Pliny The Younger | Russian River Brewing Company

946 Reviews
no score
Send samples
Pliny The YoungerPliny The Younger

Brewed by:
Russian River Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: American Double / Imperial IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.25%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
Pliny the Younger, the man, was Pliny the Elder’s nephew and adopted son. They lived nearly 2,000 years ago! Pliny the Elder is our Double IPA, so we felt it was fitting to name our Triple IPA after his son. It is almost a true Triple IPA with triple the amount of hops as a regular I.P.A. That said, it is extremely difficult, time and space consuming, and very expensive to make. And that is why we don’t make it more often! This beer is very full-bodied with tons of hop character in the nose and throughout. It is also deceptively well-balanced and smooth.

Added by xlperro on 01-27-2005

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 946 | Ratings: 3,065
Photo of hoffmans
5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A-Beautiful color, golden light amber, clear
S-floral hops, pine and honeysuckle, amazing IPA smell
T-more crisp and clear than the Elder, extremely smooth and not as heavy as the Elder. There is a lingering hop taste, you taste hops all throughout from beginning to end. The aftertaste is what is best. You just want to keep drinking. Sweet and hoppy.
M-Wonderful smooth mouthfeel, lighter body than the Elder.
D-extremely drinkable. For being such a big beer the Younger is scrumptious!

 488 characters

Photo of tomakeanend
5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I don't know if this is the 'world's best beer'. But it is the best I have ever tasted. Hands-down.

Smooth, bold flavors, and a refreshing, crisp finish. The two loveliest ladies in my life surprised me by waiting in line two hours to secure the last two tickets for a special pouring of Pliny the Younger, while I was stuck at work all day and none the wiser. It's pretty much the perfect brew. I highly recommend.

 416 characters

Photo of hitter114
5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Served in a tulip from the falling rock taphouse

A: Typical AIPA Pale coloring. nice foamy and sticky head
S: strong smell of hops complex layering
T: DANG lots of layers of amazing fresh hops. Lived up to the hype
M: Delicious sticky mouth feel
O: IF you can get it....get it fantastic beer

 293 characters

Photo of Benempt
5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Drank at the bar at Russian River on superbowl Monday! The wait on Sunday was eight hours, Monday night I walked right in and sat at the bar.

Tasting against Pliny the Elder, Pliny the Younger is crisp, somehow light?, and just delicious. It is amazing that it has so much alcohol. Compare too against the syruping, nearly chewy 120 minute Dogfish head IPA - Pliny the Younger is clear and good and just so, so drinkable.

 422 characters

Photo of animortician
5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

First year that I have been back local in the past 3. Made sure I set aside a day to spend at RR enjoying this amazing beer. Had it in 2010 in CO, and in 2008 at RR.

A: Pale with a faint tint of Orange. Awesome clarity. Awesome lacing, I would post a picture if I could.

S: Fruity, tart, Citrus, Hops, Hops, Hops. Not like the 11% ABV that this beer is. Didn't last long smelling it before I took the first sip.

T: Everything it smelled like except for the Hops, Hops and more Hops. Just as drinkable as I remembered. No harsh after taste like some big IPAs. Smooth, fruity, hoppy and balanced!

M: Magic! How do they fit 11% in there without it tasting or feeling anything like syrup? Mouthfeel is like any great IPA, Smooth light and Crisp!

O: This beer is #1 for a reason!

 779 characters

Photo of hophead247
5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from a tap into a 4 ounce taster glass...Finally had my chance to taste The Younger, and oh my GOD, what a day to remember. First the sample, then meeting Vinnie...the brewer himself.

This ale poured an amber color with a nice thick white head. Like the Elder, this ale was very clear and clean with no sediment at all.
The smell was of fresh hops...citrusy and crisp. One word describes the taste...PHENOMENAL!!! Like the Elder, this ale hides its alcohol content very well and has the perfect balance of malts and hops. I wanted to ask Vinnie how he does it, but refrained. At 10.75% I thought this would be tougher to drink, but I was wrong. It's definitely not one to chug, but to savor, for this is one ale that people will remember for years to come.

