1. American Craft Beer Fest returns to Boston on May 29 & 30, featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers. Tickets are on sale now.

Pliny The Elder - Russian River Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder

Educational use only; do not reuse.

11,665 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 11,665
Reviews: 3,308
rAvg: 4.66
pDev: 7.94%
Wants: 5,586
Gots: 2,315 | FT: 74
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
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Pliny The Elder Alström Bros
Ratings: 11,665 | Reviews: 3,308 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of WillCarrera
4.67/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

EDIT: Drinking this again, from a 16oz bottle into a pint glass, bottled on 03/14/13, drank 5 days later, awesome.

A- From a bottle into a pint glass. Pours a gorgeous honey golden color with slight haze. Comes with a huge, fluffy, sticky white head. Leaves awesome lacing.

S- Perfect. The smell leaps out of the glass at you. It's a great blend of honey, piney and floral hops and a huge dose of delicious tropical citrus (pineapple and orange).

T- Loads of hops that have everything from grapefruit and tropical fruits to pine resin and honey. The malts are sweet and provide enough substance to balance the hops nicely. The finish is long, dry, and filled with hops and lingering citrus. The alcohol is only slightly apparent.

M- Medium carbonation, medium body, makes for a silky smooth, creamy feel with a dry finish.

O- One of the best IPAs around, has great hop character and balance, I never get tired of this beer.

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

Bottled on 06-03-11, drank on 06-18-11.

Bottle poured into big snifter. Pours a deep colorful golden color with nice frothy off white head that leaves some sexy lacing on the glass throughout.

Smells so good! Of spicy citrus hops and tropical fruits. Who said hops arent a drug?!?! This is king of all DIPA/IPAs in regard to aroma, in my humble opinion.

Taste is a little tang sweet upfront with the tropical fruits coming through very nice & smooth. Wow! This is one tasty beer. I was expecting a tad more hops & thickness. For a DIPA, this one is really light and not so hoppy. Its just right for being on the tropical side. Everything blends together nicely. In the aftertaste, the hop bite can be found - but it isnt a Hercules of a bite.

Purchased this one through a vendor who shipped to FL. Got 2 bottles of PtE + a bottle of Supplication for $38 (including shipping).

I dont think I will be getting this on the regular since it is really expensive to get shipped out here. I will most likely get a few bottles every year or twice a year.

Overall, absolutely delicious brew. Stellar DIPA! Tropical, hoppy, light, sweet, mildly bitter. What more can you ask for from an IPA?

Photo of d4114
4.83/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bottled on 5/4/11 Opened on 6/4/11

A- Golden yellow orange with 2 fingers of slightly off white head. Awesome looking beer.

S- Full of pine and grapefruit; Always a great smelling beer.

T- Big pine on the taste and lots of citrus; You are left with a good amount of bitterness so its not too dry but very refreshing. No alcohol at all, super smooth drinking.

M- Light-Medium; Really smooth and creamy but doesn't get that wateriness that some other beers get from being the soft.

O- Awesome double IPA. I feel this beer has gotten a little too hyped but this is seriously one of the most smooth and well balanced IPA's you can get and everyone should try it.

Photo of calebroberts811
4.92/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I got it. That's all I have to say. Here's what I think.

Bottled: 5-4-2011

A - Gorgeous, tight white bubbles. Great carbonation. Finger-finger and half head with a lot of perseverance. Golden straw, honey, yellow color.

S - Mango/papaya explosion. Pine needles, white flowers, shortbread, honey.

T - That same tropical fruit blast accompanied with almost perfect balance of piney hop bitterness. I'm running out of words. Bready fruity esters on the back end. Smooth as hell. No booze burn despite the 8% ABV.

M - Medium body as the beer just keeps having a dance party up in there.

O - Blessed be. The almighty Pliny has spoken and he deserves the hype.

Photo of DavoleBomb
4.44/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at Toronado, SF. Poured into a pint glass.

3.5 A: Light to moderately hazed light orange color. Arrived with just a tiny bit of head which resulted in just a tiny bit of lacing.

