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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.

11,430 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 11,430
Reviews: 3,253
rAvg: 4.65
pDev: 8.17%
Wants: 5,318
Gots: 2,120 | FT: 67
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: 11,430 | Reviews: 3,253 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of cyraxx
4.72/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The pour from the bartender was pretty shoddy, with very little head. Even without the head to bring out the aromatics of the beer, the nose had a huge punch of hop character full of apricot, pine, and grapefruit. The flavor had all of the above in full force with almost no malt to speak of and a big bitterness. It finished dry with an appropriate carbonation and a slight bit of onion character from the Simcoe hops. It's quite drinkable, but the lasting bitterness limits my ability to drink other beers afterwards.

Photo of chilly460
4.3/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A - Nice bright golden orange with a creamy white head. Some lacing but nothing extraordinary. Plenty of bubbles stream from the bottom of the glass.

Smell - Really nice, plenty of juicy citrus, grapefruit and lemon. Backed with softer floral hops. Clean smelling sweet malts back it all up, smells fresh and ready to drink.

Taste - OK, here we go. First up, it's not a pure hopbomb. Plenty of great vibrant grapefruit, maybe some lemon "zing" in there. The malts back it almost perfectly, very balanced, very refreshing.

M - Nice medium body and balanced carbonation.

D - Imminently drinkable, this thing tastes light and clean. Drinks more like an IPA in my opinion, refreshing, but with that great balance.

Photo of Brewbro000
4.5/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottled on Date - 2/07/2011 - (less than a month old) - never thought i could buy this beer i block from my house in Portland, i was wrong...

Last time i had this beer it was a bottle that was a year old, i wasn't impressed and i believe that to be warranted. This one I expect to be much better, FRESHNESS is key!

A: Pours a two finger white head of thick foam that is holding in my FW pint glass for a good chunk of time. Lacing remains pretty good from sip to sip.

S: Citrus fruits come through first followed by a burst of piney resinous hop aroma. Malt is present but this beer is obviously meant to be hop forward.

T: As much as i thought this would have more citrus fruit type hops, i forgot it is a west coast IPA and exhibits powerful resinous bitter hops but they aren't upfront. Instead they crash like a wave that starts of slow but slowly mounts once it settles in your mouth.

M/D: This beer goes down smooth, almost too smooth. It has the velvet consistency of an imperial stout with the hop kick of a double IPA. I could drink a lot of this purely on that attribute alone but the alcohol content reduces that thought a little bit. Overall an outstanding beer, but i think there are other IPA's i have been more pleased with.

Photo of bridgetowhophead
5/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

(Bottled 02/07, poured into a tulip)

My first solid 5, and it's warranted. not only is this beer devoid of any significant flaw, it is the epitome of the West Coast Double IPA, a standard that hundreds of other breweries clearly aspire to (many fall well short) and a beer I can drink whenever, wherever (if only it were more readily available). Pours a gorgeous orange with a thick white cap and tons of lacing. Smells like a tropical citrus bonanza with plenty of pine. Pine is even more present in the taste. Drinkability is off the charts. I am beatng a dead horse with this review. Easily my favorite IPA, confirmed after having hundreds of IPAs and re-tasting this beer (fresh!) twice.

Photo of Amdy
5/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Honestly, what else can i say about this beer that has not been said? Everything i will type out has probably been said already. Just an amazing beer. Nice amberish pour, herry hoppy and citrus smell, the taste is just fantastic. Bitter, hoppy, citrusy, almost a but piney. Definitely a beer that can be drank all day, you cannot even tell its 8% untill you start to get a buzz going.


Photo of Destral
4.72/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Doing a side by side of Pliny and Hopslam tonight. The Pliny is dated 2/17/11.

Pliny pours a lovely golden orange, with decent clarity, and a nice full white head. The head is slow to dissipate and leaves a ton of lacing as I drink it.

I love the smell of Pliny. Lots of resiny pine aroma, grapefruit, and fresh hops.

The taste mimics the aroma quite a bit. I taste a lot of citrus notes, pine (or nutty), and floral character. I think the hop profile helps this beer come across as more balanced than say a Ruination, since I can still feel the enamel on my teeth.

One of my favorite things about drinking Pliny is the way the resiny bitterness lingers and sticks long between sips. The carbonation is perfect. The beer is as refreshing as can be for an 8% DIPA.

