Pliny The Elder
Russian River Brewing Company

Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder
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Russian River Brewing Company
California, United States
Imperial IPA
Ranked #3
Ranked #30
4.64 | pDev: 7.76%
Nov 19, 2022
Aug 24, 2003
Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder
Notes: 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!
Recent ratings and reviews. | Log in to view more ratings + sorting options.
Ratings by FondueVoodoo:
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Reviewed by FondueVoodoo from Canada (BC)

4.55/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5
Huge thanks to SebD for sending us this beer I a great trade, huge want.

A: Pours an exceptionally clear pale pumpkin colour with approximately 3 fingers of bone white head. Plenty of lacing coat the sides of the glass.

S: Fresh cut pine and fresh lemon juice along with tropical pineapple fruits. Pale sweet malts linger from start to finish. Scent is fresh and inviting.

T: Bright tropical fruits of pineapple with fresh citrus juices and fresh cut pine. Not resiny or woody but instead reminicent of new pine needles. Sweet pale malts wash over the tongue. Finishes lightly bitter. Amazingly balanced.

M: Medium bodied and low to moderate levels of carbonation.

O: This beer lives up to the hype. Hops are clean and fresh and are expertly balanced by the sweet malts. Tropical flavour without being overtly sweet. Dry in the finish. Definitely worth seeking out.
Oct 13, 2013
More User Ratings:
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Reviewed by Victory_Sabre1973 from Minnesota

4.45/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5
Fairly clear golden pour with a 1 finger white head. Decent retention and some lacing on the glass.
The aroma has a pleasing hop aroma with pine and some citrus.
Flavor is hops, of course. There's a mellow pine and citrus up front. This flavor builds toward the back. There's a grassy earthy flavor that comes into the mix.
The body is quite full and decent. Somewhat sticky as well.
Solid world class IPA.
Nov 19, 2022
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Reviewed by cyclonece09 from Wisconsin

5/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5
Poured from a bottle into a tulip. Pours yellow orange with a nice fluffy white head. Smells of citrus hops with just a hint of tropical fruit. Tastes of citrus hops with just a hint of pine, and is so smooth and balanced. Beer is light bodied and very smooth and easy drinking, good carbonation. Overall, a world class beer. It lives up to the hype.
Nov 13, 2022
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Reviewed by MadMadMike from Florida

5/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5
Pint on draught and also a bottle, at Apex Bar in Portland OR. Trio of bottles (dated 10-05-22 at 12:34) got packed in my luggage and brought home to Southwest Florida, where it’s only a myth due to no distro.
I’m the envy of my friends.,.

The O.G. Where the thousands of Double IPA’s I’ve imbibed over the decades was birthed. What every DIPA is compared to and aspires to be.
Of course it’s 5’s across the board!
Nov 13, 2022
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Rated by J_Brew_99 from Colorado

5/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5
In short...probably the best beer I've ever had!
Nov 09, 2022
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Reviewed by jkblr from Indiana

4.36/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
17.25oz bottled 092022 (49 days ago) poured into a Spiegelau IPA glass at fridge temp 8% ABV. The beer pours bright light amber with light khaki head. The head recedes to an uneven ring, rocky cap and smattering of lacing. The aroma is moderate in strength featuring candied citrus, caramel malt and pine. The taste is bittersweet caramel malt with strong bitterness and notes of orange, pine, and tropical fruit. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with average carbonation and a mostly dry finish. There's some sticky hop resin, but not overly sweet. Overall, excellent.
Nov 09, 2022
Rated: 4.13 by QuintusHorace from California

Nov 05, 2022
Rated: 4.31 by Dactrius from Netherlands Antilles

Nov 01, 2022
Rated: 5 by Beergod420 from Michigan

Oct 24, 2022
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Reviewed by MattDecker from Texas

4.42/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
Bottled: 9-19-2022
Look: lemon yellow
Smell: citrus, hop - smells amazing,.I could smell this all day
Taste: smooth Carmel that melds perfectly into pine hop and then bitterness
Feel: nice medium-full body.
Overall: very very well done. Not my type of beer but I can recognize that this is very well made.
Oct 17, 2022
Rated: 4.54 by Skunkt from California

Oct 15, 2022
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Reviewed by kotocar from California

4.44/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25
Yes it's good. It's an exceptionally well done northwest IPA. I am super surprised that it is 8% alcohol. It taste like it is 6% alcohol. That is the biggest shock factor for me. I personally prefer a bit more caramel malt in my IPA's which is why I am not giving it a perfect score. There is no strange flavors like dank, mango, or any other gimmicks in this beer. If I had to describe it I would say it taste of suprinsgly I am tasting battery acid, grapefruit, and something bitter.

