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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.

10,288 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 10,288
Reviews: 3,142
rAvg: 4.65
pDev: 8.39%
Wants: 4,732
Gots: 1,672 | 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: 10,288 | Reviews: 3,142 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of julian


4.4/5  rDev -5.4%

Bout time I review this beer...

Bottled on 01/12/11 - Here we go!

A: pours an amazingly clear pale copper color. Nice white head that builds up slowly but more than adequately and lasts.

S: Grapefruit BLAST, pine. hop resin.

T: This is not for the faint of heart. The hoppy bitterness of this beer doesn't phase me anymore (nor others of its style) but for the uninitiated, this would be swallowing a hop grenade. Nevertheless I can think anyone can appreciate the clean hoppy flavor in this beer. It's resiny and highly hoppy up front, lots of pine, a little citrus grapefruit in the middle and finishes rather smooth leaving little to no bitterness on the tongue, which lends me to believe there's enough malt in here to balance it out. Very nice.

M: Nicely carbonated, clean, crisp, refreshing. Pretty much what you'd expect from this style, and a beer of this caliber.

D: I could drink a few, heh.

Notes: someone else mentioned this as well, but the minimalist labeling is dope. I dig the whole minimalist movement, and am a minimalist at heart. Just goes to show you, you don't need a multi-billion dollar marketing budget to sell your beer when you are making good beer to begin with.

02-03-2011 04:59:07 | More by julian
Photo of Hellabeerguzzler


4.5/5  rDev -3.2%

FIRST THANK YOU Ktown67 for the threesome of Plinys!

Fairly non-descript label telling you not once, not twice, but at least 10 times NOT to age this beer. This bottle is no more than a few weeks old - fresh enough for me.

The pour of this beer was perfect. Light carbonation gave it's IIPA amber color a beautiful thick head and some bubblies as well. The beer isn't crystal clear but not murky at all. The head settles leaving behind some lacing. It's beautiful and I want to drink this right now. So I will.

The smell is beautiful hops. Oh, the hops. Not since Hopslam has a beer been so beautifully fragrant with piney hops (more so than Hopslam), a little citrus, grassy, earthy. Sort of like filtering a bucket of grapefruit juice through a earthy burlap sack full of fresh lawn clippings and spruce branches. Delightful. Head is still present as well as lacing.

The taste is way hop forward so make sure you like your hops. For me though, it was not nearly all just hops. There's enough going on there that keeps you interested in taking another bite. It's a little chewy and I sense... is that caramel? Brown sugar? Who cares. It's delicious. My other favorites in this category have some flavoring added to offset the bitterness of the hops but this beer seems to do well without anything really noticeable. Very well done.

Mouthfeel is perfectly nice, not gummy, oily, or palate destroying. It's hoppy, it's flavorful, it's bubbly, it's excellent.

Drinkability is good as described in the mouth, it's very drinkable and I don't expect to have any left in an hour.

I scored this as high as I could in all categories while leaving some room for improvement but good luck trying to do that. I was expecting to be not bowled over after the previous reviews but the rating reflects this ale accurately. Superb.

02-03-2011 01:16:11 | More by Hellabeerguzzler
Photo of wmthorne


4.72/5  rDev +1.5%

poured into a chimay snifter on a recent trip to California. Lucky that bristol farms held me a few bottles out after I called before visiting.

I have looked forward to sampling this for some time. It has the perfect amount of fresh hops and carbonation. I did not sit on this Pliny.

This brew is worthy of its exceptional rating and I look forward to quaffing more on my next trip. The grapefruit/citrus taste from the hops is exceptional.

Drink this beer!

02-02-2011 23:33:35 | More by wmthorne
Photo of aepb1


4.65/5  rDev 0%

Part of a tasting hosted by vapodge, many thanks my friend!