 764 characters

Photo of xmorgan
5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I have enjoyed this beer at RR and the Bistro in Hayward. It is big bold and awesome.

For those that say it is not worth the hype, I disagree, it is the best of Triple IPAs and as such belongs at the top!

Pliny the Younger was born in Novum Comum (Como, Northern Italy), the son of Lucius Caecilius Cilo, born there, and wife Plinia Marcella, a sister of Pliny the Elder. It is assumed Pliny was writing about him being the first to write about hops. This is debatable as his "lupus salictarium" Willow Wolf, may or may not have been the hop plant. This description makes reference on how the mentioned plant can drag down a tree by it's weight, similar as to a pack of wolves dragging down a large elk, by the weight of t's numbers, a pack of wolves drag down the larger beast, so does this plant by growing up its sides and over time, dropping said tree or plant.

This beer is hop goodness and the smell is devine hop goodness with a bitter brite grapefruit and uber happiness that should be contemplative over time rather volume.

 1,035 characters

Photo of chrisjws
5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Review for 2015, 2016 vintages

10oz pour at Britannia Arms Almaden in late February. Served in a lowball glass.
4oz pour at Harry's Hofbrau San Jose, 15 days after initial brewery release. Served in a small snifter glass.

A: Medium to dark orange in color. 1/2 a finger of head that dissipated quickly. Clear, not cloudy in the least. Great looking beer, very similar in appearance to Elder.
S: Malty sweetness right upfront with pine and tropical fruit. Passion fruit, orange, tangerine come through as well. Sweet malts in the background, makes me think of cake or frosting. No alcohol to be found in the aroma, the 11% doesn't come through even a little bit. Catty aromas from the simcoe are definitely present. Incredibly delicate, takes several passes to really process everything going on.
T: Sweet pineapple upfront, pine, and sweet malt. Oranges, tangerines, tropical fruits in the middle mouth and finish. Little bit of bitterness but not very much.
M: Medium to large mouthfeel, this is the only place where the size of the beer really comes through. Medium carbonation and a clean finish.
O: This one lives up to the hype. An incredibly well crafted triple. Easy drinking, smooth and delicious. The best beer in the world? I don't think so, but not far from it. I give this one a perfect score because it's amazing and there's no beer like it.

 1,357 characters

Photo of gpatt55
5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On Tap @ Father's Office Santa Monica 2/11(From memory)

After waiting 1.5 hours and getting denied at the cluster that was Surly Goat the night before, I was happy to catch FOI's twitter feed the next night and have 20oz of the 15 gallons they released rather quietly.

Whether all the hype added to my immense enjoyment of this divine nectar is inconsequential. Long story short I can't think of a better beer that's ever passed my lips.

Poured a hazy straw/light orange color with a thin head. Incredible kaleidoscopic nose that combines the powerful skunky simcoe dispensary nose of Elder with a concentrated, almost delicate note of pure bright candied apricot fruit. WOW.

On the palate this beer is even smoother than Elder, if I had to guess the ABV blind I'd say 7-8%, it's that well hidden. There is an incredibly zen balance to the taste of this beer that I can only compare to the best Grand Cru Burgundy. Absolutely etheral, even though it's more concentrated, I'd say this is more drinkable than Elder. IBUs are off the chart. I get what they mean by Lupulin threshold shift. Definitely more purely concentrated hoppy than anything I've ever had. But the balance of this beer just swaddles the bitterness in cashmere. The fact that Vinnie makes an 11% ABV beer this balanced is a high wire act that I've never seen surpassed. Cheers. See you next year Younger!

 1,375 characters

Photo of BeerSamurai34
5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This one was a 5 for me. It might be mainly because of the hype and rarity, but I absolutely loved every drop of this beer. It was clean and crisp like most west coast IPAs, but had the juiciness of a NE hopped IPA.

 215 characters

Photo of deepsleeper
5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had a much more unique depth of flavor than Elder did. Much fresher too, cuz obviously, it is consumed within days of release. Aroma was particularly alluring. I wouldn't wait 8 hours like some people do for it, but there's really nothing that compares in terms if IPA. I recommend you get to whatever venue it's hosting earlier than two hours before tapping, or wait in line with the other hundreds.

