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Pliny The Elder - Russian River Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder

Educational use only; do not reuse.

11,629 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 11,629
Reviews: 3,303
rAvg: 4.66
pDev: 7.94%
Wants: 5,557
Gots: 2,286 | FT: 73
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:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 08-24-2003

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 11,629 | Reviews: 3,303 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of JayS2629
4.58/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I finally got to try this when I took a road trip to Colorado. Happened to go to a beer store and arrive right after they recieved it. Mine was bottled on 071911 and I tried it on the 25th.

First off, its overhyped. Second, it is amazing in other ways than what I expected. More balanced and more drinkable than I imagined. In my mind I expected a hop bomb, but it was much calmer and easier to drink. Very balanced.

It poured a slightly hazy golden honey color with a medium off white creamy head, great retention, and thick creamy walls of lace.

The aroma was complex and amazing. Pine up front with citrus, grapefruit rind, peach and apricot on the the middle. Clean toasted malts with smooth bitter front end full of floral and grass. Tart, resiny pine.

The taste followed the nose with tons of citrus, grapefruit, peach and apricot. Floral qualities and grass. Nice malt background that is clean with a touch of caramel.

Very well balanced. Smoother and milder than expected. Very drinkable. No trace of alcohol for an 8%.

Overhyped on the hoppiness in my opinion. Underhyped on the balance and drinkability. Its like Sierra Nevada Pale Ale's big brother. The majority of hops being aroma. Nice bitter finish, but amazing balance.

Photo of BeerLover99
4.93/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: golden orange body, finger head, amazing lacing.

S: pineapple, papaya, peach/mango, pine, malt,
just amazing can't stop shoving my nose into the pint
to take in the intoxicating aroma. Gets even
MORE amazing as it warms.

T: sweet citrus combo bowl, then piney bitter malt middle
oily long bitter finish

M: med body, sticky/oily mouth

O: WOW! Well, after going over 2,000 miles
across country, it was well worth the journey.
Enjoyed this amazing brew at the brewery with
my beautiful wife on our 1st long vacation without
our kids. Delicious, intense, but still very approachable
(abv is very well hidden) beer.
Worth the hype; I want to gulp this amazing
brew, but also savoring each sniff and taste.


Photo of mikechance
4.5/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer lives up to all the hype. It is wonderful! It has very nice deep orange color and a good 1/2 inch head. The smell alone makes this beer fabulous with an explosion of grapefruit, orange and floral scents. The taste is a hop heads dream --- heavy hops, smooth full-bodied taste and a wonderful bitterness at the end.

Photo of kdmcguire10
5/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The Perfect Beer!

A: Lazy orange color. One-finger head and good retention.

S: Smells wonderful. Smells like you're taking a stroll through a citrus grove with pine trees surrounding. I nearly cried at first smell.

T: Balanced, slightly bitter. Incredibly balanced, easy drinking IPA. Especially for 8%. Can't detect it at all.

O: This is the holy grail of beer. It manages to exceed its lofty reputation. If I could drink one beer the rest of my life, this would be it.

Photo of divineaudio
4.28/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

500ml bottle poured into a tulip glass.
bottled on 7/11/11, consumed on 7/30/11.

a - pours out a color somewhere between golden yellow and light copper. forms a rocky, off white two finger head that quickly calms to a thin cap and sticks around. leaves a few splotches of lacing in the glass.

s - toffee, citrus, fresh cut grass and maybe a hint of berry.

t - grapefruit bitterness up front with a sweet toffee malt backbone. a wave of pine resin rolls in and hangs around for a while, eroding the enamel on my teeth. finishes dry and nicely balanced. no trace of the 8% abv in the taste.

m - a firm medium body with higher than average carbonation. very smooth.

o - the holy grail of ipa's? well, not to my tastebuds. still a damn fine example of the style. glad i finally got the chance to try it, even though i had to drive across the country to get it. oh, and the 8% does catch up to you by the end of the bottle.

