Pliny The Elder | Russian River Brewing Company

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Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder
Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder

Brewed by:
Russian River Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: American Imperial IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Pliny the Elder is brewed with Amarillo, Centennial, CTZ, and Simcoe hops. It is well-balanced with malt, hops, and alcohol, slightly bitter with a fresh hop aroma of floral, citrus, and pine. Best enjoyed FRESH! That is why we make it in such limited supply. Actual bottling date is printed on each bottle!

User Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 3,791 | Ratings: 15,115
Photo of VoodooBear
4.55/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: Draft, served in a Revival pint glass.

Appearance: The thick, rocky, one and a half finger head stays around almost until the end and leaves behind some lacing in patches all over the glass. It's a beautiful, crystal clear deep gold color.

Smell: It's a strong aroma that unfolds in layers; starting with some citrus peel and apricot, followed by some earthier pine and floral notes and it finishes with a touch of grains in the background.

Taste: It's quite bitter up front with some citrus flavors of grapefruit and orange and a strong pine/hop resin oiliness that coats the palate as it goes down.

Mouthfeel: It's smooth, quite crisp and medium bodied with medium carbonation.

Overall: It's regarded as one of the best IPAs in the world for a reason. It brings together the fruity and earthy hop characters together beautifully and it remains relatively easy to drink (though the bitterness is quite high) despite the complexity in the nose and palate. Even though it doesn't have as much hype now as it used to have in years past, it's a perfect example of the traditional American Double IPA style.

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Photo of justin612
4.73/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

ideal DIPA. It never disappoints. sometimes I wish it was lower ABV so I could drink this beer all day without passing out. waiting for Midwest distribution with all the new tanks, should be coming soon.

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Photo of Oh_Dark_Star
4.6/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This IPA lived up to the hype. It was interesting as there was no mind-blowing moment here. No aspect stood out to polarize it. With each drink I came to realize that this beer has been finely and expertly tuned to perfection of the style - like tasting the work of a true master!

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Photo of jbeahler
5/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had it many times on draft and bottle- It’s got a beautiful resinous piney aroma when fresh, slight mint, wintergreen. Malty and sweet, sappy. Excellent west coast IPA, to me; it’s defining.

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Photo of Flickib41
4.71/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a 16 oz bottle into my Pliny Elder glass! Pours a vivacious gold with about an inch of head, quite a bit of lacing as I drink the beer. What struck me the most about the beer was it’s balance. The sweet notes, the bitter note all work as one. It was just a perfect. At 8% and 100 IBUs, the alcohol taste was not there, the bitterness was not there. I get pineapple, mango and maybe peaches on the nose and with the taste. Definitely lives up to the hype. I need this to be in my rotation but living in Indiana it is going to be tough. :(

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Photo of MaltyMagic
5/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours gold with amber highlights, persistent head, sticky lace. Wide array of hop flavors and aromas backed by a hefty pale/caramel malt base that suggests honey. Im picking up pine, cannabis, citrus, melon, leather, with a bready/honey/floral finish. Super zesty, perfectly balanced, dangerously drinkable. IPA's are not my favorite style, but this one lives up to every ounce of potential within the style. Blue fin toro.

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Photo of Thundermuscle78
4.66/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Transparent orange look. Has a great hoppy smell with hints of grass and citrus. The taste is deliciously hoppy with more citrusy notes than it smells, also hints of pine. It has a slightly bitter and extremely crisp finish. This beer is amazingly balanced and easy to drink for an 8 percent. Such a great IPA.

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Photo of vikingpillager
4.77/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Got to try my first bottle thanks to a fellow BA member, very fresh, and wow I am amazed! Pours crystal clear with beautiful carb and head. Looks and smells a bit like a macro lager, and even initially has that crisp clear taste, but the hop profile is there and just fantastic. Dangerous at 8% as it is extremely drinkable. LOVE IT!! Wish this could be my go-to beer. Just wow

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Photo of folkstar
4.34/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Everything balanced... Amber/orange clear appearance. Smell has a vegetal/grass with a surprising Amount of subtle citrus.

Taste is juicy grapefruit with a minor , not overwhelming, pine bitterness. Feel is dry and balanced. Refreshing

Overall, glad I had this beer

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Photo of eppCOS
4.35/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

On tap at Brewer's Republic (COS) in February of 2019.
L - Classic DIPA appearance, crystal dark amber gold, see through. Good head retention, nice lacing
S - Fantastic, piney-bitterness cascading with a bit more malt whiff than I expected...
T - Again, classic taste, as Pliny as Pliny gets, but with a bit more malt backbone than I remember...
F - Near perfect carbonation, feel, bitterness, and great impression on the palate from start to finish
O - a clear classic, not a haze-bruh, that endures because it's just fucking WELL MADE. Brewers elsewhere - see, it's not that hard!

