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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.

10,517 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 10,517
Reviews: 3,169
rAvg: 4.65
pDev: 8.39%
Wants: 4,850
Gots: 1,746 | 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
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Ratings: 10,517 | Reviews: 3,169 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of berebrando
5/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

turns out I've been drinking this forever and never reviewed it... great IPA, second best to the younger. well its safe to say I love the pliny's. it is light yellow with little to no white head. smell is biiig hops, pine and citrus. its slightly floral, but not like roses, like citrus blooms. taste is amazing. massive hops with amazing balance. it fills my mouth with joy. also very drinksble

berebrando, Nov 25, 2010
Photo of Gmann
4.65/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled on 10/08/10

Pours a slightly hazy golden honey color with a large dense off-white head that slowly slowly settles into quite a puffy cap with a sheet of lacing on the glass. The aroma is of grapefruit hops with some tropical fruit notes; some pepper as well. It is a nice fresh aroma but seems to be a touch muted. The taste is quite similar to the aroma. Nice grapefruit and tropical fruit hop aromas, with a dash of pine. An unassuming honey malt serves as a base for the beer but helps showcase the hops. The feel has a solid moderate feel with some tingly carbonation, finishes with a piney hop bitterness. The carbonation does a really nice job breaking up the malt body. The ABV is nowhere to be found. A very enjoyable DIPA; great balance between the hops and malt. I appreciate a hop forward DIPA as opposed to those sweet malt bombs. The bitterness doesn't linger so it clears the palate nicely. I am probably looking for a bit more fresh hop flavor but you can't beat the balance.

Review #1100

2/20/11 Update

Had another sample which is about 4 weeks old compared to the 7 week old previous sample. The hops have a much more "buddy" flavor to them. They kind of taste like what weed smells like and I like that. All of the other stats remained constant.

Gmann, Nov 25, 2010
Photo of philipashley
5/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I doubt I can add anything more insightful to the already stellar reviews of this beer, but I feel compelled to add my cent(s).

I have had this beer in bottle and recently on tap at the Russian River Brewery (took a little trip to Santa Rosa last week). Both experiences were delightful.

The thing that most impresses me about this beer is that it manages to avoid the heavy or syrupy consistency one can get from a double IPA. To get at the high alch level, there must be an abundance of sugars, but this beer doesnt come off as heavy as other DIPAs. It has a wonderfully clean and dry-ish finish with excellent grapefruit forward flavors (my favorite fruit note in an IPA). All in all, this is a perfectly crafted DIPA and I wish I could install a tap line from Santa Rosa directly to my place in DC.

Well done, Russian River! Also, check out their Sours...amazing.

philipashley, Nov 23, 2010
Photo of jtk
5/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is my first 'real' beer review/tasting ever. I hope to get better at this and I realize it is not very detailed and probably derivative of other reviews, but the following is what I noted about this superb beer.

So here it goes:

Appearance: A bit hazy, gold color. Poured with one finger head.

Smell: Pine. A hint of strong citrus.

Taste: Pine first and foremost, then citrus (grapefruit maybe?), with an earthy finish.

Mouthfeel: Crisp with perfect carbonation to match taste. Almost creamy which is an added bonus for an IPA.

Drinkability: Yes. All night if I had the money and tolerance, which I don't on either count. I'm usually good after one of these. Sometimes two. Then I'm really good.


jtk, Nov 23, 2010
Photo of afksports
4.6/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Woo! Pliny! Pretty sure I'm special now... right?

I had this one on 11/9/10, and it was a bottle date of 8/16/10. Pretty sure Vinnie would have told me to throw it out. But it was the freshest I could score and I'll come back to update this when I have a newly minted one to review and compare.

That said, for its lack of freshness it was still a solid solid brew. A great initial bite nearly comes through the nose along with florals, and looking at the pour it's a lovely headed amber/golden hued West Coast IPA through and through. Exactly what you would expect, and done well. The taste follows that hoppy bite with a citrus presence, and a bit of a malt backbone. Sorta sits there like a Sculpin.

