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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.

10,502 Ratings

(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
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Ratings: 10,502 | Reviews: 3,166 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of djmichaelk
4.75/5  rDev +2.2%

Growler from the brewery, into a perfect pint (many, many times...). Had this many times, finally sitting down to review it in the perfect environment -- home!

A - Huge four-finger head on the initial pour, pillowy at first, then receding into a somewhat thick, rocky cap that lingers forever. Golden straw color, fairly clear with just a bit of haze. Plenty of lacing down the glass. Simply beautiful.

S - Very likely the best smelling beer I've had to date. From the moment you pour it, the room is filled with grapefruit, mango, passionfruit, and citrus aromas. This is the kind of beer that makes you keep your nose in the glass for hours.

T - Bitterness from the hops wallops you in the face. The citrus in the aroma doesn't quite come through in the flavor as much, but it definitely there. I've never has the sensation of eating fruit with an IPA as much as I do when drinking this beer. There's a sweet acidity to it, but again the bitterness just overwhelms it. No alcohol to speak of. Fantastic.

M - Thick and sticky, this coats my tongue like any substantial beer should. And then after a minute, it's very dry. It's very there and then it's not. Carbonation is perfect.

D - Well, the abv is there, no doubt about it. A few of these, and you're thinking about which cab company to call. But... every sip I take has me thinking to myself, "how do I get more of this?" The flavor just leaves you wanting more and more.

O - Up to this point, I can't think of an IPA or DIPA that I enjoy nearly as much as this one, and really only one other beer in general. I'm lucky to live where I do, in that I can have this pretty much any time with a short drive. And I no doubt need to take advantage of that more often.

djmichaelk, Jul 12, 2010
Photo of philbe311
4.3/5  rDev -7.5%

A - Slightly more than a fingers worthy of big chunky batter-like slightly off white head... Modest retention fades to leave an uneven lacing that is veiled in sections and chunky in others with a full ring of faom around the edge of the glass... A dense medium golden orange color with a slight glow... Sparse small bubbled sluggish carbonation rises along the sides of the glass... Loads of lacing cling to the sides of the glass...

S - A subtle and elegant earthy floral hop aroma... Some piney notes... Slightly pungent... Cracker... Subtle malt base... Simple, well balances, and quite enjoyable...

T - Hop forward, but far from overwhelming... Earthy, piney, and pungent all at the same time... Cracker and bready malts...

M - Medium to full bodied... Slightly dense and heavy... A strong carbonation bite... A bit of a chalky finish... Crisp...

D - As sophisticated a DIPA I've ever encountered... Not the hoppiest... Not the most well balanced... But this one has a certain undeniable aura of greatness...

philbe311, Jul 12, 2010
Photo of Khazadum
4.15/5  rDev -10.8%

500 milliliters bottled on 5/26/2010, served into a 12 ounce brandy snifter, drank at 50 degrees and 55 degrees. Received via phone order from a California store.

Poured in low light in my front room. It appears at first to be an aged honey color with one finger of snowy white head. When held up to a light source it shifts to the color of movie theater butter while holding its virgin white head. The lacing is truly something to be admired in this brew. It defies gravity on the edges of the snifter and pleases me as I agitate for the bouquet. Long after it has been consumed, a lacing exists around the glass.

Upon first breath it holds a mysterious sweetness that is missing in most double IPAs I've seen. It takes a second attempt to identify tangerines. The citrus is unique as of this date for my smelling pleasure. There are brief hints of pine but only when searching for more.

Flavor Profile
The smell was not misleading me. Citrus flavors explode initially on the palate and lead me to believe there is tangerines in my brew. They fade appropriately leaving a finish that starts hinting of pine, but quickly erupts into a mouth of tree branch.

The close is like walking through a winter forest looking off into the distance. Calm, quiet, clean. Everything is as it would seem. You notice the snow on the trees around you, but unfortunately you missed that tree branch that just rammed itself into your mouth. A quick punch of pine before it goes down the hatch making you wonder if it was really there as you continue staring at the scenery.

It is not a clean finish, but its damn close. The bitterness lingers pleasantly but does not overwhelm. I welcome it to play with my taste buds. All flavors blend well and play at their allotted times sip after sip. There is no one note, but a grand symphony.

Oral Sensations
When it comes to mouth feel I wasn't expecting the enjoyable body that Pliny has. It flows and lays its gentle head upon my tongue, but after swallowing it only lingers for a moment. The feel is exactly as it should be.

It is one of the most drinkable DIPAs as of date. No problem consuming the entire bottle solo, and would drink another if desired.

