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.
BA SCORE
100
world-class

10,502 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 10,502
Reviews: 3,166
rAvg: 4.65
pDev: 8.39%
Wants: 4,844
Gots: 1,740 | FT: 57
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: 10,502 | Reviews: 3,166 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of dankendall8888
4.95/5  rDev +6.5%

Had on tap at Russian River on a recent trip up to Santa Rosa (not my first)

A- Crystal clear and slightly orange

S- Half the attraction is the wonderful aromas emanating from the glass. Huge floral and citrus hop aroma - bright and clean, piny, resinous, hunger inducing.

T- Exceptionally balanced despite the hop overload. Hops flavor is typical west coast- clean and bright and not at all muddled. Alcohol plays in the background but does not interfere. Vinnie is the man.

M- Reasonably high carbonation keeps the beer light on the tongue, finishes clean and refreshing.

O- Pliny is the real king of beers. in my opinion better than Pliny the Younger (and far more available).

dankendall8888, Mar 31, 2011
Photo of richalexander78
3.9/5  rDev -16.1%

Acquired this via trade. Bottled 12/17/10, drank 3/31/11. Great head. Nice citrus aroma and tast. Even better(fantastic) balance of flavor and hops. I would Def drink more if available in Florida. Did not beat my current fav DIPA Unearthly. Rock on Russian River!

richalexander78, Mar 31, 2011
Photo of davesway10
4.4/5  rDev -5.4%

I received this in a trade with dsgolovin (as an extra no less). Usually I won't drink a trade beer until both sides are complete (mine is still en route) however I couldn't pass on Fresh Pliny. Bottled 3/21/11. The beer pours a beautiful amber/gold with a nice tall head. The smell is citrus and orange, the taste is the same. I don't know if this is my favorite DIPA of all time, doesn't really matter it's damn good. I wish it was available locally. I've wanted to try this beer for a long time and I wasn't disappointed.

davesway10, Mar 30, 2011
Photo of blackie
4.43/5  rDev -4.7%

a: served in a wide snifter, clear golden-amber in color, an initially thick off-white head falling to a nice layer

s: lush tropical/citrus hop nose on a background of pale malts and careful caramel dosing, a touch of malt sugar but carefully controlled, kiwi, pineapple, passoinfruit, red grapefruit, peach - juicy and oily, fresh and vivid, fantastic balancing between malt and hop

m: carbonated to just under moderate in level, the body holds some weight but remains light on the palate

t: a simple pale and caramel malt body pushes the hops to the fore - juicy and tropical from the start, grapefruit zest and other rich citrus, full pithy bitterness in the finish, it's quite dry for the "double" style - was expecting a touch more malt complexity, but this works

o: a great beer with a stellar hop presence, it's not a knockout at first glance, but there's plenty of layering here, still - the hype on this one is a little much (a knock on the machine, not the beer, though honestly I think there are others out there equally as good but widely distributed and easily available), what's lacking in complexity is made up for by the contrast of pungent citrus hop over simple malts, as for drinkability - this could pass for a standard ipa any day

pint-plus bottle from Mondo Vino, Denver

blackie, Mar 30, 2011
Photo of whatthehull
5/5  rDev +7.5%

Poured into a New Belgium snifter

A - Beautiful golden sunset, very minimal white head and pretty lace

S - Wow, the hops and the malt are so balanced. you can smell a bit of the alcohol, but very pleasing. The hops are all so complementary, pine, grass, some fruit, flowers and a bit of citrus. The malt smells really sweet, but the sweet is perfect smelling. Doesn't smell to toasted. Wheat and yeast are noted as well

T - Perfect balance again. Not to malty, to hoppy or to sweet. Just right. The yeast is nice, a bit of wheat. The grass and flowers are up front, really nice citrus and fruity hops in the middle, the yeast and sweet malt on the back end. The water used is so so fresh. Awesome

M - Perfect. Light, fluffy, a bit of carbonation. Sits on the palate nicely. The taste only gets better and it lingers in the mouth. Nice sweet meets bitter

D - 8%? Wow, this drinks like water. It's so nice and pretty much perfect. Great beer.

