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.

10,532 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 10,532
Reviews: 3,171
rAvg: 4.65
pDev: 8.39%
Wants: 4,856
Gots: 1,751 | 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: 10,532 | Reviews: 3,171 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

Devi0us, May 31, 2011
Photo of Supersweetshirts
4.93/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This was the perfect double I.P.A., no question about it. The beer pours a hazy golden color with not much head. I found it to have more carbonation that some of the other double I.P.A.'s I've had. Pliny gives off an incredible aroma of pine with barely a hint of fruit. It was a little too cold for our first few tastes so the hop explosion was very intense, but as the beer dropped in temperature you could taste every element to this beer perfectly. An initial hop explosion that leaves a citrus, grapefruit, taste lingering behind with absolutely no undesirable aftertaste. The only thing that I can find wrong with this beer is that it is incredibly difficult to find. Places were sold out of it or had limited quantities. If you are ever on the west coast, this beer is a must!

Supersweetshirts, May 28, 2011
Photo of megahurts4
4.97/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Russian River Pliny The Elder
Bought at Full Throttle Bottles, Seattle, WA

Appearance: golden yellow, medium head, and some good lacing.

Smell: very floral hops and fruit.

Taste: perfect hops, great smooth malt, and a faint grain.

Mouthfeel: medium and perfectly smooth with a slight bitter finish.

This is a great beer. The start is like a pine flavored hop cone that is followed by a subtle grain flavor. The finish is slightly bitter, but does not linger long at all. I think it is that perfect amount of time.

megahurts4, May 27, 2011
Photo of claytong
3.93/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

so finally found a bottle of this, was actually shelved too.
im not crazy on ipas. at least in the traditional styles mostly due to bitterness.
lots of hops but not much of a bite. pine and citrus are very minute. pine more on the nose than the taste. a little caramel hint too.
the head is amazing even on a controlled pour. retention is very slow to fade.
color is pretty normal golden piss color ipa style.
not sure i could really think of this as an a a+ but its a pretty damn good ipa and a nice name.

claytong, May 27, 2011
Photo of stxSS07
4.1/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Delerium snifter

A- Pours a rich golden color with some hop haze. Carbonation streams off the bottom of the glass. 1 finger head doesn't hang around all that long, but leaves some great lacing.

S- Fantastic. Hugely rich/sweet grapefruit and citrus. Sugar coated grapefruit? Some piney resins creep in with a touch of alcohol on the finish.

T- Sugary sweet grapefruit and powerful citrus on the front. Smooth caramel sweetness gives way to a piney and astringent hop bitterness. Finishes dry, but not overbearingly so.

M- Medium in body with a slick feel. Carbonation helps on the finish.

O- I can finally say that I understand the hype around this beer. Does it live up to it? I don't think so, but what beer could? A great DIPA.

*Edit: Jan 2012* Had this straight from the teet when I was in San Francisco recently. While I still think this is a fantastic DIPA, I've tried so many since my first review that I believe I can give a more objective score at this moment in time. I'm also fairly confident that this re-visiting will continue into further reviews as I try more beers.

stxSS07, May 25, 2011
Photo of GoldenVIKE
4.33/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to daniloknezic for going out of his way to find a FRESH batch of this for me!! Bottled 5/4/11 and drank 5/24/11.

A-bright golden honey color. Crisp and clear. Nice foamy 2-finger head that dissipates very slowly and never completely subsides. A pleasant cloudy, cushy head will remain for 10-15 minutes. Nice clinging lace.

S-Hops, hops, hops, pineapple, pine, and citrus. And all very fresh. Smells like being in the woods and breathing in a fresh, brisk, spring air in the morning after it's been raining.

T-very unique hoppiness. it almost "bites". like you're eating a handful of hops and there are some pine needles hidden in there that prick your mouth. a little faint sweetness. not as complex in the mouth as it is in the nose though.

M-medium bodied. grabs on to the inside of your mouth and leaves a bitter coating that remains for several minutes.

O-great beer. i'm not normally a fan of hoppy beers but this is so well made that you can't help but enjoy it.

GoldenVIKE, May 25, 2011
Photo of EricCioe
4.53/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Early April bottling date, so six weeks old. Thanks headyglassdotcom for both the beer and the awesome oversized wineglass I'm drinking from.

This pours a full gold with a two finger white head rising up and then dying down to a thin cap, leaving moderate lace. On the nose, there are great resin and grapefruit notes. The fresh pine resin is the biggest note, with the citric notes hanging out behind it. I'm not getting much in the way of any evidence of a malt backbone, but that's just fine. In the mouth, the pine resin melts over the whole palate at first, the grapefruit and lemon zest coming out later. There is some malt here, a simple, bready backdrop for the resin and other stuff. The finish is surprising medium, not as exceedingly bitter as I'd have guessed, but it's still good and quite dry.

