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Pliny The Elder - Russian River Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

10,861 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 10,861
Reviews: 3,198
rAvg: 4.65
pDev: 8.6%
Wants: 5,017
Gots: 1,897 | FT: 63
Brewed by:
Russian River Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial IPA |  8.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 08-24-2003)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 10,861 | Reviews: 3,198 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of SiepJones
5/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I sought this beer out and received it in my first trade. Served from a bottle into my snifter.

Appearance of golden liquid in the glass topped of with an inch and a half of fluffy, bubbly head. This beer is very opaque. There is a small amount of bubbles rise through this beer. The head sticks to glass as it dissipates, forming what look like clouds in the sky.

Taking a whiff from the glass yields a powerful smell of sweet citrus hop with a piney finish.

After having a sip I notice a lemon/citrus hop flavor on the front end which transforms into a grassy/earthy finish upon swallowing.

The feel of this beer is soft on the tongue and gums, while slightly slick when moved around the mouth. I also felt a light tingle or carbonation on my tongue as I swallowed.

This beer lived up to the hype as it was very drinkable. 8% seems low for this beer as you can hardly taste any alcohol. The mouthfeel is soft and the combination of scent and flavor keep you wanting more. I enjoyed this beer so much I finished my first glass before I finished this review.

SiepJones, Mar 13, 2010
Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.22/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottled on - 011410.

Appearance: Pours out a clear, brilliant, pale gold body with a sudsy, enduring, white head.

Smell: Quite a vibrant nose with many a perfumy aromatic - expressive notes of fresh florals, citrus oils, resinous pine, and even peaches fill the air.

Taste: Starts with a simple introduction of extra pale malts with some cracker tones to it and a relatively light sweetness. Flavors of oily lemon peelings, pine needles swimming in sap, meadow flowers, white grapefruit, and even white peaches usher in a bold bitterness. Picks up some spicy accents on the back end. As one would expect, it finishes dry and bitter with a lingering resinous quality.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation. Has a slight oily slickness to the mouthfeel.

Drinkability: After well over a thousand reviews, I'm not sure what there is left to be said. PtE is a stalwart of the style. Drinks with comparative ease considering the bold bitterness and staunch dryness, with almost no notice of the alcohol presence.

ChainGangGuy, Mar 12, 2010
Photo of sanjosey19
5/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Those that have already tried Pliny the Elder understand why there's a big A+ at the top of the page. Those that haven't, let me summarize all the reviews you will read: Pliny the Elder is very very good. Like hops? Try it. Now. Don't want a "bitter" beer that fills you up? Grow a pair, and then try it. You'd be short changing yourself if you didn't.

A - Amber, almost orangey color. Very good head retention and good lacing make it an obvious DIPA. Even the head is a bit orange.

S - Excellent, citrus, tangerines, grapefruit, the floral hop aroma dominates.

T - Very closely resembles the aroma, but with extremely well balanced malt characteristics. Sometimes I can even pick out a slightly roasted malty flavor. I like to call it a peanut buttery flavor, but no one I've mentioned this to seems to agree with me, but whatever. I am a bona fide hop head, so this beer is a dream for me. Some people might find the IBU's to be a little much, but I find that the hops are so perfectly balanced that I can pick out two or three different hop flavors.

M - I love the DIPA's because the higher levels of alcohol tend to subdue excessive carbonation, and develop a very smooth, silky mouthfeel.

D - Weighing in at 8%, I doubt I would ever risk drinking two of these for fear of not being able to enjoy all the flavors Pliny has to offer. The first thing I noticed about Pliny was how easy it is to drink. Of course, "drinkablilty" is extremely subjective.

In conclusion, if I could only drink one beer for the rest of my life it would be an easy choice, Pliny the Elder...that is until I get to try Pliny the Younger.

sanjosey19, Mar 12, 2010
Photo of samie85
4.35/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Originally reviewed 2/27/10. Consumed at Falling Rock Tap House.

A-Pours a crystal clear, golden amber with a white head.

S-Piney and grapefruit hops dominate the nose.

T-Dry, bitter grapefruit with a really mild, subdued finish.