Final thought - Wish you could find this beer more often. Other than that. Can't say enough good stuff about this beer

whatthehull, Mar 29, 2011
Photo of Preismj
4.9/5  rDev +5.4%

Thanks to badboyrsl84 for helping me get my hands on this. Never been more excited to get something in the mail.

a: like liquid gold. A nice rich amber that is perfectly translucent. Easily the fluffiest head I've ever seen on a beer. Thick creamy lacing with moderate retention. Edit: This guy is sticking all over the glass as I drink it...

s: Very floral scent. I am getting a lot of initial hoppyness here with a small bit of malty sweetness and a fruity citrus smell. Hints of orange and peach.

t: quick shot to the palette of hops. Bitterness right up front but it quickly clears the path for a rush of roasted malt...gives off a presence of toffee and butterscotch. Not at all an over powering malt flavor though...very mild and it doesn't stay long. I get a hint of peach, mango and orange...very tropical fruit flavor mixes at the end and is welcomed back by the floral taste of hops. As it warms, the fruit flavors come out to play much more...the initial hop flavor fades. Leaves the palette very dry yet it is incredibly creamy. You don't even know when it is gone.

m: creamy, fluffy, thick and sticky. This coats the palette so well you don't know that it is gone.

o: tremendous brew...the creamy layer in the aftertaste is what I love most about this. the first few sips hit you very hard with the bitter hops, but as this warms and your palette adjusts this becomes easily the best IIPA I've ever had and you can see why so many people search for it and love it.

Preismj, Mar 29, 2011
Photo of Hibernator
4.88/5  rDev +4.9%

I had this beer on tap at Falling Rock in Denver....

Pours a golden orange with a slight haze that leaves awesome trails of sticky lacings.

The nose is phenomenal with a floral aroma and whiffs of freshly cut citrus fruits and pure dank hops.

Syrupy sweet with a strong malt backbone and a super aggressive hop presence with flavors of oranges, pineapple, freshly cut grass and peaches. A rather medium body and the finish is interestingly dry.

This is only my second on-tap review out of 800+ beer reviews on this site, but I had to document this world class beer.

Unfortunately, Russian River doesn't distribute to Massachusetts. I can only hope for the day when they do.

I noticed myself developing an insatiable thirst for this hop juice. An absolutely amazing beer and highly recommended, Pliny The Elder is one of the best beers out there.

Hibernator, Mar 29, 2011
Photo of StoneTSR
4.53/5  rDev -2.6%

Thank you so much to Robb at Poppy's Pizza in Estas Park, Colorado for this one. Check out my review of Poppy's and please go there next time you're in Estas, had a great time and he is one of the friendliest beer-geek restaurant owners I've ever met.

Also, I figured this is an appropriate beer to review for my 100th.

After searching for almost two years for a pint and having several close-call disappointments, Rob finally delivered two gorgeous tulip glasses full of Pliny to my girlfriend and me last Friday night. What a great find.

APPEARANCE: Orange and ever so slightly hazy. The head was not enormous, but bubbles continued to flit to the top of the glass throughout the pint. The lacing was very solid, with a thick wall of lace on the opposite side of the glass.

SMELL: My notes say that the Pliny "smells like flowers. Like delicious, hoppy, magic flowers." I had my nose in the glass for about five minutes before taking my first sip and I kept sticking it back in throughout the two beers I had.

TASTE: As I mentioned in my review of Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout I mentioned that sometimes the greatest beers in the world are not as shockingly different as we might expect, rather they are simply exactly what we are looking for within a certain style of beer. This concept would apply to Pliny in my mind. It takes the palate on the precisely balanced ride that it is supposed to go on with every DIPA. It may sound odd to say, but it is a very technically sound Double IPA. Starting out sweet and piney, but not quite as sweet as a Hopslam, it slowly dries throughout the sip. The hops kick towards the end of the sip along with strong floral flavors with just a hint of honey. Elegant is Pliny the Elder in a word.

MOUTHFEEL: As I mentioned above, bubbles continuously floated to the top throughout the entire pint and that seemed to keep the beer lively during the whole experience. It was certainly better carbonated than many DIPAs, but it also had a slightly oily feel to it.

OVERALL: I am very happy I finally tracked down a couple pints. The hype is well-deserved, but may have served to disappoint me just a bit. This is everything a Double IPA, and in my mind, a beer should be - almost perfect balance with an absolutely spectacular nose, but not quite the life-changing event some have made it out to be. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed this beer and it would have been easy to keep drinking this stuff all night.

StoneTSR, Mar 28, 2011
Photo of Brad007
4.3/5  rDev -7.5%

Finally, the day has come where I can sample the word-class Pliny The Elder.

Pours a amber-gold color with a decent head into my glass. Absolutely thrilling presentation for the style!

Hints of grapefruit and tropical fruit tingle the nose. The malt stays in the background.

Bursts of grapefruit and biscuity malt coat the mouth upfront. It's not too overpowering and the malt seems to balance it out.

