Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

Pliny The Younger | Russian River Brewing Company

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
931 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: 931 | Ratings: 2,978
Photo of BeerImmediately
4.42/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had 2 at Craft Ale House.

Poured into 4-5 oz glasses. Nice clarity and lacing.

Aromas were all citrus featuring sweet mango and pineapple as it warmed a bit.

Flavors were quite sharp. Bee sting of sweet grapefruit, mango, pineapple, and kiss of honey. Tasty burps.

Mouthfeel was quite dry. Just enough carbonation, but relatively thin given the ABV.

3rd attempt at being blown away over the last 2 yrs, before I finally reviewed it for what it is. A very nice DIPA.

 474 characters

Photo of snaotheus
4.42/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Malt and Vine in Redmond.

Pours a clear golden orange, very small head and pretty (but small) lacing. Small, attractive carbonation. Smell is excellent, hoppy and spicy and piny and honey.

Taste is surprising -- honey and floral, lots of hop bitterness, strong lingering bitter aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is light and airy, quite drinkable, very pleasant beer, despite all the hype.

 390 characters

Photo of jbone78
4.41/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tasted this tonight at a local tasting. My buddy Keith got this through a trade and he is awesome enough to share with us. Pours a really clear yellow to light orange with some Hop residue in my glass, yep hops I say. I am not a great smeller, but I do smell a ton of hops. So, for a normal person, you would smell a mega ton, I bet. The taste is very floral and not over bittering, which is great in my book. I am not a bitter freak, I like hop flavors. Wish we could get this in Florida year round.


 506 characters

Photo of CharlesDarwin
4.4/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Originally reviewed on February 10, 2005. Handbottle. Aroma is fuming blast of acidic fresh spritizing strong and sour citrus of grapefruit, fresh spruce and a hint of perfumy essence. Pour is a oranged yellow rimmed clear pour, with a lacy spotted sheets on the class of clean white. Flavor is a sweet fresh grapefruit, lime and cilantro. Savory and gushing with a gentle sweet maltness that superbly comforts and carries the hops as a delicate and sumptumous hop elixir. A true ambrosia. If the malt lent a little more character, and the hops were a little more transformed into that mouth warming bready goodness, this would be a top 10. Nonetheless, it’s an astoundingly drinkable high alcohol brew, with all those flavors carried perfectly, yet not leaving a harsh impression on the palate. Finishes actually quite sweet and floral, as opposed to typical dry grass, instead with lemongrass and a sweet cinnamon candy.

 923 characters

Photo of Gobigvt7
4.4/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Higgin's Restaurant in Portland, OR. Served 8oz. in white wine glass while the theme song for "Rocky" is pumped through the speakers.

Beautiful clear gold with thin white head. Lacing on glass even after the head is gone. Looks like a cidre in the light. Some amber around the corners and deeper parts of the glass.

Sweet, wet hop aroma, resin, honey, and a whiff of Feet/B.O. just to round it out. Like pine needles soaked in rich honey.

Hmmm. Softer than I imagined. Sweet, syrupy hops. (Extract?). Hints of mango. No noticeable malt character. Very hot on the end but booze isn't a major part of the flavor profile. grapefruit. Piney, bitter ending. It's an exercise in hop love without notions of malt "balance". Somehow, it still works.

Almost cloying sweetness, but a very firm light body. Doesn't feel huge in my mouth. (that's what she said.) Hot. Prickly carbonation.

With the hype surrounding this beer, I have to say I expected more. That said, it is a unique and immersive taste experience. It doesn't taste like anything I've had before, but it still wouldn't crack my top 20. Definitely wouldn't kick it out of bed. Bucket List: check.

 1,167 characters

Photo of WeisGuy
4.4/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

a - bright golden color, fairly clear with a slight haze, good sized white head with very good retention and lacing

s - prominent citrus aromas centering on lemon, moderate sweetness, slight alcohol, a lot going on in the nose

t - very sharp hop bitterness at the start, lots of citrus on the midpalate, lemon and grapefruit mostly, good deal of sweetness and alcohol on the finish without being overwhelming, hop bitterness and citrus lingers for awhile

m - medium-bodied, full mouthfeel relative to other DIPAs, not overly dry on the palate

d - pretty dangerously drinkable for an 11% DIPA, not too harsh on the palate, not one dimensional, so it stays interesting

Very good DIPA overall, though I actually like the Elder a bit more. It's too bad they don't brew this more than once a year.

