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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.

10,809 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 10,809
Reviews: 3,193
rAvg: 4.65
pDev: 8.6%
Wants: 4,993
Gots: 1,878 | FT: 63
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: 10,809 | Reviews: 3,193 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of jggibbs
4.93/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I lived in SF for the past 5 years and this brew was fairly easy to find. Walk to a local Whole Foods and grab a few bottles. No sweat. I've had my fair share.

Now that I moved to Seattle, this is an elusive little bastard. A distributor friend of mine says it ships every 8 weeks and only 100 or so bottles show up for the whole greater Seattle region. Bummer. I've been searching and hyping it up to my friend since I moved back here in January, we missed out on PtY and so far we were unsuccessful until this past weekend.

My buddy and I finally found a few bottles at Brouwer's. Much to my chagrin, the server told us they had it on tap this past Thursday but were all out by Saturday Happy Hour. Oh well, bottles it is.

Bottled 3.28

Poured a golden amber with a very faint cloudiness and off-white, 1 finger head. Little to no visible carbonation.

Smell is hoppy, pine and maybe even grassy. Beneath is citrus and florals. Incredibly refreshing scent. Perfect pick-me-up to remind me it actually is Spring. My amateur nose didn't detect much malt, if any.

Taste of hops, for sure, but not nearly as oppressively as I had thought in the past. I blame that on my changing tastes and my relatively new familiarity with IPAs. After the hops, i get citrus. Bitterness from grapefruit in a delicious way.

Light to medium mouthfeel. Very easy to drink.

Overall, it is definitely a favorite of mine and my friend said it lived up my hype. However, the Double Jack I tried last weekend blew me away. This is right there with it a 1 and 1a in my book.

jggibbs, Apr 12, 2011
Photo of cpmichael
4.6/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 3/21/11, if I remember correctly. Anyways, it was super fresh.

A: Pours a beautiful golden yellow, with a nice white foam retention.

S: Smells very hoppy, almost like sniffing a bag of hops. Maybe a hint of a skunk to it, but it's very pleasant.

T: Hop bitterness right away, citrus notes with some lemon/lemon grass to it. Also, pine tree sap.

M/D: Perfect carbonation, not an absolute tongue bruiser, which is nice, very balanced as a dipa goes. I wish I lived on the west coast, I would buy one every time I saw it.

cpmichael, Apr 12, 2011
Photo of fewa
3.85/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is a four week old bottled directly send to my by a friend in the US, thanks. Pours a golden color with a nice fluffy head. Smell: huge American hop aromas dominates the nose, grapefuits, flowers, grass, and a bit of orange. A bit too dry in the mouth, with clean malts, more grapefruit. Very strong bitterness, not very drinkable to me. Still nice to try

fewa, Apr 11, 2011
Photo of Impfan
5/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

What can I say that hasn't been said?

This beauty has all the citric, strawberry, and piny esters in exquisite balance like the other top echelon DIPAs, but it's the incredibly floral (geranial) quality of the hops that really sets it apart. Absolutely sublime.

Impfan, Apr 10, 2011
Photo of b3shine
4.58/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A big thank you goes out to Dempsey16 for this wonderful brew (I suspect he equally enjoyed the Dreadnaught). Bottle to (frosty) pint glass. Delicious :P Hoppy, but wonderfully balanced. Perfectly sketched; drawn from the very palette VanGogh uses for his sunflowers. Beautiful on both ends. One of my top 2 beers (tied with Dreadnaught, although the edge goes to Pliny because I can't get RR with the same regularity that I can 3 Floyds.

b3shine, Apr 09, 2011
Photo of joecast
4.97/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Nearly skipped this for another ipa at hollingsheads. Ended up choosing the classic and was not disappointed. Probably the third time I've been lucky enough to have it.

light golden appearance with a foamy white head. Plenty of froth f assist the considerable aroma.

Tempting citrus and floral aroma. Bright fresh hops, even earthy and vegetal its so fresh. The aroma you want to have when you expect hops.

By no means one dimensional. Big malt backbone (whatever that means) carries the huge hop flavor and bitterness. Incerdible balance which seems to hang on a knife edge but never steps out of line.