Ahh, and a clean finish too. Although start to end I couldn't say this stood out from other well done WC IPA's, I can easily say that I'd drink it again. When I'm in the mood for getting slammed (that's what she said?) with hops. Or feeling special.

----UPDATE--- Yeah, it was the freshness, and that the beer was unsettled. This is a damn great beer. Fresher, cleaner, crisper. Goddamn. Hell yes. Also note: causes the girlfriend "beerface".

afksports, Nov 22, 2010
Photo of getgetgettleman
4.83/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bottled 5/26/10

A-Pleasant amber with medium cloud. Low rising head with beautiful lace.
S-Great aroma. Pine and sweetness of clover honey and fresh hops. Reminding me of a plesant summer morning in Sonoma, this is one IPA that truely brought my mind to a different place!
T-Unlike the wonderful sweet honey smell, the sweetness was perfect and not overpowering. Pine and clover taste evident and welcoming. Beautiful hoppy aftertaste that took my taste buds to waters edge pine grove.
M-Immediatly bright and friendly! Post taste finish lively and complex.
D-Excellent Double/IPA! Smooth and incredibly inviting. Perfect alcohol intensity without pushing the envelope. The Elder makes you want to come back for more!

The Elder has plenty to offer that I look forward to taste The Younger!

getgetgettleman, Nov 22, 2010
Photo of DmanGTR
4.47/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Review from notes on 6/17/10

Bottle poured into a Duvel tulip. Thanks to Chris for this West Coast awesomeness!

A - hazy tangerine orange, white 2" head, nice bands of spiderweb lace. Decent retention. 4.0

S - pine bomb! Touch of spruce, rosin, tiny bit of honey and biscuits. 4.0

T - Deliciously hoppy. Lots of pine, like sucking on a pine cone. Good balance of honey malt in the background. Actually this is fairly well balanced. 4.5

M - Medium/light bodied, very smooth carbonation, a little prickle on the tongue. 4.5

D - Extremely. I can drink this all the time. I wish RR distributed to NY :( 5.0

DmanGTR, Nov 21, 2010
Photo of LosAngelesJoinMe
4.6/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Awesome beer! Buddy and I found it at Horse Brass in Portland by luck. We had heard about it for a while but were not able to find it back home in Los Angeles or his home in Chicago.

Appearance- Great looking beer upon pouring. A dirty brownish orange with about a finger and a half head. Not too much lacing.

Smell- Satisfying aromas of a true IPA gets your attention upon inhaling.

Taste- Very hoppish but not over done. Bitter but not over done as well. Taste is right on! Hints of grapefruit and pine.

Mouthfeel- As with the smell, the feel lives up to it.

Drinkability- Exceptional. Smooth and rough enough to quench an IPAer's taste buds.

LosAngelesJoinMe, Nov 20, 2010
Photo of stylinprofiylin
4.68/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

drank: 11/19/10

A: poured nicely with a 1 finger wide head that shows up white. the beer itself Has a beautiful golden amber color. slightly cloudy.

S: i absolutely love the smell of this beer. Clean Clean Cleannn hoppy pine smell that is so beautifully bittersweet

T: bittersweet. simple. Hops. this brew is amazing. i havent ever really had a more balanced beer.

M: The carbonation isnt too strong and leads to a fantastic hops bomb. the bitterness doesnt stick to hard, it seems just right

D: this beer is a fantastic beer to sit and enjoy. its balance and carbonation promotes good drinkability.

stylinprofiylin, Nov 20, 2010
Photo of rickdiaz
4.93/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

By far my favorite IPA/DIPA. A high school buddy from back in the day, Scott, introduced me to this and couldn't be happier he did. Difficult to find, but worth the trip to get it. Most stores only limit 1-2 bottles. Very high demand.

A: A nice gold color fills my goblet perfectly with a heavenly cloud of a head that's about 1 1/2 finger thick which dissapates slowly with nice lacing.