 797 characters

Photo of ClaremontBrew
4.4/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Made the pilgrimage to Russian River pub in Santa Rosa this past February specifically for this beer. When we first arrived (on the day of release), there was a 4 hour wait to get in. We aborted and went up the road to Bear Republic for lunch instead. When we returned to Russian River that night at about 8pm, the line was only 45 minutes long. Once inside, the atmosphere was awesome because everyone was there to try the same beer, and they had all put a lot of effort into being there. It was a great party.

The beer was served in 10oz nonic glasses (half imperial pint), but there was no limit to the number of pours you could buy (but no growlers).

This beer can be summed up as "Pliny the Elder times two". The characteristics are all the same as Elder, just more intense. More sugar, more alcohol, more hops. If you've had the Elder, just imagine the same wonderful hop aroma and flavor twice as intense.

Because of the extra sugar and alcohol, the body is quite more substantial than the Elder. On initial sip, the beer seems quite syrupy and heavy. But after a few more sips, this perception fades and the beer is pure enjoyment.

Overall, a great beer. I'm glad I made the trek (for the experience alone), but I doubt I would do it again. It's a great one time beer, but for repeated drinking, I prefer the Elder.

 1,328 characters

Photo of phingdong
4.4/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Russian River 1 week after release (Feb 8, 2013). This was a real treat to sit down and take my first sip after traveling from NH for this and SF beer week, etc. The weather, setting (love RR brewpub), and atmosphere were perfect. Having tried all of the top IPAs/DIPAS except this one, I had to confront the Younger.

I wasn't expecting to be blown away by this beer as I typically prefer DIPAs (TIPA) in the 8% abv range. I'm not a huge fan of Hopslam and other 10%+ DIPAs. This was better than I expected. I was quite impressed by the tropical fruit in the nose and taste for such a big beer. The booze is well hidden and the drinkability is off the charts (had 9 glasses over the week). Tropical fruit, pine, some booze, nice malt backing without being over the top. Delicious.

While this was not the best DIPA/TIPA I've ever had, and the setting and experience probably bumped it up a notch, it was an excellent beer. My expectations were exceeded. I do think this is a beer that is best enjoyed as close to release/fresh as possible (all hoppy beers are of course, but perhaps some more than others) as I noticed a bit of decline/change in aroma/taste by my last glass a week after the first (probably palate fatique?). I hope to return next year.

 1,264 characters

Photo of ManekiNeko
4.4/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served on tap at the Brickskeller in DC in a pint glass. Cellar temps, to boot.

Appearance: What the heck, it's actually pale!!! Honey golden yellow. Slightly hazy, but I'd still call this clear if pressed. Head is not overly present, but the barkeep apparently felt a full pour was warranted given the price ($7 per glass). Frankly, can't say I blame her. What head there was dissapated to a film and left decent amounts of lacing on the glass. Extra special kudos for actually being yellow, only impressive given what follows.

Smell: Honeysuckle-like floral aromas mixed with a heady amount of apricots. Sappy woodsy/earthiness underneath that. Some yeasty phenols lurking around. Overall, a hearty dose of tropicalia. Hoppy, but not. Yeasty, but not. Malty, but not. Stank and dank. Heady.

Taste: Honey-like sweetness for a brief instant, then smashed - Hulk-like - by piney bitterness. Alcohol and tropical citrus on the long lasting finish. Grainy malts with grassy hops on the extreme end (like, 50 seconds after a sip).

Mouthfeel: Surprisingly light, given both the style and the ABV. What the heck was that again? 11%? You gotta be kidding me...While you know this is boozy by the slight burn, you wouldn't think it's that high.

Drinkability: I feel like I've quaffed some cross between the movie "What the *BLEEEP* Do We Know?" and the book, "Gödel, Escher, Bach." I just faced an onslaught - verging on a cacophony - of malts, hops and yeast. Hops eked out, barely, over the others. I can't honestly say I got the intent, or the entire point, but gawdamn do I think that this is the epitome of extreme beer. All other claimants, while possibly good/great, are just some other beer or beer style turned up to 11. This is something else entirely. Possibly something new under the sun.