A- Golden translucent body that I think is glowing with magical powers, white foamy head

S- Piney, citrusy hops! Very potent

T- Grapefruity hops! Very hoppy, a bit more hops, and then some hops in there. There is a bit of bready malt in there but not a whole lot. Mostly different waves of hops. Citric, minty, piney, grassy, etc

M- Medium bodied, sticky, good level of carbonation and oily from the hops

D- Very good beer. One of the best labels I've seen and I will certainly seek it out again

02-02-2011 16:10:58 | More by aepb1
Photo of HipHop5


4.97/5  rDev +6.9%

Very pleasant light orange golden color. My nose gets a good freak out as the cap pops out. Poured, it shouts out loud the fragrances of a typical west coast style DIPA. Mango,Pineapple, super fresh citrus and pine resin blend in with the light body of this, extremely smooth 8% masterpiece.
A ray of sunshine lighten up the room every time I can relive this magical moment. The brewery in Santa Rosa will not impress you with the food or decor, but a fresh Pliny of the brewpub's tap will blow your sucks off for sure. The best way is fresh here.
Reasonably priced for being so expensive to brew. The fact that it is still difficult to get in CA shows that there is no compromise made by the Russian River brewing company. All about quality not quantity. Well done .

02-02-2011 06:28:52 | More by HipHop5
Photo of robbrandes


4.72/5  rDev +1.5%

What more can be added to the well-deserved impeccable reputation of Pliny? No beer has ever burned such a clear first impression in my mind.

From the first pour, the warm orange glow, wonderful head, the perfect blend of pine-citrus-alcohol aromas blasting out of the glass....

And that first taste. Is it possible to have so many competing tastes complement each other? Yes. The malt-alcohol-pine-citrus-on-and-on balance is sublime.

If you're a beer-lover, this is a must. If you're an IIPA-lover, this is the holy grail.

Serving type: bottle

02-02-2011 05:41:33 | More by robbrandes
Photo of paulozanello


4.53/5  rDev -2.6%

Have been looking forward to this moment for a while...my first Pliny!

It pours a translucent light orange and golden color with a nice white head showing good retention and lacing.

Smell is lots of citrus grapefruit, tangerine and some piney. I also get faint sweet malt presence as the beer warms up. Very balanced aroma.

Taste has lots of grapefruit, tangerine, pineapple and piney! Bitterness follows but it is always light and delicate. Nice lingering hop aftertaste complements the fruity hop character.

Mouthfeel is extremely smooth and light for the abv. It really feels like a 5% beer. Stellar drinkability.

Does it live to the hype? Sorta. I'm amazed by the mouthfeel and drinkability, definitely perfect in that aspect, but Ive had better hop profiles in the nose and taste. I guess it is a matter of personal preferences at this point. Glad I had this beer and would most definitely have it again, wish it was easier and cheaper to get it here on the east coast.

02-02-2011 01:39:46 | More by paulozanello
Photo of mondegreen


4.47/5  rDev -3.9%

500ml Bottle into a Founders Balloon Tulip. Bottle dated 01/12/11. Consumed 02/01/11.

After a voyage across America, this beer is finally in my glass. It has seen more states in the past week than some people do in a lifetime, traveling by ground from California to Illinois to Georgia. Thankfully, it's cold outside, so I'm not worried about it sitting hot. Big thanks to the trader that sent me this now-legendary DIPA.

Pours a crystal clear amber orange with a frothy white cap. As the head slowly falls, it leave gorgeous lacing on my tulip. This beer is beautiful. I love a cloudy, raw IPA as much as anyone, but Pliny shows he is pure with a transparent yet bright body.

Nose strikes a gorgeous hoppy balance. I get elements of all that is right with hops - fresh citrus, bright pine, and a slight rich of dank earth. A masterful display of hops.

The taste is big and hoppy while maintaining a slight balance. A hint of sweetness in the middle with a dry, lingering finish.

Smooth as can be, this beer shows a love of the craft. Those who can get this off the shelf are lucky souls. The DIPA category is chock full of good beers, and I've had a handful that are as good as what's in my glass now. That said, I've never had one better, and I'm glad I had the chance to savor this icon of American Craft Brewing.

