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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.

10,930 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 10,930
Reviews: 3,204
rAvg: 4.65
pDev: 8.6%
Wants: 5,034
Gots: 1,910 | 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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Pliny The Elder Alström Bros
Ratings: 10,930 | Reviews: 3,204 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of codfeast
4.45/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

bottle to tulip

A: a clear gold, thick 1" head that quickly disolved, sticky lacing.

S: Grapefruit, pine, sap, and candy.

T: Hops, then a little sweetness, faint candy taste. Long hoppy finish on the tounge.

M: Lingering oily feel, dry finish.

O: Maybe not as fresh as it should be(5/4). Not as dynamic has I remember while drinking draft pliney. Still really good, next time I'll find a fresher one.

codfeast, Jun 15, 2011
Photo of doughanson78
4.78/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

500ml bottle poured into a snifter. Bottled on: 5/24/2011 Exactly 3 weeks old.

A: Beautiful golden color with a very faint haziness. Fluffy 1 and a half finger head, very slightly off white. Big bubbles throughout the head. Lacing like you wouldn't believe.

S: Immediate huge hop aroma. Sweet apples. Oranges. Pineapple. Lots of other citrus aromas mixed in. All topped off with a very fresh pine tree scent. Just enough sweet caramel malts coming through.

T: Very sweet caramel right on the tip of the tongue. Mostly piney hop flavor throughout the rest of the mouth. Hop bitterness is not overpowering at all. An almost perfect blend of hops and malts. Finishes super dry with all the fruity flavors converging together for just a second or two. Then it's gone. DAMN! Another drink.

M: Great feel. How the caramel sweetness wraps the tip of your tongue making the fruity piney hops run and fight for the rest of your mouth. It all lingers for a few and disappears in a flash. First beer where I've really experienced the Dry Finish. You actually feel your mouth dry back out.

O: I had figured that this beer was way over hyped (probably like a lot of us did). This beer blew me away. I was expecting some huge bitter hop explosion. But the beer focuses on the hop flavors and doesn't destroy your palette. You get all the distinct aromas and flavors out of this beer. They make sure you don't miss a thing.

doughanson78, Jun 15, 2011
Photo of misterhops
4.22/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Big thanks to trodersark for this one! Bottled on 5/26/2011 and poured into a snifter.

A- beautiful, hazy orange color with a pillow soft 1.5 finger head. looks like fluffy clouds outside the airplane window, and makes you want to jump right in!

S- sweet, sweet hops! a nice bit of pine in there as well. i can tell im gonna like this one!

T- simple, yet complex. grapefruit, pine, and just a little bit of sweetness. not nearly as sweet as i expected from the smell. very nice caramel malt finish with a bittersweet ending on the tongue. the taste is good, but the finish is world class.

M- LOTS of carbonation from start to end. crisp and incredibly refreshing. not "sticky" like a lot of DIPAs tend to be.

O- I really enjoyed this beer and can now understand the hype. would love to have this again while sitting on the patio on a hot summer day.

misterhops, Jun 15, 2011
Photo of ChugginOil
4.5/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pliny the Elder: Botted 5/04/11 Consumed 5/23/11

Review #200!!!

Finally able to try this beast thanks to armock. Thanks again for the extra!

When poured, Pliny appears translucent orange and looks very clean. A golden amber butte settles perfect with a fingers worth of white head. Webby lacing clings randomly.throughout the glass.

The nose is very fresh, crisp, and inviting. The hop offerings are so fresh smelling and very bold. Citrus and pine are balanced quite nicely.

The taste says it all. The fresh hops are present, offering some grapefruit and lemon zest. A crisp bitterness means business. Balanced with the hops lies a sweet caramel candy taste. Exquisite. There is a light bready malt characteristic lingering in the finish which is nice.

The mouthfeel is very fluffy and smooth. A moderate amount of carbonation ties it up, melding the flavors throughout the palate.

Overall, this is one that lives up to the hype. Pliny achieves balance throughout and it's incredibely drinkable. Soooo damn tasty.