4.5 S: Pliny is extra piney on-tap. Grapefruit and super flowery. From a bottle is good, but fresh on-tap is better.

4.5 T: My friend once drank one of my Pliny bottles that I got in a trade and said, "This is how beer should taste." I'm tempted to agree. Lots of pine, grapefruit, and whatever the taste equivalent of flowery aroma is. Moderate bitterness. Malts are, for the most part, completely hidden, which is fine with me.

4.5 M: Lighter medium body. Good moderate carbonation. Good creaminess and super smooth.

4.5 D: Great beer that is better on-tap.

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

Poured from a bottle into a teardrop beer glass. Bottled on 05/26/11.

A - A hazy golden orange with a bubbly white head.

S - Lovely grapefruit and citrus hop aroma. It has a sweet tinge to it that reminds me of honey. Great smelling beer, I sat and smelled it for a few minutes before even sipping it. A smell to savor.

T - Citrus hop flavor with a nice malt backbone to smooth the bitter taste. Great hop profile and well balanced taste make this incredibly tasty. Complex as well with the bitter hops giving way to the smooth citrus that lingers well after the beer is gone. As the beer warms, and more sips are taken, the hops just bombard and take over. But it is such a delicious hop profile of bitter and sweet, that I'm ok losing this war of attrition.

M - First thing I thought of honestly was silky for an DIPA. The hops bite but the mouth is oddly smoothed after it all and left with nice soft mouthfeel. After a while, the hops begin to win and cause fatigue, but the soothing mouthfeel after the first few sips was unique.

O - An incredible DIPA. It takes the beautiful citrus hop flavors well known in west coast IPAs and creates a complex, balanced, and complete IIPA worthy of its ranking. From first hit of the lips to moments after you swallow, this beer does not disappoint.

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

there are many beers on beeradvocate and ratebeer that end up with an A+ out of superhype and super limited availability. this isn't one. not only is it not super limited in washington, but the superhype is justified. it is absolutely the perfect double IPA. it doesn't even stand out - there's not really anything i can say jumps out at you - it's just what every double IPA aspires to be.

Photo of fox227
4.92/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Here's the most important part the review: Bottled on 6-3-11, consumed on 6-15-11. This would make this Pliny in its absolute prime. A month old Pliny is in the shadow of two week old Pliny. It's not even in the same league.

A: Dark Golden color, creamy head that quickly falls, at least in my tulip glass. The lacing is attractive, however.

S: The massive fruit profile of the smell is incredible: pineapple, peach, apricot, citrus - the whole gamut of pleasing hoppy smells are present here.

T: taste follows the nose, and finishes with a bit of warm alcohol. This is what is so unfortunate about month old Pliny: much of the above flavor becomes subdued but the heat remains. Fresh, however, and it's a fruity explosion of massive IPA flavor. Something should be said for balance, as it's not aggressively hoppy at all, so those who fear excessive hops need not worry when buying this world class brew.

M: Carbonation is medium/high - just right. The head is somewhat creamy, and offers a smooth balance to the ever present bubbles. A delicate experience.

O: If you don't like super fresh Pliny, then you might want to start drinking something other than beer. Be sure to check the dates, as this beer fades considerably at around the month old mark. But for those most part, the beer sells out quickly enough that freshness won't be a problem. Happy drinking!

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

bottle to tulip

A: a clear gold, thick 1" head that quickly disolved, sticky lacing.

S: Grapefruit, pine, sap, and candy.

T: Hops, then a little sweetness, faint candy taste. Long hoppy finish on the tounge.

M: Lingering oily feel, dry finish.

O: Maybe not as fresh as it should be(5/4). Not as dynamic has I remember while drinking draft pliney. Still really good, next time I'll find a fresher one.

Photo of doughanson78
4.8/5  rDev +3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

500ml bottle poured into a snifter. Bottled on: 5/24/2011 Exactly 3 weeks old.

A: Beautiful golden color with a very faint haziness. Fluffy 1 and a half finger head, very slightly off white. Big bubbles throughout the head. Lacing like you wouldn't believe.

