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Pliny The Elder - Russian River Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder

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11,844 Ratings

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Ratings: 11,844
Reviews: 3,355
rAvg: 4.66
pDev: 7.94%
Wants: 5,744
Gots: 2,452 | FT: 80
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: 11,844 | Reviews: 3,355 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of paxtonthegreat
4.92/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

My favorite IPA I've ever had. It is such an explosion of floral grapefruity notes and the hops just keep coming and coming with no bitter aftertastes. A pleasant sweet malty mouthfeel is also balanced in there. I live in Michigan so I have to always have the homebrewed version of this at all times in the keggerator. A++++

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

Clear goldenrod body, whitish head. Rather a bit of lace.

Nose is all citrus/grassy hops.

Quite bitter, grassy, lemon, lime, maybe grapefruit. Solid, classical DIPA. Not my style of choice, but for what it is, good.

Smooth, creamy.

Quintessential example of a west coast DIPA.

Photo of DoktorZee
4.77/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from the bottle into a schooner at my beer tasting club; as one would imagine this one was highly coveted and absolutely lived up the reputation. A gift from a business partner; we're all now best buds...:)

A - yellow amber, slightly cloudy, finger-high white head that sticks around for a while leaving behind some streaky lacing

S - massive pine/juniper nose on this; it just screams hops!

T - tastes like it smells with a huge pine and jumper hops profile with hints of citrus in the background; so well balanced and enduring; just enough malt to balance it out but the hops are clearly the star. Elegant and powerful.

M - slightly oily and cut nicely with some sharp carbonation; still maintains a relatively light body in spite of all of this power

D - definitely for hop-heads

Clearly a classic; powerful pine hops that permeates every inch of this brew but still maintains an elegant balance. One of the best. (No surprise there).

Photo of taigor
4.88/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into small snifter glass.

A - Poured clear golden color with big white head that slowly dissipated leaving lots of lacing around the glass.

S - Lots of citrus, hops and floral scents.

T - Tons of hops with citrus and slight earth flavors.

M - Medium bodied with high carbonation.

O - Exceptional IPA that is very crisp, refreshing and very well balanced. I would highly recommend it if you can find it.

Photo of mattboyer182
4.53/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a deep orange hue with a fluffy white one fingered head. Great lacing.

S - Pure aromatic hops. Loads of citrus. Maybe even a hint of honey.

T - Fresh hops, underlying notes of citrusy zest. Has a very long lastinf flaor. Bitters all the way though.

M - Medium bodied and heavy carbonation.

O - What can be said? It's Pliny. I can't wait to try this on tap to see if it can be better.

Photo of nitro0292
4.75/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

The illustrious Pliny. Finally managed to get my hands on some of this. Just for full disclosure, I wanted to think that this beer is over-hyped and overrated. It isn't.

Bottled on 9/21/11 - this is my third bottle, the first of which I had on 10/15.

Moderate pour left about an inch of stark white, soapy head with tight bubbles. Poured a crystal clear yellow-amber. Visible carbonation flowing up from the center of my tulip. Great retention and lacing all the way down.

Smell was fantastic. After I popped the top, I caught a burst of citrus and pine hop aroma - I hadn't poured it yet. Once poured it was more of the same...very hop forward with a touch of a cracker scent. Not smelling any residual sweetness at all. Just like anything ending in "IPA" (that is brewed in the US) should be.

Taste is delicious. Bold hops sting the tongue with bitterness and floral, pine and citrus notes. Just enough light, bready malt to keep a little bit of balance. Finish is dry and bitter with a lingering hop presence. Do not be fooled by the fact that this is an IIPA, there is only enough sweetness to balance some of the bitterness. There is not a significant malt taste at all - it is a hop lover's dream, a hop tea without being overly astringent, bitter or puckering. Just full of robust hop flavor.

Personally I like a thinner mouthfeel with my hops, and this delivers. It does not present the typical feel of an IIPA, it is thinner. Has moderate carbonation which helps prick the tongue, keep the feel rather light (despite the ABV) and release the aroma.

Best DIPA I've had.