ChugginOil, Jun 14, 2011
Photo of Beejay
4.35/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Much thanks to dubinsky for getting me a brew I've been waiting to try for quite while.

A: A beautiful golden brown hue, clear with a very nice off white head. Very nice.

S: Big pine scents come out first. Some citrus notes, mostly grapefruit. There is a very nice sweetness to this. Like hot melty caramel.

T: Carmel notes follow from the smell. Followed by grapefruit, pine, and a solid bitterness. The finish has nice toasty notes and a bready finish with lingering bitterness. A very clean finish, very well balanced, and quite dangerously easy drinking.

M: Medium light in body, carbonation is nice. There is a good bit of lingering bitterness to tingle your tongue. There is a nice dryness to it.

O: Overall a damn fine brew. Perhaps a touch overhyped, but still a top notch beer to be sure.

Bottled 5/24/11

Beejay, Jun 14, 2011
Photo of justintcoons
4.4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours golden with an amber hue with one finger of head that dissipates slowly. Low carbonation.

N: Orange, lemon, apricot, fruity pebbles and caramel.

T: Pine, navel orange, lemon zest, papaya, grapefruit, hints of apricot, pineapple and floral notes backed by a sugary caramel backbone.

M: Full, almost chewy, dry, crisp and clean.

O: Very nicely balanced DIPA. Nice caramel sweetness and bitter citrus with hints of tropical fruits. This is very delicious but I expected more from it. Doesn't live up to the hype IMO.

justintcoons, Jun 14, 2011
Photo of wytshark
5/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I was lucky enough to get my hands on a Pliny, and I have to say I was a little skeptical. Is this beer worth the hype, or is it hyped because it's so hard to get?

I'll skip the details, since they've been covered in other reviews.

Suffice it to say, this is that rare creature that not only lives up to the hype, it exceeds it. Usually, even the best brews give hints to their make-up; how they're created. Pliny is a mystery. It defies explanation. Somehow it manages to be terribly complex and stunningly simple all at once. Truly magical.

To those of you not lucky enough to live where you can readily get a Pliny, I will say this: whatever trouble you need to go through to try it, it will be worth it.

wytshark, Jun 13, 2011
Photo of gdfullwv
4.93/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

When you pour this beer, you will note the nice golden color.

The nose of this beer is quite complex and very pleasant.

Other than nose, the most striking feature of this beer is the way this beer starts our bitter when it first hit your tongue and finishes pleasantly dry.

I love IPA's, and this is the best of the bunch!

gdfullwv, Jun 12, 2011
Photo of billzav
5/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I can see why this is the Imperial IPA that many a beer aficionado thinks of when discussing world class offerings in this style. Golden orange in color, Pliny The Elder has big notes of grapefruit up front, highlighting the array of citrusy hops. The hoppiness is complimented by roasted malt and caramel with a crisp, clean finish. It never fails to amaze me how this ale can have such a sizable hoppy presence, yet be so surprisingly smooth to drink.

billzav, Jun 12, 2011
Photo of SuperStory
4.43/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Even though this beer needs no further reviews or introductions, since I got a hold of a couple I wanted to represent for the East Coast:

A: Pours a clear golden color without the slightest bit of haze.

S: The smell was the first characteristic that really struck me. Very vibrant, pine and citrus unlike any Imperial IPA that I have experienced.

T: Mild compared to some other top Imperial IPA's but not in a bad way. Extremely complex to the point that each sip brought forth a new twist. Much more piney than citrus to the taste but balanced so that both tastes are noticeable.

M: Very thin and refreshing with some body to let you know it's not a fizzy yellow offering.

O: I wouldn't say that it exceeded my expectations since it's top 5 on the planet according to BA. Very nice all around Imperial but not for those that are looking to get knocked out by hops!

SuperStory, Jun 12, 2011
Photo of Airyk12
4.43/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours an amber color with a foamy/soapy white head that leaves plenty of lacing all over the glass.