S: A well balanced hops variety where pine and grapefruit are pronounced nicely after the pour.

T: Fresh and hoppy with very little notice of any alcohol, depsite its 8% ABV

M: Crisp with mild carbonation. The defined hops aftertaste lures you into wanting more.

D: Exceptional. More please!

rickdiaz, Nov 20, 2010
Photo of caskstrength
4.9/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On tap at Russian River. Thanks to my good friend Dave for driving me up there from Berkeley.

Pours wonderfully bright gold, perfect white head. Carbonation perfect. Nice clear pint glass with no logos. Nothing to distract me. Man and glass and beer.

Fresh smells jump out of the glass. More pine than citrus. More earth/grass than usual for standard IPAs (like a cross between a regular IPA and a fresh hop.) Given how wonderful the taste is, I felt the smell could have been more intense, but I'm nitpicking. Would have rated it 4.75 if I could have.

Taste is simple, really. Pine then citrus then grass then earth. No tropcial notes. No alcohol. Just balanced enough with a straightforward malt sweetness that helps the hops shine without bruising my palate. Flavors wonderfully integrated and in their proper places.
No significant floral or buttery tastes to muddle things.

Great mouthfeel. Zesty, crisp. Heavier than a typical IPA, not heavy like DIPAs. Clean finish. No odd flavors linger or show up on the aftertaste. Next sip please.

This is the platonic ideal for an IPA in my eyes. It's not as interesting (tropical) as some others. It's singularly focused. And pretty much perfect.

caskstrength, Nov 19, 2010
Photo of rka758
4.47/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had during a tasting, poured into my SA perfect pint
$6 per

A: Pours a nice golden amber color with about a 1 finger head.
S: A fresh aroma of citrus and hops. A very nice nose.
T: Sooo smooth. A nice taste of hops and grapefruit notes. Very well-balanced.
M: Very crisp.
D: I don't have to tell you...this beer is amazing. This is not the first time that I've been lucky enough to have this and I can't wait for the next. To date my favorite IPA.

rka758, Nov 19, 2010
Photo of JRG
4.85/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bottles poured into goblets, pint glasses, and/or mugs...

appearance: not sure how a DIPA could look any better... a beautiful golden body with just the right amount of rich, white head- dissipates with excellent lacing left behind.

smell: HOPS! pine resin and citrus aromas, some pineapple, herbs, then a malty sweetness followed by a little booze...

taste: hopheads rejoice! SUPER tasty, and much like the smell- the pine, citrus and tropical flavors dance around, then a little spiciness, and the right amount of bitterness- malt sweetness all the while... finishes clean, perfectly balanced between the hops and malt.

mouthfeel: more refreshing than a true "medium bodied" brew, in my opinion- perfect carbonation... abv is very well hidden.

drinkability: smooooth... delicious. clean. superb.

There's a reason this beer is so hyped... and you only need to drink one to find out!

JRG, Nov 18, 2010
Photo of comfortablynumb1
4/5  rDev -14%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a Stone Brewery Pint glass. Bottled on 10-18-10...

A - Pours amber with a two finger light tan head. Head retention is not the best; however, there is lots of lacing that covers the glass. Very sexy...

S - Pine, citrus, and hops come through. Doesn't smell as hoppy as I had anticipated...

T - Wow; this one is tasty. Always felt that alot of Doubles and Imperials try to overdue it with the hops, leaving a predictable and unbalanced brew. This one however, has a perfect balance between malt and hops. Nice citrus taste up front followed by a hop bitterness than melds into a piney bitter after taste...

M - Medium bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation...

D - While I don't consider myself to be a huge hop head, or an extreme fan of the IPA style as a whole; I really enjoyed this one. Will be revisiting this in the near future when I am in the mood for the style. Russian River brewed a top notch brew here...


comfortablynumb1, Nov 17, 2010
Photo of Swedes21
4.38/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Special thanks to my friend TBar for brining spinrsx and I back two bottles.