It's definitely chuggable.... but sorta expensive so best to enjoy it. The bottle that I had was 2 weeks old.
Oct 14, 2022
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Reviewed by Hobbs87 from New York

4.43/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
Finally had this in Napa after reading about it for sometime. Wasn’t overly thrilled maybe it was due to the build up to have it. Then had it a second time when it was delivered for a virtual beer tasting. Much better. I can see why it’s ranked so high but a little too bitter for my taste since I prefer smooth and sweet.
Oct 12, 2022
Rated: 4.75 by saymike32 from New Jersey

Oct 08, 2022
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Reviewed by padraic_g from Hawaii

2.16/5  rDev -53.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2
I must be the only person on the planet that did not like this beer whatsoever. Went to the brewery in Santa Rosa and ordered this. I don't know if I got a bad pint or what, but I honestly had a hard time finishing it. Nonetheless will give it a second chance and hope for something better.
Oct 06, 2022
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Reviewed by Mr3dPHD from Florida

4.75/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75
Believe the hype! This is a fantastic representation of the classic West coast style, but done to near perfection. I had the pleasure of trying it both at Russian River on tap, as well as in a bomber which was about three weeks old. Age matters, and it really does change as it sits. Is it still delicious? It sure is, but that fresh one at the brewery was something special.
Sep 28, 2022
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Rated by Jlederer from California

5/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5
Simply put, this is the best beer on the planet if not the galaxy.
Sep 24, 2022
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Reviewed by hman43 from North Carolina

4.92/5  rDev +6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5
Look: It pours golden and clear with a white head. Head retention is good.

Smell: It has strong grapefruit and citrus aromas with some floral elements. There are very low stone fruit elements with a touch of grainy sweetness.

Taste: It has strong grapefruit and citrus flavors with some floral elements. It is very fruity with some light berry notes.

Feel: It is smooth and incredibly hoppy and bitter without any sharp bitter notes.

Overall, this is a wonderfully easy drinking beer with plenty of flavors and aromas.
Sep 23, 2022
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Reviewed by Nokkie

5/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5
I can't pin anything down! I love this beer though. So many different flavor notes and aromas!

You could chug it, but why would you do that when you can enjoy the flavors?
Sep 22, 2022
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Reviewed by LucidoMMA from California

4.14/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75
Pours a beautiful golden color with a thin sticky head with medium bubbles. Hard for me to get a sense of an aroma from this brew.

Tastes of bitter grapefruit, hops and orange zest.

Leaves sticky, layered lacing. Very hoppy going into the finish.

Overall great beer, not too heavy on anything, decent bitterness but not too overwhelming. I can definitely taste the hype.
Sep 22, 2022
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Reviewed by JesseJames81 from California

4.56/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
Appearance: Pours a clear, golden color, medium carbonation. A silky, frothy foam head. Leaves behind sticky lacing.

Aroma: A sweet, pungent hoppy aroma. Fragrant floral, citric, piney, and some herbal notes present.

Taste: A good, complex flavor profile. Starts off with a balanced blend of citrus rind, pine resin and grapefruit, and then evolves into a notable lingering tangy bitterness in the middle with some tropical fruits. All the while, subtle malts in the background compliment the whole thing, keeping it in composition. The bitterness rides all the way through the somewhat boozy finish.

Overall: This is a unique brew to say the least. Layer after layer, the aroma and flavor complexity played a game of hockey with my senses.
Sep 20, 2022
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Rated by hjc from Wisconsin

4.38/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25
In this day and age, there are plenty of solid IPA options.
Sep 18, 2022
Rated: 4.45 by gutbuster from Kentucky

Sep 11, 2022
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Reviewed by Radome from Florida

4.43/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
Tasted on tap at Native Son Ale house in Rancho Cucamonga, CA.

L - Served in a clear plastic Solo cup due to the bar’s location inside a giant food court with outdoor patios. Light golden color with a touch of chill haze. Pure white head started out fluffy and a finger thick, but quickly faded to little more than a ring around the glass. Head may have been impeded by the plastic cup.

S - Again the cup may have lessened the impact of the nose, as it was hard for me to get much. Nice DIPA aromas of citrus and pine with some sweet, bready malt at a lower level. Not overly distinctive nose, but hits the right notes for the style.