Smells like pine and some citrus; a little sweetness. Some spices and more fruit.

Taste is of strong hops, with a little fruit and some maltiness attempting to bring a backbone. Strong pine and lots of grapefruit bringing the bitterness. A hint of caramel helps to balance this out a wee bit.

Smooth, creamy, and way less alcohol flavor than the 8% might indicate. Very drinkable. Medium body and good carbonation.

Color me impressed; definitely not my favorite DIPA, but for the price and "rare factor" it is good. I went into it thinking it would be disappointing, and it wasn't entirely. Still, not the over the top amazing beer I was expecting, but great nonetheless.

Airyk12, Jun 12, 2011
Photo of Rifugium
4.43/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

First had: on tap at Monk's, Philly, PA

This was really good, as the hype would indicate. But I gotta say, Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA is every bit as good. (Actually better.) Uncommon a few years ago on the east coast, this beer is almost always on tap somewhere in the Philly area if you know where to look.

Pours a golden orange with a fluffy white head that laces well. Great floral aroma, rich with piney hops and citrus. The taste starts out biscuity and crisp with sweet, pale malts. The hop bitterness comes in quickly and takes over, overlaid with flavors of lemon zest, pine, grapefruit, meadow grass and flowers. Medium mouthfeel, finishes crisp and dry. Highly drinkable, and highly recommended if you can find it.

Rifugium, Jun 10, 2011
Photo of HikerCT
4.3/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I received this beer from lisomiso in Urbancaver's NOOB BIF.

1 pint bottle poured into my imperial pint glass.

This is the second Russian River I've had and so far I've been very impressed with the clarity of both beers (the other was the Blind Pig). Really remarkable clarity.

Had a good head on it that lasted for quit a while. But was a bit rocky/chunky as it fell.

In terms of IPAs, I think this was much more balanced than Russian River's Blind Pig. I can taste more malt in this beer and I dare say it's not as bitter as Blind Pig.

Initially, I'd say this beer finishes dry. But the more I drink it, the more it's developing a sweet sort of finish. This is a well balanced IPA. It's got both the malt and the hops!

Now the elephant in the room: This beer is currently ranked in the top 3 beers on BA. Does it stand up to that rating? I'm not sure. It's a good beer and I definitely like it. I'd buy this in a bar. I think it's a solid example of an IPA. In terms of hoppiness, I'd say it doesn't really approach Dogfish's 120 Minute IPA. But this is still a great IPA, one that I'd buy again. Lucky for me, lisomiso was kind enough to send me two bottles, so I've got one more to enjoy! Looking forward to it!

Overall, a really well balanced IPA. I could sit and drink this all day long.

HikerCT, Jun 10, 2011
Photo of tripelhops
4/5  rDev -14%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I just got a 2+ week old bottle from Eric W in California, and poured it into a tulip glass.
A - solid 2 fingers of head, clinged to the sides as it faded down
S - wonderful citrus & grapefruit aroma
T - sweet malt followed by bitterness, but nothing really strong is standing out for me
M - great carbonation, very filling in the mouth
O - maybe due to all the hype around this beer I was expecting a bunch more, and while I think it does a greta job of being balanced, maybe even perfectly so, for me there's a few others I would prefer to drink, evne if they are not as balanced or smooth. I know it's against the grain, but that's my opinion on it. Solid, would get it if I'm someplace that has it, but won't go out of way to trade for it again.

tripelhops, Jun 10, 2011
Photo of IPhantom
4.18/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Nothing but good things to say about this one. Great color, amazingly light, crisp feel. A lot of balance to the herbal/citrus hops, more of an exotic (yuzu?) tang to them than the more familiar pine/grapefruit notes. Nice maltiness that doesn't at all get in the way of the finish. Just a beautiful beer overall.