Appearance - beer pours a golden ale with a light tan color head. The head looks pretty foamy and light. Carbonation levels are minimal. Some decent lacing.

Smell - this is a hope explosion with a tone of pine accents. The beers real clean and tasteful.

Taste - wow - what a great beer! Found the hops explode in your mouth with the hint of pine. There is almost no bitterness in this beer.

Mouthfeel - not a tremendous amount of carbonation added, however, the pine accents come to the front. There is a little more aftertaste as well.

Drinkability - This is a very good beer, i am quite proud to say i have tried it and enjoyed it! too bad we cant get volumes of this in Canada, but i am thankful.

Swedes21, Nov 17, 2010
Photo of Soonami
4.9/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is the third or fourth time I've had Pliny, but the first from the bottle. This beer definitely lives up to expectations. The beer is pale amber color with a little rocky white head. However, as soon as you open up the bottle, the beer explodes with beautiful aroma. The smell is intoxicating, like super dank marijuana, just cut pine bows and freshly peeled grapefruit. The beer is overloaded with hops, it tastes just like it smells and the dank chronic flavor just envelopes my tongue, I think I'm about to getting high from this! There is just a hint of pineapple juiciness and grain sweetness that accompanies the long lingering bitterness. The mouthfeel has the perfect amount of carbonation, tannic and full-bodied. This is exceptionally drinkable and delicious. The 500 ml will not be enough.

Soonami, Nov 17, 2010
Photo of cjacobsen
4.75/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured a golden straw color with a quarter inch of white bubbled head on it. Little sediment but nothing major.

Smells of hops and a little alcohol. Hits the nose with a big smell but it smells really good. Not overly crazy sweet and potent like some IPAs can be. This is well balanced.

Tastes cold (like if cold had a flavor) and fresh. Hoppy and balanced with a decent malt character. Little bit of bitterness but the hops are more there in full flavor rather than overly bitter. Very tasty. The fact that it's 8% is masked by the full body of the beer.

Seeing that this is well carbonated I'm surprised as to how smooth it is. It's very easy on the palate and is a treat.

This was my first RR ever and I'm glad I had the chance to get my hands on some. This is quite the tasty brew and definitely one of the best IPAs that I have had. I could drink this all night. I had the Surly Wet a few weeks before I had a shot at this and as far as fresh beers go, that was amazing but this is a great year round wonder.

cjacobsen, Nov 17, 2010
Photo of Cheesemoose
5/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

From notes on 03/25/2010

Leaves a solid two fingers of head, and a solid amount of lacing. Golden glowing body and an egg white head.

Big Hop Aroma is the least I can say, this boy gives you a chariot ride of fireballs rushing through the night sky listening to Rush - Tom Sawyer. In all honesty, tons of floral hops hit the nose, followed by a citrusy almost pineapple like sweetness. Delicious.

Taste is where it all comes together. Balancing this heavy of a hop load with the right amount of malt is where I came to appreciate this beer for what it is. Epic. Heavy on the hops, balanced perfectly by the maltiness. f balanced

Moderate carbonation, with a fairly oily mouthfeel. Alcohol is barely noticeable.

Honestly, I could drink this again and again and again, but I do not to ruin the experience. Can't wait to a hold of this one again

Cheesemoose, Nov 16, 2010
Photo of Hoptoss
4.78/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a nice amber color, slightly darker than some IPA's.

Aroma: Very strong and sweet, complex mix of Pine,Citrus, and sweet herbs.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, and moderately crisp. Finishes with a feel of resin that carries the hop flavor.

Taste: Very nice balance between all flavors. Hop taste is exactly as it smelled, very strong, but balanced with bitterness perfectly.

Drank 6 bottles weekly. 1st bottle was a week old and delicious. By the 4th bottle/week, the hop sweetness/flavor fell off a little, and the bitterness stood out more. Actually liked it more at this stage. By the 6th/week bottle, the bitterness stood out alot, but still retained good hoppiness.

Hoptoss, Nov 16, 2010
Photo of ColoradoRocket
4.53/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Shinny new copper color with a nice one and a-half finger head.

