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Pliny The Elder - Russian River Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder

Educational use only; do not reuse.

3,392 Reviews

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Reviews: 3,392
Hads: 12,780
rAvg: 4.59
pDev: 3.92%
Wants: 6,500
Gots: 3,068 | FT: 92
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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 3,392 | Hads: 12,780
Photo of harsley
4.79/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer is a hard to come by currently in the Northeast. I had the luxury of my brother doing a 5 week stint at the brewery as part of completing the American Brewers Guild. He came back on Xmas day and there was a bottle of PTE under the tree for me.

Pours a nice pale straw color with a fairly white head. Not nearly as amber as typical IPA's I'm used to, much lighter.

Smell is overwhelming with hops. Lots of pine and citrus and the usual American IPA hops.

The taste blew me away. This beer was much hyped so I was really expecting it not to live up to it...but it did. I think my journey for the perfect hob bomb of a beer ended with PTE. Tons of hop flavor and bitterness to match. Just a little malt in the background to balance it out but very dry besides that.

The body it also perfectly balanced for the style, medium. So many IPA's I try (especially this strong) have a heavy body, which isn't always bad, but this is just so much better. Dry and crisp with hop oils and not malty chewy.

Also extremely drinkable. You'd never know it had the 8% ABV that it does. Could easily drink it all night.

Remember to do as the bottle says and drink it fresh. I think mine was in the bottle for 4 weeks or so. (1,219 characters)

Photo of biker30x
4.38/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Got 3 bottles from thewinecountry.com, tried 'em over the last couple weeks. Poured into a pint a hazy but brite golden orange with an average head and sticky lace. A faint nose of citrus and pine. First taste is of pine and spice but it's backbone is citrus and some floral aspects. There is just enough sweetness & breadiness to balance the hops. I was afraid any review of this beer would be based on the reviews past, I tried to review only on it's own merits. This is an extremely good DIPA, with more balance than is usually seen in this type. It hewed to a leaner style than I generally prefer, but pulls it off quite well. Satisfyingly thick on the tongue, this is an easily drinkable big beer. (702 characters)

Photo of TomGavin
4.5/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Ah, the famed Pliny the Elder. Bottled on 1-23-09.Thanks to an amazing trader (bring) for the bottle. 500ml bottle poured into a huge Riedel wine glass and a Sam Adams Boston lager glass--for full analysis.

A: Pours a beautiful, hazy orange with miniscule cream colored particles suspended while tiny bubbles of carbonation drift upward and past. The head is white and reminds me of pancake batter just as it begins to warm on the stove with a myriad of bubble sizes that vary, then as the head recedes become smaller and similar in size.

S: Ripe, ripe honey doused citrus fruit basket comprised of ruby-red grapefruit and rind, apricot, key lime, tangerine cream dessert, freshly cut pine and grass. A resinous, luscious hop driven nose with vanilla malt accentuating. Nearly flawless. Nearly.

M: Extremely soft, velvety, silky, what have you. Medium carbonation. Everything is in balance.

T: Starts off sweet, then the citrus arrives with a bang; lime and grapefruit translating extremely well regarding sweetness before the bitterness of the hops take center stage and remain there through the finish, which is seemingly endless. The malt makes a return after, oh, I don't know 20 or so seconds.

D: For an 8% beer, you'd never know. You pour the beer, and trust me, a few minutes later it's gone. Good thing I have a few. (1,334 characters)

Photo of jjanega08
4.9/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

MASPuros proved to be amazing for this beauty of a beer. I could not be happier to get to try this. Hopefully it lives up to my expectations.

A= sort of nuclear orange color that just amazing looking. The most interesting beer I have ever seen. Great 2 finger head comes out of this one lasting throughout the beer with awesome lacing
S= Unique, Hoppy of course but different. A lot of pineapple in this with hints of pine and grapefruit.
T= Oh the fun part. Pineapple as expected which is amazing. It's not too hoppy or too malty this baby is just right. Pine is there in small amounts and some larger notes of grapefruit come in. This is the best tasting beer I have ever had I would say.
M= Average weight with a crisp finish
D= Very very very high. I really wish I had more of this. This is the best beer I have had and lives up to everything in deserves. If I could only get the younger I would be the happiest man alive. This babe impoved my day by ten fold. Great beer!!!! (980 characters)

Photo of OneDropSoup
4.32/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of antilogic (thanks again!).

