1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. 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.

10,631 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 10,631
Reviews: 3,179
rAvg: 4.65
pDev: 8.39%
Wants: 4,906
Gots: 1,797 | FT: 58
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:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Pliny The Elder Alström Bros
Ratings: 10,631 | Reviews: 3,179 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of unitmonster
4.5/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had in multiple bottles and multiple drafts.

A - Golden sunshine with a generous head.

S - Pineapple, grapefruit, and other citrus. The delicious balance of hops and malt mask the booze in this beer.

T - This beer does live up to the hype. It definitely is one of the top 5 DIPAs out there. Perfectly balanced hop/citrus taste and malt really round out the flavors. No single characteristic is distinguishable on the start or finish.

M - Medium carbonation, nice and light.

O - Love this beer. As I said earlier, it does live up to the hype.

unitmonster, Aug 16, 2011
Photo of marct
4.97/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

What can I say that hasn't been said before? This is quite possibly my favorite beer on Earth, my desert island beer, my last beer to drink on my death bed.

Whether from a growler or bottle or draft at the source, this beer has never disappointed.

Aroma is perhaps the finest on Earth if you like hops and the taste confirms it. I fail at descriptors, but pine comes to mind.

This is the bar. This is what all other Double IPAs should strive to achieve.

marct, Aug 16, 2011
Photo of SkiBum22
4.95/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Pours a nice amber orange with 2 fingers of pillowy head. Probably the best looking IPA I've ever seen.

S: Grapefruit and pine with hints of sweeter citrus like tangerines.

T: Outstanding. Really great hop flavors, nice grapefruit touches with just the subtlest of malt characters to balance this out. This packs a bitter punch but still remains soft and smooth.

M: A firm medium body with higher than average carbonation. Very smooth.

O: By far the best IPA I've ever had. It lives up to the hype and then some.

SkiBum22, Aug 14, 2011
Photo of doctor333
5/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Could this beer live up to it's hype? OK, very privileged to get 6 bottle from my cousin for free. Very fortunate to even get a fresh batch bottled on 8/2/11 and first tasted on 8/13/11. I live in PA, so it's nearly impossible to get it in bottles on the East Coast.

Poured into a 10oz Russian River Brewery goblet.

Appearance- Slightly hazy and gold colored with a very nice white head - 1 finger head. Good lacing on the glass.

Smell- Huge piney hop aroma. Not much malt smell. Some alcohol. Very peachy smell.

Taste- Big piney bitterness all over my mouth. Small malt taste and lots of alcohol. VERY dry as well.

Mouthfeel- Perfect.

Overall- The best Double IPA I ever had. And probably the best beer I ever had.

Serving type: bottle

doctor333, Aug 14, 2011
Photo of dtivp
4.43/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On a recent trip to Portland, Oregon, I had the opportunity to experience this highly rated beer.

Poured a hazy honey/ orange gold with a dark white one finger creamy head with very good retention and heavy lacing.

Aroma is a complex mix of pine, grapefruit, peach and hints of malt.

Taste followed the nose with a slight sweetness of pineapple, apricot, then a piney, malt bitterness with a citrus end.

mouth feel was was medium body and carbonation, oily smooth with a nice tartness. The 8% ABV is well hidden.

Overall this is a very good enjoyable beer, the best Imperial IPA have experienced, however, I feel that it is a slightly over-hyped beer.

dtivp, Aug 13, 2011
Photo of BrewtifulMind
4.5/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at The Bottle Room, Whittier, CA

Pours a beautiful golden-orange hue, about a fingers worth of head.
Laces throughout the whole glass. Smells of pine, citrus, and hops....glorious hops. I have enjoyed Pliny many times before, but this time there was a sweet taste I experienced, almost pineapple or grapefruit like, but very hoppy on the back end. Very well balanced. Mouthfeel is very smooth, with the perfect amount of carbonation dancing on your tongue. Overall, I would say this is a very classy brew. Might I add that although this is my first time reviewing Pliny The Elder, I have enjoyed it on numerous occasions. I was lucky enough to try it before I even knew that such a site called Beer Advocate existed, learning off all the hype that surrounded this wonderful brew after my first taste. Let me tell you, this brew has stood up to, if not exceeded its own hype. Cheers.