S: Immediate huge hop aroma. Sweet apples. Oranges. Pineapple. Lots of other citrus aromas mixed in. All topped off with a very fresh pine tree scent. Just enough sweet caramel malts coming through.

T: Very sweet caramel right on the tip of the tongue. Mostly piney hop flavor throughout the rest of the mouth. Hop bitterness is not overpowering at all. An almost perfect blend of hops and malts. Finishes super dry with all the fruity flavors converging together for just a second or two. Then it's gone. DAMN! Another drink.

M: Great feel. How the caramel sweetness wraps the tip of your tongue making the fruity piney hops run and fight for the rest of your mouth. It all lingers for a few and disappears in a flash. First beer where I've really experienced the Dry Finish. You actually feel your mouth dry back out.

O: I had figured that this beer was way over hyped (probably like a lot of us did). This beer blew me away. I was expecting some huge bitter hop explosion. But the beer focuses on the hop flavors and doesn't destroy your palette. You get all the distinct aromas and flavors out of this beer. They make sure you don't miss a thing.

Photo of misterhops
4.25/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Big thanks to trodersark for this one! Bottled on 5/26/2011 and poured into a snifter.

A- beautiful, hazy orange color with a pillow soft 1.5 finger head. looks like fluffy clouds outside the airplane window, and makes you want to jump right in!

S- sweet, sweet hops! a nice bit of pine in there as well. i can tell im gonna like this one!

T- simple, yet complex. grapefruit, pine, and just a little bit of sweetness. not nearly as sweet as i expected from the smell. very nice caramel malt finish with a bittersweet ending on the tongue. the taste is good, but the finish is world class.

M- LOTS of carbonation from start to end. crisp and incredibly refreshing. not "sticky" like a lot of DIPAs tend to be.

O- I really enjoyed this beer and can now understand the hype. would love to have this again while sitting on the patio on a hot summer day.

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

Pliny the Elder: Botted 5/04/11 Consumed 5/23/11

Review #200!!!

Finally able to try this beast thanks to armock. Thanks again for the extra!

When poured, Pliny appears translucent orange and looks very clean. A golden amber butte settles perfect with a fingers worth of white head. Webby lacing clings randomly.throughout the glass.

The nose is very fresh, crisp, and inviting. The hop offerings are so fresh smelling and very bold. Citrus and pine are balanced quite nicely.

The taste says it all. The fresh hops are present, offering some grapefruit and lemon zest. A crisp bitterness means business. Balanced with the hops lies a sweet caramel candy taste. Exquisite. There is a light bready malt characteristic lingering in the finish which is nice.

The mouthfeel is very fluffy and smooth. A moderate amount of carbonation ties it up, melding the flavors throughout the palate.

Overall, this is one that lives up to the hype. Pliny achieves balance throughout and it's incredibely drinkable. Soooo damn tasty.

Photo of Beejay
4.33/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Much thanks to dubinsky for getting me a brew I've been waiting to try for quite while.

A: A beautiful golden brown hue, clear with a very nice off white head. Very nice.

S: Big pine scents come out first. Some citrus notes, mostly grapefruit. There is a very nice sweetness to this. Like hot melty caramel.

T: Carmel notes follow from the smell. Followed by grapefruit, pine, and a solid bitterness. The finish has nice toasty notes and a bready finish with lingering bitterness. A very clean finish, very well balanced, and quite dangerously easy drinking.

M: Medium light in body, carbonation is nice. There is a good bit of lingering bitterness to tingle your tongue. There is a nice dryness to it.

O: Overall a damn fine brew. Perhaps a touch overhyped, but still a top notch beer to be sure.

Bottled 5/24/11

Photo of justintcoons
4.38/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours golden with an amber hue with one finger of head that dissipates slowly. Low carbonation.

N: Orange, lemon, apricot, fruity pebbles and caramel.

T: Pine, navel orange, lemon zest, papaya, grapefruit, hints of apricot, pineapple and floral notes backed by a sugary caramel backbone.

M: Full, almost chewy, dry, crisp and clean.