Mouthfeel is full of lingering grapefruit, alcohol heat and biscuity malt. It's one of the most mellow examples I've had.

It's excellent but quite honestly, it's certainly not THE best. Worth it though!

Brad007, Mar 28, 2011
Photo of cr0ckett
4.55/5  rDev -2.2%

Huge thanks to Jlt6116 for sending me 6 of these in a trade.
500ml Bottle poured into snifter; bottled 2.17.11
A: Pours a beautiful clear amber. One finger white head dissipates within a couple minutes; light lacing through out beer.
S: Pine, resin, little bit of citrus: grapefruit maybe?
T: Great pine hop tones throughout. Little bit of malt sweetness in beginning and middle to balance but hops linger on in the end.
M: Medium bodied and a slightly syrupy viscosity with good carbonation; exceptionally smooth.
O: I tried not to let the hype surrounding this beer affect me too much, but this really is an exceptional beer. It's the most perfectly balanced DIPA I've had. It's not so much better than other IPAs/ DIPAs I've had (for example, Hopslam) that it blows them out of the water, but again, it is an exceptional beer.

cr0ckett, Mar 28, 2011
Photo of Avagadro
4.47/5  rDev -3.9%

Special thanks to kingkong for hooking me up with this bottle. Dated 2-24-11

A: Deep amber in color, great clarity for a style that is overrun with hazy brews, and prevalent lacing. Head looks great to begin with, but fades to a thin film quickly. Its saving grace, however, is the fact that it leaves the layers of froth on the side of my glass that I have come to expect from an IPA.

S: Bouquet is vibrant, with tropical fruit, pine, herbs, and resin all playing their part.

T: There is a slight sweet note from the malt right at the beginning, but it is almost immediately overwhelmed by an onslaught of hops. As promised by the nose, pineapple, mango, juniper, and rosemary are all presented in the finish.

M: Medium body, great carbonation, and a touch of astringency on the finish.

O: A great brew, for sure, but I'm not sure it is really worth all of the hype. It is also guilty of a new trend that I find to be exceedingly annoying; demanding that the customers consume the product immediately. I know, I know; hops fade with time, but does 6mos really make a huge difference over 3? All this nonsense achieves is the production of a new breed of ultra-annoying beer geeks.

Avagadro, Mar 28, 2011
Photo of cpetrone84
4.65/5  rDev 0%

A-pours a hazy golden color with a thick two and a half fingers of white head that has solid retention and leaves a nice lacing on the glass

S-the nose is a little on the light side but provides a great subtle hop presence of grapefruit and bitterness with a touch of caramel sweetness. the aromas are well balanced and nice, nothing that isn't perfectly integrated.

T-the taste is so well integrated and smooth. the flavors really just play together and nothing seems out of touch at all. the hops are strong, lots of grapefruit and notes of pine. hints of malt underneath with a touch of sweet caramel but this is a minor presence to present the perfect balance for a hop lover.

M-lighter body but still full feel, not thin, soft on the palate with a creamy note up front and lively carbonation in the back. hint of driness and very crisp clean finish.

D-the hop flavors are in perfect proportion, nothing stands out and creates an unpleasant hop flavor. the grapefruit is so smooth and the malt is light but just present enough to allow this to be extremely drinkable. this is a world class beer, one of the best around.

cpetrone84, Mar 27, 2011
Photo of devilishprune
3.78/5  rDev -18.7%

Pliny the Elder-Reviewed 1/21/11, Bottled 11/30/10
A. Light amber in color and not as hazy as I expected; head is almost nonexistent.

S. Pine explosion covering up slight grapefruit.

T. Taste follows the smell, but not as much hoppiness as I expected due to all the hype. This beer is well attenuated, which is something that I can appreciate and probably my favorite characteristic of this beer.

M. Light mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

D. Couldn't see myself having more than one of these due to the aggressive hoppiness of the beer.

Overall, it didn't live up to expectations. I don't know what beer could have. It was a good IPA, but it was lacking something that I can't put my finger on to set it apart. That said, I would like to try a fresher bottle.

devilishprune, Mar 26, 2011
Photo of suspect
5/5  rDev +7.5%

Poured from 16.9 oz bottle into a Duvel Tulip. Bottled on 2/24/11 (approximately 1 month old). Thanks to HEADYGLASSdotcom for the trade.

A: Wonderful amber/golden mix. Frothy white head was about 3 fingers tall after a mildly aggressive pour.. Disappeared about 8 minutes after pour but remnants of the head remained throughout the beer as I drank it. Steady stream of bubbles from the bottom of the glass to the head.