T - Explosion of West Coast hops, with orange and grapefruit citrus notes, along with pine resin. Maybe a hint of pineapple. A light touch of bready malt that quickly fades in the surprisingly dry finish. The beer lacks enough malt to begin to balance against the hops, as I normally expect in the style.

F - Medium body and medium to high carbonation. Monstrous hops bitterness level that burns the citrus into your tongue. Alcohol heat is hard to pick out behind the hops burn. Very dry finish that leaves the hops aftertaste to linger.

O - I was very glad to finally try this beer after years of hype but not having any opportunities in Florida or in my travels. Is it a great beer? Certainly. Is it a world’s best, or an aging example? I won’t get into that debate. I can only say that, for my palate and preferences, this lacks in malt character to stand out as an Imperial IPA. To me it is more properly called an assertive West Coast IPA, and a great one, and I’ll leave it at that.
Sep 01, 2022
Rated: 5 by OtisCampbell007 from Tennessee

Aug 28, 2022
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Reviewed by koberlin1 from California

5/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5
Wow, have seen some sub 4 reviews of Pliny....wawhat??!! This is by far one of the best beers out there. Regardless of your hoppy beer type preference being pale ale, IPA, or stout, this DIPA will knock your socks off both with its wonderful taste as well as its effect. Pop this beer open fresh (I have only had it bottled...not on tap or canned) outta a cold fridge and get your nose on it for some wonderfully floral and hoppy aromas. At 8% this DIPA is strong and one 17.5oz bottle will set most right requiring a brief 20 min interlude before standing up quickly/getting behind the wheel to hop to the next tasting room/bar. If I could keep a constant stock of Pliny the Elder available in my fridge I would, but alas it is a rare find down here in San Diego. Should have bought a case while I had the chance while at the high-end uber boujee Seaside Market in Cardiff-by-the-Sea. Maybe they have some left....hmmmm...I'll be back!
Aug 26, 2022
Rated: 4.6 by DesMoinesMike from Iowa

Aug 25, 2022
Rated: 4.76 by Humanusfermentum from Virginia

Aug 25, 2022
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Reviewed by firesidewithphil from Illinois

4.5/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
Pliny is synonymous with California beer. Whether it be the Elder or the Younger, the name is a brand within itself. We found the Elder hanging around Lake Tahoe and gave him a go. The crisp, punchy, and herbaceous ale fills the glass with a heady aroma. It is an honest beer and sometimes that is all you need.
Aug 20, 2022
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Reviewed by Wattie83 from Pennsylvania

4.74/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75
Had on tap. Looks slightly hazed gold color with 2 finger white head of soft foam. Head fell to a cap after a few minutes. Left some nice lacing in the glass. Smell was all hops. A lot of tropical and citrus fruit is in the aroma. Taste enters sweet with a healthy dose of grapefruit, orange, mango. Middle has a bit of pithy bitterness and more tropical flavors but its balanced by a nice malt backbone. Finish is balanced with a slight hint of alcohol. Feel is medium bodied, lower carbonation but enough to provide a solid base for the flavor. Overall, well worth the wait for this classic expression. The flavors were bold, bright, and expressive. The beer was well balanced even with the bold hop presence. I enjoyed this a lot.
Aug 14, 2022
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Reviewed by thebigbambino from Florida

3.19/5  rDev -31.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3
Long time coming. I have been wanting to get my hands on this beer for a few years. If you know me, I love imperial stout, barleywine and double ipa. If it's not full bodied then probably not gonna rate very high on my list. This brew poured a very light tan with a thin head. Nose was very happy and floral. Mouthful was very light with little malt backbone. I was dissatisfied with the taste of a beer that is rated 100. Maybe 15 years ago but with the evolution of craft beer I find it hard to fathom this beer in the top 50 all time. I would rate it 3 out of 5. Just like Hopslam this beer is overhyped and in my opinion not worth all the accolades. Of I were to taste it on draft the outcome could be different, but like I said I prefer full bodied brews and lean towards other styles. So take it for what it's worth.

Cheers. TBB.
Aug 14, 2022
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Reviewed by Mdog from Minnesota

4.55/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5
Appearance: Very slightly hazy gold, nice carbonation, good head.

Smell: Strong grapefruit, slight rind.

Taste: Moderately sweet to start, then a balancing shot of grapefruit bitterness. Stays balanced between sweet and bitter before the bitterness wins out in the finish.

