavor. Mostly pine, but there is a nice little hit of grapefruit to balance the hop profile. The best thing here is while the beer is very hoppy, it doesn't kick you in the face with over the top palate crushing bitterness. A very delicate double ipa if there is such a thing. The dry but not overly sweet malt backbone is the perfect canvas for this perfect showcase of hops.

M&D - the beer is perfectly carbonated and feels so smooth going down. For an 8% ipa, i could drink these one after the other. Amazingly drinkable.

Overall, this is a fantastic beer, and right up there with the best double ipas I've ever had. Difficult to obtain, but well worth it when it is sitting in your glass at the end of the day.

01-17-2011 00:13:29 | More by dgfair
Photo of leakyfaucet12


4.58/5  rDev -1.5%

1 pint poured into snifter thanks to Josh in Cali. Reviewed from notes

a- Orange & Perfect. I wish that everybeer looked like this

s- Fruit, Pine, Hops, Smells like Jesus' Armpits

t- Took a huge sip of this, Tones of fruit, pine and citrusy hops. I love this beer. Makes me hate California out of jealousy.

m- Tons of carbonation and frothy

d- I want some more of this beer went down easy. Almost too easy

01-16-2011 16:51:15 | More by leakyfaucet12
Photo of mjsheehan08


4.68/5  rDev +0.6%


First ever Pliny experience at teresas next door in Wayne Pa. 

Pours an orangey rusty hue. When held up to light, explodes into a fiery deep orange. Nice little cream head that minimizes after first sip and leaves a nice little rim of head. Lacing clings to the side of the glass in clumps. 

I am a little disappointed in the glass that I was served in. It was like a mini champagne flute that does not bring out alot of the aromas of the beer. I get mild floral aromas and hops. I am thinking about spilling it out on the bar to try and get a better whiff, but I don't wanna get kicked out before I have had another beer. 

Taste is amazing. Piney as hell, with alot of floral notes, pineapple, grapefruit, and a really great bitterness at the end that lingers for a while. This was def worth the wait and lived up to the hype. 

Mouthfeel is full, and it really makes it's presence known on the palate. Minimal carbonation up front and it bubbles hard in the end. 

This beer hids it's booze well in the taste, but I haven't eaten lunch and I can feel it in my head. This review is taking me forever. 

01-15-2011 17:28:02 | More by mjsheehan08
Photo of Rjhami


4.97/5  rDev +6.9%

Served from 500ml into tulip. Bottled on 12/13/10

A - Glowing golden-orange with a thick head to start a couple fingers wide. The lacing spreads all over into a spider web of bubbly stickiness.

S - Extreme amounts of pine and then citrus of all kinds. A very crisp finish without noticing the alcohol. As I drink this beer I notice sweeter notes like butterscotch.

T - A huge hoppy beer with tastes of grapefruit, pine needle & pineapple. An excellent slightly dry and bitter finish that is just right.

M - Medium bodied that is a little creamy yet so well balanced to the carbonation. Most satisfying to the palate with some bleu cheese and crackers.

D - For an 8% beer it is highly drinkable. You would not think the abv was even that high. This brew lives up to the hype; although the chase for this beer can be a nuisance it is always greatly rewarded.

01-15-2011 02:14:58 | More by Rjhami
Photo of nniicckkww


4.5/5  rDev -3.2%

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. Bottling date 12/17/2010. Drank 01/13/2011. This is the freshest Pliny I can get here on the east coast.

Clear honey amber gold with a fluffy white head. The head left a nice lacing on the glass until I finished it. Perfect amount of carbonation and the head retention was spot on.

Aroma of pine and fresh grapefruit. Fresh citrus taste up front with piney resin in the middle leading to a slight malt backbone. Dry. Yum. This is anything but cloying. The balance is perfect. I can taste the hops. I'm surprised the beer doesn't have a green tint to it.

Light body masks the alcohol. So drinkable it's scary. I could have a six pack of these. Delicious.

I must make a trip to Russian River and Toronado to sample the "fresh" Pliny. This is a world class IPA and I can't imagine how good it must be within days of bottling/tapping.