Photo of Auracom
4.35/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Many thanks to my friend Al from California for getting this to me. Bottled just about one month ago, so it's not exceedingly fresh but it's close enough. 6-7 oz. into my C&B tulip on Halloween 2011.

A - Translucent gold coloring with a single-finger's worth of eggshell white head. Good retention, fantastic lacing and legs across the sides of the glass. Understated and I like it.

S - Pine cones, malty (caramel) sweetness at the front. Underneath I'm getting light citrus notes, mainly grapefruit, along with flora.

T - Wonderful initial hop bite that moves through the mid-palate with absolute ease. Hop oils and resin combine with more pine, caramel, honey, and malt grains. Backend is grapefruit zest and a reduced hop bite. Finish is quite dry - the hops really suck moisture out of the sides of my cheeks in this one. Lingering bitter aftertaste.

M - Thin-medium body. Quite smooth and even a bit creamy, which I find surprising. Carbonation is just fine.

D - I'm honestly surprised. A combination of midwest (Three Floyds) bias and the belief that Pliny might be overshadowed by newer DIPA entries left me expecting something not nearly as delectable as this. Pliny's hop character is considerably better than what I find in FFF Dreadnaught but Pliny doesn't achieve the same level of balance. Honestly, I'm not sure this bothers me. It is a great, great offering and finally, FINALLY, I can say I've tried a Russian River brew. :)

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

Big thanks to Thafatkid for this one.

Bottled on date of 10/14/2011

A: A beautiful golden color.

S: Tons of hops with fresh citrus and pine notes

T: Very hoppy with citrus and pine notes with a bitter finish.

M: Really enjoyable, this beer fresh is an absolute treat.

Overall: This is one of the highest rated beers in the world for a reason. This is a really balanced and drinkable beer that is really well executed.

Photo of Shagtastic
4.71/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Wow thanks to vissai for my first chance at pliny! From my new favorite russian river growler

A: Clear golden color, decent head off the bat, even with a weeks growler mail

S: Love the tropical fruity nose with this one. Awesome on the smell!

T: One of the best IPA's I've had. The hops are perfectly balanced and incredibly tasty on all counts.

M: even for an 8% this is insanely easy to drink.

O: I absolutely love this beer! I wish I had access to it because it would be a weekly beer for me. I totally recommend this to any hops fan. Grab it while you can!

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

500ml bottle poured into my Ovila goblet. Yet another Cali IPA from my parents Halloween package. Bottled on 10/14/11.

A- A very vibrant golden copper color, very very thin bone white head. Plenty of carbonation, doesnt look overdone though. Slightly hazy.

S- Extremely fresh citrusy, pineapple aromas. Smells sweet, grainy, piney, awesome aromas coming from this guy. Smells of tropical fruits, more sweet candy flavors. Fuggin awesome.

T- Perfectly balanced bitter hop flavors and malt sweetness. Piney citrus goodness followed by a sweet bitterness and goes to a lingering bitter fruity aftertaste. Excellent.

M- Slick and lively carbonation, easy drinking, very good.

O- I dont like buying into hype at all but this beer is excellent. Glad my dad sends me these on the reg.

Photo of Heatwave33
4.62/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 500ml bottle to a Dogfish Head Snifter. Thank you Bdige!

Color: Gold with a whitehead.

Smell: Sweet citrus, hops and earthy note.

Taste: Very hoppy, citrus and earth tones.

Mouthfeel: Great cabonation, smooth with a slight dry finish.

Overall: When I opened the bottle and started pouring the aroma blew me away. My mouth was watering like a St Bernard. The taste was sublime with the all the great hops and sweet citrus tones. All around phenomenal brew. Cheers!

Photo of ef88
4.69/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks to Guy Forget from Truckee for hooking this one up!

Poured 1-pint bottle into snifter.

A: 2-finger, white soapy head. Light amber color with consistent carbonation. Lacing sticks around for a bit.

S: Some fruit, citrus, cotton candy, and pine.

T: Most--oxymoron alert!--sessionable double IPA ever. Just try it.

M: Chewy with some nice mild carbonation at the end.

