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Pliny The Elder - Russian River Brewing Company

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Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder

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11,666 Ratings

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Ratings: 11,666
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
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Ratings: 11,666 | Reviews: 3,308 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of shangwang
4.8/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

picked a bottle up during at City Beer in SF during a recent West Coast visit. bottled on 4/28/11. I've had Pliny on draft before but its been about a year and I haven't tried it from the bottle until now.

Poured with a heavy layer of head, at least two fingers. Dissipated slowly and left some heavy frothy lacing. Great golden hue with perfect clarity. The smell was dominated by a piny, hoppy bouquet with hints of citrus and a spicy clove quality. The taste mirrored the smell nicely, bitter hops with a delicate fruit sweetness. Light mouthfeel- watery and light on the tongue. Very smooth finish, left a lingering sweetness.

Obviously this beer's reputation precedes it, and for good reason. PtE has great taste, a balanced complexion, and it nails the West Coast style as well as or better than any other DIPA. Awesome brew. Wish it was a little easier to get our hands on, but being in Philly I guess I can't complain!

Photo of nickshep7
4.97/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Clear honey golden base (maybe a touch of hop haze) with 2 fingers of bubbly, slightly off white head. Initial smell is all tropical fruit – fresh pineapple, sweet orange, and mango. Pine needles and an elegant astringency from the hops follow the initial tropical fruit attack. Taste echoes the smell with the initial attack really showing off those tropical, sweet fruits. The fruit is followed by a nice transition to bittering hops. This is virtually the only IPA/IIPA that I’ve had the pleasure of tasting that has such a fantastic transition from the start to the mid-palate to the finish. Overall, bar none, the best IPA I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying. If/when I am on the west coast and this is available in bottle or on tap, it will be sought after…. By any means necessary.

Photo of vande
4.82/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A ~ Crisp 14 K gold along with a nice clean, clear white lace hugging the pint.

S ~ Piny-citrus hop mixture flowing. What a DIPA should smell like.

T ~ If you haven't had it, get one. By far a superior beer. Well after taking a sip, my palate is still feeling the fruity hops....Thanks chugalug06!! You've quenched my thirst!

M ~ A very nice creamy body... I can only imagine what this beer would be like fresh off the tap. My bottle from 04/06 was tasty!

O ~ Well worth seeking out!! Via trade, road trip, whatever...

Photo of BeerMaverick
4.28/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to ccm414 for this extremely famous and rare beer!

My notes take into consideration the age of this bottle...it is probably a couple months old, so it won't be up to par with standards.

A - Burnt orange color with 1/2" of white head and decent retention. Lacing is present all over the snifter. Beautiful representation of the style.

S - Hops are up front with citrusy bursts similar, but slightly more active than Nugget Nectar. I am pretty certain the famous fresh hop esters have dissipated over time.

T - Again, hops dominate the forefront of this facet with a nice orange-peel citrusy aftertaste. The malt comes through in the aftertaste as well and combines perfectly with the hops.

M - The malt/hop balance really comes into play here...the bitter hop notes play up the fruity sweetness and coat the tongue all over.

O - This is a fantastic beer overall and it is one of the best DIPAs that I have ever had. I am pretty sure that if I had this within a few days of bottling, it would be my favorite, but it is amazing nonetheless. The alcohol is completely hidden my the hop bitterness and the citrusy character. Thanks again ccm414 for this extremely rare opportunity!

Photo of Tenchi221
4.92/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I've always enjoyed getting bottles of pliny down in so.cal. Went up to napa for a few days and had to stop by Santa Rosa.

Appearence: Golden.. very little head in the glass.. slightly hazy

Smell: Amazing amount of citrus and pine oil. From the tap aroma explodes way more than from a bottle. I could smell the glass sitting in front of me without even getting close.

Taste: Definitely get IPA right away. Hops all over the place along with citrus, primarily grapefruit.

Mouthfeel: Carbination level made this rediculously drinkable. Very smooth in the mouth, all the way down.