Photo of roodie
4.43/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed at Bluepalms in Hollywood

Poured into a goblet

A: pours amber, tree sap orange with 2 fingers of pillowy head that retained while I enjoyed the glass. Nice lacing

S: grapefruit and pine with hints of sweeter citrus like tangerines. Some acridness from the hops prepares you for what's to come

T: immediately the hops butt their way to the front of the flavor profile, but the citrus bouquet shows up a second later. The flavor captures both the flavoring and aroma of the hops. Resiny and citrusy on the end

M: bitterness lingers and dries out the tongue, making you seek out the next sip.

O: great DIPA, a classic for the style. I've had it now on tap and in bottles many times and will always come back.

Photo of aknight
4.9/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a pale golden straw color with a finger of head which sticks around briefly, but just long enough for you to get a good look. Smell is of hops, wonderful wonderful hops. There is a kiss of malt in there too for balance. This is a remarkably balanced beer. Pliny has a wonderful hop forward profile but nothing that punches you in the face, it compliments the well rounded and nuanced malt profile which has just enough caramel going on to be interesting but not so much that it ruins the hops party. Moutheel is wonderful. Somewhat silky for an IPA, Pliny has about the perfect amount of carbonation when makes all the flavors pop just right.

This is a terrific beer. There's not much more to say about it, it's as good as the hype and it stands up to repeated drinkings. As much Pliny as I've had (and I've had a lot) I never get tired of it. I often make the mistake of ordering something else and when I do I often regret the decision. I can't say I've ever regretted a Pliny though.

Photo of SubpoenaDeuces
4.7/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pliny the Elder, Double IPA, 8% ABV

A: This has a hazy straw appearance with tiny bubbles that dance and capitulate times past. It has moderate lacing but that special carbonation that recollects Hello Kitty perfume and locks on diaries. A certain friendliness is embued in its loving gold appearance. It is not 24k in nature, but its adjuncts result in a harder, less malleable experience.

S: There, of course, how could I forget, exists, smells of grapefruit, pine, lemon rind, and citric comma overuse. After so many dates and crestfallen experiences, the number of the Elder becomes a solid staple in your phone, even those moments of weakness, at 2 a.m., when you could just go to sleep, his elderly voice beckons, imparting amazing grassy knowledge.

T: A single taste is like dipping your toe into the river of styx and viewing the scope of past accomplishments and future failures. You get strong notes of tangelo, then apricot, some grapefruit rounds it out with a gentle lull into a juniper bush. You brush a few cones from his threadbare skin and embrace your elder lovingly.

M: The mouthfeel is light but imparts a tart lasting wisdom that lingers an herbal dryness that expands with time. It feels like wading through thick grassy kudzu with a celerity that imparts a lasting knowledge. How you wish you could order more, or warn your old friend of the looming danger that Pompeii holds. Hindsight is 20/20 and such is the case with your elder. Goldfish crackers strewn about your apartment are a testament to same.

D: This is incredibly drinkable beer and your hold on the hem of his robe is none the less tenacious at the final imparting words. You swallow deep and know that your friend will visit you under any circumstances but this apparition must be seen in moderation, for his message is almost always rationed. Not unlike Ebeneer Scrooge your Bob Cratchet fades into the abyss, until the next bottle is cracked. His spirit invoked anew.

Narrative: You shake from your dream in a moist pallor. It seemed so real at the time. You look left and right and see relics of lost friends strewn left and right. /get yearbook. You feel compelled to revisit the past anew. /view photo albums. You feel almost compelled by a higher force to keep returning to these fading memories of grapefruit orchards. /Stop nostalgia. Try as you might you cannot forget the times spent dri- /seriously stop, do something else. You elect to rummage through old shoe boxes that waft of herbal succor. /C:close program.exe

Photo of kevanb
4.83/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

It pours a really lovely golden copper color that’s not too clear, but not too opaque. Atop the beer sits a single finger of soapy foam head. The nose is incredible, it starts with a huge citrus burst followed by a nice coniferous backbone with hints of malt. The flavors are exceptional, lots of grapefruit up front and like the nose it finishes with strong pine flavors but actually has a nice malty backbone to it. The body is great, big and full yet bone dry that leaves your mouth salivating for more. It’s exceptionally bitter while being very approachable and easy to drink.