S: Obviously hop-forward, strong grapefruit presence, smell of the fruit as opposed to the smell of the rind. Hint of orange smell at the end of the sniff with pine and malt.

T: Bitter hops , sweet malt and strong citrus combine for the best tasting, most balanced IPA I've ever had. The aftertaste, which is quite welcomed, lingers for several minutes after I swallowed it.

M: Wonderfully balanced just like the rest of the beer. Coats the mouth with the creamy, but not syrupy. Tiny little carbonation bubbles coat the mouth for a few seconds before disappearing.

O: This is the best beer I've ever had. Quite frankly, I don't know how an IPA gets much better than this. I probably, unless a miracle occurs and I'm in the right place at the right time, won't get the chance to taste Pliny the Younger but I can't imagine beer gets much better than this.

Notes - It makes me really happy to have tried this beer, however it makes me ambitious to find ways to move to California so I can have it all the time.

suspect, Mar 26, 2011
Photo of legalpete19340
4.93/5  rDev +6%

A: Bright yellow bordering on gold. Thick sea foam head that stuck around and laced the glass beautifully for the entire drink.

S: Lots of citrus with lemon and pine sap coming through. There is a lot here but I cant place it all. Maybe some fresh cut flowers too.

T: Wow. Lots of bite upfront with immense orange and lemon. The pine sap comes around in the end with a final bite of pure bitterness. The malts really stand up throughout this thing without ever coming over the top. The alcohol slowly warms me up at the end.

M: Lighter than expected but not light. Not syrupy. Just medium.

O: Awesome beer. Get me another now. Huge hops but well balanced and layers of flavor. I wouldnt change a thing about this beer.

legalpete19340, Mar 26, 2011
Photo of brian44556
4.78/5  rDev +2.8%

Received this in a trade from SolomonGrundy, thanks as always.

Poured a 500mL bottle dated 2/24/11 into a Duvel Tulip.

Appearance is amazing. Great copper color with a thick, foamy white head. This is the standard on what a DIPA should look like. Smells of citrus, earty and grassy hops. Before each drink I always take a second to take another sniff. Taste is absolutely amazing. Taste like bitter, bitter hops. A lot of grapefruit notes shine with every drink. This one doesn't lack any carbonation. Perfect mouthful with each drink. Overall this beer is one of the worlds best. If you don't believe me read the 1,000 reviews. I could drink this one all day everyday. Just a shame the distribution is so limited.

brian44556, Mar 25, 2011
Photo of vilago
4.53/5  rDev -2.6%

Ok dont tar and feather me, but i feel this beer is overrated. Yes, it is a very good beer and a fine example of american IPA. My problem with it is that it is extremely hard to find, dam near impossible in bottles on the east coast. I had to travel from delaware to colorado to magically stumble upon this beer. I guess all the hype ruined it for me, but i would be perfectly happy grabbing a 90 minute or even a sierra nevada and avoiding the cost and hassle of tracking down this beer or even trading it. Try it to put the hype to rest but dont go too far out of your way...

vilago, Mar 25, 2011
Photo of drumrboy22
4.43/5  rDev -4.7%

Poured from a 500mL bottle into a Chouffe tulip. Beer was a hazy orange color with a one-finger white head. Moderate carbonation and light lacing around the glass.

Aroma was big citrus hops, tropical fruit and grapefruit.

Taste was grapefruit, bitter hops, tropical fruits and caramel.

Fantastic beer and very well balanced. Smooth and easy drinking. Goes down way too easily.

drumrboy22, Mar 24, 2011
Photo of AwYeh
4.4/5  rDev -5.4%

500ml bottle, dated 3/14/11 poured into Russian River snifter; thanks to madvermin for picking this one up for me as part of a combo mail/in-person trade.

A: Pours a slightly hazy golden-orange color with two fingers of bubbly white head. Outstanding head retention and good lacing; all around, an awesome look for an IPA.

S: Lots of citrus hops- pineapple and grapefruit in particular, along with a decent helping of orange zest, and hints of peach and pine. Some sweet malts come in to provide balance with the hops.

T/M: Nice balance of bitter and sweet here- tons of citrus hop flavors all over the place, with the bitterness of their hops perfectly complemented/balanced by the sweet malts present. Lingering, dry, grapefruit finish makes me long for another sip. Medium-bodied with moderate carbonation and a decent stickiness on the finish bolster the already good mouthfeel.

O: Although the taste of this beer wasn't immediately one of my favorites ever, I couldn't put my glass of this down. Looking forward to picking up another bottle (or two, or three, etc.) in the future. I didn't even realize this was 8% ABV until after my review was totally finished- no hint of ethanol in either the taste, smell, or mouthfeel.

