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Pliny The Elder - Russian River Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder

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11,659 Ratings

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Ratings: 11,659
Reviews: 3,308
rAvg: 4.66
pDev: 7.94%
Wants: 5,583
Gots: 2,310 | 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: 11,659 | Reviews: 3,308 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of vandemonian
4.11/5  rDev -11.8%
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
3.95/5  rDev -15.2%
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
4.92/5  rDev +5.6%
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
4.82/5  rDev +3.4%
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.

Photo of Kayn169
4.92/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

500ml bottle poured into a Duvel tulip
Bottled: 06/16/11

Ok before I start this review, let me say. The hype machine is huge on this one. Not my first RR offering, and typically hype may push me to try a beer, but it doesn't make me a believer, or keep me drinking. If anything, hype typically ruins an otherwise decent beer. I expect sooo much, when if fails to live up to it, I rate it badly.... Well, this isn't one of those beers. There is hype behind it for a reason. Although, be forewarned, if your looking for a pure hop bomb, This is NOT your beer.

A- Wow, for a DIPA, very light I'm color. A slightly burnt yellow. Not quite orange, topped with a finger of white medium bodied head, leaving a very nice lacing.

S- Mmmm, pineapple, grapefruit, mango, crisp pine, and a little bubblegum at the finish. Nothing over powers, all is balanced and clean. Sublime

T- Very similar to the nose. I get all the same tropical and citrus fruit, especially the mango and grapefruit. Subdued malt adding a nice balance. Hop presence is more subdued than I was expecting, but definitely hoppier than the Blind Pig. This isn't a hop head's wet dream, but a masterfully crafted DIPA, focused more on balance, and precision.

M- Lighter than expected, just like the appearance would suggest. Not overly sticky like a lot of DIPAs. Nice carbonation, lifts it off the tongue, and even as it sat and warmed a bit, still no tackiness in the palate.

O- Outstanding, now I know I didn't rate it as a perfect A+, but..well, it's that hype this at work. I think because of the hype, I almost didn't want to like it, but, it was amazingly good. Light bodied, huge tropical fruit, citrus AND pine presence, just a very slight sweetness from the malt, gorgeously light golden color for a DIPA. Well balanced, easy drinking, leaves you begging for more.

Photo of TheGordianKnot
4.13/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Bottled on 6.16.2011 and drinking exactly one month after. Poured into stemless wine glass.

A- Pours a dark burnt orange lookings liquid with about an inch of a very foamy head. The head proves itself to be quite stable and leaves incredible lacing.

S- The aroma is a balanced mix of pine and citrus (grapefruit, pineapple, oranges) hops with a bubblegum backbone to round it out.

T/M- Hmm. This is good, but not A+ good. The level of bitterness is not where I thought it would be nor where I would like it to be. The hop flavor is even subdued quite a bit. The taste is mainly a grapefruity citrus with a touch of banana that I find playing peek-a-boo throughout. Its a little different, but definitely nothing to write home about. The body, however was fantastic for a DIPA! Very smooth and light body with a nice level of carbonation that is reserved, yet enough to keep it very refreshing. Top notch as far as mouthfeel goes.

O- I really liked this beer, but I think the hype and expectations made drinking this a little disappointing. I'm glad I got the chance to try it, but I can honestly say that I will NEVER actively seek this out again unless I can have the beer in my glass within 10 days of being bottled! Hmmm- maybe now I'll go start 19 threads of "Beer X is better than Pliny!!!!1!!"

Photo of tdm168
4.5/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Hopmonk Tavern in Sebastopol, CA while on my honeymoon.

Pours a nice yellow with a soft head, good retention. Nose is floral and fruity. Taste is floral, fruity, hoppy; great for a DIPA. This beer is crisp, refreshing, and dangerously drinkable. It took a long time and nationwide trip, but I finally got my hands on Pliny The Elder and was not disappointed.

Photo of Jordan
4.92/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Great frothy head, sticks like resin to the sides of glass. Hazy and golden.

S: Hops smacks you across the face. Floral, grapefruit and citrus rinds. Pine and alder.

T: Fresh resinous/sappy hop profile in the front. Pine needle, ash, and jasmine. Malt profile provides a good foundation for showcasing the diverse hop profile.

O: An exceptional beer in every respect. Perhaps the quintessential brew of the American beer revolution.