O: Very nicely balanced DIPA. Nice caramel sweetness and bitter citrus with hints of tropical fruits. This is very delicious but I expected more from it. Doesn't live up to the hype IMO.

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

I was lucky enough to get my hands on a Pliny, and I have to say I was a little skeptical. Is this beer worth the hype, or is it hyped because it's so hard to get?

I'll skip the details, since they've been covered in other reviews.

Suffice it to say, this is that rare creature that not only lives up to the hype, it exceeds it. Usually, even the best brews give hints to their make-up; how they're created. Pliny is a mystery. It defies explanation. Somehow it manages to be terribly complex and stunningly simple all at once. Truly magical.

To those of you not lucky enough to live where you can readily get a Pliny, I will say this: whatever trouble you need to go through to try it, it will be worth it.

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

When you pour this beer, you will note the nice golden color.

The nose of this beer is quite complex and very pleasant.

Other than nose, the most striking feature of this beer is the way this beer starts our bitter when it first hit your tongue and finishes pleasantly dry.

I love IPA's, and this is the best of the bunch!

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

I can see why this is the Imperial IPA that many a beer aficionado thinks of when discussing world class offerings in this style. Golden orange in color, Pliny The Elder has big notes of grapefruit up front, highlighting the array of citrusy hops. The hoppiness is complimented by roasted malt and caramel with a crisp, clean finish. It never fails to amaze me how this ale can have such a sizable hoppy presence, yet be so surprisingly smooth to drink.

Photo of SuperStory
4.42/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Even though this beer needs no further reviews or introductions, since I got a hold of a couple I wanted to represent for the East Coast:

A: Pours a clear golden color without the slightest bit of haze.

S: The smell was the first characteristic that really struck me. Very vibrant, pine and citrus unlike any Imperial IPA that I have experienced.

T: Mild compared to some other top Imperial IPA's but not in a bad way. Extremely complex to the point that each sip brought forth a new twist. Much more piney than citrus to the taste but balanced so that both tastes are noticeable.

M: Very thin and refreshing with some body to let you know it's not a fizzy yellow offering.

O: I wouldn't say that it exceeded my expectations since it's top 5 on the planet according to BA. Very nice all around Imperial but not for those that are looking to get knocked out by hops!

Photo of Airyk12
4.42/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours an amber color with a foamy/soapy white head that leaves plenty of lacing all over the glass.

Smells like pine and some citrus; a little sweetness. Some spices and more fruit.

Taste is of strong hops, with a little fruit and some maltiness attempting to bring a backbone. Strong pine and lots of grapefruit bringing the bitterness. A hint of caramel helps to balance this out a wee bit.

Smooth, creamy, and way less alcohol flavor than the 8% might indicate. Very drinkable. Medium body and good carbonation.

Color me impressed; definitely not my favorite DIPA, but for the price and "rare factor" it is good. I went into it thinking it would be disappointing, and it wasn't entirely. Still, not the over the top amazing beer I was expecting, but great nonetheless.

Photo of Rifugium
4.42/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

First had: on tap at Monk's, Philly, PA

This was really good, as the hype would indicate. But I gotta say, Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA is every bit as good. (Actually better.) Uncommon a few years ago on the east coast, this beer is almost always on tap somewhere in the Philly area if you know where to look.

Pours a golden orange with a fluffy white head that laces well. Great floral aroma, rich with piney hops and citrus. The taste starts out biscuity and crisp with sweet, pale malts. The hop bitterness comes in quickly and takes over, overlaid with flavors of lemon zest, pine, grapefruit, meadow grass and flowers. Medium mouthfeel, finishes crisp and dry. Highly drinkable, and highly recommended if you can find it.

Photo of HikerCT
4.31/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I received this beer from lisomiso in Urbancaver's NOOB BIF.

1 pint bottle poured into my imperial pint glass.

This is the second Russian River I've had and so far I've been very impressed with the clarity of both beers (the other was the Blind Pig). Really remarkable clarity.

Had a good head on it that lasted for quit a while. But was a bit rocky/chunky as it fell.