At the previously mentioned 8%, this beer is dangerous. With the exception of maybe Sculpin, Pliny is one of my favorite hoppy beers to drink. Its the right amount of alcohol and hops without destroying my palate like some west coast beers. Well balanced and delicious. Don't really have anything to complain about.

Photo of bbb099
4.88/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Reviewed on 2-28-11, bottled on 2-7-11. Poured into a snifter.

A - Hazy dark orange amber color with a good amount of white colored head. Nice retention and fair amount of lacing.

S - Strong citrusy and floral hop aroma. Grapefruit and other tropical fruits are also present. Very pleasant.

T - Full of citrus hops from the start to finish. Accompanied by some piny taste on the side, but not much. Aftertaste was oddly sweet and bitter. The hops does not have as much of a bitter bite as most other double IPAs I've had, not necessarily a bad thing.

M - The perfect amount of carbonation and body for the flavor. Not quite sure what would be lacking.

D - One of the best double IPAs out there if not the best. No hints of alcohol taste at all and goes great with almost any type of food.

4.53/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a pint glass
Bottle date 02.07.11

Appearance : golden orange and very clear a white head fromed and quickly shrunk to thin layer that clings to my glass

Smell : wonderfully aromatic pine citrus really comes though in a big way very inviting smell I don't want to pull my nose away

Taste : equally tastefull what can I say about this beer that hasn't already been said great all around taste I don't really notice the IBU's

Mouthfeel : medium to full bodied some sticky sweetness but not overwhelming

Drinkability : crazy drinkability I could put these down all day long great beer always leaves you wanting another and this one succeed at this -- I need more Pliny

Photo of Janderson91
4.63/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Finally, the famed Pliny the Elder. Big thanks to domtronzero for sending me this one. Bottled on 01/12/11. Enjoyed on 02/27/11. Poured into a DFH pint glass.

A - Definitely the best looking beer I've encountered. A bright, clear gold color with a big white two finger head. Huge bubbles and leaves great looking lacing.

S - Grapefruit, citrus, juicy hops. Some caramel and candy sweetness also.

T - This is a more balanced beer than I was expecting but the hops are the star of the show here, there's no question. What do you expect from a beer named after the man who discovered hops? Quite bitter and citrusy initially but that gives way to a fantastic grapefruit hoppiness and caramel and candy finish. The grapefruit stays on the tongue for just long enough so that when i put it down, I want to pick it right back up again for another sip. This is the best DIPA I've had.

M/D - Mouthfeel is right on for an 8% beer. I can't even tell there is any alcohol in this thing. The easiest to drink DIPA I've ever had, it's delicious.

I was very reluctant to buy into the hype of this beer and tried to go in with an open mind, but the more I drink this beer the more I love it. A must try for any hop head.

Photo of Gfunk720
4.47/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle dated 2/7. Out of my DFH tulip. First review of this classic.

A- Beautiful glowing amber/orange. A soapy white head forms and falls to a light residue. Clear and crisp, lacing like crazy.

S- A dry piney mix of hops/grapefruit/lemon. The citrus is prominent, and the hops smell fresh and pungent.

T- Much as it smells, a dry DIPA with strong piney notes. Citrus flavors of orange/lemon/grapefruit come through. The aftertaste is just amazing

M- Nice and light and crisp, but still retains a good body. The carbonation is also excellent.

D- I could drink this all day. While it is a little dry, it is still very drinkable. Smooth and delicious, always a favorite.

Photo of aaron12
4.1/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

had this sucker at just a bit colder than room temperature. she's a pretty one. gold with a orange hue, white head. smells like grapefruit, pine, and how ipas smell when you imagine them. the citrus hops end strong in the nose. so this tastes great, i dig the shit out of it, but to me there's lots of other strong ipas that taste similar to this, (lagunitas's hop stoopid comes to mind), but that's not the point. why is this rated the best imperial ipa ever? whatever, i do enjoy this, a lot...

Photo of sme4r
4.78/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Let's first make this clear: I am an self proclaimed "Hop Addict"
Bottled on: 2/7/11
Serving Type: Goblet

A: Orange body with light to medium head

S: I swear it smells exactly like canned peaches, major hops come through and cause salivation

M: Lightly carbonated, smooth but very stringent mouthfeel.