 400 characters

Photo of sublimesipping
5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

finally i had the holy grail! On tap at Tria for their thurs barrel tasting series. Poured into a crystal wine glass, great glass lacing and clarity, wonderful color. And the smeill, as I would expect from a RR beer and having had the elder, great piney floral hops hops and more hops...
I went in expecting to enjoy but not be blown away. The elder is my fav- until tonight. Yes friends this beer lived up to its hype for me. What a great beer! so balanced, so delicious, so drinkable, so potent. a great beer! I am graced to finally have been able to partake and enjoy

 571 characters

Photo of elNopalero
5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Dear Pliny,

Our reunion has been long in the making. Several years, by my count. At first, I didn’t understand what the fuss was about. I only saw the long lines of beer geeks jockeying for a taste of you, and assumed, wrongly, that young(er) and old (er, elder) were one and the same… and, being in the bay, I could get the Elder at enough places to take it for granted as well.
The first time we met I felt the hype… it was a late night, and I had enough to drink by then… I’m sorry our first time wasn’t as memorable as it could have been.

Now that I’ve been away and had time to grow, however, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your tasty goodness. You look great in your Russian River glass, with your burnt yellow hue and that billowy white cloud sitting atop your pour. You smell great too, did I mention? Hops compliment you, and that blend of light citrus and pine, lemon peel and orange zest, with a sweet floral scent tying it all together. If it is true what they say about our sense of taste being depending upon our sense of smell then this might be enough of a paean to you. … But from the first sip on I am continually amazed. How do you do it? What is your secret to being so bold, so bitter—yet so light and drinkable? I get the hops immediately, that piney citrusy blend that you’re so fond of that’s like fresh grapefruit and chewy sap, but you’re deceptively bitter when you could be bracingly so. That finish is at once gentle yet commanding, like a whisper that crescendos into a auditorium-filling symphony. I still can’t believe you’re 12%--you certainly don’t show it at all.

I’m glad we could spend this time getting reacquainted, and I look forward to visiting you again in another year. Don’t be a stranger.


My 400th review.

 1,812 characters

Photo of CWO
5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had this beer for the first time today on tap at the Memphis Tavern in Philadelphia. I now understand what the hoopla is all about. Although my mainstay is Belgian style beers as I'm not generally a fan of hop forward beers, this creation was excellent. Look forward to more of the same from Russian River.

 306 characters

Photo of Shane94941
5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had it on tap at the brewpub on release a word unbelievable. One sip and my perspective of IPA's was changed forever. Completely destroyed my taste buds. Sticky and chewy in the mouth. Today (2 days after release) I just opened a growler and it is just as awesome. It is IPA perfection. Floral hop scent, good head, a little cloudy. The hops resonate in my mouth and the bitterness removes all saliva. If you are a hophead this is the pinnacle of beer.

 461 characters

Photo of hopmonkey
5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I was there at the 2011 debut. Simply an outstanding, world-class beer. Floral, pungent hops without the bitterness that so many have unfortunately associated with "good" IPA. Well-balanced and obviously carefully crafted, this is a distinctly American beer. And one to be proud of. Well done Russian River. Oh, and watch out because that 10%+ ABV will sneak up on you...

Finally, the Russian River staff and patrons couldn't have been friendlier or more welcoming. Rock on.

 475 characters

Photo of CJNAPS
5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Best IPA I've ever tasted. I've had a lot of IPA's over the years and nothing comes close to Younger (imo) it could be my Cali bias but you can not beat the fresh hop taste of this one.

 185 characters

Photo of gafferjohn
5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had this at the local 44.I felt very fortunate to have the opportunity to try this and even more so to have it in a nice peaceful local with not that many people. I've read some of the reports of PtY madness at other tappings.

From memory: What can I say, It was the smoothest, best balanced beer I've ever had. The smell was intoxicating with tropical fruitiness and some nice hops right off the bat.

Taste was less hoppy that Pliny the Elder or just better balanced ? Could not tell that it was 11% abv. Mouthfeel was not very heavy but not weak by any means. Just really an incredible experience.