If you have not had this beer before and you are a hop head, do yourself a favor. This is text book how it should be done. Does not put a foot wrong in any respect. Thank you RR, fantastic.

joecast, Apr 09, 2011
Photo of Alieniloquium
4.72/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

500 mL bottle poured into a pint glass.

Appearance - Beautiful white head with lacing that clings to the glass. Golden with just a bit of haziness. This is what an IPA should look like.

Smell - There is no way to justify the aroma of a fresh Pliny. Hoppy, citrusy, barely a hint of malt. Strong grapefruit smell. Clearly a hop bomb.

Taste - No surprise: hops. Fresh orange and grapefruit flavors and a bit of pine. Slight sweetness, but it stays behind the hop flavor. Very little bitterness in the start. The bitterness lingers with the finish. The only reason I don't give this a 5 is that it is that the quantity of hops brings it dangerously close to a grassy taste. It's not there yet, but you can tell how close it is.

Mouthfeel - Light for a DIPA, which I think is great. Tingling carbonation adds to the freshness and brightness.

Overall - This beer is why I don't enjoy other IPAs anymore. I know what an IPA can be and I expect it out of every other one I have. This is the bar.

Alieniloquium, Apr 09, 2011
Photo of adman08
4.8/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A-Pale, golden straw color with a good amount of fluffy, white head that leaves excellent lace on the glass. Slightly hazy.
S-Good combination of citrus hop aroma with a bit of fresh cut grass hop aroma.
T-Very nice emphasis on the citrus hop flavor without completely overwhelming the malt flavor. You'd never guess this beer was about 100 IBU's.
M-The hops give this a nice dry finish with just the right amount of malt.
Overall, I can see why this is considered by many to be one of the best beers in the world regardless of style. The combination of citrus hop flavor and bitterness with good malt sweetness is exceptional.

adman08, Apr 08, 2011
Photo of PGHeppJr
4.33/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From notes SEP09

Buddy brought a couple bottles back from a western sojourn.
Can't really gush anymore about this beer than has already been posted. A real beauty to look at, bright orange with a british judge wig for a head. Nose is of pure grapefruit. Tastes like hop liquor, if it ain't made yet, this will make a good starting point. Damn enjoyable.

Two weeks later another buddy shares his growler that was filled that morning. Just as tasty with even more nose.

PGHeppJr, Apr 08, 2011
Photo of Chriscrundwell12
4.6/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 500 ml bottle into a snifter

A- Beautiful Golden body, 2 finger head that dissipates slowly. Excellent lacing, well carbonated
S- AMAZING refreshing hoppy aroma, sweet grapefruit, citrus, pine.
T- Taste lives up to the aroma, smooth bitterness upfront, citrus and pine notes come out right away, hints of grapefruit and malt.
M- Really smooth and refreshing on the palate, bitterness and sweetness are well balanced
O- Just an excellent DIPA, really lives up to the hype. PTE one of the best smelling DIPAs out there. A brew everyone needs to try before they die.

Chriscrundwell12, Apr 08, 2011
Photo of macktbone
4.6/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I've been enjoying this as one of my "go to" top beers for a few years as well as carrying it all over the world for others to enjoy. Guess it's time to review it...

A- Beautifull rose gold color with a full and often fluffy head regardless of pour style. Lots of carbonation that lasts throughout the drink.

S- Pine, Hops,happiness.

T- tons of fresh hops with a smooth backbone that lingers just enough.

M- solid Imperial IPA bite to it that makes the combination of smooth feel, creamy head, and hoppy bite a perfect combination.

D/O- Great beer overall that has been a great bastian of beer Karma over the years. PTE as far as I'm concerned is second to only one Imperial IPA, they just happen to be related.

macktbone, Apr 08, 2011
Photo of Azurescens
4.43/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

500mL bottle with bottling date 3/21/11 poured into snifter, reviewed on 4/6/11

A: Beautiful slightly hazed golden color with off-white head. Moderate head retention leaves some lacing around glass.