D: Drinkablility is dangerously easy for an 8.0 ABV. I would drink the other bottles but I have more beers to review. :D

Overall, I would say my thirst for hops has been quenched... for now. Totally lived up to the hype.

Photo of peacebone116
4.75/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a growler we picked up at the brewery into a tulip glass.

A: Thick cream colored head with good carbonation in the clear orange honey colored body.

N: Citrus, pineapple, peach.

T/M: Hops! Citrus (grapefruit) bitterness with a peach sweetness. A dab of malty biscuit in the middle of the tongue. Bitter but so smooth and crisp. Clean body and mouthfeel with lingering oil residue (and bitterness) on the tongue. Alcohol is very well hidden on this one. Dangerously drinkable.

A little flat even though I had just picked up the growler the day before tasting; good nonetheless.

What really sets this beer aside from other Imperial IPA is mostly the crispness and clean finish. The bitterness is obviously present, but it kind of lacks that sharp "bite" that other DIPA have when the flavor perception transitions from the nose to the tongue. In this regard, the flavor cannot get any better than it already is.

Photo of patm1986
5/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

from the notebook

Thank you Hulmeville Inn for just rockin the S@#t every time you have this.
Poured from tap into 12oz cooler glass.

A- a rustic, reddish glow of amber-orange, like the rind of a blood orange. it gathers a short, thick head at the top of the glass and settles slowly. this was poured well, too. the lacing on the head gathers a light thread-y froth.

S- hint of pine and grass and light, light malt syrup, but the GEM of all the aromatic notes is citrus: grapefruit, tangerine, a little orange-oil-or-extract-like sharpness (just a little).

T- jesu cristo. that citrus in the aroma comes to your mouth now in a mellow-bitter conflation of nearly every hop characteristic in one smooth run up the line. most notably though, i get the citrus most, which for me is king hop flavor. It's just so mellow on the alcohol and smooth on the pithy-hop finish. this is an extremely refined, restrained piece of hop art.

M- smooth, so smooth. from initial sip to bottom-swirl-and-down, it coats the mouth full-bodily. it didn't thin-out or settle into something watery and stagnant. it's a consistently carbonated and rich body all the way.

D- off-the-charts. because of it's mellow alcoholic flavor and tantalizing complexities that often come through subtly, you want to keep drinking ol' pliny to discover more and more. its body makes this quaff-able, the mild hop-bitterness makes it continually palatable.

this is it personally. it really is--haven't had younger yet though. but this it as far as DIPAs are concerned or any style I've come across. it seems the most exciting and excellent aspect attributed to this beer beyond the beer itself is its ability to fight the hype and deliver at the level of its reputation and beyond; this fact is something that not many beers can handle, personal preference aside.

Photo of dietenhofer
4.65/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

One of the more agressive beers I have tasted. However, very well balanced. The aftertaste is suprisingly clean. I have not had this on tap but it was excellent from the bottle. I had high expectations for the beer from all of the hype and it surely did not disappoint. Though the IBU's are high this was not a beer that you can only drink one of and complimented the steak that I was having. I highly recommend this beer but obviously am not the only one to think this. Great job Russian River.

Photo of hophopandaway
3.35/5  rDev -28%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Drunk at Toronado SF yesterday.
The appearance was a slightly darker than norma amber-orange with no head and literally no lacing at all.

The first thing I got on the smell was alcohol and then sugar. I don't know if I had a bad pint but the beer tasted sweet, syrupy and very tangy.
The start had some good flavours, thecitrus and pine flavours turned in to a rather sweet and alcoholic maltiness that I just didn't enjoy.

I'm probably wrong, just as there are people that don't like fois gras or caviar, I don't really like this. Jst a matter of taste I suppose.

I found this beer strong tasting, over-carbonated and quite thing for its high ABV, the flavou was, I thought, just hops and sweetness.


Photo of arizcards
4.85/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Have had Pliny multiple times on tap now. Had a couple of pints today at the Toronado in San Diego for $5.50 each.

Beer poured a golden orange with a decent head that left some lacing behind.

Nose is wonderful, piney and citrus hops dominate.

Taste is very good, a strong malt backbone stands up quite well to an assult of pine and grapefruit.