O: My only gripe with Imperial IPAs is that they're too aggressive. This one, however, is a great example of a more...down to earth (?)...Imperial. This beer smells great and tastes better.

**Hard to find, easy to drink: Only negative is that it's not available in Pittsburgh!**

Photo of HopsHopenstein
4.65/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Everything about this beer is Exceptional all the way down the line. The best IPA/DIPA that i have ever had.
The apperance is a clear golden color with perfect carbanation and head.
The smell hits you as soon as the seal is cracked on the cap. Its a beautiful arrangement of hops and grapefruit (almost tropical) with a very small amount of pine fragrance. No alcohol in the nose at all.
Taste is extremely hoppy but not overly bitter. As with the nose its a balance of citrus and hops with a great crisp finish. And for a beer with an 8.0% tag on it i dont taste or feel the alcohol.
Mouthfeel, very clean very crisp perfect carbantion.
Overall like i said in the beginning my favorite Ipa/Dipa i have had to date everything about this beer leaves me craving another. And given the fact that its extremely drinkable i can have a couple more. Everyone should try this beer at some point in there travels. It lives up to its hype.

Photo of mtschmitz
4.88/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Probably reiterating all of the other posts but a Benchmark DIPA for sure..

A) poured into a pint glass and fit to the very last drop. Great light amber color almost a green tea color characteristic of an IPA. Good head rests on top.

S) hops, hops, hops, citrusy hops. Great pine resin smell.

T) This is definitely a benchmark ipa/dipa. Very hoppy up front as you would expect. Very crisp and not over-the-top bitter. Lemongrass. Well-balanced finish.

M) Crisp without a sticky finish as you might expect from how hoppy this is.

O) It took me a while before I ran into this, even living in San Diego. I went into it knowing the surrounding hype. It did not let me down. While it's definitely a benchmark dipa it's one I will only have from time to time to savor :)

Photo of pattermj
4.62/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Decided maybe I should get into reviewing again so starting with a good one. Picked up 3 fresh ones on my trip back to the parents place.

Appearance: Golden clear with a strong presence of bubbles. Minimal head which is why it only got the 4.5

Smell: Great smell of fresh hops without being incredibly overpowering. No sense of alcohol.

Taste: Nice and hoppy, but I wish it had a little more complexity but a good flavor overall. Does not overwhelm the tongue and goes down smooth afterwards.

Mouthfeel: A little light on the carbonation but by no sense flat. A nice dryness to the mouth after finishing.

O- If we had more IPAs like this in the area I would be hard pressed to pick between RIS and IPAs. But as RISs can last longer I have to stick with them. Still nice to have again.

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

I have never been a fan of the insane IPAs brewed on the west coast (or anywhere for that matter), but this one is amazing.

Appearance was not even noticed due to the aroma tickling my nose as soon as I poured it out of the bottle. I wouldn't mind this as an air freshener for vehicles. Pine, grapefruit.

Smell...see appearance.

Taste- I can tell you what I don't like about other IPAs. I hate overly bitter (Listening Stone) IPAs; it is a sign you are working on the gimmick of being a strong flavorful beer. Toast would be more flavorful if burnt to a crisp...yes it would; but taste like crap. This has all the wonderful flavors of hops in an odd and precarious balance with the malt. Dry, bitter finish and mild lingering to refreshing in seconds...Magic. Drinks like a mild pale (INSANE).

mouth-feel- I don't like viscus corn syrupy IPAs (listening Hercules/ Dogfish head 90 min [60 is OK]). If I wanted cornstarch in my beer, I would by one with it. Surprisingly light for a DIPA.

Overall- Vinnie has destroyed the constraints of the DIPA. There is nothing like this anywhere. I do see however some striking differences in the reviews of the persons who got this on draft...I will have to go to the brewery to try it out and see.

Photo of ncketchum
4.97/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Served in a Sierra Nevada Imperial Pint glass

A = pours a golden yellow, good amount of carbonation, white one-finger head which dissipates, leaving a good amount of lacing

S = a heck of a nose, hops, grapefruit, botanicals, no alcohol. Pliny smells very good, I could sit and smell this one for awhile

T = hops, hops, hops. Intense complex bitterness without being overpowering, then citrus, only a hint of alcohol.