S: Lots of hops in the nose on this one, a big bouquet of citrus and pine notes, barely let any malt aroma through. Slight grassy smell hiding behind the citrus and pine. Great smell for its style.

T: Again, lots of hops. Lots of hop bitterness up front which slowly fades as the hop flavors bombard my taste buds. Some faint malt comes through in the middle and finish, but the hops are what dominate the taste. I can still taste all the hops in my mouth long after taking a sip.

M: Medium-light bodied with good carbonation, very smooth and finishes dry with a lingering tingle on my tongue from all the hops.

O: This is undeniably a great imperial IPA. Very drinkable for 8 percent, awesome hop presence through and through. Definitely one of the best in its style.

Azurescens, Apr 07, 2011
Photo of lynchtae
4.75/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Hops anyone? This is the first time I have actually saw hops in a beer. As soon as you crack it you can smell the hops. But it's balanced - nice sweet malts and alcohol in harmony with the bitterness and citrus, pine and earthy, hops. Try it, you'll love it.

lynchtae, Apr 07, 2011
Photo of inlimbo77
4.53/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Got this one via trade with baycat, thanks Ryan. Bottle dated 2/24/11. Poured into a Victory snifter.

A: Clear, pale, orange color. Nice two finger crisp white head. Lots of tiny bubbles. Great carbonation. The lacing on these beers is amazing.

S: HOPS! Lots of citrus fruits in there. Grapefruits and such. But also some piney notes. Awesome bouquet!

T: Got crisp citrus hoppiness. Mild malt backbone to control this hop monster. Very clean. Bite upfront with a mellow center and nice crisp finish.

M: Nice mouthfeel. OK mouth coating, not too agressive. Finish that sticks around a bit.

D: VERY drinkable for a DIPA. Too bad it isn't readily available in these parts or I would have sucked down the whole lot that I traded for.

Overall, this lived up to the hype for me both here from the bottle and fresh from the tap in Philadelphia. Just an extremely perfectly well done west coast DIPA. Love Russian River's methods and all their products.

inlimbo77, Apr 06, 2011
Photo of timobkg
4.1/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass.

Had this on tap with Blind Pig and Younger, so will compare to those.

Elder is clearer than Younger, but cloudier than Blind Pig, with a nice head, and great lacing.

The aroma is the best of the three. It's very similar to Flower Power and Sculpin.

The taste is very well balanced between the malt and the hops - seems sweeter than both Blind Pig and Younger. It again reminds me of Sculpin and Flower Power, though more of the latter, as it's less bitter than Sculpin.

This is one of the best and most balanced DIPA's I've had. The closest comparison would be Flower Power, followed by Sculpin. I think this is a better beer than it's over-hyped Younger brother.

timobkg, Apr 05, 2011
Photo of evanlarkin
4.38/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Samuel Smith pub glass.

Clear and golden orange with bubbles popping up. A foamy white head developed up to about 2 1/2 fingers, at which point I had to start pouring. Medium retention and some lots of lace.

Sweet and soft with lots of citrus smells and some piney undertones. Makes me think of grapefruit and fresh apricot.

Pine and dry grapefruit dominates, and the fresh (but not sweet) apricot aroma comes through even more. Sweet malt on the backend with low-medium bitterness, making for a pleasant balance. After a bit, most of the flavors peel off of your tongue, with the exception of the pine and pale malt.

Medium bodied, medium but very soft carbonation. Bubbles aren't at all harsh on the tongue.

This is a really solid IPA. It isn't really overpowering in any one flavor category, and certainly tastes delicious in all of them. What you've got here is one solid beverage that I could see myself enjoying regardless of the weather. Still, bonus if a hammock is involved.

evanlarkin, Apr 05, 2011
Photo of JoEBoBpr
4.88/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A - Gorgeous orange pour with a nice .15 inch head that is white and a bit sticky.

S - Mango tangerine and slight orange notes come up front quick strong but subtle at the same time. Slight grain notes are present but its mostly a hop paradise.