I'm still confoozled. Maybe a few more pints will help me figure things out...

 1,892 characters

Photo of d4114
4.4/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2/9/12 at Stone Brewing

A- very clear golden orange, very similar the elder but a little more on the orange side. Nice white head.

S- Really astringent hops, big everything. Tropical fruits, grapefruit, sweet orange, pine, some actual bitterness and a sweet caramel.

T- Big citrus notes with a ton of bitterness but not in a sharp way it is just there. Not nearly as sweet as the smell which surprised me. No alcohol to be found but there is a slight warmth in the back of your throat. Citrus lingers slightly but has a very dry finish.

M- Pretty standard here, the exact medium light feel a refreshing double should have.

O- I was really really excited to try this but I have to say i'm not really sure if this holds up to the hype, for me anyhow. I think I was still expecting something a little different I guess but this is for sure an awesome A+ beer with insane drink ability. Also didn't have to wait in any kind of line or by a ticket (it wasn't even that busy really) which was a big plus.

 1,005 characters

Photo of mhatters
4.4/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served on-tap at TJs a few weeks back, from my notes.

Pours a strong orangecopper color with a thick white head and tremendous amounts of lacing.

Strong pine hop nose, some floral aspects as well. Some citrus comes out when the glass is moved.

Amazing flavor, the hop flavors are incredibly complex and powerful - pine, grapefruit, floral aspects all present at one time or another.

The finish is almost sweet, crisp and still powerful.

I managed to get two of these, as the keg kicked in 26 minutes, the second glass was as powerful and tremendous as the first. According to my notes, the second glass seemed a bit more oily than the first, but not in any negative way. A great, great beer.

 698 characters

Photo of olympuszymurgus
4.4/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

after a year...finally we meet again.
this nearly clear golen beverage is wanted. a fine floral aroma like the garden of eden - BUT - do not taste of the fruit of the tree in the middle! oh dear god, i did. it is too smooth. an intensity of bitterness and hop flavor, but not quite the shapness of the elder. a little citrus fruit in the nose and mouth. so nice for 11, doesn't feel like it, so little sweetness for an imperial. i wish i could drink it, but i put the 8 oz glass in a museum instead. ahh, posterity.

 515 characters

Photo of MexicanSkittel
4.4/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is an amazing beer, there's not much to say that hasn't been said. I though in all honesty don't feel it's the greatest thing EVER. As you would assume it to be from all the hype. But the Russian River crew has again produced another gem to treat us eager beer drinkers with. OK OK the beer...

A very brilliant clear golden yellow with hints of off tan straw. A very thin head dissipates very very fast.

The nose brought out pine needles, fresh trimmings of the chronic, a little straw, with sweet hops all cut with a stinging alc.

There was a spiciness to the beer, that after lemon and green herb. The hops were more to the back of the pallet that all lead to a warm alcohol.

The drinkability of this beer is a personal opinion. I could drink this over and over again. Would it make me see triple? well yea! But there is an amazing balance that gives this beer nothing of a sense of un-drinkability.

See you next year Little guy!

 946 characters

Photo of mschantz
4.4/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled on tap at Small Bar - thanks to cuz for cluing me into this under the radar tapping. Pours a beautiful bright hazy mandarin color - much richer in color than Elder. The nose is huge citrus fruit and pine. Taste is citrus and juniper but drier than expected. Really interesting and complex. Crisp finish.

 316 characters

Photo of CrellMoset
4.4/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Growler courtesy of urwatuh8 - many, many thanks for perhaps my #1 want. Split several ways w/ dkachur, proteus93, and one other friend (who has just begun to appreciate DIPAs - beeradvocacy at work!!).

Appearance: Pours a golden bronze body, gorgeously crisp and clear, with occasional sparse, slow, medium-sized carbonation. The head on this one is very attractive - it's a creamy snow-white, an initial finger-and-a-half high, and has above average retention. It in fact never really fades beyond a healthy thick dusting of snow and a firm, spongy collar. The lacing is similarly attractive, strewing waves and chunks of foamy, occasionally glittery lace all over the place.