M = perfect, nice amount of carbonation, not thick and sticky like some other DIPAs, very clean.

D = outstanding. the combination of all the above make Pliny the Elder just a phenomenal beer. I could easily drink a couple of these in a sitting, I'd just be worried I'd run through my supply too quickly.
For the style, this is nearly perfect, certainly the gold standard for DIPAs as far as I'm concerned.

Photo of nandemo1
5/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured a crystal clear gold with a full finger of frothy white head that stuck around a while and left a lot of lacing. Carbonation bubbles continued long into the glass.

Smelled strongly of citrus, grapefruit and tangerines, as well as pine. Taste is pleasantly bitter with an extremely well balanced sweetness, includes some earthiness with that grapefruit twang.

Mouthfeel is in the light-medium range, kinda crisp but the flavor tends to hang around a bit.

Overall, yeah, it's that good.

Photo of beeragent
4.75/5  rDev +1.9%

Poured into a pint glass from a bottle.

A - Pours a medium orange/copper, forming a creamy white head with medium lace.

S - Strong hop, moregrapefruit than piney, aroma dominates the aroma.

T - The hops coat the palate with a strong citrusy profile, grapefruit, a bit of pine, but with a very nice malt backbone. No real sharp finish from the hops with the malt smoothing the finish.

M - Medium bodied with good carbonation.

O - Great aroma and flavor! Everything a strong IPA should be. I can see why this beer is so popular!

Photo of ectomorph
4.65/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks again to McCafferty for the trade.

A - Golden orange body, crystal clear, bright white head fades quickly leaving some small lace.

S - Pine sap, tangerine, and sweet apple hops. Very clean and appealing. Little in the way of malt is fine by me.

T - Awesome. True west coast hops attack. One thing I noticed here was the substantial bitterness is not at all harsh. It's is a more round bitterness that flows into the knock down hop flavor. Pine needles, oranges, tangerines. Fantastic. Zero alcohol warmth or presence makes this one dangerous for someone like me.

M - Nice and dry, hops in the aftertaste are sweet. Clears well and again the masking of the 8% ABV is astounding.

O - World class for a reason. There are other DIPA's that are perhaps stronger in 1 area or another, but this one remains king for overall impression.

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

Bottled on 10/4/11.

Golden yellow with a decent amount of head and great lacing. Floral, citrusy, sweet, grassy hops greet your nose. Pretty much nothing but hops, but very complex. i got a little bit of light grain as well, after a few sips.The taste buds are hit by soapy, bitter hops. Some sweet pale malt goes with the aggressive, but light hop taste. Bitter, pine hop flavor lingers. The feel of this beer is perfect. Wet, thin, perfectly drinkable. Easiest DIPA I've had to date.

What more can be said about Pliny? It made DIPAs drinkable and was the first IPA I had that I thought I could introduce my wife to, who, at the time, hated hoppy beers. The complexity cannot be overstated, especially for a beer style that is known for just kicking you in the face. The guys at RR know what the hell they're doing with this beer, being delicate but still saying something strong and loud at the same time.

Photo of ebrauser
4.64/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled one month prior to drinking (9/21/11 to 8/22/11)
Note: I did my best to judge this vs. the style as I am aware that this is one of the most popular and highly rated DIPAs around.

Appearance: Pours a huge, resistant head of cream colored foam on top of a light, straw-gold body. This seems a little light of a color for this style. Clarity is a shade less than brilliant.

Aroma: Sweet, fresh hop oils, sweet cream, and some pine and citrus, though neither of those play anything more than second-fiddle.

Flavor: Strong pine with touches of lemon. The bitterness and hop profile is very large, as an american DIPA should be, though it is balanced sublimely by a subtle malt force that acts just enough as a dampening factor to keep the hops from accelerating beyond control. Alcohol is noted in the far finish.

MF: Perfectly fits the style. Drinkable, likable, not sweet or syrupy. This is a drinking, not sipping beer.

Photo of Chris585
4.77/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured into pint glass after I made sure the temp was right.