Overall: I've always counted Pliny as one of the best beers I've been privaledged to try. Getting some straight from the teet only reaffirmed that. The only other IPA that comes close in my book is Bling Pig.

Photo of jhughes23
4.92/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bottle poured into Tulip Glass

Beautiful Clear Light Amber color with a nice fluffy head that disapated to a thin but respectable layer that laced nicely.

Beautiful perfume of piney, sweet hops. A hint of citrus in the nose as well but the piney smells are the most pungent and lovely.

The tastes are the same as the aroma, piney hops with a slight touch of sweet maltiness followed by a smaller hint of citrus flavors. the Maltiness is perfectly balanced with this hop heavy brew, the alcohol and bitterness are perfect.

The Finish is one of the best i've had. Very clean and not much lingering on the tounge. Wich in my case is a bad thing, makes it way too easy to drink when all you want to do is savor it slowly!

All DIPA's should aspire to be this awesome. Even some of the best DIPA's are too heavy on the malty side or bitter side. This is perfect. IMHO!

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

Does anything really need to be read about this beer? It's delicious. It's super hyped, but it lives up to it.

Beautifully clear and golden, with just a touch a fluffy white head. Head dissipated almost instantly. Not too much lacing.

Smells incredible. Smorgasbord of citrus fruits.

Tastes just as good. Hop bomb full of grapefruit and a hint of pineapple. Alcohol, carbonation, and malt backbone all work together to balance out the huge hop profile.

Nice and dry, keeps you wanting more. Nice and crisp, but still medium-bodied.

Incredible beer. Had it a couple times. Always forget just how good it is.

Photo of mikeyv35
4.5/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Date: 05/07/11
Type: 500ml. Bottle
Vintage: Bottled 04/12/2011 - about 3/4 weeks old
Glass: Gosse Island Chalice

Pours a golden straw in color w/ a thin white head that produces light, but sticky lacing. Aromas of orange peel, lemon zest, earthiness, and very light breadiness. Tastes of citrus fruits and rose water up front, followed by medium bitterness, and finishes w/ light pie crust/croissant. Mouthfeel is clean and crisp, and lush due to appropriate carbonation. If this were more available on the east coast this would be one of my lawnmower beers. Very easy to drink and oh so refreshing!

Overall, I have had this brew many times, which is a privaledge on the east coast. Tremendous DIPA! One of the top three examples of the style in the world, and my current second favorite behind Sculpin(in all fairness Sculpin is an IPA).

Photo of futura123
4.5/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 04/15/11. Poured into a tulip. I had these beers regularly but this is the first time I write a review.

Appearance: hazy golden color with a small, off white head that left nice lacing on the glass. Liquid Gold :)

Smell: Heady blast of piny resins and orange. Actually the pine aroma dominated.

Taste: Wonderful balance between malt and hops.Lightly acidic with potent juniper berry and fruity grapefruit and lemon flavors.Not sweet like a lot of Mid West IPA. Alcohol is well masked.

Mouthfeel: Creamy, smooth, comfy, pleasant and sticky in the mouth. Medium body and dry with a fairly soft carbonation level.

Overall: This beer is excellent and highly drinkable.I am always grateful that I can get fresh batch of PtE any day any time. This beer is a staple in my fridge together with Sculpin. Also, it's a great extra. Thanks Russian River for such a wonderful beer.

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

Bottled on 4/15/11 and poured into a tulip.

A: I poured it hard and summoned up a massive two finger or so, mildly off-white head that stayed a clumpy froth throughout the session. Very cloudy, melted orange sherbet in appearance.

S: Wonderful duet between the pine and the citrus (orange and grapefruit)... however, no peach ala. Sculpin. I got a tinge of yeast for balance.

T: Bitter, very tempered sweetness-wise, and downright tasty. Bitter and citrusy on the front, citrus and pine in the middle, and then a nice yeasty kick to round out the hop profile on the finish.