As a double IPA, it is most certainly a pleasant experience but not my favorite one. Bias and hype may have raised my hopes too much for this beer, but that does not mean it didn't come close to meeting some of them.

Khazadum, Jul 10, 2010
Photo of KickInTheChalice
4.55/5  rDev -2.2%

Lots of thanks to realmpel for shipping this to me. As an IPA lover (in all forms - DIPA, IIPA included), this was THE one I have been waiting for. Poured from a 500 mL bottle into a tulip. Freshness date 6/21/10.

Appearance: Great looking right from the start. A slightly hazy orange amber color with a tight fluffy white head, with a few large errant bubbles on top. Some resplendent carbonation rises from the bottom of the glass. Pretty good retention, and there are rings of lacing down the glass.

Smell: An elegant aroma, extremely hoppy but oh so balanced on the nose. Pineapple, grapefruit, a bit of orange, and tons of pine overwhelm my olfactory system.

Taste: Starts out and stays strongly hoppy the whole way through. Such a wide range of flavors that all work well together. Pine is the single strongest noticeable flavor, but orange, pineapple, grapefruit, and a bit of herbal goodness are present throughout each sip. The malt is not of the same strength as the hops, but it does not let me down like in some pure hop bombs. Some soft sweetness and a little spicy flavor keeps me interested. Lingering bitterness after the sip, but I do not mind it.

Mouthfeel: There is not a way to make this smoother while keeping the great crisp feel. The carbonation is not overdone, but it is a smooth operator, bringing a great pop to the taste.

Drinkability: This beer keeps getting better and better. There was absolutely no way it could have met my expectations, but it came pretty close. It would be a treat to have this available more often.

KickInTheChalice, Jul 10, 2010
Photo of cbak999
4.83/5  rDev +3.9%

I was lucky enough to receive this bottle from a friend. I was super excited knowing the hype that surrounds this and many other Russian River beers. The bottle was dated 5/10/10. I poured the beer into a snifter.

A: A golden orange color with a 1/4" of head that laces the glass with each swallow. I could count the number of sips as I neared the end of this great sample.

S: All hops. Very earthy and piney with a hint of citrus.

T: Again...hops. But not overbearing. A super nice balance between the hops, alcohol, and malt. One of the best balanced IPAs out there.

D: As decribed by the taste, this is super good going down. Not knowing the ABV, you would think it's in the 6.5 range.

After drinking my half (I shared with a friend), I now can appreciate this beer as the 6th best in the world. It was amazing!!!

cbak999, Jul 09, 2010
Photo of timonan
4.93/5  rDev +6%

I finally snagged an ever-elusive bottle here in Southern California. I got the last four bottles of a 3 case shipment that just showed up a few hours ago. Man, this beer disappears fast.

A - Bright gold, clear, with a nice bubbly, foamy head that dissipates fairly quickly and leaves a thin lacing.

S - Floral and piney, a classic and vibrant IPA bouquet. The wonderful smell of hops just leaves me eager to drink it.

T - A light and smooth start, the hops don't hit immediately, but slowly find their way onto the tongue, unleashing a refreshing and intense burst of bitterness and flavor. Pine, citrus, sweet, floral, all combine simultaneously in a wonderful balance. Most IPA's feel very divided to me in their flavors, and the hops can be too harsh, simply for show. The Pliny melds them in a perfect combination - nothing is too overpowering or unnecessary.

M - Smooth and simple carbonation, not very bubbly after a few minutes. A stronger carbonation might help stir up the flavor more, but still, it is light and soft on the tongue, which provides a nice contrast to the bitterness and lends to a clean and crisp finish, sweet and satisfying.

D - One of the most drinkable IPA's I've ever had, particularly for a double. A wonderfully complex and satisfying drinking experience from start to finish. This is my new favorite IPA, perhaps my new overall favorite.

I can see the attraction, almost obsession that this beer creates - it is well deserved. The man at the store I picked up the beer at (do I dare say where?) said that they can't order near as much as they would like to - the demand far outweighs the supply Russian River can turn out. Hopefully soon that won't be a problem, but in the meantime, I will continue the search for this Holy Grail of IPA's.

timonan, Jul 09, 2010
Photo of HosP
4.6/5  rDev -1.1%

Received from Scottfrie in a trade, thank you very much!

A- Golden, with a slight haze. Small head that left lace down the glass.

S- Very hoppy smell. citrus and pine mostly. Not as strong as I imagined it would be.

T- Full of hop flavor, just like it should be. Bitterness is there but doesn't take over the beer. Just enough malt taste to keep it smooth!