Photo of Nashvillain
4.34/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 6/16/11, Served in a stemless Chardonnay glass. Thanks Jeremy! (Chickencoop)

Aroma is light and earthy/floral, slightly ephemeral. Almost hard to grab it, kind of teasingy/cloying

The appearance is light, almost a perfect color for an IPA, but not quite the darkness customary for a IIPA, not a bad thing though. A nice, rustic golden color.

Taste is hoppy and bright, but almost reserved for a IIPA. If this were a single IPA it could most likely be the best IPA I've ever tasted. I'm not entirely sure that it deserves the hype but I'm not going to debit it for that either, it's solid, very much so. The alcohol is almost completely masked by the earthy floral of the hops, and the flavors blend into a cohesive unit, very well integrated.

Overall, I can see why this has been in the top for a long time, but I'm not sure about a beer that can't travel being so hyped. I understand what Vinnie means about not letting it get past two weeks.

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

Bottle into a tulip. Bottled on 071111.

A - A beautiful clear amber pour with a fluffy 2 finger head.

S - Starts with tropical fruits - mangoes and apricots, followed by grapefruit rind and finally a robust malt.

T - An amazing, crisp taste to go with the scent. Orange, grapefruit, pine and a biscuity malt to counterbalance the hops. Alcohol is not discernible.

M - Smooth and clean with medium carbonation.

O - Overall, this Double IPA reigns supreme, and for good reason. A great example of a well-balanced DIPA, plenty of hop character but offset by the malts.

Photo of ltjska04
3.78/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I've been waiting to get my hands on this beer for years, and my future mother-in-law just returned from a trip to Napa Valley and brought a single bottle of Pliny the Elder home for me. To my pleasant surprise the bottling date was 7/11/11... 5 days ago! Let's get to it!

A- Clear orange/amber with a fluffy, sudsy white head that recedes to a thin film with clumpy white islands and lacing on the sides of my snifter. A single stream of tiny bubbles emerge from the bottom of the glass.

S- Tropical fruit/citrusy, piney, a little herbal, a hint of wood? Grapefruit with a bit of sweetness... while lots of hop characteristics are present it isn’t the hop explosion I was expecting.

T- Hoppy, but not overly so. The malt is there to balance the bitterness with a bit of honey-like sweetness. The bitterness lingers a bit but it is not that strong. The flavor seems a bit flat and muted. For this fresh a bottle I thought the hop flavor would be overflowing. This seems like it'd be a very sessionable beer if it weren't for the higher ABV; the flavor isn't overpowering but I could drink it all night.

M- This is probably the driest DIPA I’ve every had. I feel like it’s lacking carbonation; higher levels would bring the hop flavor out more. The body is thin for the style.

O- Overall, I hate to say it, but I’m disappointed. This bottle is only 5 days old but tastes much older. I don’t know if it was the cross-country trip or some other issue but this isn’t what I expected. I’ve had many better DIPA’s that are a lot easier to come by in my area. I would definitely drink this again but wouldn’t go out of my way to obtain it.

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

Beer pours an orangish color with some yellow and a big white head. Left a lot of great lacing on the sides. Smells of super pine hops and just a little bit of malt. Lots of citrus and other things going on, smells great. The taste isn't any type of let down, with great pine hops and things that turn bitter on the end. It doesn't have tropical fruit notes that other ones do, more of a piney grapefruit beer. Really like this one, fantastic on tap.

Photo of sergeantstogie
4.85/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottled on 062911.

As hard as it was to score the two bottles I really had to resist the urge to hold on to my bottles and give in to Vinnie's advice on the bottle to drink it fresh. I am very glad I did.

This has been a summer of many very good IPAs and IIPAs. The trend being bigger and bolder. My assumption was Pliny was going to be the biggest, baddest, boldest asskicker of an IIPA on the block. My first taste corrected that assumption and in the same moment gave me a more profound understanding of the other Russian River beers I have drank recently.

Pliny poured a gorgeous glowing gold. It looks like the mystery contents of Marcellus Wallace's brief case when viewed by Vincent Vega.

The smell is pure grapefruit.

The taste is grapefruit as well, but not over powering. Many of the IPAs and IIPAs I have had recently in brewpubs boast loud and proud about the perfection achieved in the balance of their product's bitterness, aroma and malt flavor. However, Pliny absolutely nails it. No one flavor is competing to out do any of the others. It is a very happy marriage of citrus, slight pine, tiny hint of dank and a ridiculously smooth and ever so sweet and clean malt background.