Poured a pale orange, wheat-ish color with small amount of head. A little lacing, not a solid wall. I smell good hop stuffs: citrus, grapefruit, & maybe this is just my imagination, but the bottlecap smelled kinda like ham (a good thing, IMO). Huh!

Taste is great, same good stuff as in the smell plus that solid bitter ending. Leaves a pine aftertaste, gets my salivary glands going. Mouthfeel is very smooth -- I like that even though there's very little sweetness to this, it evens out & is very refreshing. Alcohol's well-hidden, I could put away a few of these in an evening without problem. (645 characters)

Photo of madtowndmb1
4.67/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured a hazy orange with a small white head

S: Great! Piney, acid, sour grapefruit, with a touch honey like sweetness.

T: Extremely drinkable. There the intial bitter bite on your tongue, then over to a coating grapefruit with a small sour twinge. And left with a lingering sweetness that invites you back for another.

Man what a great beer! It does lack a little compared to The Younger but very close! Younger seemingly has another layer between the grapefruit and the lingering sweetness. BUt this is an amazing beer you can get seemingly without much hassle on the west coast! (587 characters)

Photo of Durge
4.47/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A weak yellow color with a fair white head and good lacing. The aroma is a very solid grapefruit citrus hops with sweet lemon grass. The flavor is a beautiful bittersweet grapefruit malt blend. I occasionally think of piney hops here too. One of the better IPA's I've had! Very dangerously drinkable. There is an earthy potatoe-like underlining. A perfect feel for the style, smooth and just a hair resinous. Very, very nice.

Update in July 2009 - A cloudy apple juice color with a decent bubbly white head and nice streaky lace. The aroma is very pleasant but decidedly pissy citrus hop, a little floral hint and some grainy malt. The flavor is deliciously blended citrus hops and almost herbal toffee, smooth, mid-bodied or better with a malty sweetness playing through the bitter beauty of this classic hoppy brew. There's bready lemon and a bit of a dry finish, yet it's quite refreshing served cold. It deserves it's reputation and is highly sessionable for anyone that enjoys their hops. Load up the fridge, cold or room temperature, this is a classic! (1,059 characters)

Photo of Magpie14
4.97/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Oh man, been waiting to get my hands on one of these. If this little hop monster is as good as everyone claims, than my night is going to get a lot better

A: mild to light gold with a few dabs of yellow and splashes of tangerine. It was topped off with a bleach white whipped head and administered quite a few nice chunky blobs of lace. All in all nothing out of the ordinary, but very nice nonetheless

S: this is where it gets great. A truckload of sweet and floral smells. Hops are bursting with smells of oranges, white grapefruit, pineapples, and fresh grasses. A boutique of greens! I think no further explanation is required

T: lets start by mentioning the soft biscuity malts and delicate yeast notes within, hidden in some regards, and yet play an integral part in balancing this hop driven brew. Otherwise, it is as close to hop heaven as you'll get. I find the hops flavors raw, spicy, and bitter all while being refined. What is really enjoyable is this delicate tropical fruit palate that I am conjuring up. Tastes are as smelled with a few additions: oranges, fresh pine, lemons, grapefruits, and a squeeze of passion fruits.
A major coating for the tongue of high alpha hops. Loaded with hops and balanced with accuracy

M: a solid medium standing and does a great job of holding a light sticky character and is not very syrupy as some intensely hopped brews can be. Borderline creamy at times with no alcohol notes what so ever

D: this will never get old, ever! The perfect balance of an impossible two: delicate and powerful (1,545 characters)

Photo of mjl21
4.97/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

500 ml bottle purchased at Ledger's poured into a Guinness pint glass. Bottle is dated 1/5/09. Comes in at 8%.

A-One finger head. Pours a hazy amber. Nice cloud remains in the middle of the glass as the head dissipates. Lots of lace.

S-Just incredible. Pine, tropical citrus, lemon, and fresh bud come through.

T-Fresh pine and citrus. Some malt sweetness that is followed by more grapefruit bitterness.

M-Very dry. Medium bodied. Nice carbonation. Hop resin stays in the mouth.