M: Like I said, the VERY disciplined sweet element was the thing about this beer that impressed me the most. The carbonation was picture perfect, the bitterness was knocked down (eventually) by the fresh clean cotton-like yeast. The lacing left on the glass was splotchy, prominent, yet still stayed somewhat moist.

O: I've always viewed Sculpin as the pinnacle in this category. Is Pliny as good? I'm not sure about that, but I plan on doing a blind tasting soon to put them to the test!

Photo of JoeAmerican77
4.29/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The pour looks as though liquid flame, orange bursts of light, quite clear. A white head of two fingers rests atop...

Grapefruit, pine, lye, and mint dominate the nose and make a highly aromatic brew

Hop oils blast the tongue, along with citrus fruit and citrus juice, lemon seed aftertaste

Mouth on it is silky carbonation, a medium body, a staying visit on the palate

Overall a great representation of the style, some could say industry standard. Its not my favorite beer out there but it was a great experience none the less

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

Bottled: 04.06.11
Drank: 05.08.11

split this post brunch on Mothers Day w/ my Brother in Law, JerryTrey

A = nice, crisp golden color. transparent. cream head of about an inch

S = fruity, floral. Piny & Hoppy

T = citrus. orange/grapefruit. Absolutely delicious and refreshing. I immediately crave more.

M = light to medium. Decent (great?) carbonation keeps the beers fresh and light.

O = Well the legacy this beer possesses is pretty incredible. Does it live up to the hype?? I venture to say, Most Certainly. It's a fantastic DIPA and probably the best of that style I've enjoyed. It's well balanced, not crazy with the ABV and is very drinkable. I would love to have this been in regular rotation in my fridge. Unfortunately, the distance and cost of shipping it will make it a once or twice a year treat.

Photo of anell213
4.12/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured into a wide snifter. Head thick at first, then dissipates to a nice layer. Not much lacing.

S: Citrus, orange, hops. Smells like it's gonna be good.

T: Hops are prevalent, but I guess I expected more, and therefore not quite as fruity as I had hoped. Not a huge fan of the aftertaste.

M: Light, medium and perfect amount of carbonation.

O: Solid, solid DIPA, but I guess I was a little let down given the hype. While I wouldn't turn it down if offered, I won't seek out again.

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

A: Pours a light gold with about a 2 finger head in my RR Pint glass.

S: Probably my favorite part! Absolultely great aroma, smells like loads of citrus which willfill the entire room with that wonderful smell.

T: The flavor is also great. Resiny, Pine-y flavor with a solid amount of bitterness. Mellos out a little as it sits there and you get a couple sips in.

M: lots of hops leads this to be a palate killer. But its completely worth it. Well carbonated.

O: Overall a great brew to say the last. Im not that much of an IPA fan overall, but have liked beers like Nelson, Pliny, and Citra. Pliny is probably my favorite IPA from a bottle.

Photo of HotHands
4.68/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5


A - pours a golden orange with a good-sized fluffy white head.

S - Mmm, citrusy, piney hops with a bit of floral honey. I can't say it's the most intense aroma, but it's still pleasing.

T - holy hoparama! Lots of citrus and resiny pine in the hops dancing around with a nice malt backbone. The hops also give some nice floral and earthy notes. A nice hop blend - I can pick out the Simcoe.There is just a tiny bit of sweetness to balance out the hops. It takes a bit of time for all the flavors to work out.

M - slick, resinous feel. Not heavily carbonated, just fine.

Overall - There's a reason why Pliny is the standard Imperial IPA. It does everything right. It may not be the most innovative beer out there, but it doesn't need to be, much like Sculpin is to single IPAs. I find it hard to find faults here. It doesn't have some of the cool hop flavors that I like in other beers (like the tropical fruit flavors in Nugget Nectar), but it's the most well balanced imperial IPA I've had.

Photo of jradams76
4.45/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks Beerdy! for a one week old Pliny!

A: Pours a nice golden color with a 2 finger head.