The mouthfeel is light and airy.

Overall, as I said in the beginning, this beer gave me a profound understanding of what exactly it is Vinnie is up to at Russian River. His beers are subtle in the way any man who is sure of his abilities can be subtle. In confidence, a well crafted beer can be flavorful, strong and smooth all at the same time. It is only when one of these qualities is out of balance that the need to call attention to itself arises. All of the Russian River beers I have had so far have shown this. Pliny better than the rest!

Photo of ibryce
3.9/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This beer is good. I don't understand why people freak out with A+ ratings. For me, Ninkasi's "Maiden the Shade" is a better choice for a similar beer. I don't get why the "bros" give "Total Domination" a C rating and then give this an A+? Guess my palette just isn't as refined!

Photo of Kubus
4.45/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 500mL bottle purchased at the Russian River brewery into a highball glass in a San Francisco hotel.

A: Pours a nice golden yellow with a nice fizzy head which bubbles away quickly and leaves a nice white ring around the glass. Very fizzy with no cloudiness.

S: Mango, papaya, rosemary, a hint of hops, peach, orange, and many other citrus scents (Tangelo?)

T: Begins with a rush of citrus and papaya flavour, very nice. Follows up with some pine and rosemary and concludes with a light hop aftertaste. Very gentle, doesn't ruin the flavour with a huge hop aftertaste, just reminds you what you are drinking.

M: For a DIPA this is extremely smooth, actually I would venture to say it is one of he gentlest beers I've ever tasted. Light tastes wash over your tongue over and over, none really overpowering, all well balanced.

O: after being disappointed by Supplication, this beer was a welcome change. Again it is fairly overhyped by BA, but the difference is that this one at least comes close to matching the hype. A very good beer, worth picking up to experience, would be even better had I not known of it's legendary status.

Photo of VicSlick
2.21/5  rDev -52.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 3

I dont know I f I got a bad batch of this beer but it is definitely NOT WORTHY OF AN A+!

Bought four pint bottles from Whole Foods Cupertino. Thre reason I bought four is because I was expecting an awesome brewski.

Appearance is average. It pours a Budweiser Yellow. Lets be honest.

Smell is okay. I dont really judge any beer off its smell.

Taste. This is where it gets weird. I took the first sip of beer and I tasted the intense flavor of ALCOHOL. I know a Double IPA is gonna be a strong beer but the smell and palate feel was that of a post vodka shot. I hope this is a bad batch, cause I really wanna enjoy this beer. I just didnt.

Mouthfeel. SEE TASTE.

Overall, I would not pay $5 a pint for a beer I had a bad experience with ever again, but if a friend buys me one, I would be open to trying it again in hopes that the batch was on point.

Photo of jmarsh123
5/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Finally got the opporitunity to try this while on my business trip to SD.

Wow this is everything I had hoped for.
Poured a hazy orange. This is literally one of the most beautiful beers I've ever seen. The color is just outstanding. Too bad I can only go 5.0 on here. Very little head and some lacing down the glass.

Smells of grapefruit/citrus with a little bready malt presence.

Taste is a hops overload of delicious citrus with a nice strong bitter finish.

Lighter bodied for a DIPA which is perfect for me. The hops really shine through on this and before I knew it I had drained the whole pint with little effort. I just wish I had a way of getting this close to home.

Photo of ajsdad06
4.47/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

500 ml bottle poured into a snifter.

Pours a clear orange amber color with a small fine white head.
The fact that this looks like many other IPA's doesn't do the rest of the experience justice.

The aroma upon opening the bottle was inviting: caramel and toffee melded with a bevy of fruits (citrus, grapefruit, pineapple,), pine and floral notes.

The flavor balances nicely between the moderately sweet caramel maltiness and the bitterness of the hops; pine, floral, and resiny. I don’t get much in the way of alcohol, probably because the aroma and flavor are too distracting. This is an excellent beer. Medium-full bodied and super easy to drink. I can’t wait to try this on tap someday.

Photo of Shaw
4.03/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks for fellow BA thryn for the bottle! Bottled June 3, drinking on July 12. I had this on draft at O'Brien's in San Diego years ago and remember loving it, but this is my first review.