D-So well blended. Alcohol is well hidden. Huge drinkability.

I have drinking this beer for years. Whether on tap, in a growler, or in the bottle, it is always enjoyable. I have introduced many friends to this beer and all have liked it. To me it is the epitome of a great "gateway beer". It is amazing that a high alcohol brew with a lot of IBUs can be blended in such an accessible way. (874 characters)

Photo of washburnkid
4.85/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

500mL bottle poured into a stemless large red wine glass

A: Very hazy and thick dark orange and copper hues; white frothy head dissipates to a clustering of bubbles and a ring on the edges. Nice lacing on the glass.
S: Heavy citrus and floral hop esters with some alcohol pulling through as the beer warms slightly.
T: Exactly what the aroma promises. Citrus, floral flavors. My palate was attacked by a hoppy punch of dry herbs/flowery hops about 3 seconds after I swallowed. Some notes of sweet earthiness.
M: Medium bodied; mellow carbonation; slides down smoothly leaving tons of perfume-like residue.
D: This beer is smooth, flavorful and powerfully characteristic. I woke up the next morning and smelled floral hops. My desires for more are out of control! (765 characters)

Photo of squaremile
4.08/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Memorable Quality: The time I had on tap super fresh it was one of the best beers I have ever had. Super dry finish, mouthwatering boquet of hops in the nose, perfectly creamy mouthfeel. I never wanted to stop drinking it, the bottles are a half step below this.

EDIT: I'm downgrading my review. Something is going on with Elder. The hops seem thinner, I'm getting more caramel as it warms than before, and overall it just seems to have changed for the worse. After having this side by side with Younger recently, the flaws of Elder were easier to detect. (556 characters)

Photo of schroederm
4.35/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

In a snifter:

Head has high retention and is bleach white. Sticky lacing. Smells: tons of grapefruit, lemon, honey, and pink lemonade. Pliny the Elder really draws you in. Tastes fruity and floral, with a bunch of grapefruit and lemon. Hops follow through with a
vengance in aftertaste, which balances out the malty start well. Fantastic mouthfeel: great body and perfect carbonation. Light and refreshing. Tastes fantastic and relatively gentle on the palate, which makes this beer exceedingly drinkable.

Overall: Pliny the elder is an absolutely fantastic IPA. Among the best of the best. (592 characters)

Photo of mithrascruor
4.62/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

500 mL bottle poured into a mug.
(Bottled 05 Jan 2009.)

Appearance: Pours a lovely copper hue, clear but with some particles floating at equilibrium within. Thin white head with some big bubbles sits on top and leaves some good lacing.

Smell: Fresh spicy hops! Grapefruit and some light florals.

Taste: Similar to the aroma, it tastes of grapefruit and has some mild floral hints. Spicy, especially at the finish and a bit into the aftertaste. There is something "mature" to the flavor: it doesn't come across as being in-your-face with the hops like many Double IPAs seems to do.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with light carbonation. Smooth too.

Drinkability: Strong? Yeah. But damn, it tastes so good.

Seems so much better than what I remember when I had it on tap a year ago. Tastes very fresh and nice... lovely IPA that is well worth getting, despite being a tad on the pricey side. (888 characters)

Photo of olmatty
4.69/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance- Pours a bright white sudsy head with nicer retention and sheets of sticky white brussels lace, beer us a clear golden orange.

Smell- Like plunging your nose into a fresh bag of hops with hops fairly stinging the nose.

Taste- Explosive hit of citrus and resinous pine hopiness. Not well balanced, but with all the hop presence it couldn't hope to be. There's just enough malt lurking in there to be of note. Grapefruit peel finish that I think I'll still taste at breakfast tomorrow.

Mouthfeel- Moderately carbonated, bitterness to the point of mouthwatering. Sticks to the palate.

Drinkability- Hops so commanding that I could detect virtually no alcohol. Beware the eight percent ABV. Hopheads, this will be one of your all time favorites. Save these for session ends as you will not be able to go backwards to lighter bodied or less hoppy beers after this. (880 characters)

Photo of Colterd
4.87/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This is a very drinkable DIPA.

Creamy head with a tight lace that sticks.