BrewtifulMind, Aug 12, 2011
Photo of camil1mj
4.5/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Received as an extra thanks to Thome50. Bottled on 6/29. Chilled and poured into an imperial pilsner glass.

A: Glowing orange/gold. 1 finger whit head with moderate lacing.

S: Strong citrus hops. Exactly what I would expect.

T: Wonderful, crisp, fresh floral bouquet of hops giving way to citrus on the back end.

M: Well carbonated. Light to medium body.

O: Great DIPA. I understand the following, but still think many of the Michigan offerings stack up just as well. Glad I have got to have this twice now.

camil1mj, Aug 12, 2011
Photo of amanofbeer
4.93/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

It pours beautifully. The bouquet is already obvious and potent, but I'll get there soon...beautiful pale orangish gold not much head or lacing.

I was anxious...was it going to be piney or citrusy, or skunky? Well...it just smells good. A nice combination of the lot. Most certainly some pine, but it really is a huge lot of aroma. I wouldn't call it complex, but it is not basic by any means. The hops are wonderfully blended to the nose.

Beautiful balance. Starts with a citrus and skunk burst, and finishes with a skunky pine, then a dry sort of grapefruit extended lingering. Fairly simple, but extremely delightful.

The only reason I do not award this beer full marks for mouthfeel is that it isn't my style. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it...it has a relatively high abv, but I still like a bit more body. More head and lacing would be appreciated...more dextrin would do this beer a favor.

This beer (especially for the price: $4) was no disappointment. It is a truly artistic chemistry of hop flavors, and I would never have imagined such a balace of skunk, pine, and citrus. I spent the day at my aunt and uncles, with cousins, young and old hanging off of my arms and shoulders. I think that the next time I drink this beer, I will zoom back to this moment in my imagination: the first day that I tasted Pliny. Cheers.

amanofbeer, Aug 08, 2011
Photo of Moon2Goddess
4.53/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had a nice fresh bottle, just 20 days old, poured into a tulip glass.

Color: Shimmering clear golden-orange, like one of the stages of the full moon.

Head: Not terribly high, light yellow and bubbly, leaves an attractive lacing clinging to the sides of the glass.

Aroma: Hops and citrus, aroma becomes sweeter after a few minutes.

Texture: Not overly carbonated, medium body.

Flavor & Balance: I admit I am not an IPA connoisseur, having said that, the hop-element was not overpowering. I found it to be quite balanced and fruity, a vibrant beverage with hints of lemon, grapefruit, pineapple and maybe a smidge of ginger or nutmeg. Smooth and drinkable to even a dark malt lover such as myself.

Sustained Taste: Became slightly bitter as it warmed, meant to be consumed rather quickly I think.

Moon2Goddess, Aug 08, 2011
Photo of RandyV
4.88/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Managed to score a couple of these while visiting in San Diego; I feel fortunate.
Pours a nice light orange/clean copper color with nice head and sticky lacing. The smell is wonderful with evergreen/pine and grapefruit on the nose. This is an intense tasting experience, with grapefruit, orange (tangerine or clementine) and pine resin balanced nicely by bready malts. There is also a nutty, earthy undertone that I'm not used to in an IPA, which only adds to the flavor profile.

This is a beer that truly lives up to the hype. I can only look forward to having it again at some point.