Aroma: Very reminiscent of HopSlam, actually. It's incredibly citrusy and fruity - definite apricot, pineapple, strawberries, peach, white grapefruit, blood oranges all make themselves known throughout the course of the sip. It's also fantastically sweet, with notes of honey, tons of pale, saccharine sweetness. The loss of half a point is due to - upon intense, intense inspection - the emergence of a faint whiff of ethanol, light and spicy, and though not imbalanced with the other notes. This one's borderline 4.0, IMO, if only because I get almost the same thing out of HopSlam, with no alcohol there.

Taste: Massive bitterness up front and throughout, though it's a very soft, gentle, well-balanced bitterness. It melds fantastically well with the intense, large, biting citrus, grapefruit, ruby red grapefruit, tons of tropical fruits, and backed up by a big, bold, simplistically sweet malt backbone.

Mouthfeel: Wonderfully smooth and even, with a moderate, subtle carbonation, a surprisingly moderately-viscous body - i.e., I would expect it to be a lot thicker given the amount of malt that had to be pumped into this one - gentle, and subtle, pleasant, nice.

Drinkability: I actually liked the Pliny the Elder better, I do believe, though they're really, truly very different brews. The Elder seems to be a far less balanced brew, actually, with a far more herbal, minty, hop-forward nose than this brew. This one's balanced, but bigger all-around, and (in my personal opinion), the sum of its parts is just a little less overall than the Elder. That's not to say this isn't a fantastic beer - it's stellar, amazing, well-crafted. If you like balanced beer and HUGE beers, this one's for you - it's big, tasty, aromatic, well in-proportion with itself, and just all around amazing. I give many, many thanks to urwatuh8 for the growler of this fantastic brew. As an aside, the Russian River growlers are super-awesome sexy - sort of low to the ground, squat, maybe like a Russian babushka? Regardless, if I lived in Cali, I'd move into RR for this one. As it stands, I'll likely only try it once, and was very, very glad to do so.

 2,828 characters

Photo of DocJitsu
4.39/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Color was a golden light orange.  Citrus bouquet. No head at all, but nicely carbonated. Nice mouthfeel.  An immediate blast of pine that yields to alternating grapefruit and floral flavors. Finishes with distinct grapefruit. No discernible alcohol warmth despite having an ABV of 10.7%.  Great beer, but not my own personal number one--certainly not the best on the planet. 

 379 characters

Photo of rhartogsq
4.39/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had it in a wine glass type vessel at Toronado San Diego 2/18/14.

The color was a great, golden ale color. I was expecting a little darker, but you can't smell or taste color, so no worries. No head, no lacing.

I didn't get much on the nose surprisingly. some tropical notes for sure. Some hop oil.

Taste was great. The booze was minute in it. the hops didn't linger at all. very smooth and enjoyable. tropical hop extract perhaps?

mouth feel was very creamy and stuck to the side of your mouth, I liked that.

was happy I lucked into getting this beer to cross off my bucket list. Would have it again if available, but not wait for a long time in line for it. The experience drinking it with other people waiting for it was actually pretty neat, as we all had the same goal.

 779 characters

Photo of IntriqKen
4.38/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Hollingshead Deli in Orange County, CA.
Poured a golden yellow with a white half finger head that melted slowly to top covering, very sticky lacing. Beautiful.
Lots of hops and a little brown sugar amber malt in the aroma.
Very balanced with it's sweet amber malt and fresh grapefruit peel bitter hops...nothing really fighting anything...just two very strong, impressive opposites complementing each other very well.
Great DIPA from a great West Coast Brewer.
Wish they would bottle this stuff.

 510 characters

Photo of Jef59
4.38/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a hazy gold with a billowy, creamy head that clings till the end.

S - Spicy pine and intense citrus give a firm punch to the nose while the sweet smell of malt gently follows.

T - Call me crazy, but I don't think it's as aggressive as the Elder. It's super balanced and super piney. A honey-like sweetness calms the intensity of the citrusy flavors: grapefruit and pineapple are most prominent. So spicy and sweet, it's very complex.

M - it feels like the th carbonated sap of a pine tree is smoothly sliding around my mouth. Velvety an light yet still rich an thick.

O - I do hate how hyped up this beer ha become. I definitely think there are better Dipas out there, but I can't deny that this is definitely in the top 10. Extremely delicious. Dangerously refreshing.