Verdict: This is holy grail of IPAs. It’s bone dry, immensely flavorful and beautifully balanced. This beer is a must for any hop head and anyone who appreciates the craft in craft beer.

Photo of ajwillys
4.9/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 16oz bottle into five juice glasses.

Appearance - Head lingers and has nice lacing. The bubbles are forming a portrait of a mocking face. I can't get rid of it... or maybe I've had too many.
Smell - Smells like a Washington hop processing plant, which is a very good thing.
Taste - Bitter, but balanced. Grapefruit.
Mouthfeel - Lightly carbonated, but goes down easy.
Overall - It's fantastic, but you already knew that. I had this beer shipped across the country (trade for a DFH 120) and I don't regret it.

Photo of patreely12
4.78/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Memphis Taproom in Philly. Poured into a tulip glass.

A - clear, very bright gold with a shade of orange. a little over a finger of white foamy head. great lacing.

S - floral, piney tangy hops. lots of the usual citrusy notes too (pineapple, grapefruit, orange). just a great blend of flavors, all very well balanced and bright.

T/M - great, great balance of the normal flavors you'll find in your favorite IPA. strong, fresh, but bitter hops. lots of floral and pine mixing bitterness with the sweetness of the malts and the sweet, juicy fruit flavors. a little lighter in body than I was expecting, moderately carbonated. very clean mouthfeel. not syrupy and not much of a bite which you'll typically find in imperial IPAs with higher ABV.

Overall is IPA that sets the standards for all other IPAs. the flavors are the same you'll find in every other IPA. the execution and balance of the flavors are what make Pliny the Elder the greatest IPA there is. So glad I finally got to try this.

Photo of Simmy7000
4.3/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The one and only, bottled 06/16/2011

A- Pours a liquid gold with a solid 2 finger head that doesn't want to go away. Lacing throughout.

S- Heavy floral, resin, and pine aromas. Hints of tropical fruits. Also getting some musky scents scattered throughout.

T- Quick burst of hop notes up front. Lots of pine with tropical notes underneath. Sweet malts balance everything out and leave you with a dry, smooth finish. Solid, balanced, and drinkable.

M- Great feel for a DIPA. Finishes dry and leaves that nice bitter aftertaste. No hints of alcohol

O-An excellent DIPA. All hype aside, this is a top tier brew that everyone should try. Very smooth and balanced. It has a nice variety of hop flavors. This is not the best beer ever (not even the best DIPA I have had) but does that matter? I would be stocking this often if I had regular access to it. Hope to try it on tap one day.

Photo of FoodandBrews
5/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A — Brilliant gold with a bright fluffy white foamy head, perfectly translucent

S — Fantastic floral hops with some citrus notes, Orange/Peach

T — Some sweet maltiness before the hops smacks you in the face. Wonderful balanced bitterness with great hoppy flavor. The hops bring out some grapefruit citrus notes

M — Very smooth medium bodied with perfect carbonation. Some light alcohol heat. Very well balanced

O — This is a world class beer, I continue to buy this whenever I can get it

Photo of drowland
4.9/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Courtesy mashmaster. AWESOME! This stuff really is fantastic. Awesome orange pour with a big fluffy off-white head that laces for days. Amazing balance, wonderful hops flavor and aroma. This is a stellar beer. Plenty of citrus, floral, pine and more. Not overwhelmingly hoppy or malty - wonderfully balanced and delicious.

Photo of magictacosinus
4.98/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is quite possibly my favorite beer ever, as it's the craft brew that I have drunken the most ever since I discovered it in February. I'm glad to have found a freshly bottled Pliny, which as of this writing is 4 days old. Yay! This was poured into a tulip glass as well to enhance flavor (even though I usually take it in a pint glass).

Appearance: An strong, beautiful orange color unlike any double IPA I've seen yet that's instantly recognizable. A lacy head maintains, carbonation completely disappears as well.

Smell: Pine, citrus, hoppy and fruity aromas everywhere! It smells extremely fresh and as a result every whiff slightly clears my head.

Taste: The overwhelming feel of hops in this beer is obvious upon an initial sip, but it ends up being sweet, flavorful and refreshing by the end. Passion fruit, grapefruit, caramel malts, oranges... the list of varying flavors goes on and on. The high amount of alcohol enhances the sweetness as well.