Pours a light amber/dark gold in color with a big foamy head that reduces to a thick layer with lots of lacing. Hard to improve.

Deep earthy, herbal and citrus aroma from the hops, with a hint of alcohol.

The taste is bitter and hoppy, but still restrained somewhat. I was expecting a big bitter beer, but this tastes almost balanced. Don't get me wrong, it's good, just not excellent. I'm surprised, I was expecting more. I don't believe this bottle is old at just past a month from bottling?

I would consider this an approachable double IPA. It's not the best, that spot being taken by Bell's HopSlam.

Photo of CharlesRiver
4.59/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at The Englander.16 oz pint glass serving. Pours out a slightly cloudy tannish orange color with a nice little head. Smell is lovely. Tons of hops but some balance as well. Nice citrus hops with some earthyness mixed in.

Mouthfeel is a bit bigger than I expected but inline for this style. Taste is row after row of hops. Citrus, grass, and malt all meld into something very special.

Drinkability takes a few hits due to the higher alc and thicker Mouthfeel. Not overly sweet which is something I hate in this stye.

Photo of 7ate9
3.85/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Looks nice. A medium to medium low concentration ever-so-too -little-slightly-hazy-golden-orange. Good fluff and sticky lacing.
The sniff is good. Citrus, orange, grapefruit, with a pine backing. It smells nice enough. It's not quite as vibrant as I would have liked.
The taste follows the nose with all the fruit and pine. The midpalate seems a bit lost and hollow. The flavor is good but it's not deep. Pleasant upfront, with a dead spot near the center, finishing with nice bitterness and an exhale of hops. Pleasant is all.
Nice carb. Proper body.
There's no accounting for taste. A well made, pleasant beer but I'm certainly still wearing my socks.

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

Poured from a 16.9 oz bottle into a pint glass...Have had this baby before, time to do a review...

A-Pours a very beautiful crystal clear golden orange with a nice 2 finger white frothy head and very nice lacing...

S-Monster aroma here...grapefruit floral hops and orange peel with some sweet pine malt...Smells very good i wanna make out with this beer...

T-Amazing...Sweet grapefruit, bitter, dry and balanced to perfection.Hoppy malts with orange peel and very strong floral notes with pine and just amazing this thing is...

M-Medium bodied perfect carbonation sexy dry hops finish that is just so balanced and refreshing...

O-Their is alot of hype behind this beer...it deserves every last second of it...The most well balance DIPA i have ever had...Just perfect on the flavors and finish...For being 8% and so high on the ibu's its so very refreshing...Not to expensive...Would always have this stocked in my fridge and being in SO-CAL i can lol...

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

Like most people who have reviewed this beer, I have been looking forward to this moment for a long time!

A: Golden honey appearance that is almost completely transparent, accompanied by high levels of carbonation during the pour creating a beautiful, slightly off white two finger head that dissolves into intricate lacing surrounding the glass. Not quite a Sculpin, but beautiful none the less.

S: Gotta love those powerful floral hops that are accompanied with subtle hints of grapefruit and pine.

T: Gotta say, the smoothest DIPA I have had to date. It maintains perfect balance between its ingredients and allows each one of them to make their presence without being overpowered by the rest. Perfection!

M: Crisp, clean, medium bodied brew that tingles ever so slightly as it goes down the throat.

O: Incredible brew, IPA's aren't my favorite variety, but I definitely have boughten into the hype and gladly admit this is one of the finest beers ever crafted.

Photo of schmoopsbeer
4.67/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Date on bottle: 6-26-11
Poured into Tulip

Color: A dull Golden hay color with hints of honey at the core. Forms a nice two finger white foamy head and it leaves behind some really good lacing.

Nose: A plethora of hops and sweetness that is blended with amazing citrus fruit aromas. You get hints of pine and very mellow caramel. Also evident are the smells of peach and tangerine followed the zesty grapefruit and pineapple.

Palate: The drinkability of this beer is sublime. Wonderfully carbonated and refreshing. This beer is complex on the tongue offering plenty of citrus punch combined by an excellent hop body.The sweetness from the malt in this beer is just right, giving Pliny another level of greatness

Finish: Smooth and soothing. One of the top 3 double IPA's on the market. This beer offers everything an IPA should be and more way more. IT can be a bit dry at the end but nothing to diminish the excellent craftsmanship of this beer

Rating: 97 out 100

Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 11,659 ratings.