 783 characters

Photo of thampel09
4.38/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

While I believe this is better than elder I do think there is a lot of hype behind it. Not as big and juicy of a nose as one would expect and there was such an alcohol burn

 172 characters

Photo of laxboy3496
4.37/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served on tap at Russian River Brewing the day after the Super Bowl. I'll be honest, it was just too big for me and I LIKE big beers but there was just too much going on. It is still a fantastic beer but I found myself getting through my ordering other RR offerings after finishing my 10oz. pour. I'm glad I tried it but didn't think that it was worth elbowing my way through the crowds.

 387 characters

Photo of waltonc
4.37/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap tonight at Monk's Kettle.

A: Pours clear golden color with a moderate white head.
S: Very fresh citrus, pine, and floral hop notes. Really good smell to this.
T: Again, the citrus, pine, and floral hop qualities dominate the taste, but are somewhat balanced with the malts. Still an out-of-control hop bomb, but far better than most, and probably the best California IPA I've had.
M: Mouthfeel is spot on for the style. Not too heavy, not too light, and the carbonation is perfect.
D: High ABV and out of control hops hamper drinkability, but this is very good.

 570 characters

Photo of oddb0d
4.37/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I might be one of the few who at least from the 2013 batch of PTE think that it wasn't as good as other beers that I have had. The beer reminded me of a apple or cider after taste. It wasn't as hoppy as I personally would like and it's very smooth. Reminds me of a cross of Apple Cider and Chardonnay and an IPA.

I have heard that 2013 was different from previous years. I prefer Pliny the Younger. Glad I got to try it at Russian River Brewing.

 447 characters

Photo of homebrewhawk
4.37/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Growler shared by mreusch. Thanks! Served in a Boulevard Tank 7 glass. Poured a deep gold with a thin white head. Massive piney hop aroma. Flavor is dominated by hop bitterness as you would expect, but there is a solid malt base without being sweet. Very drinkable for the abv, alcohol was not very evident. Lots of hops without being too green in the flavor. Nice mouthfeel, medium to full bodied. Believe the hype.

 416 characters

Photo of Bouleboubier
4.36/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

(combination of samplings consecutive days at City Tap House and Monk's Cafe, respectively)

I'll just start off by stating that this is one of, if not, the most well-balanced, elegantly-crafted hoppy ale(s) I've come across. A true example of brewing art. That said, the taste is quite fine but perhaps a bit underwhelming for more seasoned hop heads.

The liquid is a fiery orange hue with a jewel-like glow, faint haze, and nearly pure white, sticky-cottony foam that stands for a bit before being overcome by lip oils and/or the alcohol level. Looks nice, but nothing out of the ordinary.

The smell is somewhat, somehow restrained, but has one of the most well-defined, 3D aromatic representations of a handful of newly-dried hop cones in the palm of one's hand - dirty/earthy with a ghostly, subtle, spirit-lifting, mildly-mineral, tonic alcohol delivering it to the sinuses... mild orange-citrus undertones... once again, nice, but requiring a few healthy, deep inhales to take it in.

The flavor is ridiculously refined - it is easily seen that this is PtE, attenuated, flattened-out. Tastes about the same, just the depth and definition found in PtE is lacking in this. One would guess, however, that the alcohol would jump out a bit more in PtY and, yet, it doesn't at all. It's amazing how well-hidden it is, though a sense of quiet warmth rises by the last couple sips. Perception of bitterness is minimal, if at all a factor. Extremely well-balanced, but nearly brut-champagne-like in its dryness - the hops (flavor) and malt are too quiet.

Where this beer really captured my attention and imagination was in its absolutely feather-light body. It's as if the carbonation was the only thing that indicated to my senses that I had beer in my mouth. I wouldn't be surprised if this beer finishes at down close to 1.002-1.004. While I attempted to savor it at CTH, at Monk's (owing partly to the excellent special draft list) I powered through it in 3-4 sips. Sooo easy to drink. Dangerous.

 2,001 characters

Pliny The Younger from Russian River Brewing Company
4.67 out of 5 based on 2,978 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.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • 10 Years of BeerAdvocate Magazine

    We're celebrating 10 years of BA mag with $10 print subscriptions for US residents!