Very sweet aroma with a taste to match. Not a very bitter DIPA which adds to it's drinkability.

At 8% ABV, this is an incredibly smooth beer.

Mouthfeel is good , but a touch thin.

I'd love to try this one on cask! (292 characters)

Photo of ThirdLap
4.92/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is one review that is long overdue. The Elder was among my first memorable IIPAs, and the one I've returned to most frequently. This review will be from a bottled example, as I imagine that is how many BAs will get to experience it. I'll follow with an on-draft review next time I encounter it.

Poured into a Duvel tulip (hey, why not?), this three-week old Elder pours a deep burnt orange with a two-finger-thick off-white head. Agitation returns a hearty amount of head and reveals lots of lacing.

The nose is dominated by a huge bouquet of hops, with pine and grapefruit each doing their best to grab your attention. Although I don't partake in its use, nuances of that certain other plant that is close relative of the hop plant are also quite apparent, an olfactory characteristic even the brewery does not deny.

The initial bite is both sweet and bitter. Quickly following is a realization that what I'm tasting is a near-perfect example of the style... THIS is what an Imperial IPA should taste like! The grapefruit, pine, and various tropical fruits you pick up on the nose are each individually discovered as it sits on your tongue, complemented by a near-perfect malt presence. This is fiinish is soft and clean, leaving the perfect balance of sweetness and bitterness on the tongue.

Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy with carbonation levels right in the middle.

I can see why the RR brewpub has so many regulars. I'd drink this everyday too, given the chance.

Along with the Younger, this is the best IIPA I've ever had. Fantastic. (1,551 characters)

Photo of mikedashg
4.32/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed on 02/19/09, bottled 01/05/09

A - Poured into a tulip glass with golden yellow in color. Very clear, not cloudy at all. Nice thick fluffy white head. Great lacing.

S - Pine, Citrus/Grapefruit and Hops

T - Similar to nose, heavy on the hops, followed by a citrus and pine and a little spice. Hop heads will love this one. It's not a hop bomb persay, it's just right, great balance with the malt!

M - A little thin on side in the mouth, could use some more body, but nice carbonation. For as hoppy as it is. It's not a palette killer

D - Very good drinkability for a double IPA. Nice and tasty and an easy drink. (624 characters)

Photo of cleeze
4.42/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Talk about a god damn hop bomb!!! This sucker kicks you right in the teeth, winks at you then ask's you what's good? Finally I get my hands on Pliny.

Poured a nice hazy orange with a nice frothy white head that disappeared rather quickly to show some bad ass lacing that was glued right to the glass. I repeat BAD ASS

Smells like a hop bomb should. Straight up piney hops all up in your grill. Also a tad of great grapefruit up in there as well, but mostly HOPS, HOPS, and more HOPS... then again HOPS. one more time?

Taste is again HOPS, duh. Also citrus grapefruit and some great malt presence as well. The piney hops deffinatly overpower ALL in it's path. Make's you pucker and your eye will twitch... twice. Even chuck norris will have a tough time with this one. It's just that bad ass!

Overall this lived up to the HYPE. It's one bad mother.... shut yo mouth. (869 characters)

Photo of locstir
4.92/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5


Photo of BZero007
4.42/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

For a beer that tastes so Hoppy it has a very light golden yellow tint to it. The head and lace start to go away pretty quickly.

This Beer has a wonderful new smell to it for me. A very strong Piney, woodsey, and Hoppy smell to it. Witht he slightest hint of fruits in the background.

Again this beer has a very refreshing Hoppy and Piney taste to it with hints of fruits in the background. As I went threw the beer the taste of fruits slightly disappeared but the hop and pine flavors intensified.

It's a sneaky beer that you would like to keep drinking do to the taste, but the beer will catch up to you! Top 3 IPA's for me recommend to anyone. (652 characters)

Photo of kgotcher
4.32/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Found this in Seattle, 500ml bottle for 4.99. Had to get it just because these are hard to find in Colorado where I live.

Pours a kind of orange hazy color. With a med body head that disolves quick but has some nice clingy lacing.

Aroma is mainly hops, definately grapefruit and a bit of cracker but the hops do take over.