01-14-2011 16:48:37 | More by nniicckkww
Photo of lnashsig


5/5  rDev +7.5%

Thanks to Augustgarage for popping my Pliny cherry and introducing me to the kickass world of California IPAs!

Poured into a dogfish head snifter- about 3 fingers of head that lingered for about a minute before residing into some intricate lacing on the glass. Smell- hardcore pine, grapefruit, big citrus flavors on the nose. I'm already aware that I'm not worthy of the beer nirvana I'm about to experience. Taste- big beautiful bitter hops hit my palate on the front, some nice brutal hop burn here. The bitter hops quickly makes way to a nice big malt backbone that evens out this hop monster. Mouthfeel- I noticed some really nice carbonation here, also nice silky finish.

This really lives up to the hype, period. Thanks again Augustgarage for the experience.

01-14-2011 01:57:43 | More by lnashsig
Photo of BobZ


4.1/5  rDev -11.8%

Thanks to Mike (mrunseen) for the trade.
16.9 Oz. bottle. Poured into my Duvel tulip.

Appearance: Golden yellow, nice billowy head initially that only dissipates to about a ½", excellent sticky lacing.

Smell: As expected big hops, heavy on the pine and citrus especially grapefruit.

Taste: Follows the smell verbatim, strong on the bitter grapefruit coupled with a pine flavor on the finish. Frankly, I'm getting little or nothing from the malt, not a lot of depth or complexity to this one, dominant hops. A nice aspect is how pleasant the grapefruit bitterness is on the palate, it does not linger. This aspect helps give this beer a clean, crisp flavor. This is a very good beer for the style, but not as multi-dimensional as I generally prefer my beer.

Mouth feel: Very smooth on the palate, nicely carbonated.

Drinkability: Very nice beer and the 8% ABV is completely masked.
I had two of these before deciding to review, the first was almost 2 months old and the latest was just a month old. I must say the younger beer was better (this surprised me, as I was skeptical with regard to "how fresh" people have said you need to drink this beer). To my taste the older beer had far more of a pine flavor, the citrus was barely there, hidden in the background behind a big pine cone. The younger had the taste I described above.

01-13-2011 22:23:56 | More by BobZ
Photo of joshuaseresse


4.58/5  rDev -1.5%

Bottled on 12-28-2010. Big thanks to Diomede for these Fresh bottles! Split with some people at the local liquor store:

A - pours a nice orange, bronze, amber color with a slight bit of head that dies into a foam ring. I've had Pliny's with frothier heads but it may have been the glass that I poured it in. Lacing was pretty good but just didn't stay.

S - Nice citrus notes! Pineapple, grapefruit, orange and lemon rinds. Also great pine notes and slight maltiness. Smells awesome!

T - Starts off with the nice citrus notes of pineapple, grapefruit and orange, but was also followed by a pine bitterness and resin notes which lingered long after the drink, leaving a bittering flavor in the mouth (which is not a bad thing.) Little bit of maltiness and bread but that is covered quite quickly by the fruit and pine.

M - Great carbonation and smooth mouthfeel. Refreshing and crisp.

D - Way easy to drink. I love the smell and flavor of this brew. I've been drinking a lot of DIPAs lately and this one is up there, although I do enjoy Abrasive much more :) Solid brew from Russian River and is also on my seeking list.

01-13-2011 02:21:55 | More by joshuaseresse
Photo of Boitnott

North Carolina

4.4/5  rDev -5.4%

I poured Pliny the Elder into a Dogfish Head large snifter. With a dark orange hue, it looks exceptional. A cloudiness is present which makes the beer translucent. A light white colored head appears righr after the pour and lingers throughout the drink. A decent lacing also exists.

A rich hop, floral smell permeates from this beer as well hints a citrus. This continues through the taste with a nose of light citrus and a bit of pale malt flavoring. This is finish is nothing short of amazing. Lots of hops come through in the taste. The floral tastes also come through and linger after the sip goes down. For a double, the hops do create an overally bitter taste. I read in a brewing book that this effect is created by dry hopping.