Overall, this is a fine, fine beer. I don't think it blows everything else out of the water, but it's quite clearly in the top tier of beers of this style.

EricCioe, May 25, 2011
Photo of IronLover
4.55/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bright amber yellow in color with slight haze. Poured with a fluffy white head with excellent staying power that ultimately reduced to a pillowy white cap. Nice sticky lacings on the glass. Very smooth with a slightly resinous feel toward the finish. Big tropical/citrus aroma, grapefruit and orange the most prominent, with a hint of pineaapple. After your nose gets accustomed to the hope aroma intensity, the sweet malt aromas begin to show through. Burst of citrus hops on the palate with a delicate malty feel underneath. Finishes with a touch of piney hop bitterness. Although this a showcase of hop aroma and flavor the flavors and feel are smooth creamy and delicate. Excellent!

IronLover, May 24, 2011
Photo of IKR
4.22/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Medium yellow color with a moderate white head that slowly faded.

Smell: Grapefruit, citrus fruit aroma.

Taste:The grapefruit and citrus fruit aromas are conveyed in the taste. The alcohol is not a factor in the taste. It's extremely well hidden. I'm not sure if the hops were subdued due to this one being sampled 1+ months after bottling but I find the hops well integrated not obtrusive. Very clean refreshing taste.

Mouth-feel: Medium body with a moderate level of carbonation.

Overall: Good beer. I kept putting off picking up this beer due to the fact I'm no one's hop head, but I can see myself enjoying this one on a hot summer day.

IKR, May 24, 2011
Photo of Alpar
4.14/5  rDev -11%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Big thanks to Trappistlover for this one! Reviewed from notes.

A: Very nice golden honey color.

S: Wonderful pine even some honeycomb in there. Pretty hoppy to me.

T: Absolutely wonderful. Floral and piny. Super dry aftertaste. Brilliant stuff

M: Nice, good carbonation and body.

O: D-licious)

Alpar, May 24, 2011
Photo of aficionado
4.65/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle Date: 4/28/11 - Served in a Duvel Tulip.

I've several different batches of 2 week old, 3 week old, and 5 week old Pliny. The 2 week old bottle tasted like Angel's tears. The 5 week old was less than stellar. A really stale taste from the hops that lacked the same pungent aroma and awesome flavor. I can see how someone would give older PtE a B rating. The 3 week old bottle is actually what I tasted last... so onto the 3 week old review...

Thin layer of white head atop of a translucent orange body. The most awesome shade of orange you'll ever see. Lots of sticky lacing left on the glass as you continue drinking.

Huge aroma of inviting pine followed by some dank marijuana and a bouquet of citrus; mostly grapefruit and tangerine.

A total pine assault from start to finish. More grapefruit and tangerine on the palate as well. Has a tiny bit of caramel malt sweetness to combat the pithy bite while still managing to remain inherently bitter. Simple, but well executed.

Perfect body for an Imperial IPA. Moderate carbonation. Manages to be crisp and juicy, yet retain dextrinous body. Not too sweet or heavy like some can be.

aficionado, May 23, 2011
Photo of whitemomba
4.88/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into my FFF glass from the 500ml bottle. Bottled 5-4-11. Drank on 5-22-11.

A - Very clear for a double IPA. Nice orange color. Vigorous pour leaves a good two finger length of head. The head stayed around almost the whole time. Lots of lacing. Sticks to the glass a lot.

S - Loads of citrus here. Smells awesome.

T - Perfect balance here. Bitterness up front that is immediately followed by a nice sweet citrus taste.

M - Exactly the way an IPA should be. Perfect amount of body and carbonation.

O - Perfect example of a DIPA. So much drinkability and so smooth. One of the best beers of the style.

whitemomba, May 23, 2011
Photo of bobhits
4.68/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pliny the Elder!

22 days old and from the trade who did this in person, never not refrigerated/cooled outside of a short plane trip.

Pours a crystal clear body, only a few random bubbles are coming up here, nearly dead, and clarity like few other double IPAs. The white head is there and certainly seems to cling to the glass. A part of seem is impressed with the perfection in clarity, and part of me wanted something more.

Wonderfully balanced hops and malt in the nose, grape fruit, pine pine apples, and just well balanced.

Pliny has a bite and I mean a BITE from the hops, but it falls back into a mellow creamy malt bed that is simply dreamy. This is an amazingly different double IPA for me. It doesn’t really take on the grapefruit citrus notes nor does it swing to the fruity floral or even the piny. The malt wonderfully blends with the bite of the hops and give off a wonderfully, perfectly balanced double IPA. Often I feel critical of double IPAs for their great many flaws, this one shows how right I am to be critical.

Light for a double, but simply right in so many ways. I really want more people to think of this is how double IPAs should be in mouth feel.