Light color, great lacing and HUGE pineapple nose with pine and malt in good cadence. Seemed like each quaff was different and enjoyable. CHEWY. The sharpness up front was spot on for the style and seemed like the normal DIPA for me, but the END was subtle and even more enjoyable...I think this is where the drinkability comes in to play as all the other reviews have stated. The alcohol burn was noticeable for me, but blended quite well with the malt and hops in this. TOTAL EQUILIBRIUM.

I waited awhile to get this from the west coast. Sent to me from my brother who was there a week ago and ended up having to send to me from Philadelphia. Not sure if during that time the profile had changed, but I think I got the main components of the brew. The appearance was normal for the style, the nose was excellent, and taste was sharp up front and subtle in the end, which keeps you wanting more.

At this point in my quest to find my favorite DIPA, this ranks right up there. There are many that have better taste profile, but drinkability and aftertaste quality of this beer is exceptional.

Photo of duffcalifornia
4.68/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from a bottle dated 8/18/11 into a Duvel tulip.

A: Giving the bottle a generous and vigorous pour, I got about 2/3 of the bottle into the tulip before the gorgeous head threatened to spill over. There's at least 2" of thick fluffy head that fades slowly and provides amazing lacing. Beer is a slightly hazy golden amber. Could not ask for a better looking DIPA.

S: Smelled primarily of citrus hops, hops, and then more hops. Perhaps a bit of herbal tones as well, and just the hint of malt underneath the mountain of hops. I knew this was supposed to be wearing the crown for hopheads, and now I understand why.

T: Perhaps this is due to the fact that this beer is sixty days olf - "the hops fade in hour 23" jokes aside - but I find this has more dominant malt backbone than I had anticipated. Obviously floral and citrus qualities abound here and are the primary flavors, but there's a certain breadiness that hits on the finish which is not unwelcome. If the hops have faded in this at all, I'm almost afraid to know what they tasted like fresh.

M: Pliny feels appropriate carbonated and medium in it's feel down the tongue. Doesn't coat the tongue quite as much as this RIS lover might like, but that's inherent in the style. Can't fault RR for that here.

O: Despite not having them at the same time, I'm inclined to say that Hopslam is my favorite DIPA due to the huge citrus tastes and the hints of honey. However, given that this is a year round brew and a very fairly priced one at that, this receives top notches. I can't think of a better year round beer for the hophead among us. Now if it was only distributed out of California!

Thanks to furthurgone for this in trade!

Photo of DCon
4.58/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Received a 1 PINT .90 FL.OZ. (500 ML) bottle of this from mdvatab in a trade. Poured from the Forest Green bottle with Pliny the Elder labeled in a Red Circle & is bordered w/ sayings like "PLINY IS A HISTORICAL FIGURE, DON'T MAKE THE BEER INSIDE THIS BOTTLE ONE", "CONSUME PLINY FRESH OR NOT AT ALL!", & many more into my 0,4l New Belgium Oversized Snifter Glass. Has BOTTLED ON: 071911 on the side in a box & enjoyed during Game 1 of the World Series- STL vs. TX. Go Cards!

Aroma- A very strong citrus aroma starts it off with TONS of hop character. Has a grassy aroma as well but more in the background. A bit of fruit and alcohol are also found. Not the same as the aroma I had on-tap but definitely reminds me of how Pliny was this summer in CA.

Appearance- Pours a 2 finger head that lasts for a great amount of time. Has a nice golden colored body that is clear. The lacing is made up of suds but its very big on the glass.

Flavor- Grapefruit flavor and strong hops make up this brew. Seems like very rare hops are used because the taste is very rare! Citrusy and a bit of booziness but not too overpowering. Perfect finish, medium-full on the bitterness.

Mouthfeel- Medium-Full Bodied, Medium Carbonation, Smooth, and has a nice alcohol warming with hops mixed in.

Overall Impression- Thanks again Mark! This is one of my favorite IPA's once again (go figure). I did enjoy it more on-tap back this summer and this may have been due to how fresh it was @ Naja's Place. Either way, get your hands on this one! Perfect grapefruit and citrus taste.

Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 11,844 ratings.