The mouthfeel is great for this one. The carbonation goes great with thr flavoeing of the beer and it goes down very smooth for an IPA. I had 4 of these so far and they have all been great. Honestly I would really take their warning and drink them right away.

01-13-2011 00:22:18 | More by Boitnott
Photo of diomz88


4.5/5  rDev -3.2%

S - fruity, flowey and citrusy, with a little scent of hop there too.
A - golden orange, whittish head,
T - HOP! right away the hop. but it's the hop that you will like and appreciate in a great brew. Citrus, caramel, and malty.
M - very smooth, medium to full bodied. no aftertaste, for me.
D - oh so drinkable, one of the great beers out there.

01-12-2011 07:07:00 | More by diomz88
Photo of CuriousMonk


4.5/5  rDev -3.2%

I understand that PTE is brewed with 40% more malt and over twice the amount of hops as compared to Russian River's already hoppy IPA beers. I was able to acquire a Pliny bottled on 12/13/10 from a contact in California. The beer poured a golden/copper light hue; remarkably clear. This beer gave off a bitter hoppy taste initally and then picked up heavy hints of pine. Admittedly, it lacks some "oomph" that some IPAs do. I can see why this is a popular beer among Imperial IPA purists, but I might think this is an overhyped beer as the #2 beer in the world via Beeradvocate. I am glad to have drank this highly sought-after beer which will serve as a nice benchmark against other Imperials. I very much look forward to trying Pliny the Younger on tap someday.
Updated: Tried a more fresh batch from January 2011 and this beer tasted way better than the December batch. Therefore, I've upped my rankings from a B to A.

01-11-2011 23:19:46 | More by CuriousMonk
Photo of jbertsch


4.47/5  rDev -3.9%

Bottled on 12/17.

Appeared orange with soft edges. Faintly clear and faintly hazy at the same time. A half-finger, white, sudsy head dissipates to a film but hangs out for the duration. Laces well.

Aroma is bright - as bright as I've ever smelled any beer to be. Grapfruit and pine hops are very upfront. Also a bit floral with subtle notes of white grapce and orange.

The taste offers up tons of fresh hop flavor - and hops is the star here. Citrus notes are dominant. Finishes bitter, but the bitterness doesn't linger too long.

Properly carbonated and alittle prickly on the tongue.

Drinkability is good in slow moderation.

I see what the hub-bub is about, but I honestly feel there are other DIPAs out there that are just as good. WOuld love to have this again, but maybe not worth jumping through hoops to get it again here in Massachusetts.

01-11-2011 20:25:09 | More by jbertsch
Photo of basica


4.72/5  rDev +1.5%

A - Pours a bright, hazy orange-golden into my snifter with a one-finger thick milky white head and medium to good retention; moderate carbonation was visible amidst the liqui (4.5)

S - Upfront hoppiness on the nose with notes of citrus and pine along with big fruity suggestions with notes of grapefruit and passion fruit (4.5)

T - Pleasantly hop forward on the palate with an intense fruit explosion, well blended with a moderate touch of sweetness; fruity suggestions include notes of grapefruit, passion fruit and other delectable juicy, citrusy flavors. Past the middle and towards the finish, pine flavors were revealed along with some malty notes and a slightly above moderate amount of bitterness which, surprisingly, only comes around the finish, lasting into after taste along with the fruity notes. This is, by far, the best tasting DIPA I've ever had (5)

M - Medium-bodied thickness with a slight syrupy stickiness, apt for the style; slightly higher than moderate amount of carbonation and a creamy smooth texture as it goes down with a slight and pleasant warming (4.5)

D - First off, the PtE is the fruitiest DIPA I've ever had; in fact, it's almost to the point of being juicy and definitely to my delight. It's also not as intense or as bitter as some of the West Coast DIPAs; very juicy, delicious yet balanced for a DIPA and not overly bitter as well. Thus, very drinkable and a session that every DIPA lover would wish easy access to (4.5)

The PtE is the final of the 5 DIPAs in my horizontal taste comparison. I am glad to say that the PtE did not disappoint on the taste factor though I was expecting to be slightly more blown away by the nose and the feel. I loved the fruitiness and "juiciness" in the PtE and am very keen to revisit the Gordon Ale from Oskar Blues which I also recalled to be very fruity.