I suppose I expected my life to change after having this. I guess that was a but lofty to expect, but still this is wonderful...amazing beer! I still rank fresh dreadnaught a hair above this, and I think hopslam’s sweeter heavier nature has traits that far surpass this, but this is simply amazing beer. I think this is one of the few examples of a beer that attempts to match stone’s dominance of IPAs without over charging or under producing.

bobhits, May 23, 2011
Photo of Kshock
4.68/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Awesome bright gold beer with a little off white lacing.

S- smells of awesome citrusy american hops. great nose on the beer.

T- AMAZING of course. great hop profile that gets balanced by some lighter malts. great balance to the beer, finishes like every IPA should

M- great mouthfeel. not too heavy, but has a little chew to it. great beer all around.

Love this beer, and am VERY fortunate to have it on a regular basis. Just one more reason to love California

Kshock, May 23, 2011
Photo of Naugros
4.65/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Just about to top 1000 on karma so I figured I'd do so in style and pop my Pliny cherry.

You can smell this hop bomb as soon as you pop the cap, but still you want to get your nose into it and breathe it all in for a bit and enjoy the grapefruit, pine and orange hops characteristics balanced perfectly by the malts that throw off a light caramel note. I really don't want to taste it now...I'm good right here.

The beer itself is really pretty. Light orange with an internal glow that speaks to the quality of their processes. The head is white and foamy and leaves behind tons of clingy lacing.

The taste falls just slightly short of the nose, but only in the sense that it gets a wee pithy for my taste, but it's still perfectly balanced and throws down with some major citrus backed by pine. This is a phenomenal showcase for American hops.

Why talk about the mouthfeel? It's just as it needs to be for an IPA. It finishes very clean but still allows the bitterness of the hops to linger a bit. It's excellent. And that goes for the overall. Many think this beer might be overhyped...I am not one of them. This beer deserves its accolades as it hits all the right notes.

Naugros, May 22, 2011
Photo of Scotchboy
4.22/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Extremely excited to try this beer, thanks James. Bottled on 4/28, poured straight out of the fridge into a snifter.

A: About as good as you can get, pours a clear golden color with a slight chill haze and a ton of sticky white head.

S: Great balance of juicy citrus & tropical fruit, malt and pine; West Coast to a 'T'. A touch of alcohol too. Very nice.

T: A good amount of pine and malt up front. Middle of the tongue the citrus fruit characteristics emerge as well as some more of the malt sweetness, and the bitterness begins to cling to your tongue. Not quite as bitter or dry as I thought it would be though.

MF: Not 'thin' but a lighter mouthfeel; good carbonation.

O: A+, I like its balance more than anything; this beer has pine-y, juicy, resin-y characteristics but they don't overwhelm you. It's actually a touch lighter than most 'big' double IPA's but it seems pretty approachable and more sessionable.

Scotchboy, May 22, 2011
Photo of Barleythenred
4.68/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Thanks to my friend who randomly asked me, "hey do you want a pliny the elder i got one." The shock and hysteria just made my day and i now have a new best friend.

Appearance: finger tall, frothy, white head with a orange glistening color

Smell: citrus with a mild skunk

Taste: bitter smoothness with a fruity tangerine flavor

Mouthfeel: bubbly and light

Barleythenred, May 22, 2011
Photo of dvsbizzyb
4.72/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance - Pours a bright golden yellow with a tinge of orange and a moderate white head.

Smell - Truthfully I smelled Cannabis when I first sniffed this. This had a very floral and fruity citrus aroma to it. I smelled quite a bit of pine and other spices in it as well. This is a beer I couldn't stop sniffing.

Taste - My first few sips were extremely amazing. There are no words to describe the taste to this besides epic. The balance of sweet and bitter is unmatched.

Mouthfeel - Crisp, light, and refreshing.

Overall - This beer lives up to the hype and has surpassed it.

dvsbizzyb, May 21, 2011
Photo of jimmy82063
4.5/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle dated 4-28-11. Poured into a Russian River Pint Glass...

A) Nice hazy yellow with a full head. Very nice lacing.

S) Get a very nice sweet aroma.

T) Starts out sweet with the citrusy hops followed by a bit of bitter grapefruit zest that quickly dissipates with the malt. This beer prepares you for your next taste!

M) Nice and lightly carbonated.

O) A classic what more can I say.

jimmy82063, May 21, 2011
Photo of
4.38/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Finally able to have this beer fresh, I have bottles from 5/4/11. I have waited to review this until I had a bottle that was less than a month and a half old.

a-clear yellow with a three finger head. Lively carbonation.

s-gets better as the beer warms up. Big pine and fresh hops. Some citrus fruit. Big difference when fresh!

t-this is where this beer shines when fresh. Big hops with a great malt backbone. The finish last a long while, and had a really balanced bitterness. Some sweetness, but it is there only for an instant.

o-I am really impressed. This beer needs to be consumed within a few weeks to really get the Pliny experience. I think this stuff would be amazing days after bottling. Great DIPA.