RandyV, Aug 06, 2011
Photo of sbry
4.08/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

The appearance was great and the nice piney hoppy aroma really had me going, but the taste just fell a little bit flat in the mouth to me. It tasted good initially, but those bitter hoppy flavors I was craving just didn't seem to stick to the palate long enough for me for an imperial.

sbry, Aug 05, 2011
Photo of porterallen
4.97/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A nearly perfect beer. I used a pint glass as nothing else was available. The balance of hops to malt was just right. The appearance seemed right for a beer with less flavor. It looked like a lesser beer but hit hard. Just before the bitterness seems about to hit you it backs off. This makes you wonder why out of so many others, this beer stands out. The main theme I get is balance. Every characteristic of a great IPA exists here and sets the bar for the style. It is also fun I might add.

porterallen, Aug 05, 2011
Photo of jm1229
4.85/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

3rd review on BA. Bottle dated 7/19/11 served into my Stone IPA glass on 8/4/11 for IPA day. No better way to celebrate than with one of my favorite beers.

A- Really beautiful. Nice creamy head on the beer quickly dissipates and leaves some nice lacing. Gold liquid.

S- Hops! And lots of 'em. Lotsa hopsa. Citrus. Pineapple. Maybe even some mango. Smells amazing.

T- Tastes like a dream come true, really. Much like the nose, there's a bomb of citrus and pineapple. Really nice bitter aftertaste that leaves me begging for more and I can't set the beer down (rather type one handed than put this down).

M- Perfect carbonation. It really feels like a satisfying drink. Gulp or sip, it goes down smooth either way. It's really amazing.

O- I feel absolutely spoiled that I live in a place where I can get this without difficulty. I've had this on tap at the brewery, in a bottle, on tap at local bars, and I really just can't get enough of the sweet, sweet nectar. A perfect IIPA. Perhaps even the greatest. Get it any way you can.

jm1229, Aug 05, 2011
Photo of jspace3
4.83/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Just now reviewing this after grabbing a growler from the brewery in Santa Rosa. I have also had by bottle and on tap at the local pub.

Appearance - golden orange body with lots of bubbles and amazing lacing

Smell -Citrus up front, followed by a surge malts finishing with a hop bomb.

Taste - Citrus to piney bitterness, malt with a long lingering bitterness.

Mouthfeel - Smooth from start too finish with a piney hop finish.

Overall - World Class but lethal - make other beers seem pale in comparison. If I had one last beer before I died this might be it but it is not my go to beer most likely has it can quickly wreck havoc on a man's ego as it quickly turns a man into a boy and then girl with giddiness.

jspace3, Aug 04, 2011
Photo of Jinholic
4.78/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Finally I get my hands on you Pliny last bottle in the store too guy pulled it out the back and only gave it too me because I was from Phoenix, that guy is the best.

Appearance - Clear orange body lots of bubbles going rapidly upwards. Off-white/cream colored head dies down leaving a thin layer of itself.

Smell - Big bomb of citrus up front, followed by a rush of malts. Topping all this off is a hop bomb making it smell like IPA heaven.

Taste - Sweet malts all the way through this a bit richer than I thought it would be. Up front I get all the citrus hops but that all fades into overly sweetness of the malts on the finish perhaps its only downside.

Mouthfeel - Smooth from start too finish, not refreshing at all with the thickness and sweetness as it sticks too my mouth. With all the carbonation I saw when I poured it I thought it would be a bit crisper but it settled down after a few minutes leaving it much smoother.

Overall - A world class beer is all one hears when Pliny gets its name dropped. Has it lived up too the legend for me though, almost I've got to say the only thing that brings it down is the sweetness it has too it making it a bit much by itself I'd like to pair it with food and see if that takes the edge off on the finish. That said its a hard beer to get but if your in northern CA or know someone that can send you one grab it for yourself.

Jinholic, Aug 04, 2011
Photo of bfields4
4.33/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear filtered golden to slight copper body. Good head that retains itself nicely with a good lace.

Very piny hop aroma. A tinge of sweet grapefruit and a slight bready malt

Grapefruit and resiny pine flavor are still very prevalent. A touch of spiceyness and sweetness from the malt help finish off this well rounded beer.