So without further ado, here's the ranking of the 5 DIPAs: 1st - Pliny the Elder (4.7), 2nd - Moylan's Hopsickle IPA (4.45), 3rd - Stone Ruination IPA (4.1), 4th - Dogfish Head 90 Min (4.1), 5th - Souther Tier 2XIPA (3.8). I would not strictly put the DFH 90 after the Ruination as the DFH is something you can easily enjoy a few pints of at a sitting whereas the Ruination would have destroyed your palate after half a glass.

In terms of hoppiness, bitterness and fruitiness on both the nose and flavor, the West Coast DIPAs easily trump the East coast variants and the Ruination sits on top when it comes to bitterness; Hopsickle ranks second and PtE third (Ruination and Hopsickle were considered a bit too bitter). The East Coast DIPAs were just touched with just a slight bitterness that was no where near the intensity of the West Coast IPAs. Appearance wise, none of them are stunners or a big story to bring home but the Hopsickle and the PtE looked a cut above the rest. The most easy drinking of these DIPAs (without too much of a flavor comparison here) would have to be the DFH 90 with the PtE following in second place.

01-11-2011 16:41:44 | More by basica
Photo of DaveHS


4.43/5  rDev -4.7%

Reviewed from notes.

A-Pours rusty orange with amber highlights. Thin, off white head, almost no lacing.

S-Pine needles, grapefruit, orange peels.

T/M-Citric/piney hop profile. Beautifully balanced, with chewy, mouth filling carbonation. Tasty, bracing bittering hops round out the finish.

D-One of the best of its style.

01-11-2011 12:15:44 | More by DaveHS
Photo of beagle75


4.5/5  rDev -3.2%

Draft service into a pint nonic at Russian River.

A: Clear, light orange-amber with less than one finger of persistent white foam head. Heavy lacing remains on the glass.

S: Hops are featured foremost in the smell, almost all grapefruit citrus with scant floral and pine accents. Toast and caramel are faint but detectable as well. No smell of alcohol is detected.

T: Begins off-dry and eagerly hoppy, with bitter and aromatic grapefruit peel backed by more juicy citrus fruit. The middle is drying and delicious as hop flavors lose some ground to restrained cracker and toast--though never grainy. The finish is more lingering than it is intense, with more toast and bitterness that still tastes of grapefruit peel. No alcohol is detected.

M: Thin to medium viscosity, slightly sticky but extremely smooth, with moderate carbonation.

D: A beguiling brew to be sure, this beer is famous not for the intensity of the qualities it presents, but for the way they are united so seamlessly in the final product. Pliny the Elder is so surprisingly smooth that it could change a lot more drinkers' minds about extreme/traditional/artisanal beer styles, if only more had the awareness and ability to seek it out. From the tap or out of the bottle, every encounter with it is made to seem like the first--which is perhaps one of the most favorable attributes any food or drink could hope to aspire to.

01-10-2011 22:58:23 | More by beagle75
Photo of GarthDanielson

North Carolina

4.6/5  rDev -1.1%

Poured on-tap at the San Diego Brewing Co brewpub. They had it on guest tap while we were visiting. The beer was poured into a pint glass, and it poured a cloudy, golden-copper color with a thin, foamy head. The beer has smells of hops and pine, with lemon-lime notes. The flavor ursts in mouth, with citrusy-sweet notes surrounded by the bitter-greens from the hops. Perfectly balanced and smooth in mouth, with a crisp finish. There is a light, sour balance to the bitter aftertaste, and no linger despite the strong flavors and characteristics. Wow! I think I just made a mess in my pants! I'm glad I got to try this on-tap for my first PtE. Now I am just looking forward to the next time I can find it!

01-10-2011 00:11:38 | More by GarthDanielson
Photo of obrike


4.5/5  rDev -3.2%

Got one of these thanks to Jenray.