I just can't wait to have it again someday !

 647 characters

Photo of Rinkor16
5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

EDIT 2/10/13: Just as good as before.

Saved my first beer review for Pliny the Younger! I'm actually sitting in the brewery right now.

A: Nice golden yellow. A little bit of orange. Very clear.

S: Citrus, Pine and definitely hops.

T: Extremely drinkable.... Dangerously drinkable. The alcohol is definitely hidden. You can taste the hops and citrus. Definitely hoppy. Did I mention extraordinarily drinkable?

M: Full bodied. Very smooth.

O: Extroardinary! First time having the Younger and I'm impressed.

EDIT: Here's a photo!

 567 characters

Photo of tom_ogasawara
5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is a perfect beer for IPA lovers. The Younger is to the Elder as the Elder is to Sierra Nevada. (I'm not saying Sierra Nevada is bad; RR is just in a different league.) The beer is perfectly carbonated with such a deep and complex flavor that it should by all rights be undrinkable, yet the mouth feel is so smooth and luxurious you'd think you were drinking a stout or something.

 385 characters

Photo of tpd975
5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I have long since given up on milestone beers. That being said this beer is a milestone all on its own so I am going to make it review 900. It has been my holy grail for the past year or so and a great big fucking thanks goes out to Talisker for once again hooking a brother up!

I owe you.

Being the good guy I am I took it to the local tasting group for all to enjoy.

A: Pours an ultra clear golden hue that is actually fairly light for the style. Bold creamy head quickly rises to a nice solid cap. Good retention, lots of lace and fizz when swirled. This one begs to be drank.

S: Holy hops batman! This baby is pure hop juice. Huge hop aroma with wonderful scents jumping out at you. Juicy orange and sweet apricot play well with peach and grapefruit. Green grass cuts through along with an absolute bouquet of flowers.

T: The malt in this beer must be ridiculous for the balance to be so spot on despite the insane amount of hops. Nice sweet caramel malt peeks through but trust me there is much more going on here in the malt department. That being said it has no chance to shine. The hops plow through with the malt doing its best just to provide balance... which it does quite nicely. The hop flavors are like nothing I have ever tasted. Sweet, Citrus, and Floral are all there. Sun sweet apricot and peach really stand out with notes of sweet mango. The green grass cuts through and seems to duel with sweet orange and bitter grapefruit. To call this beer complex would be an understatement. To call it great would be a crime. It is sooo much more and even better I could ever imagine.

M: Full bodied, rich, thick, smooth. It coats the mouth and throat with sweet and bitter fruit that just lingers and lingers. Pure sex in a bottle.

D: I had two full glasses and if there had been more I would have had a third. That being said I was fine drinking all the beers at the tasting. When finished with this one I was bombed, yet there was no hint of the ABV in the flavor.

Huge aromas, and out of this world flavor. This is one many will try to duplicate but will no doubt fall short.

It is worthy of that holy grail title. The best beer in the world? I would say so at least for now. The good news is my boy ibrew2or3 brought a growler home with him from his trip to Cali. I get a second round with this bad boy tomorrow. Life could not be better.

Give an arm, a leg, your first born. Get this one you will be glad you did. Talisker you rock man, I owe you big time!

 2,482 characters

Photo of regspeir
5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

- Based on 2 10 oz drafts at Resurrection Ale House in Philly:
I doubt I have much to add to the raving about this beer except to echo my affection. It pours a copper, golden orange w. good carbonation, a decent, albeit thin head and lacing all the way down the glass.
The nose is a floral, citrus, hoppy explosion with pineapple, orange, lemon zest but especially grapefruit.
The taste, while not what I would describe as complex, was just...well...perfection - bitterness perfectly offset by sweetness and malt and a peppery grapefuit fresh aftertaste. There is evidence of the alcohol in the warming finish but no hint of the 11% (so beware!).
In short, maybe there is a better beer out there somewhere, but I have yet to find it; This is an awesome beer.

 759 characters

Photo of drabmuh
5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5


I slayed a growler of this last night with the help of the other Matt. Weapon of choice was my Stone IPA tulip. I obtained a growler in a trade with great BA. As a result of our heroic undertaking, my mind is still not firing on all cylinders, but this is the best DIPA I've ever had and only my second straight 5.