Mouthfeel is good, medium bodied and lively on the palate.

Drinkability is exceptional. This is the finest balanced double ipa i have had to date. The amazing thing is that the alcohol, although very strong, is very undetectable as one enjoys a pint!

Photo of websherpa
4.5/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance: A clean a clear pouring beer. 1 finger of head, modest lacing.

Smell: This has the pineapple and grapefruit that so many beers have. It doesn't have the bitterness or booziness associated. It's a strong clean and clear scent, but not overpowering.

Taste: Wow. So after all the hype I just came to assume this would be an "extreme" beer. I was expecting massive massive flavor. Instead this beer comes with an almost quiet confidence. The beer is delicious in all aspects. It's hop flavors are distinct but well blended. The malts are subtle and offer a sweetness to compliment the hops without getting overly complicated. The finish is long and delicious. At no point drinking this beer does anything jump out of place and scream "hey check this out". There are hints of booze coming through that keep this form a perfect score.

Mouthfeel: Well executed.

Drinkability: This beer is great. However, for the effort and price I will never make this a regular, which is a shame. PtE doesn't make a big statement, it makes an eloquent one. This is something I would regularly and I can save the big statement beers for special occasions. Distribution, price and production volume of course make this a pipe dream.

Photo of dmsohyea
4.93/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On-tap at TapRoom SD, served in a pint glass. 2/21/11.

A: Dark yellow/orange with one finger off-white head. Depending on the pour it could be sediment-free or have a small amount from the bottom of the keg or bottle. Some lacing, but not a lot.

S: Strong scent of pine and citrus. Such a perfect bouquet of hops that lingers through the whole glass. The best smelling beer I have ever encountered. When this beer is fresh, nothing beats it. I would give this a 6 if I could.

T: Perfect balance between malt and hops. Starts off with a slight bitter punch and finishes perfectly smooth with malty sweetness. Tastes like you're drinking pine tree extract in the best way possible. Tastes better than Younger, IMO.

M: Smooth, medium-thin and moderately carbonated. Luscious, silky, and the perfect 'weight'. Such a smooth and delicious brew. Did I mention this beer is smooth? For an 8% beer, no alcohol is detectable.

D: Obviously I love this beer and will order and drink it whenever it's available. A+, great work RR.

Photo of Thickfreakness
4.95/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from a bottle dated 1/24/11. Aquired in a trade from badboyrsl84!

A- Poured into a tulip glass... a brilliant white one finger head that drips away a leaves hints of sticky goodness. Beautiful hazy orange color with a bit of carbonation.

S- A grapefruit explosion!!! Tons of piney citrus! Lemoncake, pineapple, candy corn, with a touch of sweet malts.

T- Gigantic flavors abound! First sip is piney hops mixed with a A-bomb of citrus and fruit! Grapefruit, lemon zest, ripe pineapple, and fresh picked oranges. I love the sweet honey left on the backend of the tongue after the finish. It's fantastic, alluring, and seems to be teasing me!

M- Nice bitter hop bite with sweet and bitter grapefruit rolling around the tongue. Nice caramel sweetness, without ever overpowering the citrus blast! Loving the carbonation tingle followed by the dripping honey that comes and goes inbetween the citrus!

D- If I lived where I could get this... I'd be in trouble cause I'd buy cases of it!

Photo of jgasparine
4.75/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to Johnny O for this gift!

A- Poured from the bottle with a massive off-white rocky head over mildly carbonated orange-amber colored body. The head recedes to reveal some nice lacing.

S- This smells just like a bucketfull of fresh-picked sticky hop cones. I have never smelled such a wonderful hop character in a finished beer. The hops come through as piney, vegetal and earthy all at the same time. Not to say that the malt isn't there- a substantial crackerlike- almost nutty malt quality to the nose as well. Amazing.

T- I was bracing myself for some of that citrus-rind bitterness associated with big West Coast IPAs, but I was pleasantly surprised to find this beer to be a wonderful replicate of the nose. As a matter of fact, nothing about this beer struck me with the impression of citrus rind- it was all massive piney, vegetal and earthy hop flavor, with a big nutty malt backbone. The finish is equally impressive- the hops linger like a resin on the tongue long after each sip- one of the longest-lived finishes I have ever experienced in a finished beer.