M-Really smooth, medium bodied with low carbonation. There's a lasting dryness that lingers in the back of your mouth begging you to drink more.

D-I was surprised at how easy drinking this was. It wasn't the best beer I've ever had, but it was a ridiculously easy-drinking, very well-made beer.

samie85, Mar 12, 2010
Photo of m1ked
4.83/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Back in SD briefly, trying to soak in the sun & beer goodness. Picked up a bottle at an unassuming yet well stocked Jimbo's Liquor in Clairemont.

A- pours a slightly hazy amber golden straw yellow with a perfect white foam cap. Mild lacing on the sides.

S- man the aroma on this guy is hard not to notice. I get abundant pineapple, tropicical fruits, some pine at the end. Smells awesome.

T-Starts off more pine forward but certainly contains the pineapple ans tropical notes with a nice malty thread throughout that holds it together nicely. Lingering tropical fruits .

M- Medium bodied with crisp yet non distracting carbonation.

D- This is my mental measuring stick for IPA's from here on out. Top notch. So glad to have stumbled on this.

m1ked, Mar 12, 2010
Photo of hayesez
4.55/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to bricktop for including this in a recent trade. I've had PtE several times now and figured it is about time to toss up a ranking.

Poured into a standard pint glass. Pours a deep hazy bee yellow with a frothy two finger-head. This remains throughout the entire drink and leaves an impressive condensed lace throughout the depth of the glass. A very impressive looking beer.

I love the nose on the Elder. For my money, it is right up there with Hopslam and Pliny the Younger...some of the best smelling beers out there. A very citrusy hoppy beer. Some very sweet smelling citrusy fruits with the strong kick straight from Vinnie's boot. A piney touch one would expect from the extensive hops dumped into it to complement a modest floral component. This beer has it all!

The taste of the Elder follows suit with the nose. Very citrusy, hoppy fruits. A wonderful sweet finish that slowly transforms to a lingering bitterness. The best part about this is that you can dig your tongue into the corners of your mouth and pull up some more sweetness...only to see it morph into that hoppy bitterness - and let me tell you the bitter is in your face, and fantastic.

The mouthfeel of Pliny the Elder is one of the few areas that are lacking just a bit. It's tough when you compare to its closest kin, the Younger, as the latter laps the field in this department. The elder is still impressive with a smooth, medium-bodied, well carbonated feel.

I will say that this (as well as many of this style) does not do well with aging. While I'm not going to sit here and tell you that I personally could distinguish between fresh and 2-month PtE (although I would hope I could...), I'm sure there are those that would nail it every time. That being said, I would certainly not review this beer unless you had one bottled in the past month or so. This is a beer that bases its fame on freshness...humor it.

Overall a damn fine beer. It's a shame that the only times I get to drink it are when I travel west or when I have a fellow trader who is gracious enough to toss one in as en extra - this beer could be my wingman anytime.

Consumed: 3/10/2010

hayesez, Mar 11, 2010
Photo of Patrick999
4.97/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into a DFH glass. Perfect apricot color, thick creamy head. Decent retention, not much lacing though.

Apricot, mango, peach hop aroma - so freaking good, and this is probably a couple months old now.

Perfectly balanced, juicy DIPA with tropical fruit character, passionfruit and mango, along with some apricot. Yeah, it's hoppy, but it's not hoppy for the sake of hoppy, there's artistry here. Little to no alcohol noted. I really do think this is a better beer than Younger.

Feel is resiny and a little creamy. Extremely well done.

Drinkability very high for a DIPA. I'd take this over Younger anytime.

Patrick999, Mar 11, 2010
Photo of mpensworth
4.93/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Awesome, awesome, awesome...

A: Light golden amber, perfect head.

S: Amazing hop smell, tons and tons of citrus and pine.

T: So much hop profile it's crazy. Good on the bitterness, what a West Coast IPA should taste like, fresh.

M: Excellent carbonation on this one, love the way it pops on my palate.

D: Perfect addition to any meal, you could easily spend the night only drinking this beer and go to bed, and wake up the next day, with a huge smile on your face.