02-02-2011 00:29:44 | More by mondegreen
Photo of Beerme5


4.05/5  rDev -12.9%

Finally got my hands on a few bottles from John's Marketplace in Portland. Upon opening, the smell of fruit wafted out. The hops hadn't quite opened yet. It poured a hazy, golden orange. Tons of sediment and carbonation present. Upon pouring, this really opened up the nose with lots of grapefruit and apricot. The first few sips were heavy with apricot and citrus, but the back end packs a good hop bite. As the beer warmed up, the hops were more prominent, and the beer kept good head retention. I was surprised at how fruity this beer was, but how it balanced out so beautifully with the hops. Will definitely reach for another if given the chance.

02-01-2011 17:01:46 | More by Beerme5
Photo of tvault


4.72/5  rDev +1.5%

Got this beer about 2 weeks old so still fresh. Looking forward to drinking some. I plan on getting a few more soon. Was as good as promised...

A - Copper with 1 finger of white head

S - Very floral lot of hops

T - Great IPA

M - very drinkable

D - Could not stop drinking

01-31-2011 21:05:37 | More by tvault
Photo of letsgopens


4.75/5  rDev +2.2%

One of my big, hyped holdouts. Finally got my hands on some, so here we go... Bottled on 12/13/10. Pours a crystal clear orange gold with some bright golden highlights. The head is moderate in size and appears bubbly and soapy. A few sparse wisps and chunks of lace stick around behind.

The pungent aroma is evident even before I get it to my nose. Giant, bold hops: citrus and tropical fruits. Grapefruit, pineapple and resinous, sticky pine. Sweet, dry and lots of floral notes. Very overmatched, faint, toasty grain. Oily citrus zest mixed with pine leaves a lingering impression. Lusciously hoppy.

Tons of resinous pine and bright, sweet/bitter/tangy citrus. Grapefruit zest and pith along with lots of floral, piney hops. Just a hint of raw, toasted, grainy malt. Some residual sweetness blends nicely with the sticky, icky hops and citrus character. Bright and really crisp initially then quickly developing to another dimension of sticky lingering bitterness. Some peppery booze makes an appearance with the pleasantly, palate numbing bitterness. A faint note of unripened peach as it warms. Very much like Blind Pig, the unique nature of the carbonation really accentuates the mountain of hop character and creates a whole new dimension of flavor.

Again, like the Blind Pig, the flavor elements are phenomenal but what puts this brew in the 'World Class' category as far as I'm concerned is the unique and particularly well crafted mouthfeel. Very well controlled carbonation levels and bubble texture helps to expertly meld the hops, faint grains and booze notes in to a hop-forward masterpiece.

Drinkability is certainly above average for the style, mostly because of the mellowness of the still present booze notes. Despite the hype around this one, I'm attempting to be objective but for obvious reasons, having difficulty; I can't help but measure how it stacks up to the all-time DIPAs. I'll start by saying it absolutely does not disappoint. An excellently crafted brew to be sure. With that being said, I wouldn't go far as to say that it's head and shoulders above the rest. It's definitely in the mix though.

Elder's selling point for me is its amazing use hop essence while not being obnoxiously overpowering, cloying, or outrageously boozy once it warms. The mouthfeel is unbelievable and it satisfies a hopheads every desire. Certainly worth seeking out.

Although my bottle is only approximately a month old, I look forward to the opportunity of trying an even fresher sample on tap as I hear the freshest Elder is above and beyond.

01-31-2011 19:11:37 | More by letsgopens
Photo of nezelrac

New York

4.1/5  rDev -11.8%

A - pours a copper-orange with 1 finger of fine bead white head; dissipates quickly leaving a little lacing

S - west coast IPA hops; very fresh; very floral/citrus/pine with a hop-funk note in the back; hints of bread and malt

T - hops front to back; good bitterness; malt is an afterthought; very long finish; hops get spicy at the end

M - despite minimal head, the CO2 is excellent; very smooth with enough malt to carry the hops and give it some body

D - a very drinkable IPA; not session-able - just a bit too big

01-31-2011 18:31:18 | More by nezelrac
Photo of ChanChan


4.88/5  rDev +4.9%

Bottled on 12-28-2010
Served on a Beatles glass mug.
Appearance: This beer is a cloudy orange with a big fluffy head. The lacing is good but not impressive.
Smell: Somewhere between Grapefruit, Melon and Pineapple.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied but pleasantly creamy.
Taste: Again, as with the aroma, this beer is very fruity, but with a good amount of bitterness. The finish is very long....I get honeydew melon and pineapple.
Drinkability: Generally, I don't care for any form of IPA's, nevertheless, I think this beer is very pleasant. It definitely lives up to its hype. At first I thought it would be like any other Double IPA but this beer is certainly unique; it is one of the best tasting beers I have ever had. I just wish it were more available.