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Photo of georgethefirst
4.84/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

had a pint bottle purchased from the Windsor brewery, 6 days from bottling

Look is clear golden with a fluffy head that persists

Aroma is piney west coast ipa, familiar

Taste is balanced - hops, malt, enough bitterness in the finish to remind you it’s beer, not a child’s juice box

Overall the beer geeks’ tastes have moved on a bit but this is still delicious treat. If you have a chance to try it you should.

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Photo of sunnovgoat
3.76/5  rDev -19%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

good but not the greatest , highly overrated. word of mouth marketing and the power of suggestion have elevated what is an otherwise solid beer , its definitely been placed on pedestal and to be honest I think you can find a better IPA at a better price without having to go out of your way.

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Photo of GarrettB
4.51/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

July 27th, 2015 - The time has come for Pliny the Elder, straight from the font. It's a legendary beer, and looks resplendent in its throne here in Santa Rosa. With a slightly sweeter smell exceptionally balanced against hops, the flavor is immensely deep. Even though I tend to enjoy hoppy brews more for the bouquet than the taste, this offers plenty of both. Sweeter, like a broiled grapefruit, it plays with its ethanol quite well. In contention for my favorite California IPA, it is only rivaled by the Blind Pig. And as I try to determine which I prefer, I suckle on the aftertaste which is punching and long, with a slightly resinous note to enjoy. It is one of the perfect IPAs, rare best served chilled, straight here at the tap.

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Photo of LABeerSnob
4.71/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

The beer speaks for itself. It definitely lives up to the hype. The best part about this beer is the finish of each sip has this brilliant tingle that leaves me wanting more.

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4.5/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

510ml with a bottled on date of 1-22-19 (opened 2-2-19).
Golden, pale - clean. Active carbonation lifting a 1 1/2" white head. Good retention and thick, foamy lace.
Classic. WC aromas of pine, grapefruit, lime, citrus, hint of pineapple - clean, fresh hop aromas!
Bright flavors match the aroma, full of fresh fruit and citrus...
8% is undetectable, as delicious as this is I'd be on the floor before figuring it out.
Bright, clean entry with a medium body, medium carbonation, and a LONG and flavorful finish.
True classic and a pleasure to drink anytime.

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Photo of dleurf
4.58/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Being an East Coast guy, I expected more. Maybe that's because of the hype. Still, this was a good beer. Transparent, piney, clean, crisp. The quintessential West Coast IPA

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Photo of fmccormi
4.43/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

Straight pour from a 1 pt 1.25 oz/510 ml pry-off bottle to a teku. This has a bottling date of January 08, 2019 printed in white ink near the bottom-left corner of the front label (“BOTTLED ON: 010819”), making this beer just under three weeks old at the time of consumption. Purchased cold, coming right out of the box on its way to the cooler.

Appearance (4.25): A solid three fingers of eager, whipped foam the color of custard comes right off of the pour, capping a crystal-clear, 24 ct. gold-colored body. The head dies down slowly, leaving a pock-marked cap and scattered legs of wide, foamy splotches that look like an archipelago of coral atolls. It dies down almost completely after some time, but still shows good retention.

Smell (4.25): A radiant, clean blend of citrusy fruit (even amounts of ripe pineapple flesh, navel orange zest, and kumquat) and a slurry of herbaceous and resinous notes (pine needles, fresh cut grass, and some ganja for good measure) dominate the nose. Very light, clean grain appears as well, offering a crisp, clean note of common crackers alongside stale, floury pita bread—just very clean, plain flatbread. This is all quite faint in the face of the bouquet of hops here, though.

Taste (4.5): Compared to the nose, the palate is (at first) dominated by ganja and pine, offering dank, resinous bitterness flanked by lightly astringent conifers and a hint of earthy spice, like rich tobacco leaf. It does have undertones of bright citrus, with a soft pineapple sweetness nearly obscured by the aforementioned resin while strong, pink grapefruit pith rises out of that bitterness and continues to ring loud and clear, long into the lingering finish (which itself trails off quite evenly and slowly, fading away with no sudden drop-off). There is a bit of grain hidden in here, again offering that plain but earthy feel of multigrain flatbread with a dry, slightly starchy, floury finish, but it really is dominated by the array of bitter notes that fan out from the middle of the palate all the way through to the finish. No sign of booze. It’s shockingly dry and clean, frankly.

Mouthfeel (5.0): Carbonation washes in with a soft, medium-grit body of gentle bubbles that tingle happily as they cover all surfaces. It easily holds up the body, which feels medium-weight but on the light- side of full thanks to just how dry and crisp it is. That carbonation foams up easily, floating all of the bitter hop compounds before they settle in and feel too astringent. Still, that bitterness really dries out the body, bringing it from medium-weight and crisp to almost vaporous. Again, no sign of booze.