IPhantom, Jun 09, 2011
Photo of DarthKostrizer
3.05/5  rDev -34.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Look: Beer pours a nice copper color with visible amounts of carbonation bubbles and a half inch think head and a tad bit of lacing

Smell: The beer smells like someone crushed up dandelions in their sweaty palms

Taste: The beer actually goes down really smooth without alot of bitterness which is nice. That being said it taste like I took a bite of an orange tree branch

Mouthfeel: Medium body and a tad bit dry and grainy kinda like i chewed on some hop flowers

Overall: Not quite sure why this beer is rated so highly to be honest. If you have never had this beer before try it and then make sure and give it an A+ rating that it does not deserve

DarthKostrizer, Jun 09, 2011
Photo of Roke87
4.83/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

500 mL bottle, chilled and poured into a Duvel tulip.
Bottled on date: April.28.2011
Thanks to evilinc for hooking this one up!

Appearance- Pours a clear golden amber colour with a big fluffy two fingers of white head that takes a long, long time to reside to a very thick top of foam and a nice bubbly ring around the glass leaving lots of lacing throughout till finish.

Smell- From the second I opened the bottle I got a strong whiff of grapefruit. Upon pouring it into the tulip it does have a very strong grapefruit aroma, lots of resiny pine smells, and lots of citrusy fruity hops in there as well, I also get a small smell of sweetness thrown in there.

Taste- Exactly what a DIPA should be, very strong and crisp citrusy grapefruit tasting hop flavours right off the bat paired with that resiny pine taste, finishes with a well-balanced malt flavour and almost sweet as well, I just can’t put my finger on exactly what it is that is giving this one that sweet aroma and taste as well.

Mouthfeel- Light to medium bodied with more than above average carbonation, this is one smooth and crisp, easy drinking DIPA and hides the higher ABV very well, not overly bitter either for such a hopped up beer.

Overall- Wow what an amazing DIPA, although it does remind me of other east coast DIPA’s that I have tried before, I do understand why it has such a big hype, this beer is simply outstanding. I wish I had regular access to this one as my fridge would probably be full of it. Great aromas right away once the bottle is opened to the great balanced tastes throughout. ISO: More pliny.

Roke87, Jun 09, 2011
Photo of omnigrits
4.83/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pored into a straight pint glass.

A. Golden amber with a good white head that lingers but eventually subsides to a thin layer of bubbles. Not much lace.

S. Piney, resiny, citrusy hops but the malt is in there too not going down without a fight. As the beer warms up the malt comes through more as well as a hint of bubble gum.

T. Dry, dry hops. Pine, grapefruit, grass. Very good malt balance. A superb finish with maybe a hint of peppery spice that reminds more than a little of Belgian yeast.

M. Medium bodied, perfect carbonation, crisp.

O. A fantastic beer without a shadow of a doubt. I doubt I could say anything about it that hasn't been said a hundred times already.

omnigrits, Jun 09, 2011
Photo of stupac2
4.9/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

My favorite beer for my first review. Pours a beautiful amber with a couple fingers of white head. The smell is delicious, pine and citrus, but not quite as strong as I'd want for a 5. Taste is sublime, this beer is perfectly balanced. Mouthfeel is clean and refreshing.

stupac2, Jun 08, 2011
Photo of LtCracker20
4.7/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bottled on 5/24/11. Fresh as I'll ever get it...

A- Pours a very clear and brilliant yellow orange body with a beautiful 3-finger white head with great retention and some great lace.

S- Great pine and citrus hops. Very clean and fresh in the smell. What an amazing smelling beer.

T- Citrus and piney hops up front, not too bitter but it is in there, followed by a slight hint of bready malt sweetness.

MF- Nice medium body, not heavy, and the right amount of carbonation.

O- An absolute wonder of a beer. Has to be in the top 2 of DIPAs that I've had, second only to Pliny the Younger. This is so amazing I'd like to bathe in it, then drink it!

LtCracker20, Jun 08, 2011
Photo of mater
4.5/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Received this in a trade with badboyrsl84. THANKS!

A-Pours a hazy golden yellow color with a 1.5 finger head and good lacing.

S-Citrus fruits, pine and hops.

T-Hops, grapefruit, citrus fruits with a nice caramel sweetness to back it up.