M- Medium body. Good balance between hops and malts. Good amount of carbonation.

D- Makes me wish I lived on the West Coast! I am a big fan of Dreadnaught, which isn't normal, but this is an ideal dipa! If I had one dipa to drink from now on, this would have to be the one so far!

Where can I get more of this?!?!

HosP, Jul 09, 2010
Photo of dpnelson1978
4.45/5  rDev -4.3%

Reviewed from notes.
Originally tasted: 5/1/2010

On tap (at Toronado!) into a glass pint.

S: Pine hope aroma gracefully dominates with hints of apricot citrus floating in the background. Well balanced and far from aggressive. Hits you in the face and makes you say, "thank you."

A: Deep amber body filled with shimmering haze and topped with a big loose head that recedes quickly leaving a generous sticky lace and a thin bubbly ring around the base.

T: Sweet caramel and bready backbone showcasing an undeniable pine intensity and lovely grapefruit flavor. Well balanced throughout giving way to lingering bitterness.

M: Medium body and medium carbonation. No resin stickiness. Bitterness prickles the tongue.

D: Great beer, but not something to overdo. Have one and enjoy it, then process it. This is a special drink.

O: Worthy of the hype. A special DIPA and a special beer period.

dpnelson1978, Jul 08, 2010
Photo of Chizoad
4.65/5  rDev 0%

Baby steps. The first time I had this one I wasn't prepared. Now I've revisited it after some "seasoning".

Looks great in the glass. Nice off white head with a clear amber color and some bubbles dancing around the edges. Smells of a wide range of citrus, with the hoppy bitterness promised but somehow not overwhelming.

This is exactly how the beer tastes, but everything blends ideally to make something that is unbeatable for the style. Pine, juniper, maybe even cedar, jumbled amongst orange and grapefruit rind with lemon in there too. Enough sweetness to actually do some good balancing.

Resin never overwhelms the palate, with medium body and carbonation. Shockingly drinkable, probably because it tastes so damn good.

Even if you don't take price into consideration, this is a stupendously good beer. For $4, it probably can't be beat.

Chizoad, Jul 04, 2010
Photo of sm007thie
4.43/5  rDev -4.7%

A- golden color, slightest haze, lumpy creamy head if poured aggresively.

S- smell is absolutely fantastic. if you take your time, you can smell every fresh hops odor imaginable. grassy, citrus, piney, resinous goodness. wow!

T- exeptionally smooth given the intense hops character. each sip has a pleasant grapefruit flavor followed by an split second of hops bite and a sm007th, complex hops finish. malt is present enough to balance, but is definitely playing a minor supporting role.

M- carbonation seems to reverberate off of the toungue giving pliney a refreshing feel.

D- obviously a beer of this intensity and ABV wasn't formulated with "drinkability" too much in mind. however, everything works together so well to create an invigorating brew.

sm007thie, Jul 03, 2010
Photo of earthling
4.9/5  rDev +5.4%

Like so many other obsessed enthusiasts and alcoholics, this is one of my all-time favorite beers. Its heavy, strong, and sometimes overwhelming aroma is incredible and inspiring. The pungence of Pliney commands any pot smoker to drink beer and any beer drinker to pay attention. Pliny is the secret mistress of any IPA lover, its contact-high inducing aroma erecting senses and inducing appreciation.

Pliney the Elder makes people happy, as does its proclamation "DO NOT AGE!"

Any home brewer leaves incredulous after tasting this beer for the first time, whether he likes it or not.

Pliny's intensity nearly commands a new classification for beers. It's so well crafted that the incredible amount of hops used don't contribute unduly to its bitterness. The citrusy, evergreen, even piney of pliny balance the bitterness and malt to create a truly amazing beer.

earthling, Jul 03, 2010
Photo of TMoney2591
4.47/5  rDev -3.9%

Served in a Dogfish Head snifter.

Thanks to stoutjimmy for this bottle!

My second Pliny, but first review thereof. It pours a hazy, golden amber-straw, topped by a quickly-dying finger of white froth. The nose comprises a hella-ton o' pine, along with some grapefruit, orange peel, maple sap, and a tiny bit o' caramel in the back, trying to maintain some semblence of a malty backbone. It's got me convinced it's hoppy... The taste follows very similarly, though the two DIPA elements are both sharpened for battle: The hops are especially fruity and flowery, while the malts (caramel and toffee, natch) are stronger, more up to the task of balancing out the hops. I gotta say, the hype has been dead on: this is the most balanced DIPA I've had in a long time. And quite tasty, too. The body is a light-ish medium, with a moderately active carbonation and a fairly dry finish. Yup, this old Roman naturalist lives up to the hype. Get some!