The taste lived up to the hype. Incredibly drinkable DIPA. Beautiful looking and smelling beer, with a taste to match. Piney, citrusy, but not overly bitter. I think this one was about 6-7 weeks ago, so it may have lost some of its luster...even so, it was quite good.

Oh how I wish this was available in Texas....but alas, I'll have to stick with good Avery and Bear Republic offerings instead....and the occassional Lagunitas Sucks when I can get my hands on it.

01-09-2011 03:26:36 | More by obrike
Photo of BeerForMuscle

New Jersey

4.43/5  rDev -4.7%

Had this on tap at Monks.

A - Beautiful golden clear color with a foamy offwhite head. Looks very crisp and clean.

S - Wonderful grapefruit/citrus nose with some spice and spruce scents as well.

T - This beer tastes so refreshing and declicious. Clean, crisp, slightly fruit, a bit sweet, bitter, spicy. It has it all going on.

M - This beer was smooth and appropriately carbonated. The feel was light and refreshing.

D - Despite the 8% abv, this beer is highly drinkable. The perfect balance of its spicy, sweet, bitter, fruity flavors are the reason why. If you love clean evergreens, crisp fresh citrus fruit and spicy hops this beer is the one.

Notes - I ordered this because Russian River makes some good beer. I hadn't researched this beer prior to drinking, and ordered it blindly. Im so glad I did. Really wonderful fresh flavorful beer with tons of character.

01-08-2011 22:08:32 | More by BeerForMuscle
Photo of oreo


5/5  rDev +7.5%

Poured into a snifter. Two week old bottle.

Deep orange/tangerine color one finger head.

Huge aroma of grapefruit pine and pineapples

Awesome. Huge citrus flavors, orange and pineapples. Just a wonderful beer. Super drinkable. Light body with medium carbonation.

01-08-2011 20:35:53 | More by oreo
Photo of THECPJ


4.58/5  rDev -1.5%

Reviewed from notes, 12/9/2010.
2 week old Pliny the Elder on the east coast...whoa!

A: generous hop scents along with hints of pine and grapefruit.

Ap: copper-orange with a 2 finger off-white head that dissipates fairly quickly. Leaves a nice lacing on the glass.

B/T: mildly carbonated, very smooth, fresh, and crisp. It lingers on the tongue, but does not leave that drying feeling as other IPAs may.

Af: very pronounced grapefruit taste. Of course, full of a great hop profile, with hints of pine sneaking in there. Fairly sweet, but does end on a bitter note.

O: a delcious DIPA that is best served FRESH!


01-08-2011 18:24:50 | More by THECPJ
Photo of Verecund


4.6/5  rDev -1.1%

Review #199.

Bottle dated 11.22.2010. Enjoyed on 1.7.11. Generously received from HoldensHomebrew.

Pours a slightly cloudy persimmon orange with a foamy, one-finger white head. Settles down to a ring of head and one straggling group of bubbles, with thick-bubbled lacing.

The combination of pine, citrus, grapefruit, and floral hoppiness is not unique to Pliny the Elder, but the complexity here is deeper; this is a case where clarity through words is hard to come by. The pine is sweetened through what smells like caramelized sugar; imagine sugared grapefruit for breakfast and you're close.

Lots of citrus and resinous flavor without imparting too much lingering bitterness. There's more caramel backing than I expect or remember (the bottle may be just a week or two "older" than perfect), but it's really driven by the grapefruit and citrus bitterness. As I get further in, I pick up on some orange and just a hint of sweeter tropical fruit notes - this is my favorite part of the beer, coming in mid-to-late palate and only as I get further through the glass.

Medium-full bodied without medium carbonation. Somewhat sticky without distracting.

The standard for a style I don't always appreciate. Drinking this now, it brings back memories of sub-par DIPAs of the past, really putting them to shame. Other DIPAs roam the earth, ghostlike, growing ever staler and hoping to be like Pliny. Vinnie does no wrong.

01-08-2011 03:43:52 | More by Verecund
Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 10,187 ratings.