, May 21, 2011
Photo of lookitsmp
4.43/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

appearance: Pours a slightly lazy but mostly transparent golden orange with about a fingers worth of head which leaves some lacing. A pretty nice looking double IPA.

smell: Grapefruit dominates the aroma for me. Very sweet smelling. Some pine scent and, of course, lots of hops. This beer smells amazing. I immediately compared the smell to Bell's Hopslam.

taste: Much like it smells, I taste a wonderful balance of grapefruit and pine. It's like a balance of a traditional double IPA and a west coast double IPA which usually are dominated by pine notes. These two tastes blend exceptionally well. Starts off sweet and ends with that great bitter hop finish.

mouth: Very smooth and slightly carbonated. The hops dry leave your mouth dry and ready for the next sip.

overall: This is a very good beer. It actually smells much better than it taste (and it tastes very good). The fusion between grapefruit and pine works very well and its something unique that I have yet to taste in other double IPA's. I would highly recommended this beer, and I wish Russian River could distribute closer to me so I could drink it more often.

lookitsmp, May 20, 2011
Photo of zeledonia
4.13/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled 6 April 2011. Not quite as fresh as I'd like, but for my first time drinking it, it'll have to do.

Pours a translucent golden orange, with nice streams of bubbles rising from the glass's nucleation point. One finger + head, very white and frothy; lasts quite a while and leaves amazing lacing. There's froth all over the inside of my glass.

Piney hops dominate the nose, with some fruity (oranges and grapefruit) hops, and a bit of floral. Malt aromas are there to provide support, but they're definitely a distant second fiddle to the hops. I tend not to like pine-dominated hop smells, but this one is really smooth, full, and well-rounded. If it tastes as good as it smells, I'll be happy.

It does not taste quite as good as it smells. It starts out rather malty, before the hops come in heavy. I don't actually get much from the hops other than bitterness - where's the piney resin that's so prevalent in the nose? Where's the citrus? Pine is there in the finish with the bitterness, but that's about it. Well-balanced, but not as hop-flavorful as I want it to be.

Mouthfeel is quite good - medium-bodied and good carbonation. Clings to the mouth and holds on to the bitter finish almost until I'm ready for my next sip.

A very tasty DIPA, but the hops just aren't there in the taste as much as I'd like them to be. I've heard tell that this beer fades fast after bottling, and I recognize that this bottle may have suffered from that. But 6 weeks ain't that old, and this, while good, doesn't blow my socks off.

zeledonia, May 20, 2011
Photo of GimmeGumballHead
4.78/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

special thanks to JoshuaGarrett4 for the surprise box with cali stuff.

this is not my first tasting, I love this beer. but I'm trying to give it a fair shake.

A - Beuatiful! its some sort of crazy orange and bronze that you can almost see through, a light topping of head that coats the glass.

S - citrusy and complex and hoppy and wonderful.

T - Not quite as citrusy as I like my IPAs, but still outstanding and incredibly well balanced.

M - so well balanced, dangerously drinkable.

O - get you some, buy it fresh if possible. It's worthy of its reputation.

GimmeGumballHead, May 19, 2011
Photo of ktrillionaire
4.93/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I now know why people get so nuts over Pliny; having had a healthy pour from a 4 day-old growler, I can safely say that it is about as good as a hop-centric brew can be.

A - It pours a radiant brassy golden hue, and is capped with a heaping of fluffy butter-cream colored head, depositing much lace.

S - The nose is just grade-A totally insane; it is like being blasted with sticky citrus-fruit in the middle of an evergreen logging operation.

T - Again, if you dropped a tangerine-grapefruit-mango bomb on a pine-spruce woodland, some volume of PtE would necessarily be created.

M - I really enjoy DIPA with a feel like this, not so viscous, and not getting confused with BW.

O - I enjoy this at least twice as much as I have week-old bottles. I am not sure if it is a freshness thing; three days difference seems to miniscule to produce that much change, but I may be wrong about that. I am more inclined to think that it is better on-tap than in bottles.

ktrillionaire, May 19, 2011
Photo of BrlyHpsWtrYst
4.5/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear burnt orange, a rocky white head clings with lace, smells of citrus, pineapple, pine, caramel malt and subtle alcohol. Hop complexity dominates the flavor, moves around with different intensities of bitterness, excellent balance. Light bodied and lively but a little chewy on the end. Overall it's a perfect example of the west coast style. I finally got around to reviewing it. One of the best

BrlyHpsWtrYst, May 19, 2011
Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 10,532 ratings.