01-31-2011 16:23:07 | More by ChanChan
Photo of ColdPoncho


3.95/5  rDev -15.1%

Bottled on 11/22/10

A- cloudy light orange with a little bit of floaties. Small white head. Looks ok.

S - pine! And bitter. I don't know if there's much else. But it's a really good pine scent.

T - this is really tasty. A nice crisp hoppy pine flavor not mind blowing, but very tasty.

M - thin for the style. Not bad but its not quite up to what I expect.

D - it's pretty good to drink. Perhaps a bit too dry, but it's ok.

01-31-2011 04:19:22 | More by ColdPoncho
Photo of sweetLew


4.47/5  rDev -3.9%

Commencing my BA review career with the beer that kickstarted my craft beer obsession, and the first one that showed me that quality beer makes a statement. My bottle is dated 1/24/11 - the golden nectar has only been in the bottle for five days.

The beer pours a deep gold color, with a moderate white head that settles quickly and leaves nice patterned lacing on the glass. Reminds me of the sonoma county hills in august, with the fog just rolling in off the coast.

Whoa! Is there cannabis in there? Nope, just a rich blend of hops that create a mouthwatering aroma reminiscent of norCal's infamous agricultural crop.

The first sip brings a rush of piney and floral bitterness, followed by a subtle malt background. Each successive sip brings waves of hop personality. Tinges of lavender and grassiness continue to exude some faint cannabis qualities.

The mouthfeel is light and effervescent, easy on the palate considering the pure force of the hops. I'm a malt fiend, so I am left craving a bit more chewiness, and maybe a bit less lingering hop aftertaste.

A pint of Pliny goes down real easy - actually three of four go down real easy, just don't expect to be able to taste anything else after a few.

So what is the statement that Pliny the Elder is making? Northern California in a bottle. And it works - you can smell, taste, and revel in the Sonoma County sunshine with every sip, cannabis not even required!

01-31-2011 03:38:51 | More by sweetLew
Photo of Urbancaver


4.1/5  rDev -11.8%

Pours a clear orange with a lot of white head. Good lacing. Not as pretty as some but a good looking beer nonetheless. Sells hoppy pine, Somme light citrus. Tastes bitter and piney. Ha ha ... Too corny. But honestly, it's a bit too one dimensional for me. It's certainly a solid dipa but not as impressive as abrasive and hopslam. Overall, a solid beer but in the 3 or 4 times I've had it i haven't been all that impressed

01-31-2011 00:20:34 | More by Urbancaver
Photo of birderbeerer


4.75/5  rDev +2.2%

Pours a translucent amber/copper with a white, two-finger head. Some sticky lace, but it doesn't coat the glass.

Aroma is a lively, biting hop. Pineapple, pine, grapefruit/citrus. The hops aroma is as sweet as it is bitter but it packs a fragrant, pungent punch. Beautiful. Hop aroma flies out of the glass.

Taste follows the aroma. Big pinch of hop bitterness with an equal dose of sweet, tropical fruit flavor from the hop. And so smooth. It bites and makes you want more. Buttery biscuit malt follows but the finish is a dry piney hop. Mildy sticky.

This beer is not in competition to be the biggest beer or the most hops. Rather, it presents a manifestly smooth but powerful hop. Lush tropical fruity hops dominate. It's like hop juice distilled to the perfect point.

01-31-2011 00:11:46 | More by birderbeerer
Photo of Glibber


4.35/5  rDev -6.5%

On a night of some great IPA's, this one really stood out. A very good looking beer, clear with a decent head. Not overly hoppy or carbinated, and easy to drink. Recommended by the bartender, and I was glad I listened to him. The smell was very fruity for an IPA and that great smell transfered well to the taste. I will be seeking out more Russian River beers in the future.