I would swim in this beer, brush my teeth with it, clean my dishes with it... love how the bottle says "drink it fresh! don't age!" Damn right, drink fresh and often...

mpensworth, Mar 10, 2010
Photo of AutumnTwilight
4.28/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Barbara's At The Brewery, Downtown Los Angeles

Appearance: Bright orange see-thru color with a touch of auburn, pale white head, tiny bubbles...

Smell: Faint hoppy aroma with a hint of funk, very subtle though

Taste: Fresh and hoppy with hints reminiscent of apricot, citrus, peaches and spice. Faint malts on the back end. Quite lovely...

Mouthfeel: Silken, medium/heavy body with the sort of thirst quenching quality that a lot of west coast IPA's give off. Very mild on the Co2 front

Drinkibility: Very good! Easy on the palate and goes great with food

AutumnTwilight, Mar 10, 2010
Photo of pwoody11
4.43/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I didn't plan on reviewing this beer as it was bottled on 11/30/09 and knowing that this beer is supposed to be consumed much sooner than 4 months after bottling, but I actually really enjoyed it as is.

With the reputation PTE has and the 1000+ reviews I'm not exactly sure if there is much for me to add. As expected with such a hop happy beer, scents of citrus and pine dominate the aroma.

I found it to be well balanced and, to me, not a hop head, didn't find the hops to be overpowering as some of the lower reviews would suggest. I'm sure this is because it has sat for 4 months.

Overall, I guess what I am saying is that as much as it is stressed to drink this beer as fresh as possible, IMO, waiting a few months certainly didn't hurt the beer. Can't wait to visit again fresher, but for now, I still found this to be a superb brew.

pwoody11, Mar 10, 2010
Photo of muttyd
4.47/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled on 02-08-10. Thanks abrand!

A - Deep copper with a thick white head that eventually settles to a thin ring. Murky, but consistent throughout.

S - Huge pine-hop / citrus peal aroma.

T - The strong hoppy backbone is balanced with a sweet caramel malt flavor with hints of citrus. Well balanced hop bite.

M - Sticky and wet with a dry hoppy finish.

D - While I do enjoy IPAs, I would never have considered them to be my favorite style. This beer may have changed all that. I wish I had more than just the one bottle.

muttyd, Mar 09, 2010
Photo of ThaBobfather
4.6/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very nice tangerine/copper color with well retained whitish head.
Smell is highly floral-earthy with solid citrus notes and some lightly malted notes.
Taste is very earthy with a solid malted taste.
Finish is very good-wet with a highly floral after-taste with the hops that lasts well.
Drinks very well here-the hop profile is complex but not overpowering-well natured.

As a note-a solid IPA-a very good one.

ThaBobfather, Mar 09, 2010
Photo of DosBeerigos
4.58/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

C. Slightly Hazy, but pretty clear
H. Yellow
N. Citrus Hops strong grapefruit

Comments taken from my blog

Ok, so I was lucky enough to find someone to trade a bottle of Winter Warmer Cigar City for this beer (Thanks Phoenix2443). It was a solid, actually REALLY solid IPA. Strong Grapefruit bitterness to this sexy bitch, with just a subtle amount of sweetness. The head was a perfect color white and pretty strong. Sadly, I think this beer is a bit over-hyped and I'm not really sure why. It is a great IPA, but it defiantly wasn't life changing. I highly recommend getting your hand on one of these just to say that you have tried it. This is a true Beer Geek Beer, hard to find, and popular. This is right up my alley of IPA's.

DosBeerigos, Mar 09, 2010
Photo of trbergman
4.53/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

500mL bottle poured into a cervoise. Bottled on 02-08-10. Thanks to babanate for the bottle.

A - Slightly hazy golden-orange beer crowned with two fingers of fluffy white head. Gorgeous lace.

S - Some caramel malt with candied orange peel, with plenty of pungent grapefruit and pine hop aromas.

T - Caramel malt, citrus, and a hints of pineapple and mango lend a suggestion of sweetness, but this beer is actually quite dry. Tons of grapefruit and pine hop flavor and pithy, puckering bitterness.

M - Medium body, appropriate carbonation.