T & M - Taste starts off with some delicious mango hints. Followed by more citrus and orange, grapefruit notes that are perfectly intense. Citrus bitterness follows with some slight resin notes. Smooth malt grain notes are in the middle of the beer. Slight bread and sweetness. Floral notes and some nice dry bitterness finish off this near perfect beer. Extremely balanced brew that lives up to all the hype. Mouthfeel is perfect. Oily and silky and with great carbonation to make it refreshing as well.

O - This beer is a gift from above. Great hop and malt profile with a heavy citrus, floral hop component that is present yet not too overwhelming.

JoEBoBpr, Apr 04, 2011
Photo of BrewCrew2010
4.75/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Thanks Thickfreakness for the Pliny and an awesome trade.

A: Pours a hazy golden orange with a fluffy white head that last a while and leaves decent lacing.

S: An explosion of hops that can be smelled across the room. A beautiful smell of citrus & tropical fruit with a hint of pine.

T: Taste is just as hoppy as the nose. Wonderful bitter hop upfront with notes of pine and citrus. Middle is slightly sweet and ends again with a hoppy bitteriness. Very well balanced with a long lasting finish.

M: Very smooth, but the texture wasn't what I expected. Moderate carbonation with a medium body.

O: An amazing beer that I am so glad to finally try. Going to open a second bottle here soon and will try to trade for more in the future!

BrewCrew2010, Apr 04, 2011
Photo of OddNotion
4.93/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Have now been lucky enough to have this beer 3 times from the bottle and once on tap. I will review the bottle I am currently drinking. Bottle dated: 2/24/2011.

Appearance: Poured into my DFH Signature Glass. Pours a deep yet transparent orange with a quickly receding one finger white head. The beer produces bubbles from the bottom of the glass from many different points, and keeps going throughout the times it spends in the glass.

Smell: Great hop bouquet. It is hops hops and more hops. I can smell citrus and pine. It is so inviting and radiates from the glass.

Taste: I love this stuff. Hops right off the bat and they keep on coming. There is just the right amount of bitterness to back up the fruitiness. I do taste some malt backbone, just the perfect grain bill to balance out the hops. My mouth is always watering for more.

Mouthfeel: Nice and bubbly. Perfectly smooth. Too drinkable especially for an 8% beer but each sip is just dry enough to leave you thirsting for more.

Overall: I love this beer. The perfect DIPA, so far only Surly Abrasive can compete IMO. I have had this beer side by side with others in the DIPA style and none of those hold a candle to this. It deserves the high rating and hype it receives. No disappointment here at all.

OddNotion, Apr 04, 2011
Photo of Jimmys
4.43/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

generously gifted to me from some friends that just got back from san francisco.

A: hazy light orange. big fluffy slightly off-white head. hangs around for a little bit before shrinking to a more manageable size.

S: highly pungent. smells like stinky weed. big hop citrus and pine. grapefruit/orange juice. beautiful showcase of american hop varietals.

T: similar to the nose, big time hop flavors. stuffed grape leaves. a linger of citrus that cuts between tangy and earthy. however, both the upfront flavor and linger provide fairly refreshing characteristics.

M: silken almost. low carbonation works great on this body for the hop element.

D: everyone knows the name. a solid DIPA and arguably the best example there is. i actually had 2 bottles of this stuff gifted to me and felt this review needed to be revisited.

Jimmys, Apr 04, 2011
Photo of madvermin
4.53/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a beautiful crisp and clean caramel burnt orange, with creamy whipped pure white head on top that laces like a dream.

Smells very citrusy (grapefruit) and floral, with lots of pine in there too. Resin is large and in charge as well. Caramel malt is big too, even in a less than week old fresh batch. Maybe I'm biased from having just had Surly Abrasive, but this beer is great but has clear superiors in my mind in the smell department.

The taste follows suit, as the hops are strong, and the pine is all over the place, to go with tons of citrus. However, the bitterness is so well spread out, and the malt sweetness in the back keeps it so balanced, that this thing never gets out of control. Smooth from start to finish, with a spectacularly clean finish that is between dry and sweet...and toes that line so well that I just want to keep drinking more of it. I've had better, but can't say there have been too many.