M-Moderate mouthfeel. Decent carbonation. Goes down smooth.

O-A good beer indeed, but I don't know about it being #3 on BA. My bottle was about 4-5 weeks old, some might say I need to have it fresher, but what top ranked IPA/DIPA isn't fantastic when super fresh.

mater, Jun 05, 2011
Photo of dcook11
4.43/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Week old bottle poured into a snifter. Pours a light honey color with some head and minimal lacing. Smells of pine, floral notes, and not even a hint of alcohol. Very well masked for 8 percent. Taste is quite smooth...very piney with just a touch of citrus and floral components. Mouthfeel is top of the line. No abrasive bitterness, so clean. Great beers, world class.

dcook11, Jun 05, 2011
Photo of rmalinowski4
4.9/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into my Mikasa tulip.

The pour is a crystal clear light amber with 2 fingers fluffy white head. Head recedes slowly leaving lots of lacing on the glass. The glass is so clear, I can read my mail through the glass.

The smell is tropical fruit and pine. Smells simply mouthwatering. The best smelling beer I have seen.

The taste is the same as the smell, tropical with a pine finish. The malt is there, but it let's the hops really shine. Very very tasty.

The mouthfeel is spot on. Medium body with moderate carbonation really compliments the flavors, they dance on your palate.

Overall, this is the standard bearer for the style. It is just about perfect. All other are judged against this.

rmalinowski4, Jun 05, 2011
Photo of 28Rock
4.58/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I went in to my "specialty" liquor store to pick up a bottle of DFH Squall IPA that they had put away for me when they got a shipment of it (they called me to let me know it was in), when the owner told me that they had just received three cases if Pliny the Elder earlier that day. I ended up buying two bottles of Pliny. LOVE my liquor store!

Appearance: Amber in color when pouring it into my tulip, but definitely golden when put up to the light, with a nice, thick head to go along with its overall appearance.

Smell: An explosion of grapefruits is what I got without having to put my glass up to my nose. Very citrusy.

Taste: Bitterness hits you as soon as you take your first sip (this is expected from an DIPA). You can definitely taste the hops on this one.

Mouthfeel: Not heavy at all. Well carbonated. The bitterness of this beer lingered, especially as the beer warmed up.

Overall: I really enjoyed this beer. If you're a fan of hoppy beers, than this is a beer you must try. If you're not really into bitter beers, but are willing to give one a shot, then I highly recommend this one. This beer has a bite, but the tangerine flavor and smell will help you get through you glass with no problem at all...

28Rock, Jun 04, 2011
Photo of Dope
4.28/5  rDev -8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

11 day old bottle sampled in this review.

A: Pretty typical of a DIPA, a nice medium amber color. Very fluffy off-white head with good retention.

S: Immediately apparent and quite strong. Smells like pine most of all but you can detect the bready malt in the background too. A nice combo and the kind of aroma you keep coming back to sample some more.

T: Instant up-front hop bite typical of West coast style IPAs. Very piney with a bit of citrus rounding it out. Surprisingly well balanced, it's not ridiculously hopped just for the sake of being the biggest palate ruiner (like a Ruination might be). Malt backbone is apparent but not intrusive. A sort of bready graininess sticks around in the aftertaste. No indication of alcohol at all despite being 8% ABV.

M: Medium in body with a bit of oily mouth coating that you get from big IPAs. Not as bad as some but it's there. Very smooth, carbonation isn't harsh at all. Aftertaste sticks around for a while but isn't annoying.

O: Overall a very impressive beer. It does everything well. Honestly for as much hype as this beer gets I thought it would be better (like KBS or Westy 12 type "wow" factor). It's quite good but not out of this world. This isn't a strike against it, it's easily top 3 DIPA for me. I think this is better than Maharaja (Maharaja being a bit too big and malty and overpowering in general) but a little worse than Hopslam (which blew my socks off). Different strokes for different folks though, and this is clearly an excellent beer. I have rated it as such.

Dope, Jun 04, 2011
Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 10,930 ratings.