D - I could drink quite a bit of this. Much better than the six-month-old bottle I've had previously, and yet it still feels like I'm missing something. I guess I'll have to take a trip to Russian River and sample this on tap. Don't get me wrong, this is a hell of a beer, but it really isn't *that* much better than more readily available (D)IPAs. Still, very much recommended if you can get it.

trbergman, Mar 09, 2010
Photo of abrand
4.7/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Ah my first ever PtE. Credit to JesseTheHutt for this amazing brew.

500 mL bottle with bottled on date of 2.8.2010 poured into a snifter.

The Elder pours a hazy pure orange color with a nice frothy head atop and good lacing along the glass. Aromas are dominated with great Cali hops. Lots of floral, citrus, and pines also round out the nose. The smell of this makes the mouth water. Quaff is biter hops and lots of grapefruit. Best tasting DIPA I've had, hands down. Mouthfeel is bitter but yet refreshing. Drinkability is of course extremely high. A hop lovers dream for sure.

abrand, Mar 09, 2010
Photo of degerbah
4.9/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a hazy golden yellow with about a half an inch of head. Tons of lacing around the edge of the glass. The hop aroma is huge, flowery, and mouthwatering. The taste is very flowery without a hint of alcohol at all. There is a slight aftertaste, but not anything offensive or overwhelming. The mouthfeel is a litle thick which is unsurprising given the alcohol content and big taste. Amazingly drinkable, probably the best IPA/DIPA I've ever had. I had to think long and hard abou giving a 4.5 or a 5 on taste, I decided to give Pliny the benefit of the doubt.

degerbah, Mar 09, 2010
Photo of GreenCard
4/5  rDev -14%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tried this at Belmont Station...

Appearance: gold, slight haze, lots of dense off-white foam that slowly dissipates to creamy clumps; lots of lace

Aroma: fresh wort and floral hops, alcohol

Flavor: medium malt sweetness with a throaty artichoke hop flavor; peppery alcohol and a hint of soap; fairly balance bitterness; finishes semi-dry

Mouthfeel: medium-full body, gentle carbonation, and alcohol warmth

GreenCard, Mar 08, 2010
Photo of awinkro
4.97/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

It's very difficult to be objective about beer, especially about one that is as good as Pliny the Elder.

The appearance is has a light copper tint to it. The head is about two fingers thick and leaves a soapy appearance after a few sips.

The smell of this brew is one of its best features. It has a floral, apricot, and grapefruit aroma to it that just tickles my noise hairs.

It has a nice level of carbonation that brings out the bitterness of the hops, however it's not over abundant and gets you excited about the next sip. There is obvious notes of grapefruit and citrus in the flavor, but it doesn't leave you parched. I'm amazed that it's a DIPA, because it doesn't have the malty/alcohol presence that some DIPA have.

The carbonation has a nice sugar presence to it which makes it refreshing.

Drinkability: Everyday if I could. I live in Texas and sadly they RR does not distribute out here. The hops don't destroy your palate like some DIPA do. The hops dissipate rather quickly which leads me take sip after sip. Those of you in Santa Rosa are very lucky.

awinkro, Mar 06, 2010
Photo of AleWatcher
4.47/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Got this in a trade with Sideswipe.

Bottle poured into pint glass.

Looks pretty good. Lighter in color than some dark apricot colored ones... Maybe a dark gold with 2 fingers of head and sticky lacing. I see some sediments too.

Smells of grapefruit and a little pineapple? Never smelled pineapple in a DIPA, but it works nicely. Also smells fresh, grassy, and a little piney. Not noticing a whole lot of malt, but there are hints of some sweet maltiness shining through.

Taste is fresh grapefruit and citrus. Even a bit of orange/lemon. A little pine towards the back of the throat, but finishes malty then citrus. Very refreshing and clean finish.

This is just right on mouthfeel. Sometimes you get
that piney feel that coats your throat, but not here. Carbonation level helps this one smoothly down my throat... And the clean finish makes it even more enjoyable.

If I could get this one all the time, I would certainly drink it regularily. If you can get it, drink it. If you can't, trade for it. It really is very nice. It deserves its high level of praise.

AleWatcher, Mar 04, 2010
Photo of prg1976
4.65/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a dark copper color with a small white head. Good retention and lacing.