TMoney2591, Jun 30, 2010
Photo of sfprint
4.45/5  rDev -4.3%

A: Hazy, ice tea brown. Bubbles racing too the top. Quickly dissipating head.

S: Excellent. Excellent. Sweet, pine, apricot with very mild hops. Beautiful smell. Apple juice too. Can't detect any alcohol.

T: Not too bitter, like I find many IPA's to be. It has more depth than most IPA's, multiple flavors that come in parallel. The bitterness is separate from the almost fruity, tea like layer. Interesting and very nice.

M: It's not special, but it's very good. It lightly carbonated, and feels great going down.

D: great. If you can hang with the bitterness of IPA's this is among the top.

sfprint, Jun 29, 2010
Photo of GarrettMD
4.9/5  rDev +5.4%

A - Pours a very nice golden color with a two finger white head that dissipates fairly quickly. Good lacing. Great heavy carbonation, same as most RR brews.

S - Extremely piney. Slight citrusy background that goes well. mostly piney, floral, hops though. Very slight bready smell as well.

T - Great taste, very close to the smell, still very piney, but the citrus flavors come out more. Slightly sweet, but the malts balance that out. Overall, the hops are not too overpowering, they are in perfect balance with the rest of the beer.

M - Great mouthfeel, carbonation with the hop bitterness just gives your mouth a lot to process.

D - Extremely drinkable. Doesn't taste anything close to 8%. Very smooth and the well balanced hops don't cause this beer to be too bitter.

If I could get these more readily, I would drink them much more often, because it is by far my favorite IPA. I haven't had Pliny the Younger, but I can't see any way to improve on this beer. It just seems to be the perfect IPA.

GarrettMD, Jun 26, 2010
Photo of elgiacomo
4.22/5  rDev -9.2%

500ml bottle courtesy my sister from Seattle. Bottled May 17, 2010, consumed a little over a month old.

Pours a hazy golden amber with a large fluffy off-white head that recedes nicely to a foamy island and ring. Leaves thick clumpy rings of lacing.

Aroma is piney, citrus, grapefruit, tangerine, tropical fruits, some floral hops, caramel malt, yeast and bread. Pretty fruity and sweet, almost sugary for a DIPA, but as it warms the pine and citrus rind really come into play.

Flavor is some nice juicy citrus, grapefruit, pineapple, pine and resinous hops, some spicy malt, a little sweetness, then an excellent lingering bitterness on the finish. Not a whole lot of alcohol, which I like, glad this is at 8% ABV instead of 10%+ like some in the category.

Mouthfeel is pretty full, quite sticky, medium carbonation.

I've been looking forward to finally cracking open a Pliny, and this was a real treat. Really runs the gamut on flavors and evolves a lot as it warms. Excellent stuff.

elgiacomo, Jun 26, 2010
Photo of Cossacks19
4.88/5  rDev +4.9%

Poured from a week old bottle. Appearence is light amber / golden color, with an off white head that hangs out a bit. Great lacing all the way down the glass. Flavors are a great balance of ever so slight bitter hops and sweet malt flavor. Tasted sweet honey, grapefruit, creamy butter, and slight tang of orange peel. On the palate it is medium bodied beer with a great balance of dry and refreshing finish. Overall one of the best beers I have had to date. Perfect beer for any morning, afternoon, or night!!!

Cossacks19, Jun 25, 2010
Photo of pacchef23
5/5  rDev +7.5%

Have had Pliny the Elder a couple times at The Beveridge Place Pub in West Seattle. Great pub. Both times I had Pliny it was just about the perfect beer. I could not get enough. It was so well made with layers of flavor and hops from start to lingering finish.

pacchef23, Jun 24, 2010
Photo of hoptrip619
4.08/5  rDev -12.3%

For several years I thought this beer was the be all end all IPA and it was. Recently, I've noticed the hop aroma and flavor has become less prominent.

This review is based on my two most recent encounters with PtE at Hamilton's Tavern and the Neighborhood.

A- Pours a deep golden color with minimal head and slightly sticky lacing.

S- Floral and citrus hops are still there but much less assertive than in the past. There is some sweet malt aromas mixed in that weren't always so prominent.

T- I still really like the flavor of PtE more than other IPA's on the market but there is a lot more residual malt sweetness nowadays. The zesty citrus and floral hop flavors are still there but it isn't as dry.