Beer poured from a Russian River growler into a Stone IPA tulip. Beer is yellow to orange and CLEAR! The pour forms a white head about an inch to a half an inch in thickness that falls away leaving some lacing on the glass. Carbonation is moderate to high and really steady. The bubbles nucleate at the bottom of the glass mostly, beginning small but rise slowly increasing in size as they rise to the head. The head retention is good. No chill haze, beautiful color, good head dynamics, nice level of carbonation, its a beautiful beer.

Aroma is primarily a lot of hops....a lot of hops. Very citrusy with some pine notes in there. There is some sweetness, its a dominate aroma component. Its difficult but sometimes I think I can smell some alcohol but mostly I can not. For being such a huge beer, I really can't tell based on the aroma at all. The aroma is also huge. I can smell it from across the table. I found myself not even drinking it just smelling it, very complex, very big, very wonderful.

Taste time, balance. This beer hits all the parts of the palate, forward, middle and back. Obviously there is hop bitterness in the back, there is some sweetness up front, but no alcohol. Beer is medium bodied, definitely not a malt bomb like some DIPAs tend to be. There are almost fruit notes in the mid-palate. Some sweet orange or almost lime flavors. Beer finishes cleanly, leaving no aftertaste. Bitterness grows as it does with most big hoppy beers, but it does not interfere with the other flavors or drinkability.

I was going to originally rate the drinkability as a 4.5 for this beer. But I had some food between my pints of it and after some food a blew through my second pint. It is an amazingly balanced and completely wonderful IPA. At 11%, it is unlikely that I would make it my daily drinker, but it is the most dangerously drinkable 11% beer I've ever had.

EDIT: I had this again at EBF (4 ounce pour) and compared it side by side with Pliney the Elder. I realized as Matt and I were drinking this growler that it was an important but absent variable in my review is comparing it to another beer. We drug out an Exponential Hoppiness for comparison but it wasn't the right thing to do.

At the fest I had 4 ounces of each next to each other. My wife and I both tasted each and agreed that Younger was better than Elder. It was sweeter and thicker, had more fruit notes on the palate and smells were uncomparable. The hop aroma on Younger blew the hop aroma on Elder out of the water. I'm not going to write an additional review of this beer on draft, I just thought I would include these thoughts in my present review.

 2,971 characters

Photo of SacoDeToro
5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I've had every batch of Pliny the Younger and I wasn't about to miss out on this latest one.

The beer poured a rich golden color with a small white head that quickly turned into a small lace.

The aroma of this beer was bursting with amazingly fresh hops. Pine and heavy citrus (tangerine, grapefruit, and pineapple) were there in abundance. The alcohol was there to help carry the aroma up and away.

The flavor of the beer had an intense, yet incredibly rounded hop profile that blended many hop flavors. A myriad of citrus fruits were there, but tangerine was the heaviest. Many double IPAs have hop profiles that are good, but one dimensional. PTY had a multi-dimensional hop flavor. The malt profile was clean and sweet. Mostly 2 row pale malt with some light notes of caramel malt.

The mouthfeel was medium/light with a rich creaminess that worked so well for this beer. I'm assuming corn sugar and Carapils malts were used in this beer which made it crisp and dry, yet still dextrinous enough to never be thin.

The carbonation was fine and tight.

This beer is a masterpiece. This latest batch seems like the finest to me. The hop profile is a little different and improved from previous batches. I'm fortunate enough to live close to several places that have this beauty tapped. Life is good.

 1,303 characters

Photo of LessMyth
5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Filtered deep golden beer with frothy head.

S: Citrus, spice and honey.

T: Best in class. The flavor unfolds wonderfully, the hops and high ABV somehow not overpowering, the finish smooth but sharp.

M: Standard for a triple. This is one place the high abv can be noticed.

O: This beer's scarcity is its one (terrible) fault. Pliny the younger may be delicious but is not in the same league.

 397 characters

Pliny The Younger from Russian River Brewing Company
4.67 out of 5 based on 3,065 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.