Smells piney with a little citrus but not overpowering.

Tastes fantastic. Lots of hops, pine, orange, quite bitter.

Mouthfeel is great. Not overly carbonated. Slight aftertaste of the bitter hops, but it's not a bad aftertaste.

Very drinkable. I could easily drink this all night.

Overall, I'd say it lives up to the hype. Excellent beer.

prg1976, Mar 04, 2010
Photo of Kelp
4.63/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours forth a beautiful dark golden color. has a nice head to it with decent lacing left in the glass.

Smells like citrus and hops mainly. A bit of pine and floralness finish the nose.

This is what an IPA of an sorts should taste like. I get the hops right up front like a smack to the face, so good. Very little bitterness to it and almost no grapefruit after taste. Just slight notes of pine and citrus left on the tongue. Extremely clean all around.

Very smooth and velvety. A decent body to it and just the right carbonation to me.

I so wanted another of these. Not my favorite type of beers, but i could have definitely enjoyed a few more of these.

Kelp, Mar 04, 2010
Photo of somabeer
4.6/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a bottle

A lite golden color with nice off white head, decent lacing. The beer smells nice and hoppy with some citrus overtones.. The taste is great, loaded with hops, lots of dry hopped grapefruit flavor. The fantastic thing about this beer is it's dryness. I find most DIPA's are too sweet but not the Elder, the citrus flavors really cover the huge bitterness of this beer, which is so dangerously drinkable. Cheers to Vinnie!

somabeer, Mar 04, 2010
Photo of zoso493
4.9/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured this guy from a 500 ml bottle into a pint glass. Bottled on 1/14/10. Split the bottle three ways.

Appearance: Pours a very bright golden color that is much lighter than you'd expect in a DIPA. There's very little amber to be found, but it is a very hazy brew. I didn't have a complete serving but it still produced a nice one-and-a-half finger head that left some moderate lacing on the glass.

Smell: This one has a very nice fruity scent to it. It's much more subdued than I would have thought but it's masterfully laced together. There's also a huge caramel sweetness to the smell, which is just beautifully pronounced. It smells like the sweetest nectar and it's to be consumed.

Taste: Well damn. This is a tremendous IPA. It retains the huge fruity hop character but has the most delectable, pleasurable and intense hop bitterness to it. This is not to say the malts aren't present, as the caramel malts just make the hops seem like they are crusted in sugar. Make no mistake, though, this one is all about the hops, and it is a masterfully bitter IPA.

Mouthfeel: Very nice, crisp mouthfeel. It's not the thickest DIPA you'll find but it's very nicely carbonated and very smooth.

Drinkability: Despite all the wonderful bitterness, this one doesn't destroy your palate so you could have a few of these. In fact, I would love to have a few of these at a time. All the time. This a beer that I could never grow tired of.

Overall, this is just a truly fantastic IPA all around. It's the first beer I've had from Russian River and it's left a huge impression on me. It nails the style with a wonderful fruity hop bitterness but keeps the hops somewhat honest with the chewy caramel malts. If you haven't tried this beer, you should make it every effort to seek it out, because it is a wonderful beverage.

zoso493, Mar 04, 2010
Photo of stingrayvr6
4.47/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this on tap at Monk's Cafe in Philadelphia, at their 3rd annual celebration of everything Russian River. Yellowish orange in color, decent white head that lasted a while. Smell was sweet up front and oily hops behind. taste was similar, some good malt body up fornt then grassy and oily hops behind. Mild carbonation. Fantastic double IPA, great beer for any hophead.
Cant wait to try the Younger.

stingrayvr6, Mar 03, 2010
Photo of WOTO97
4.68/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: pale gold with dense 1-finger head and moderate lacing

S: sweet grapefruit, some bitterness, faint pear/apple notes

T: lemonade and straw flavors on front palate, dry finish with solid bite, bitter grapefruit on the mid-palate

M: clean with slightly sticky hop finish

D: amazing beer

I have had this beer so many times, yet this is my first review of the beer. Without a doubt I will modify this post because no matter how many times I drink it, I discover new facets of this beer.

WOTO97, Mar 01, 2010
Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 10,861 ratings.