S: Smells of Pine and hops smells terrific!

T: Pine taste at first then moves to a citrus flavor with hops all over. Very delicious and very drinkable.

M: Medium bodied and Simply clean and crisp.

O: A very nice beer that lives up to the hype its one of the great beers to try for sure.

Photo of scanny79
4.23/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: It was a nice golden color with nice carbonation to it. It presented a nice thick white foam head.

Smell: It had a hoppier smell than I like, but there was definetly some nice citrus aroma coming from it as well.

Taste: It tasted way better than I had thought it would considering the hops that were present in the smell. It had a nice citrus frontend with the nice hop kicker on the tail end.

Mouthfeel: Very nicely carbonated, and not nearly as powerful as I had anticipated.

Overall: I have had better IPAs ,but this one was very nice and lighter feel to it. It wasn't good enough to be a staple in my fridge, but definetly has room in there if I can get a hold of some more.

Photo of sunkistxsudafed
3.58/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

bottled 4/6/11. poured into a sam adams perfect pint. courtesy of Exiled from a beer trade.

A- much more yellow than i thought it would be, gold can be seen when the light catches it the right way.

S- strong pine and grapefruit nose with a little bit of alcohol underlying. Very fresh hop presence.

T- the first thing you get is fresh hops and then it is followed by some pine and citrus notes. the alcohol isn't as well hidden as i would like it to be especially since its only 8%, but it does dry out the beer and keep it from being too sweet.

M- this is fairly dry ale, but the carbonation and thinness of this brew give it a mouthfeel of a pilsner. atleast that is what i get from it.

0- overall this beer is a solid representation of the style, but not the best IIPA ive ever had. I would gladly drink one again if i got a hold of another fresh one but I can think of plenty of IIPAs that are better beers overall.

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

Bottled 4/6/2011 - consumed 4/25/2011
Served in a duvel. My first Pliny.

A: Pours a light hazy gold with a two finger egg shell white head. Lacing and retention was very good. Very resinous.

S: Great aroma to PtE. I cracked the bottle and I could smell it across the kitchen. High in citrus, specifically, grapefruits and lemons and a nice floral note as well.

T: The flavor to PtE is exceptional but not the powerhouse the reviews led me to believe. Citrus and caramel with a light hop bitterness and some grass in there too.

M: An extremely balanced brew. Not too much carbonation and not too much hops. Maybe the balance of it is a bit misleading as to how hoppy this brew really is. If so, its still great.

O: I found Pliny to be an excellent brew but too overhyped. I find its excellence to be in the incredible balance of Pliny. I will say Pliny is the most balanced DIPA I've had to date and very drinkable. Overall, I would rather have Abrasive Ale.

Photo of wino47
4.62/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Always a favorite when fresh, tasted from bottle about two weeks old. Great lemon peel and grapefruit aromas with a hint of purple basil and herbaceous notes. Body is medium and the alcohol is well hidden. Flavors of grapefruit and Meyer lemon dominate with a touch of the herbal components coming through on the finish. This beer has always been worth the hype to me and it can't be beat for the price, incredibly smooth for a double and impeccable balance makes this a little too easy to drink.

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

From 500ml bottle to Bruges hybrid glass on 5/2/11
*From notes

Date bottled: 4/6/11

A BIG thanks goes out to both SirRuss and Triolgy31 for hookin' me up with my first PtE's - in the same week!

A: Glowing ripe tangerine in color. A careful pour yields a two finger head and reasonable lacing, though it's not as spectacular as I'd expected.

S: Sweet alcohol esters, fruit forward hop oil and bitter, halved pink grapefruit topped with sugar.

T: A rush of mango, with the appropriate sticky, almost cloying bitterness following behind. I Continue getting hopsmacked, as the fruit, spiciness and hints of juniper continue dancing on my palate. The concentration and depth of the flavors is wild. As it warms, the hops settle down, and it all converges into one of the most balanced DIPA's I can recall.