Mouthfeel: Extremely overpowering on the palate, yet not where it needs to be an acquired taste in order to be enjoyed. The hops remain on the palate viciously, yet the alcohol itself warms up mouth while simultaneously refreshing it. It's damn dry as well. However, I'm not drinking this beer for it to be gentle on my mouth - I'm fully embracing its explosive attack in return for incredible flavors.
UPDATE (1/6/2014): I must have been high when I wrote the above description some years ago. After having it fresh out of the bottle and on tap (at the brewpub, no less) for about a week straight over the holidays, I can safely say that it doesn't get better than this in terms of a beer that DOES pack a punch on all bases yet maintains a clean, crisp, pungent drinkable character. Simply put, THIS is the golden benchmark for a strong hoppy American IPA - the hops serve the primary purpose to cleanse the palate after the initial flavor, in the same way a high quality German Riesling does. There's nothing that could be improved here, PERIOD.

Overall: Simply put, an incredible beer that is unlike anything else. Whenever I allow people to taste this beer, even those who usually hate too many hops end up loving it. This is perhaps due to the unreal fruity taste that Pliny has. On tap, it's quite exceptional as well: the malty sweet flavors and hops are released even more strongly, yet just as great. Don't ever pass by a chance to drink this, yet make sure it's as fresh as possible for the full experience!

UPDATE (1/6/2014): If my life could be told through a beer, this would be the one to do it for me. I have so many fond memories with Pliny - more than I could ever give myself credit for. Romance, inspiration, and celebration have crossed paths with me and this beer. It's a beer I'll hold personally close to me for a good long while, and I'm privileged that I still have full accessibility to it so far. No beer is perfect... But in terms of maintaining a strong, pungent flavor, crisp feel, and a wholly diverse flavor profile for pairing with just about any food... Pliny wins. In my life. Forever and always.

Photo of xerotime
4.6/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

500ml bottle into a Russian River "TION" glass.

What's to say that hasn't been said before. A fantastic DIPA that excels across the board. Nice color, plenty of sticky pine resin hops with just enough malt to carry it. Medium body with a nice dry finish that makes a higher alcohol beer like this extremely drinkable.

Photo of xdopiex
4.6/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

bottled: 6.29.11

Poured into a glass, rich amber color with a two finger head. Great retention, with the head eventually subsiding into a small white cloud above the beer. Thick lacing from the initial head all the way down as the beer was consumed.

Smell of fantastic resin and pine. Taste is a very balanced hop bitterness that lingers on the back end. Slight warming effect from the alcohol.

Extremely drinkable IIPA thats pretty darn elusive. Wonderful little bugger though.

Photo of traillme
5/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The best. This is the godfather - repect and love.

Head, hoppiness, flavor, and aftertaste are all world class. This beer is fanastic in bottle but takes it to a whole other level on draft.

I hope one day this is available more extensively but its lack of availability doesn't take away from the experience of getting a pitcher in Santa Rosa.

Photo of sixthglass
4.8/5  rDev +3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

For those who've tasted this. You know that no review is really needed. It's just a freak in a bottle. It's a force of nature that everyone should or rather needs to experience. It's hard to rival this king, and some come close. But all in all, This is just a treat for me to obtain and share with close friends.

Photo of chromemittenman
3.18/5  rDev -31.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I waited a long time for this...I was on a trip to Colorado and not only found it in bottles, but found it on tap too, along with several other Russian River brews which I tried.

I must say, I was let down, I thought for a Double IPA Pliny was very weak. I actually blind taste tested this against 3 other DIPA's and had 2 other people try them and they chose Pliny as the least tasteful each time. I thought it was quite boring actually. I mean it was a good drinkable DIPA, but doesn't pack much punch, lacks on the alchohol, and lacks on the hops...maybe thats why it is so popular, is a more of an "appealing to the masses" style, rather than a good 13% or so DIPA like many others I've tried that will knock your socks off. I tried 7 RR beers, including Pliny the Younger and have to say I don't see where all the hype is AT ALL.