Overall: Bottled 7/18, tasted 8/13. Bought in Colorado and brought back, a long-time want finally obtained after 26 hours of driving round trip (I did do other stuff on this trip, not just beer shopping). Just a classic flavor, nice balance but plenty of hoppy bitterness. Definitely worth the trip.
Aug 13, 2022
Rated: 4.48 by brentblack1 from New York

Aug 10, 2022
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Reviewed by Itsreck1 from California

4.4/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5
Appearance: Clarity is clear, silky head, laces the glass throughout the session and has a long lasting head retention. Perfect pale/bronze color.

Aroma: Hop forward aroma as expected, but not deep or complex with a light malty sweetness in the background.

Mouthfeel: The body is a thin to medium body, solid carbonation that sings on the tongue, small alcohol warmth.

Flavor: Complex hop characteristics, gives small citrus flavor off from hops with some black currant like flavors and a solid touch of pine and a touch of floral/perfumy like flavors, from the bittering to flavoring hop additions. Small sweetness from the malt flavor to act as the backbone. Long lasting hop bitterness sticks with you after each drink that is still pleasant to enjoy.

This is a solid and most importantly classic/quintessential West Coast style IPA and shows exactly the path from the old school IPA 2000s vibes with the heavy magnum bittering. This beer shows the depth of hops from each stage of the beer making process to give deep complexity to the hop flavor.
Aug 10, 2022
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Reviewed by Captain69 from Illinois

4/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
I HAD BEEN waiting for years to try this highly rated beer, poured in glasss brillant yellow with nice head. refreshing taste. popped open an original Lienenkugel and a Yuengling lager/ they ere both more taseful
Aug 04, 2022
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Rated by Julius_Menashe from Texas

4.5/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
Great beer. I'm sure if I had had it 10 years earlier it would have been 5* all around.
Aug 02, 2022
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Reviewed by GRPunk from Michigan

4.44/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
Pliny the Elder
Woodbury bar on tap Nonic pint

A- Golden-orange body capped with a 1/2 finger off-white head. Awesome thick lace left on the glass. Retains at a thin foam.

S- Grapefruit and Topical scents with a sugary doughy backbone. Robust and fresh. Leafy hops, tobacco, resin and herbs as it opens up.

T- Great balance of grapefruit hops up font. Doughy and sweet cracker malts in the middle like honey whole wheat. Grapefruit and herbal spicy black pepper hop finish. A little aspirin.

M- medium full body. Crisp. Hoppy bite.

O- Fresh drinkable IPA. No frills or quirky additions. Just a straight up solid IPA. I could see this as a go-to IPA if it was available. Definitely glad I finally got to try this classic brew on the last day of a SF trip.

4.5 4.25 4.5 4.5 4.5
Aug 01, 2022
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Reviewed by JZH1000 from Colorado

4.35/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25
Poured from a 17.25 FL Oz bottle, bottled on 6-14-2022 so a month and 16 days old. Poured into spiegelau IPA glass.

On the pour a white nearly three finger head forms after a minute or two it slightly recedes making more room to pour, and I am able to get the head over the rim over the glass. Head becomes quite rocky but has very good retention. Carbonation after the pour looks quite ligjt and lazy. Body is a slightly dark gold. On the paler side of a lot of IPAs and with a very slight chill haze. Laces very nicely.

Aroma is quite bright with a hit of resinous grapefruit sweet hops. Some malt sweetness comes through, but the hops are very big on this one. A very sweet floral and citric smelling beer. Nothing off and very clean. More juicy than I expected.

Taste is similar to the aroma but a lot of the fruity qualities are traded for a big wave of bitterness that slowly fades leaving a resinous zesty but sweet and malty finish that lingers but is very nicely balanced after the big wave of hops. Despite the abv I can't really detect alcohol as the hops actually cover it up. Despite being super hoppy this isn't a mess and is very drinkable with a nice hop evolution that gives a good balance of bite to flavor.

Feel is soft and dangerously drinkable with a perfectly balanced carbonation bite to softness provided by the head. Honestly this is tasty af and I'm not an ipa guy nobody does everything right and maintains the balance. This feels like a benchmark and I could drink this all summer long if it wasn't 8% and so damn expensive.

Overall this beer is very hyped up. Don't get me wrong it's very good. There's essentially nothing wrong with it, the bitterness isn't cloying, but is pleasantly present, and it's big and hoppy without forgetting its a malt drink. It even looks beautiful. It's the perfect IPA, but everyone is trying to imitate it so unless this is you're whale you probably have a general idea of how this tastes, you've just had a similar but inferior beer. Is it worth the price? Maybe maybe not though. $7.99 for the bottle at a store in Colorado. Maybe I got scammed.
Jul 31, 2022
Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
Beer rating: 100 out of 100 with 15594 ratings