A lot lighter on the mouthfeel than I would suspect hits the tongue just a tad light, but has a nice redeeming creaminess that comes out as the beer glides over the palate. Maybe it's just my palate, but I've had it a bunch of times and don't understand all the fuss? oh well to each his own. A very solid beer worth $4.99 a 500ml i guess.

bfields4, Aug 04, 2011
Photo of trygger87
4.47/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I have already reviewed this one, and in my previous review i stated iv had it (pliney) many times before. I said it was a three day old bottle. Well this time i managed to get my hand on a bottle that had been bottled with in the last 24 hours :)
Its been a while since iv reviewed a beer and iv had some time to let my palate and understanding of craft beer expand. In my last review i gave the Pliney a higher rating on appearance, now that iv experienced more beers of its style i think a solid 4 is what it deserves. Now here's where super fresh Pliney excel's and leaves all other IPA's in the dust (with a Few exceptions, and i mean few). When i smell this Pliney that's been bottled with in a 24 hour period , beer is the last thing im thinking. It smells like tears of joy from God. Extreme tropical fruit, candied papaya dominates up front. Then peach and mango crash the party like, "oh, you forgot about us, well here we are!!". Then it finishes with a super sweet smell reminiscent of agave nectar.
The taste is pineapple with pine tar, but in a good way. You get the tropical fruit's from the smell but not as much as you would expect (like Averys Maharajah, where the smell translates exactly to the taste). Its a bit more astringent then one would expect from the smell, but none the less a stellar example of what an IPA should be.
The mouth feel is bubbly and welcoming. Not cloying at all despite the extremely sweet smell. Excellent mouth feel. This beer clocks in at 8%, wheres the booze? No, and i mean no alcohol taste what so ever. This beer is dangerous!

trygger87, Aug 03, 2011
Photo of musicman575
4.97/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

What can I say about Pliny that hasn't been said before? Nothing, that's what.

It is delicious. It doesn't rip my tongue to shreds, it's nice and sweet, and perfectly balanced in every way. I love the way it rounds off in the middle of the drink and then makes me salivate after it's gone down the hatch.

I bought a case of Pliny. I'd like to share before I drink myself to death. Seriously, I came home and had 3 of them last night after going to my favorite biergarten. My head hurts.

musicman575, Aug 03, 2011
Photo of rrski198
4.03/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Color is a deep yellow to amber color. Not all that complex in terms of hues but the main focus here is the head. Wow! Big and really sticky. The lacing is all over the glass. Nice job

S: Heavy pine dominates the scent. Floral, earthy, citrus peel. It smells thick and creamy, odd? The hops don't smell as fresh and pungent as I would expect from a west coast ipa, its not bad, just not as over the top as other big IPAs.

T: Piney hops come through right up front followed by an awesome creamy bitterness. The alcohol is there but just hangs out nicely in the background. The malt backbone provides just the right amount of sweetness to balance out the hops.

M: Oily, creamy, slight spice form the hops and booze. The bitterness lingers on the back of the tongue and onthe roof of my mouth. Really nice.

O: So i have to take the hype of this beer out of the equation and just try to evaluate it for what it is and how it compares to others i've had. The one thing I would say is that the scent leaves something to be desired, only in comparison to IPAs such as Green Flash and Ruination, which just explode. I'm not saying this beer lacks a quality scent, I have to say that it is not the best. Flavor as well is greatly balanced, but lacks that bite or punch. Might be my personal palate, but this isn't thebest IPA i've ever had, however, it was damn good and I would buy again if i had the chance.

rrski198, Aug 03, 2011
Photo of JayS2629
4.58/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I finally got to try this when I took a road trip to Colorado. Happened to go to a beer store and arrive right after they recieved it. Mine was bottled on 071911 and I tried it on the 25th.

First off, its overhyped. Second, it is amazing in other ways than what I expected. More balanced and more drinkable than I imagined. In my mind I expected a hop bomb, but it was much calmer and easier to drink. Very balanced.

It poured a slightly hazy golden honey color with a medium off white creamy head, great retention, and thick creamy walls of lace.