Carbonation is perfectly balanced with the hops and citrus to leave a tingle on the tongue to go with the pine, but is flat enough that you really get a feel for the beer and can taste everything without struggling to cut through the bubbles. Drinkability is on another planet due to the balance and finish, and the 8% abv is a complete nonfactor. I could have as many of these in a row as my body would allow, and it would be just as good at the end as at the beginning. At 4 bucks a bottle, there is no better deal on earth than this.

madvermin, Apr 03, 2011
Photo of mactrail
4/5  rDev -14%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A pure and clean hop explosion.

Carbonation and related mouthfeel is not anything extraordinary. Color is beery amber. Aroma is powerful, big beautiful hops. Taste is hot, rich, and spicy. It tastes like chili pepper hot to me. A nice mouthful of flavor, but hard on the cheeks with all the slicing intensity. Long burning flavor goes on and on. Bitterness is a never-ending story. Great example of Hops Uber Alles.

I'd say the "sippability" is good, as long as you don't intend to actually taste anything after it. Drank this at the Pizza Port in OB, San Diego, served in a snifter.

mactrail, Apr 03, 2011
Photo of brewdenver
4.5/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

16oz bottle poured into a .5L spaten mug.

A: Amber gold in color. Poured a thick frothy head that stuck around for awhile. Medium to strong fingers. Good lacing around glass.

S: Hoppie aroma pleasant to smell. Allergies are acting up so a bit tough to get all the floras.

T: Hop florals hit you right away challenging the senses of what your tasting. A mixture of grapefruit, grass, lemon. The middle continues to provide you with hops. More bitter and dry now. The finish is surprisingly not too dry. Very well balanced for a double Ipa.

M: Malty and medium bodied. Carbonation is medium and doesn't take away from the goal of this beer.

O: A really nice balance of hops, abv and grain. A very harmonious Double IPA.

brewdenver, Apr 02, 2011
Photo of oline73
4.8/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I had this on-tap at Capone's during the Russian River beer event. Every time I have this beer, I can't believe how much I like it. I never thought it would live up to the hype, but it always does.

Appearance: Pours a clear golden amber color with a finger of off white head. It leaves some nice lacing as I got through my pour.

Smell: I had this next to the younger, and the smell is the only place where I thought younger won. Sweet mildly citrus hops with some malt sweetness in there as well. Not very strong.

Taste: There is less sweetness in the taste than there is in the smell. Bitter citrus peel hops hit the tongue pretty hard, there are also some pine notes in there as well. The finish is quite bitter with hardly any alcohol present.

Mouthfeel: The body is medium with a good amount of delicate carbonation. The finish is sticky and extremely dry.

Overall: I love this beer. You don't pick up the alcohol at all. The hop profile is amazing, and it has just the right amount of sweetness. I'd take this over the Younger if I had to choose just one of them.

oline73, Apr 02, 2011
Photo of cosmicevan
4.85/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

HUGE thanks to portable for picking up a growler across country and getting it to me in less than a week (and as a surprise no less...and with a RR pint glass!!!!)

a - Took the growler out of the fridge and let it warm up a bit (as suggested by portable) and then opened it up and poured it into my capt lawrence taster tulip. Beer poured a wonderful orange with a frothy 3 finger white head and nice carbonation bubbling. Nice sticky lacing as well.

s - Unreal. The hops are fresh and perfect. Just as in the bottle, only fresher and better. This beer deserves a 10 for smell. Candied hops and perfectly balanced pine smell. Really awesome!!!

t - WHO HE! My face is blown off by the hops. Pine pine and a bit of pine hops. Finishes a bit bitter. As it warms, the hops back off a bit and the sweetness comes out and the balance in the smell comes out in the flavor. The initial hop in your faceness is a bit shocking to the palette but once you get used to it, amazingness rules. Make no mistake, this is a hop forward beer and might not be for anyone, but if you enjoy an IPA, this is it.

m - Mouth is bitter and a bit watery. Alcohol tingle is nice.

o - Overall when it comes to DIPAs, this one is the king. The smell is the highlight, but the flavor profile is a close second..gets better as it warms. World class all the way. Very happy to have a fresh growler of this to work on tonight (with the wife).

cosmicevan, Apr 02, 2011
Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 10,809 ratings.