01-30-2011 19:32:31 | More by Glibber
Photo of brystmar


4.4/5  rDev -5.4%

On tap at Verdugo in LA.

A: golden with plenty of white head. Excellent retention, strong lace. Gorgeous for an IPA.

S: beautifully floral, earthy, and hoppy. Fantastic mix of these aromas. Only better IPA I've smelled is Pliny the Younger.

T: malty and hoppy. Complex and interesting. Really well balanced: not overly hoppy or bitter, not too sweet...and that's awesome cuz I'm not really into super hoppy beers. Do IPAs get better than this? (Future edit: yes, they actually do!)

M: medium-bodied and active. Creamy nitro version plz!

D: most IPAs get low marks from me here, but this one is quite smooth and easy to put back. Doesn't get much better for an IPA. Wish I could get this back home in Brooklyn...

01-29-2011 04:35:14 | More by brystmar
Photo of hophead1901


4.93/5  rDev +6%

Served from bottle into glass. Bottled on 1/12/11 So 16 days old, I think I got it the day after it came into my local Total Wine.

A: Even golden color. Very clear. One finger of head with good lacing.

S: Aboslutely incredible. Piny, fruity, excellent citrus. Its as if I'm smelling fresh fruit. This is the best smelling beer I have ever had.

T: Wow. Hoppy and fruity on the front end. Piny notes. Exceptionally well balanced. Even the burp tasted exceptional. Excellent lingering hoppiness. This is hands down the best IPA that I have ever had. I agree somewhat with an earlier review that it could have a bit more malt backbone in the finish but I think if it did then it would be like the Arc of the Covanant and my mouth would burn off when I tasted it.

I can't get past the smell, every time I tip the glass to my mouth it surrounds my nose with amazing fruity notes. I could smell this for hours.

M: Clings very nicely so I can drink it slow... of course it tastes so good that it is hard to pace myself.

D: Very drinkable. It is too bad that Russian River can't keep up with demand.

01-29-2011 01:26:50 | More by hophead1901
Photo of Tucquan


4.48/5  rDev -3.7%

Had this on 2011-01-27 in Redondo Beach, CA. It was bottled 15 days ago. Had again in Torrance , CA on 2011-03-30 from a bottle that is 13 days old.

A - Almost clear gold with a slight haze with a short, white head and good lacing.

S - Strong hop floral, tropical fruit, citrus and a bit of pine that filsl the area in front of me.

T - Complex tastes that are heavily floral with grapefruit/orange peel/tangerine and tropical fruit flavors blended with an oily hops/light-pine resin, biscuit/chocolate malt, warming alcohol, and plenty of well-balanced and significant clinging-bitterness and malt taste in the finish. Super.

M - Resinous, a little prickly yet creamy and smooth with medium body and light-medium carbonation. It also manages to be crisp and refreshing and exceedingly well-balanced.

D - Fabulous. Glad to be visiting the LA area where it is available. Wish I could have this every day. Tastes as good in the bottle as when I've had it on draft. The only difference is tonight for some reason I'm getting a little more biscuit/chocolate malt flavor than I remember on draft. I'm diggin' it though.

01-28-2011 04:26:12 | More by Tucquan
Photo of lovindahops

New York

4.85/5  rDev +4.3%

Finally the great one! Thanks to Hophead247 for making the dream come true! Poured into my Ithaca tulip

A- pours a clear, light orange with a great head of foam on the brew that is both fluffy and full. Lacing all over the glass as the carbonation rips through it. Really represents the face of a DIPA

S- massive pineapple and citrus hops absolutely slap around my nose. Good pine resin and some sweet caramel at the end too. It's perfect

T- taste is incredible! More absolute piney and citric hops all around the taste. While there is some sweetness, there are also some dry and bitter attributes. The finish is very dry and it closes out the initial sweetness. This is some incredible taste

M- good carbonation and crisp flavor that turns into a good coating on the mouth

D- believe the hype! This brew is the real deal. Not only are all the properties off the charts.... but also it's scary drinkable. I can only imagine living in Caly and getting this all the time. What a winner this brew is! What an experience!