Smell: Full bodied piny hops with slight citrus notes mid nose.

Taste: Exceptionally balanced between piny and citric hops and a full malty body.

Mouthfeel: Perfect carbonation that immediately fills the mouth and flows over and around the tounge.

Drinkability: Absolutely one of the finest Imperial IPA's I have yet to taste. Possibly the Holy Grail.

Bottled on 10/08/10.

ColoradoRocket, Nov 16, 2010
Photo of cadaugherty
4.78/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottled on 8/16/10 reviewed on 8/22/10.

Appearance- Light pale amber with a big fluffy whit head that fills half of the snifter on even a gentle pour. Pliny is much paler than most DIPAs but somehow this makes it seem even more refreshing.

Aroma- Pine, citrus, hop burst. The nose on this beer will wake you up.

Taste- Fresh and bright with none of the resin that is so often the bane of DIPAs. The bitterness that comes through at the end is strong but not overwhelming.

Mouth- The carbonation helps keepthe mouthfeel light while still maintaining the fullness that is associated with the style.

Drink- This is not a one and done beer as many in the style are. It has a great/assertive flavor but does not punish you with a resiny or cloying coat on your mouth. Really a pleasure to drink.

Get it and drink it fresh.

cadaugherty, Nov 15, 2010
Photo of paulys55
4.85/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

First Pliny enjoyed at Spinnerstown with Jim and Brian. Had this beer along with Damnation, Consecration and Temptation so I will review again later when I am more focused. But I cant think of an IPA/DIPA or any beer that I've had that I would honestly drink before this one. So balance and frighteningly easy to drink for 8%. Took a growler for the fridge and will definitely seek out in the near future. Thanks again to John, Jim and Brian for the great company.

paulys55, Nov 15, 2010
Photo of bs870621345
4.5/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into my Duvel tulip glass

Pours a honey amber color with a half inch of white head. Leaves a beautiful lacing down the glass from the small collar of head.

Smells like honey/caramel malt sweetness and a big citrus/pine hop punch.

Taste has that hop punch up front with a caramel sweet finish and a pine hop after taste. This is definitely an "A" beer.

Mouthfeel is moderate with a tinge of prickly carbonation, extremely enjoyable.

Drinkability is excellent, I would love to take a few of these down.

Overall, I think this beer is a little over hyped. Given this or Nugget Nectar, I'll take NN. Glad I tried it and I would get seek it out again. Highly recommended to seek out but not the be all end all.

bs870621345, Nov 13, 2010
Photo of confer
4.47/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had this on tap at the Spinnerstown Hotel. I got there shortly after it was tapped. Been wanting to try the PTE for a long time and just walked into this. It was served in a tulip glass probably 12 oz. Amber in color with a thick white finger plus head. The smell was fantastic. The hops dominate with grapefruit up front by a small amount of lemon.
The taste was just like the smell. Hoppy grapefruit. It starts strong and fades to a creamy sweetness, unbelievably enjoyable.
The feel is very creamy especially after the beer is swallowed.
For an 8% DIPA this beer goes down so easy. It is not my favorite style by any means but now I understand why everyone raves about the Pliny.

confer, Nov 13, 2010
Photo of cpolking
4.93/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Ahhh, one of the Holy Grails of the beer world. This pours a very clear and sparkling copper. The head laces the glass as the beer is consumed. The aroma is deliciously and divinely hoppy: citrus, grapefruit, cantaloupe, mango, tropical fruit, and a bit of clean and light pine. Every aroma is matched in the flavor. This is a hop head's delight. The finish is bitter. The aftertaste is clean, matching the flavors, all of which linger on the palate. This is the second time I have had Pliny and it is as good as I remember. If you like American hop forward IPA's, this is a classic, excellent and high benchmark example of the style. This beer is so exquisitely tasty, it is hard to believe it is 8% ABV. Bottled on 10-18-10.

cpolking, Nov 13, 2010
Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 10,517 ratings.