This beer reminds me a lot of Bell's Hopslam in that it is an extremely touted beer that didn't immediately jump out to me as one of my favorites, but went extremely quickly until I was all out. Not that my review will be the difference maker, but it definitely would be good to get your hands on this and see if you think it's worth the hype.

AwYeh, Mar 23, 2011
Photo of Knapp85
4.63/5  rDev -0.4%

Oh the mighty Pliny... Waited quite a while to finally try to gem. I was tipped off by a gentleman that moved to Pa from Cali about where to get Pliny in our area. He spoke if the Spinnerstown Hotel as if it was a sacred holy land of beer... He wasn't too far off! Long story short about a year after he mentioned it to me I saw the S. Town Hotel got it in on tap! I wanted to leave work early that day and fly down there asap! I walk in the door and the same dude from a year ago is tossing back Pliny's like he just bought the keg. I walked up to the bar and got my 1st one. The guy didn't remember me from before and got upset that I was ordering "his" beer! I told him that it's his fault because he tipped me off about it... Anyway it's got a lovely golden yellow color with a nice head in it. The aromas are breath taking. The flavors of pine like hops sting your mouth and make you beg for more. This beer is so tasty! I ordered 5 in a row that night. Coulda had 5 more, shoulda called a cab!

Knapp85, Mar 23, 2011
Photo of iLovehops23
4.47/5  rDev -3.9%

Cracked this beer after it was only 2 week old. Rich gold in color, clear and translucent, almost looks like it would pour like honey. The rich smell of pine sap and grapefruit permeates from the glass immediately. It's almost like a wicked citrus fruit juice, except it's 8.0%ABV is inescapable. A truly magical representation of the DIPA breed with a drinkability unequaled to any but hopslam.

iLovehops23, Mar 22, 2011
Photo of mlarger
4.97/5  rDev +6.9%

I was taken aback by the smell of this beer upon opening. I just happened to be standing over it and the smell was intense.

The color was suprising. Lighter than I expected. The flavor was perfect. One of the smoothest beers I have ever tasted. Not too hoppy at all. It was just perfect for my liking.

The aftetaste was the best part. It lasted long after I had finished the beer.

Pliny is everything I want in a beer. This is definitely in my top 5! Excellent

mlarger, Mar 21, 2011
Photo of KMDouds
4.53/5  rDev -2.6%

As spectacular a smelling beer as I've ever experienced- conspicuously so, especially after being underwhelmed by it's appearance, Pliny's flat yellowish color. Russian River has clearly generated quite a mystique around this brew with their tight reins and limited distribution. In fact, at two extremely well stocked local retailers, I actually had to ask for it because they refuse to stock Pliny on their shelves, keeping it refridgerated 'in the back' for specific requests and VIPs!

Not overly hopped, and the ABV seems perfect. Excellent aftertaste. A wonderful overall experience that quickly jumped into my personal Top 10 on first try. Bravo!

KMDouds, Mar 21, 2011
Photo of blackcrow911
4.55/5  rDev -2.2%

Bottled on: 02-07-2011

Pour in a pint glass.

A: Dark orange, a white head, and left nice lace, although the head did not last to long.

S: A very strong grapefruit smell. Very nice!

T: Just as with the smell I taste the grapefruit upfront, and a bitter end. I liked this very much.

M: Good carbonation, very smooth.

D: Very easy to drink, even with its bitter kick.

The first bottle I had of this I did not like at all, but this 2nd one was well worth it. Pliny the Elder is a beer well worth the effort to find. A great smell and taste, a head that will leave great lacing, although the head did not last to long. Over all I will take the 2 hour drive just to find it when I want to pick up some more.

blackcrow911, Mar 21, 2011
Photo of Shumania
4.33/5  rDev -6.9%

Finally got the chance to try this!

Bottled on 1/24/11. Poured into a snifter

A: Dark organge, amber color. poured swiftly to get a 1 finger head. Can tell immediately this will leave some nice lacing.

S: Straight forward tropical fruit, grapefruit and orange rind.

T: Continues with the tropical fruit. Organge rind comes forward and there are hints of peach in there. It finishs with a dry, piney bitterness from the hops.

M: Good carbonation, very smooth and no cloying chewiness like some DIPAs.

Overall, this is a great DIPA. I love my IPAs with lots of tropical fruit, so this is right up my alley. It goes down way too easy for the 8% abv and I unfortunately only have 1 bottle.

Shumania, Mar 21, 2011
Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 10,502 ratings.