The aroma was complex and amazing. Pine up front with citrus, grapefruit rind, peach and apricot on the the middle. Clean toasted malts with smooth bitter front end full of floral and grass. Tart, resiny pine.

The taste followed the nose with tons of citrus, grapefruit, peach and apricot. Floral qualities and grass. Nice malt background that is clean with a touch of caramel.

Very well balanced. Smoother and milder than expected. Very drinkable. No trace of alcohol for an 8%.

Overhyped on the hoppiness in my opinion. Underhyped on the balance and drinkability. Its like Sierra Nevada Pale Ale's big brother. The majority of hops being aroma. Nice bitter finish, but amazing balance.

JayS2629, Aug 02, 2011
Photo of BeerLover99
4.93/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: golden orange body, finger head, amazing lacing.

S: pineapple, papaya, peach/mango, pine, malt,
just amazing can't stop shoving my nose into the pint
to take in the intoxicating aroma. Gets even
MORE amazing as it warms.

T: sweet citrus combo bowl, then piney bitter malt middle
oily long bitter finish

M: med body, sticky/oily mouth

O: WOW! Well, after going over 2,000 miles
across country, it was well worth the journey.
Enjoyed this amazing brew at the brewery with
my beautiful wife on our 1st long vacation without
our kids. Delicious, intense, but still very approachable
(abv is very well hidden) beer.
Worth the hype; I want to gulp this amazing
brew, but also savoring each sniff and taste.


BeerLover99, Aug 01, 2011
Photo of mikechance
4.5/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer lives up to all the hype. It is wonderful! It has very nice deep orange color and a good 1/2 inch head. The smell alone makes this beer fabulous with an explosion of grapefruit, orange and floral scents. The taste is a hop heads dream --- heavy hops, smooth full-bodied taste and a wonderful bitterness at the end.

mikechance, Aug 01, 2011
Photo of kdmcguire10
5/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The Perfect Beer!

A: Lazy orange color. One-finger head and good retention.

S: Smells wonderful. Smells like you're taking a stroll through a citrus grove with pine trees surrounding. I nearly cried at first smell.

T: Balanced, slightly bitter. Incredibly balanced, easy drinking IPA. Especially for 8%. Can't detect it at all.

O: This is the holy grail of beer. It manages to exceed its lofty reputation. If I could drink one beer the rest of my life, this would be it.

kdmcguire10, Aug 01, 2011
Photo of divineaudio
4.28/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

500ml bottle poured into a tulip glass.
bottled on 7/11/11, consumed on 7/30/11.

a - pours out a color somewhere between golden yellow and light copper. forms a rocky, off white two finger head that quickly calms to a thin cap and sticks around. leaves a few splotches of lacing in the glass.

s - toffee, citrus, fresh cut grass and maybe a hint of berry.

t - grapefruit bitterness up front with a sweet toffee malt backbone. a wave of pine resin rolls in and hangs around for a while, eroding the enamel on my teeth. finishes dry and nicely balanced. no trace of the 8% abv in the taste.

m - a firm medium body with higher than average carbonation. very smooth.

o - the holy grail of ipa's? well, not to my tastebuds. still a damn fine example of the style. glad i finally got the chance to try it, even though i had to drive across the country to get it. oh, and the 8% does catch up to you by the end of the bottle.

divineaudio, Jul 30, 2011
Photo of roodie
4.43/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed at Bluepalms in Hollywood

Poured into a goblet

A: pours amber, tree sap orange with 2 fingers of pillowy head that retained while I enjoyed the glass. Nice lacing

S: grapefruit and pine with hints of sweeter citrus like tangerines. Some acridness from the hops prepares you for what's to come

T: immediately the hops butt their way to the front of the flavor profile, but the citrus bouquet shows up a second later. The flavor captures both the flavoring and aroma of the hops. Resiny and citrusy on the end

M: bitterness lingers and dries out the tongue, making you seek out the next sip.

O: great DIPA, a classic for the style. I've had it now on tap and in bottles many times and will always come back.

roodie, Jul 30, 2011
Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 10,631 ratings.