M - Medium with appropriate carbonation

D- Still one of my favorites but obviously the increase in production has caused a slight slip in overall quality.

hoptrip619, Jun 24, 2010
Photo of dnolan36
3.68/5  rDev -20.9%

I finally tried my first Pliny the Elder this evening that I got in trade and was happy to try my first. As soon as I poured it into my glass you could smell the hoppyness and had a nice 2-3 finger head. It had a extremely pleasant citrousy and piny aroma. At the first sip there were strong citrus and grapefruit taste with the right amount of hops.

It is a very decent beer, but not sure if it lived up to all the hype. I went into this one thinking I was going to taste the amazing beer ever and that just was not the case. It is definitely toward the top for it's style but not the best.

dnolan36, Jun 24, 2010
Photo of Bendurgin
4.83/5  rDev +3.9%

Thanks Hygmod for driving this one out from California!

Poured this into a pint glass. Pours golden orange with about two fingers of fluffy white head. Nice lacing on this. Lots of piney hops in the nose and bit of citrus zest lingers. The hops tell me this is going to be a hop monster. I can't wait. This is a really juicy DIPA. A big hop flavor and citrus juiciness coats the tongue. Nice carbonation on this and the juicy flavor makes this feel great in the mouth. At eight percent, this DIPA is easy to enjoy.

Bendurgin, Jun 23, 2010
Photo of nerdrocker101
4.72/5  rDev +1.5%

Served from a bottle. Shared from my buddy Kraig.

Golden-orange hue with a thin, white sheet of head on top.

Citrus and piny aroma with just a floral hint.

Big, resiny pine and grapefruit taste. Perfectly hopped with a nice bite.

Smooth and nicely carbonated.

I'm no hophead, but this is definitely a wonderful beer.

nerdrocker101, Jun 23, 2010
Photo of Duttonic
4.93/5  rDev +6%

Served from bottle born on 06/21/10. Luckily Sacramento is close to Santa Rosa, this may be the freshest beer I've ever had.

A- Light copper/deep yellow, two fingers of head with pour. Bubbly, so bubbly. Lacing as I drink it down.

S- So delightful, like a bouquet of hops. Faint citrus.

T- Citrus (grapefruit, maybe a hint of lemon), hops, hops, hops, but not in the least bit overpowering. Smooth. Really smooth.

M- Creamy, tart, lip puckering, but again not overpowering.

D- I could drink this regularly, if I could find it. This is the first time I have ever seen it and I really hope it isn't the last. Thankfully I bought the limit of three bottles.

If your near Sac, Taylor's Market has them in a limited supply. You have to ask for them, so get them if you can.

Duttonic, Jun 23, 2010
Photo of Adamdc
4.5/5  rDev -3.2%

Fresh bottle (6/8/10-2 weeks old) thanks to billinlafayette. Poured into tulip.

A: Deep orange pour with active carbonation and 1 inch of a fluffy white head.

S: Citrus and pine balanced out nicely by malt backbone.

T: This may sound ridiculous but the taste is very balanced----both the hop flavors and the hop/malt balance. I know this is a DIPA but I wouldn't refer to this as a hop bomb. The various hop flavors all complement each other-- lemon, orange, pine, grass,etc.

M: Fantastic! Solid medium body.

D: Very, very drinkable! Goes down very nicely.

This is a very nice DIPA! Do I think it deserves its 'legendary' status?? I'm not sure.

Adamdc, Jun 23, 2010
Photo of Spica66
4.83/5  rDev +3.9%

Extra from bmcclure trade. Thanks Ben!!

After receiving bottles that were only 10 days old from Nickd717, I have re-reviewed and it gets an even better score than before in the smell department.

A: What a beautiful color! White head with slight lacing left.

S: Beautiful, citrus and slightly floral hops on the nose. Malt is there and smells very fresh.

T: Perfect balance between malt and hops. And I mean perfect!

M: Smooth and nice.

D: This bottle just disappeared.

Spica66, Jun 20, 2010
Photo of Kelly88
4.53/5  rDev -2.6%

Poured from bottle into pint glass

A- clear gold color with off white head that faded to a thin white cap. Sticky lacing hugs the glass

S- spot on for an ipa. Floral,citrus and pine. Benchmark for the style.

T- big hops with huge grapefruit flavor and grassy pine notes in the swallow.

M- feels medium with good carbonation. Resiny feel

D- its an ipa so you can't have too many. One 500ml bottle seems like quite enough. I really enjoy this beer every time I drink it and it is one of the pinnacles of the style

Kelly88, Jun 20, 2010
Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 10,502 ratings.