Photo of vandemonian
4.1/5  rDev -12%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Russian River Pliny The Elder is a top quality dry IPA. It is very hoppy but not overly bitter beer. Don't expect much fruitiness or other unique flavours though.

A: Translucent orange yellow colour, highly carbonated and with a 15 mm head that lasts indefinitely.

S: Very hoppy smell. I can't really isolate the aroma of a particular hop, though. 4

T: Tangy hops with a hint of grapefruit. It has quite a kick from both the alcohol and the hops. The aftertaste is dry and slightly bitter. It's a dry IPA. The main thing that sets it apart is that it's very hoppy without being overly bitter. 4

M: Thick and well carbonated. 4.5

O: This is a quality, dry IPA... a little too dry for my tastes. 4

Photo of brstls4drmrs
3.9/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to HEADYGLASSdotcom on this one!

Bottled on 5/4/11.

A-Pours a golden, amber, liquid with a bit of cloudiness. A good 1" white froth appears with excellent lacing that remains.

S - Awesome floral, pine, lime, citrus and sugar scents with some very nice hops. Just a great blend of smells all around. Nothing is overpowering. It feels like a breeze of all those flavors. Very nice.

T - Some good hops flavor with some grapefruit in there as well. There seems to be a little too much bitterness which I believe could be due to the age of the brew. Would of liked to of tried a fresher one to see if there's a difference here.

M - A dry, mildly carbonated DIPA that is surprisingly not as sticky as others I've had. Still good nonetheless. But I expected that cotton like coating with this one as I've had in other DIPAs.

O - A good DIPA and would love to have more. Next time I'm asking for a good fresh one however.

Photo of BeerAmbassador
4.93/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 16 oz bottle into a pint glass. Freshness date is 7/11/11, which puts it at a whopping 9 days old. It's strange, I used to live in northern California about 40 minutes from the brewery and I don't know if I ever got one in a bottle this fresh and now I am in San Diego. Go figure. Pours an ever so hazy orange-yellow. Frothy white head that leaves a little lacing and a thin foam on the top. The aroma virtually defines the word "hops" citrus (grapefruit, orange) and pine. A bit of malty sweetness and finally on the end I get another aroma that my friend used to describe as a "funky aged cheese" aroma. I thought he was a little crazy for a while, but I think I finally get what he was talking about. I also get a bit of the bubblegum backbone that people are talking about and I guess I would associate that with the malt sweetness I mentioned earlier. Medium bodied on the palate, with a nice bit of carbonation. One of the things I like about this beer is that it is not a thick sticky-sweet DIPA. It actually finishes fairly dry. That brings me to what might be my favorite and most impressive thing about Pliny. The balance. I think that in here at Beer Advocate and in the beer world in general, balance is under-appreciated. People get a taste for hoppy beers and they seek out more and more extreme examples of them. The beauty of this beer is that it has incredible complexity both in hops and malt, but one never totally dominates the other. In my opinion that is much more difficult to do than make an over the top hop bomb. Thats why for me, even though this beer gets an incredible amount of hype and attention, I still believe it is deserving.

Photo of biglobo8971
4.83/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

outstanding, I have had this beer in all forms, bottle old and new, and growler. All amazing. The older bottles you can mos def can discern from the new ones. My favorite is right at 2 weeks of age. Everything of this beer screams hops, from the color to the taste and ultimately to the color. If your a hophead, you cant carry your badge until you try this beer.

Photo of thagr81us
4.08/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks goes out to funkydelic for sharing this one! Served from growler into a Mikkeller flute. Poured yellow-orange with a half finger white head that subsided to a minimal amount quickly. Maintained decent lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, citrus, citrus hop, and fruit. The flavor was of sweet malt, citrus, pine, pine hop, and citrus hop. It had a light feel on the palate with medium-high carbonation. Overall this is always a good brew. However, Pliny was much better out of the bottle. The growler that we drank was QUITE fresh, but it just seemed to lose a little bit of the edge that it has from a fresh bottle. Definitely worth trying if you get the chance and I would LOVE to try it on-tap or even on cask to compare the other serving types in the future.

Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 11,629 ratings.