Taste is pretty smooth for an 8% beer. Nothing harsh, just nice hops and a well balanced malt profile. Very rich and flavorful, not as much of a hop bomb as I expected. Has a sweet but tart and bitter finish that only makes you want more. Good thing I got 2. (585 characters)

Photo of tjsprague
4.77/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I have had a lot of very good beers the past few days and I feel like I am writing a lot of positive reviews. But even with all of these great beers and great reviews this beer may be my favorite of all time.

This beer pours surprisingly light and golden yellow. If you have never had it you would be suprised at the depth of flavor for a beer that looks so light.

The smell is just hops. Floral and excellent dry hopped aroma that betrays the color and lets you know that the beer in the glass is full of flavor.

Where the Pliny excelled for me is the taste. While I love hoppy bitter beers the Pliny manages to incredibly hoppy without being weighed down with too much bitterness of thickness. The mouthfeel of the beer is fairly light and fruity (for a beer with this flavor). It doesn't leave that thick hop resin or bitterness that you can get with some very hoppy beers. The taste is just what I am looking for in this type of beer, an excellent floral and fruity hop flavor without some of the heavy bitterness that can weigh down some beers.

For drinkability I think this beer is excellent. Like I said about the bitterness, the floral aspect of the hops makes it refreshing. Its the kind of beer I could enjoy with a summer bbq or a cool winter evening. A fantastic beer all around, one of the best. (1,314 characters)

Photo of brendan13
4.3/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks heaps to Joecast for this bottle.

Bottled on date of 09/04/08 so it is a few months old.

A - Poured into a tulip glass with a couple of centimetres of fluffy white head that falls fairly quickly. The beer itself is a clear dark gold with an orange hue.
S - Smell is dominated by piney hop aromas. There is some tropical fruit notes in the background. Possibly faded away a bit over the few months.
T - Piney and slight tropical fruit hop notes also in the taste backed up by a nice sweetish but not cloying biscuity malt character.
M - Medium bodied, fairly low carbonation with a moderately bitter, dry finish.
D - 8% well hidden. Not quite the "hop bomb" I was expecting; just a very drinkable, well balanced DIPA. Can't wait to drink some more one day! (764 characters)

Photo of bhalter8
4.8/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks to mhewes for sending this in trade this week. Have been very excited to get my hands on this. Pours a light golden color with with a solid 1" frothy white head. Leaves nice lacing on the pint as the head recedes. Maybe it is the DIPAs I have had, but this one looks lighter than most. A far more earthy/pine aroma to the hops, versus the citrusy hops that many IPAs have. The taste is exceptional, a strong hops punch, but surprisingly balanced. There is an interesting sweet taste, faintly, in the background that adds to aids in that balance. The ABV is well hidden, as this goes down smooth and easy. Definitely deserving of the hype, I only wish I could stock my fridge with them, as a self proclaimed hop head.
A second tasting on 4/13/09 (bottled 1/23/09) has caused me to better appreciate the aroma and taste in this beer. The look is still very pale, but that doesn't come through in the taste. The crisp pine in both smell and taste is incredible, and yet balanced. Very light considering what it takes to get to this ABV and IBU.
A third tasting of a three week old bottle has only further enhanced my appreciation of this beer. Amazing, I wish I lived in CA. (1,178 characters)

Photo of jminsc76
4.37/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

The initial aroma is incredibly piny, like a deep, fresh breathe of forest. Upon swirling the glass and opening it up, slight aromas of creamy vanilla come through, with a big head that forms but diminishes rapidly upon settling. Tastes of bold hops, slightly bitter but very smooth. Pine all the way through. Complements the Mediterranean-style lamb dish I am having very well.

The body is a reddish golden, with the top exhibiting a nice cloudy appearance prior to agitation. Nice punch to the mouth via the hops but nothing too severe. Decent aftertaste but can become a little much if I don't follow up with a sip of water or another bite of lamb.

As the beer warms up a little, the taste becomes sweeter, less fresh pines and more grapefruit and other citrus.

This ranks among my top three favorite IPAs (Stone IPA and 90 Minute being the other two), and I have noticed little difference between drinking it from the tap versus from the bottle. Both are delicious - very full-bodied, fresh, and hitting the taste-buds just right without overwhelming them. (1,066 characters)

Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 3,392 ratings.