M- A medium-plus body with a nice soft carbonation. Mild astringency, as to be expected from a DIPA. Surprisingly no EtOH heat detected.

D- Dangerously drinkable.

Photo of larryi86
4.97/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Thanks you PlinyTheKid for bottles
500 mL bottle dated 1/24/2011 poured into a snifter

A- A clear orange/copper color with a two finger white head, nice lacing.

S- HOPS! Grapefruit/citrus hops, pineapple/tropical hops, some piney hops.

T- Just as hoppy as the smell. The hops flavors are balanced like in the smell. Nice solid sweet malt backbone which gives a perfect balance to the bitterness of the hops.

M- Silky smooth, crisp, refreshing, and nice medium body.

D- This has everything I would want in an IIPA. Great hops flavor. This is very easy to drink for 8% ABV and very enjoyable. I wish I could get this by me, so good.

Photo of bosox941827
4.1/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

500mL bottle poured roughly into an Ayinger gold-rimmed 0.5L glass (+ room for head); poured cold and warmed as tasted
A - Pours a slighty cloudy (yeast in the bottle) orange/amber; rough pour yields a rocky, foamy head that takes a while to settle and leaves lots of foam on the sides.
S - Other-worldly; like crushing a pine cone in your hands; very persistent and floral. Probably in top 3 best-smelling beers I've tried (Hopslam & Sculpin just above it, IMO).
T - Interesting; this is MUCH better than a bottle I had back in December. I decided not to review it then, b/c my opinion was not good. Glad I decided to wait....in any case...
Malty sweetness (with a bit of hard candy in there too) off the sip, which is quickly pushed aside by the piney hoppiness. There's a real earthiness to the hops, almost like there's a bit of dirt in there (but in a GOOD way). The bitterness persists for quite a while and becomes a bit dour, with a metallic edge to it that is not as pleasing as the initial flavor.
M - Low carbonation lends a smooth mouthfeel and hoppiness keep this from feeling too heavy.
D - Medium; nice up front, but that aftertaste would prevent me from having too many of these. Do NOT have this issue with Hopslam, which is just as hoppy and has 2% more ABV.

This is a GREAT beer and am glad I went through the trouble to track it down and tried it, but not sure it's the "end all, be all" its reputation would have you believe; I feel like I can get beers just as good or better locally without the hassle.

Photo of smakawhat
4.6/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Well so this is the first Pliny out of the bottle I have had. Bottled Jan 11th 2011 and we are good to go. Opened at 10:30 in the morning having rested my palate through the night with nothing to eat or drink for fourteen hours. Thanks to TKEAnimal for the bottle.

Pliny pours a nice gold out of the bottle and leaves a simple large fist sized off cream white head. Nice uniform pinhead bubbles in the head also. The body is an incredibly clear twenty four carat gold color, with next to nothing for carbonation from the bottle. The occasional bubble pops up. The head has basic soapy tight retention and leaves sticky lacing fairly well. It really looks like a beer that came out of the tap.

The first thing off the bouquet is how incredibly balanced this beer is. Nothing is overpowering, but it contains a simple grapefruit sweet but not bitter and oily, and fresh hop character to it. Each gets a change with each other nicely.

Taste is quite enjoyable. Once again this is really balanced with a great body and feel. It's taste resembles it's nose in a balanced mix of hop and grapefruit citrus that isn't bitter or rindy with fresh apple juice qualities. Nice aromatics off the swallow also like a fruit basket quality. Eight percent alcohol level is virtually unnoticeable or detectable.

The beer also looks and tastes like something that comes out of the tap, not the bottle. Drinkability is pretty exceptional I guess I can see why people want this beer so much.

Photo of jomo
4.88/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle pours with a nice warm orange color. Lacing nice but head retention could be better.

Smell and taste are complex and wonderful. A bit citrusy. A bit of pine. Hops, yes, but a profile that balances various types. Shockingly, I do not find it all that bitter as the malt sweetness compliments the hops perfectly. I would almost call it a good musty flavor....if only musty was a flavor. Regardless, very tasty.

Mouthfeel is viscous and lush. Perfect.

I want another now!

This was a damn good beer. Perhaps having a born on date of 2/7/11 has something to do with it.

Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 11,430 ratings.