M: A richer mouthfeel then RR's Blind Pig, but still not quite what I'd expected. The carbonation is a bit soft, like a feather pillow for my tounge. It drinks incredibly well.

O: I can't say this lived up to the immense hype, but damn if it isn't a truly great beer. The thing that sticks out most about Russian River's Pliny the Elder is the subtle balancing act, that it doesn't take EXTREME flavors and gimmicks to make a high quality and delicious bottle of beer. A big reccomendation, and a brew worth seeking out as soon as you possibly can.

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

Poured into a ccb pint glass. Golden and translucent, two finger head with lots of lacing. Aromas of citrus and pine in the hops with malt in the background. Taste follows the nose, very hoppy, some malt bitterness is high. it doesn't seem as complex as the hype around this beer, it's a great dipa just not as great as all the hype.

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

A: It pours a beautiful golden color that has very light orange hue in the light. the clarity is remarkable given the amount of hops that are in this brew. There is a rocky two finger white head that presents great retention. Sticky lacing covers the sides of the glass.

S: The nose is big and hop drenched with notes of grapefruit, orange, pineapple, peach and pine cone goodness. There is a hint of sweetness from the malt, but none of the toasty quality.

T: This is one big hoppy monster. It is full of citrus jammy goodness and finishes super dry and piney. The malt is way back on the palate. It is almost not even present but some biscuit goodness asserts itself just enough to hint at a balance. As it continues to warm the hops come forward even more and some rounded notes of caramel reveal themselves.

M: There is a pretty thick mouthfeel with medium carbonation, lush and luxurious.

O: What else can I say that has not already been said? This is the definitive example of the West Coast DIPA.

Photo of tbern007
4.43/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Made date of 03/29/11 and consumed on 05/03/2011. Kept cold and dark the entire time.
Pours golden/orange, very clear. Very thick, pillowy white head that lasts a while. Lace all the way through the entire glass.
Smells quite hoppy- pine, floral, grass, citrus.
Tastes like the smell but with a bit of sweet malt, a lot of strong, hoppy goodness. Very good hoppy flavor.
Mouthfeel is the best I've experienced thus far out of 80 beers - perfect. Carbonation is spot-on, extremely smooth. I could drink this very quickly and easily.
Overall an excellent beer. I really do see why this is rated so highly. Fantastic beer all around.

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

Thanks to Adam@Platinum Liquor.

Delectably clear orange-copper with a two-finger solid white head populated by mostly small bubbles but with a fair whack of large, sudsy bubbles sitting on top. Drops over a couple of minutes leaving incredibly strong lace and retaining most of the sudsy carbonation. Solid as it gets.

First impressions are ultra-fresh pineapple, orange zest and apricot danish with a good deal of doughy malts accentuating the sticky, marmaldey, jammy and savoury characteristics which ultimately create a very solid backbone. Bitter herbs occasionally show through, but they're quite subdued. Not overly complex, but certainly lip-smacking.

At first the flavours merge into one. Slowly they differentiate into a rough hierarchy of pine needles, marmalade, radicchio, mint and aniseed. There seems to be a real ascendancy of bitter hop flavours with the more fruity, tropical notes struggling for a voice. Some almost buttery, beefy notes really crank up the volume of the whole shebang. Terrifically juicy and yummy, but I was hoping for a more even distribution of hop character. That said, the further I get into this the more the flavours wickedly assert themselves across the palate. The effect is quite intoxicating - and no I don't mean the ABV.

Rich and syrupy mouthfeel with relatively high bitterness, especially on the back palate where it feels somewhat chewy and agressive. Moderate carbonation. Certainly let's you know it's there.

The standout aspect for me is the damn-near alive, pungent and juicy freshness that gives this beer one heck of a presence. It has the "bigness" often associated with a serious red wine. However it seems to lack a little depth and doesn't quite open out enough on the palate. I'd be very keen to try it on tap or from the source some day and do a re-review.

Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 11,666 ratings.