In terms of IPAs, I think this was much more balanced than Russian River's Blind Pig. I can taste more malt in this beer and I dare say it's not as bitter as Blind Pig.

Initially, I'd say this beer finishes dry. But the more I drink it, the more it's developing a sweet sort of finish. This is a well balanced IPA. It's got both the malt and the hops!

Now the elephant in the room: This beer is currently ranked in the top 3 beers on BA. Does it stand up to that rating? I'm not sure. It's a good beer and I definitely like it. I'd buy this in a bar. I think it's a solid example of an IPA. In terms of hoppiness, I'd say it doesn't really approach Dogfish's 120 Minute IPA. But this is still a great IPA, one that I'd buy again. Lucky for me, lisomiso was kind enough to send me two bottles, so I've got one more to enjoy! Looking forward to it!

Overall, a really well balanced IPA. I could sit and drink this all day long.

Photo of tripelhops
4/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I just got a 2+ week old bottle from Eric W in California, and poured it into a tulip glass.
A - solid 2 fingers of head, clinged to the sides as it faded down
S - wonderful citrus & grapefruit aroma
T - sweet malt followed by bitterness, but nothing really strong is standing out for me
M - great carbonation, very filling in the mouth
O - maybe due to all the hype around this beer I was expecting a bunch more, and while I think it does a greta job of being balanced, maybe even perfectly so, for me there's a few others I would prefer to drink, evne if they are not as balanced or smooth. I know it's against the grain, but that's my opinion on it. Solid, would get it if I'm someplace that has it, but won't go out of way to trade for it again.

Photo of IPhantom
4.18/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Nothing but good things to say about this one. Great color, amazingly light, crisp feel. A lot of balance to the herbal/citrus hops, more of an exotic (yuzu?) tang to them than the more familiar pine/grapefruit notes. Nice maltiness that doesn't at all get in the way of the finish. Just a beautiful beer overall.

Photo of DarthKostrizer
3.06/5  rDev -34.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Look: Beer pours a nice copper color with visible amounts of carbonation bubbles and a half inch think head and a tad bit of lacing

Smell: The beer smells like someone crushed up dandelions in their sweaty palms

Taste: The beer actually goes down really smooth without alot of bitterness which is nice. That being said it taste like I took a bite of an orange tree branch

Mouthfeel: Medium body and a tad bit dry and grainy kinda like i chewed on some hop flowers

Overall: Not quite sure why this beer is rated so highly to be honest. If you have never had this beer before try it and then make sure and give it an A+ rating that it does not deserve

Photo of Roke87
4.8/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

500 mL bottle, chilled and poured into a Duvel tulip.
Bottled on date: April.28.2011
Thanks to evilinc for hooking this one up!

Appearance- Pours a clear golden amber colour with a big fluffy two fingers of white head that takes a long, long time to reside to a very thick top of foam and a nice bubbly ring around the glass leaving lots of lacing throughout till finish.

Smell- From the second I opened the bottle I got a strong whiff of grapefruit. Upon pouring it into the tulip it does have a very strong grapefruit aroma, lots of resiny pine smells, and lots of citrusy fruity hops in there as well, I also get a small smell of sweetness thrown in there.

Taste- Exactly what a DIPA should be, very strong and crisp citrusy grapefruit tasting hop flavours right off the bat paired with that resiny pine taste, finishes with a well-balanced malt flavour and almost sweet as well, I just can’t put my finger on exactly what it is that is giving this one that sweet aroma and taste as well.

Mouthfeel- Light to medium bodied with more than above average carbonation, this is one smooth and crisp, easy drinking DIPA and hides the higher ABV very well, not overly bitter either for such a hopped up beer.

Overall- Wow what an amazing DIPA, although it does remind me of other east coast DIPA’s that I have tried before, I do understand why it has such a big hype, this beer is simply outstanding. I wish I had regular access to this one as my fridge would probably be full of it. Great aromas right away once the bottle is opened to the great balanced tastes throughout. ISO: More pliny.

Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 11,665 ratings.