01-28-2011 00:56:52 | More by lovindahops
Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT


4.35/5  rDev -6.5%

reviewed via notes taken on October 28th 2010.
a friend from Denver brought this home when visiting family, I was very greatful.

Poured into a sam adams glass.

Appearance: golden yellow & some orange color too... briliant color with a thick white head. Good lacing sticking to glass.

Smell: Floral, citrisy, grassy, earthy & pine.

Taste: Grapefruit, pineapple, herbally pine, mint, mellow to moderate bitterness that is very pleasing. Some malty sweetness lurking in the back ground.

Mouthfeel: Sticky & slick at the same time. I can count every sip from the defined lacing lines on the glass.

Drinkability: This beer drinks like its a light bodied beer, but it not a lightweight. More of a midweight.

All U Hopheads Must Seek it Out!

01-27-2011 22:31:07 | More by 4DAloveofSTOUT
Photo of Jeffo


4.05/5  rDev -12.9%

Big thanks to Doops for the hook up.

From a 500ml bottle into a snifter
Jan 2011 bottle drunk right before Hopslam.

APPEARANCE: Pours a 2+ finger, medium looking, white head with great retention. Perfectly clear with medium carbonation evident. Amber-orange in color when held to the light, though more gamboge when not. Head slowly fades to a good wisp and leaves sticky lacing to the glass. A good wisp remains until the end and leaves lots of lacing down the glass. Pretty nice looking.

SMELL: Pale malts with citrus and lemon notes, sweet mango aromas, floral hops, and lots of pine notes. A nice nose with lots of hop qualities, though it could be a little bolder.

TASTE: Pale malts and lots of bitter pine flavors. A real pine bomb. Slight citrus and floral notes in there as well, with a touch of sweet mango notes, but they don't compete with the overload of bitter, piney hops. Big and bold; much bolder than the nose had suggested. Big and lingering aftertaste is plenty bitter with big pine flavors. If you like your hop bombs piney, this one is was made for you.

PALATE: Medium body and carbonation, and somewhat light on the palate. Creamy smooth, goes down smooth and finishes somewhat dry on the palate. I've had bottles that were definitely too astringent, though this one is a little better there.

OVERALL: Perhaps they can call this one Piney the Elder. This is a real pine bomb, and if you like that in your DIPAs, then you'll love fresh bottles of this stuff. I like a little bigger of a malt backbone in my hop bombs, so this wasn't my nectar of the Gods, so to speak. Still, this is a very enjoyable and flavorful example of the style, but I don't think it's in a league of its own. Worth drinking on a regular basis if it's available to you, and worth trading for once.

Final Comparison: Both Hopslam and Pliny the Elder were decent brews. They both looked fantastic and were enjoyable in their own way. They were very different from each other as well. Hopslam was more balanced with a stronger malt presence, as well as a bigger alcohol punch, while Pliny was a straight up pine bomb. In the end, if I had to choose one, I think I'd chose Pliny, but there are others in the style I'd have first.

01-27-2011 19:26:14 | More by Jeffo
Photo of SuperWale


3.68/5  rDev -20.9%

This is a good beer, certainly overhyped though. Well, its hard not to be over hyped when its the most hyped beer in the world but what can you do.

Appearance: Nice color, true to style.

Smell: fantastic, lots of citrus, pine and bubble gum. A little hint of sweetness and no apparent alcohol smell.

Taste: Nice and bright and hoppy. There is a strong piney taste on the finish and not much else. It is decently balanced but could use some more malt backbone.

Mouthfeel: Its a little dry on the palate not as much as Blind Pig, also it has some astringency that makes the overall coating of the mouth not as good as it should be.

Drinkability: For a Double IPA it is fairly drinkable but with the mouthfeel issues that I had with it I think that it certainly is not an everyday beer. If you find this beer try it, but its not the best around.

01-27-2011 06:56:48 | More by SuperWale
Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 10,288 ratings.