Overall (4.25): What is this beer? The archetypal West Coast (D)IPA, in its most balanced, clean, crisp, and clear form. It’s not my favorite beer ever in that category, because I’ve had others that evoke bombast and utilize unexpected combinations of flavors and aromas—and those are the ones that typically stick with me longer. They may not be the best of the best within this substyle, because they often are prone to some imbalance and the more interesting they are, the more it feels like comparing them is an apples and oranges scenario. This, however, may be near the top of that substyle, thanks to its balance, very obvious technical precision in its brewing and production, and masterful use of hops to deliver a big, powerful bitterness without feeling too challenging (if you like hops). You don’t need me to recommend this beer. Of course you should try it. Will it change your world? Maybe not in 2019, but it’s worth trying to understand why it ruled the world in 2009—and it’s an amazing drink in its own right, even today, any day of the week.

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Photo of NateGoyette
4.84/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Look: Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. Very light coloring, head dissipates quickly leaving some nice rings.

Smell: Strong smell for the coloring. Initial smell of pine, orange, hops, and some underlying sweetness like caramel.

Taste: Outstanding. Bitter citrus at first, then the hops really come through. Tastes like your typical west coast IPA but with an underlying sweetness that is tough to place. There’s no denying the obvious quality of this beer.

Feel: carbonation is relatively high but pleasant. 8.0% ABV and very drinkable. Mouthfeel is a bit oily and sticky but it goes down very easy.

Overall: I wanted to try this because of the hype and was able to find it at a local health food grocery store. There was a limit of 2 per person. Typically, hype ruins things for me, but my first thought was ‘damn that’s good.’ If you’re able to find this mythical unicorn of a beer, don’t hesitate!

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Photo of MacMalt
4.68/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

I received this from @bum4ever. Bottled on 12/11/2018 and poured into a Spiegelau IPA glass. It pours a crystal clear, golden-straw color with a large, fluffy, bright white cap and copious, soapy lacing. Large numbers of tiny bubbles ascend the glass. The nose features lemon and grapefruit. It's extremely crisp and clean. This is as clean and bitter as they come. There is tart, bitter citrus. The Amarillo, Centennial, CTZ, and Simcoe hops are amazingly flavorful and provide a strong, bitter bite. It's the quintessential West Coast IPA. It is crisp and dry with an easy drinking 8% ABV. I don't know what more I can say; this is truly exquisite as fine an IPA as you'll find. I'm grateful to have tried it. Thanks, Josh!

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Photo of mothmanscott
4.59/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

From notes 12/14/11: Absolutely a hopheads delight. Pours a clear medium, wedding band, gold.The pour produces 2+ fingers of fluffy, moderately lasting, white head which leaves behind clumpy, sticky lacing. Super aroma with kaleidoscopic hoppiness: Pine, grapefruit, and thin tropical; sweet caramel malt and a earthy, leafy, herbal tea-like note. Taste is grapefruit and pine from start to finish back by malty caramel sweetness, a hint of toast and the leafy tea-like hint is there too. Very resinous. Mouthfeel is lighter than I would have thought but still medium bodied with good carbonation, a little sticky and oily but smooth. Among the finest IPAs.

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

Actually quite good. People compare it to Hop Stoopid, and while I'll readily admit that there are a lot of similarities between the two, I think this one is far more balanced. Here goes:

A: Very good. Relatively clear yellow-orange; body looks quite nice. It pours a large head that leaves a ton of lacing; the body carbonation is also decent. Again, very good.

S: Only OK part of the beer. Some dankness, but only very lightly so. Some pine and grapefruit, but not much else.

T: Very good. Refreshing and well-balanced. Lots of piney sweetness, some grapefruit (but not overwhelming), and a fair portion of tropical fruits. The sticky, sweet pine is the most prominent flavor. Great mixture of sweet and hoppy flavors. I liked it a lot.

F: Perfect. Very drinkable.

O: A great beer.

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Photo of The4wills
4.83/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

L: perfect for style - orange. Nice beaded head
S: minor area of lack, giant aroma beers are now sought, me included
T: super balance of sweet and hop, classic
F: like it’s right there as World class.
O: Too bad they just don’t make and distribute it more

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Photo of PlinyTheEsq
5/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

In my opinion the finest IPA on planet earth. A perfect balance of hop profiles, and a true classic of the craft beer world. Pliny is a must try for any craft beer fan.

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Photo of iguanodon
4.25/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

[Original rating 2015-01-02] Draft at the original brewpub in Santa Rosa. Pours clear gold with little head but great lacing. Aroma is citrusy hops, strong grapefruit, straw, grass. Taste is similar with a bitter finish, with a bit of black pepper. I drove an hour and a half to try Pliny. Worth it? Yes.

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Photo of VoxRationis
4.68/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Served on tap in a conical pint glass at Toronado Bar in San Francisco.
A: Pours a slightly hazy, orange-amber color with a one half inch, white head, but on low retention and limited lacing noted.
S: Almost floral aromas of tangerine and peach evident over a caramel malt spine.
T: Semisweet. Palate follows the nose closely. Bitterness present and offsets excessive sweetness leading to clean, crisp finish.
M: Light to medium bodied with medium carbonation.
O: Have been looking to give this a try for quite a while. Delicious ... worth the wait.

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Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.64 out of 5 with 15,115 ratings