Pliny The Elder
Russian River Brewing Company

Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder
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Russian River Brewing Company
California, United States
IPA - Imperial
Ranked #3
Ranked #31
4.64 | pDev: 7.76%
Jun 24, 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 Shanex:
Photo of Shanex
4.81/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75
by Shanex from France

This was a long « want » of mine and I got the chance to finally sip on it thanks again to Beergoot.

This beer is very much deserving of its legend, classic and world class status. Exceptionally well crafted, balanced, hoppy and bitter. Strong ABV thats pretty well hidden here too.

What can I say? No more. Find this beer. Drink it. You won’t have wasted a single penny.


Feb 18, 2022
More User Ratings:
Photo of TheWaySheGoes
4.72/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5
by TheWaySheGoes from Illinois

Absolute stunner. I will never understand other reviewers that claim this beer is in the past. Would you dare poop poo on a Tree House New England style IPA for being stuck in the past? For some reason only pioneer West Coast IPA's get this treatment for their style, never the pioneers of hazy IPA's of the Northeast. This beer is extremely well crafted and balanced, while punching a piney flavor burst to your jaw. Everything about this screams well balanced while adhering to the West Coat style. And whaddya know, this beer invented the damn West Coat Imperial Ipa Style!

I will say, their only competition would be Alvarado atm, along with Cellarmaker.

There's a couple up and comers. Another OG would be Boneyard brewing who took a malt heavy approach for their beers and somehow, they kept their integrity after the buyout and do have the price advantage over Russian River. Bay Area beer heads are blessed with those two and Cellarmaker, BareBottle, Revision, and Field Works, to go along with the San Diego breweries that make their way up there.

Jun 24, 2022
4.55 by mcbridec6 from New Jersey on Jun 23, 2022
Photo of Limazulu
5/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5
by Limazulu from Idaho

A-exactly what a west coast IPA should look like
S-Exactly what a west coast IPA should smell like
T-balance bitter piney grapefruit. Exactly what a WCIPA should taste like
M-astringent clean and finishes dry
O-The standard for West coast IPA's

Jun 19, 2022
Photo of cdinardo21
4.6/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
by cdinardo21 from Pennsylvania

The quintessential westie.

Jun 15, 2022
Photo of frankdatank1337
4/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
by frankdatank1337 from California

In this modern era of IPAs; this doesn't hold up to the hype. Don't get me wrong, it's a great IPA. I can see how a decade ago it was mind blowing. Today its very common place. Breweries like Revision and Alvarado are routinely cranking out IPAs that are much tastier. I'd def drink this all the time if it was more reasonably priced.

Jun 14, 2022
4.17 by Chuckg93 from Oregon on Jun 13, 2022
Photo of bbtkd
4.6/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75
by bbtkd from South Dakota

Russian River Pliny the Elder Imperial IPA, 8% ABV. Pours clear golden with 4+ finger off-white head that left huge foamy lacing. Nose is fruity and malty with light pine. Taste is fruity honey, lightly piney, slightly sweet and moderately bitter. Real nice mouthfeel with good carbonation, and a dry finish. Overall world-class. Should have bought more.

Jun 11, 2022
Photo of garymuchow
4.3/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5
by garymuchow from Minnesota

Took nearly 20 years to finally get ahold of a bottle, and this one is reasonably fresh, bottled 4/25/22. So, almost exactly 6 weeks from bottling.
Nice fresh aroma with a nice mix of scents with fruit and freshness and herbs and sweetness. More golden than many with a slight haze. Nice dense white head that settles some with some lacing.
Boy, those are some nice flavors. The bitterness level being high is certainly old school and a little more than I want, but it's not ripping my tongue off either. Hops are so fresh on this and almost clean. Flavors are a little more herbal and grassy than the aroma but still some nice fruit qualities as well.
Body is only a little bigger than moderate but there is nice smoothness and richness that makes the feels soft and full. Not really sticky though.
This is good. And certainly worth the time it took to finally get one. I like the "cleanliness" of this. Not sure how else to describe it.

Jun 05, 2022
4.42 by Miles_Nilges from New York on Jun 05, 2022
Photo of Whiteweasel
4.68/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75
by Whiteweasel from Illinois

Poured from a bottle (bought in early Feb 2022) into a pint glass.

A: Clear, bright, straw yellow body. Frothy white head that sticks to the glass and leaves complex lacing.

S: Probably the best part. Very bright. A perfect blend of pine, mellow citrus, tropical fruit, and honey. It’s actually perfect.

T: The Simcoe hops really shine through here. A tad bit sweet and bitter but extremely well balanced. Does not leave a bitter or a cloying aftertaste. Fresh and sunny like morning dew on a pine tree.

M: Crisp and smooth. Leaves a clean mouthfeel.

Overall: One of my favorites beers I’ve had, certainly the best IPA. The reputation is deserved, well done to Russian River.

May 31, 2022
Photo of Act25
4.64/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5
by Act25 from New Jersey

At Healdsburg CA, near the source, everyone serves Pliny (at weddings, Bardiva, SFO Uncorked, Mill Valley) etc, and it's tempting to stick to this perfect legend where it's so fresh.
a) Acres of lace over a perfect clear golden body.
s) Straw, sun baked grass, herb, hemp, over toffee malt,
t) carmelized core overtopped with marmalade rinds, blossoms, grass.
f) That extra kick in the final swallow is interesting.
o) So glad to enjoy a week of Pliny on vacation.

May 30, 2022
Photo of cthenderson99
4.65/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5
by cthenderson99 from North Carolina

Was lucky enough to be at Monk's in Philadelphia when they threw this on. Pours clear gold. Smells piney resin and a little sweet tropical. Taste matched but piney flavors were more toned down and a tropical tone comes out. Balanced. Amazingly smooth to be this up front with the hops. Very drinkable and all around fantastic beer.

May 28, 2022
Photo of Youvegotyourselfastew
3/5  rDev -35.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3
by Youvegotyourselfastew from New York

Just a regular hoppy ipa to me

May 10, 2022
Photo of maddogruss
5/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5
by maddogruss from New Jersey

Had this on draft.
A: pours an amber body with small white head with excellent retention and lacing.
S: strong grapefruit smell with a subtle sweet toffee malt
T: a nice blend of burnt toffee and some earthy, subtle grapefruit notes; well balanced
M: medium bodied, smooth and crisp
D: nice feel and taste combo; awesome tasting beer; def worth the trip to the west coast to get on draft.

May 09, 2022
Photo of osheamatth
4.56/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
by osheamatth from New York

I’ve been after a Russian River brew for years and have been striking out forever. I was lucky enough to stumble upon a joint in LA that had not one but TWO on draft. So…Pliny the Elder. Classic looking WC double IPA with really nice amber color. Those hops get right to the point on the nose: sap, resin, orange, grass, and a little baked bread. Palate follows the nose but the upfront hops that the aroma had slip into the background so that the balance between citrus & pine can come together. Finished nice and refreshing.

May 08, 2022
4.18 by Pro_Magnon from Texas on May 01, 2022
4.73 by Affinity from Missouri on Apr 30, 2022
Photo of barndweller
5/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5
by barndweller from California

I ordered a box of 12 directly from Russian River. It arrived in 2 days with a bottled on date of 8 days old. I pulled a bottle out of the box and they were cool to the touch. I laid a few of them on their side in the bottom of the refrigerator for a couple of hours and I've just poured one into a large british pint glass. I'm halfway through this drink now and everything about this beer is absolutely excellent. I live near the beach in Los Angeles and I've been drinking beer for 50 years. I'm married to a Geordie expatriate from the northeast of England. I've had the opportunity to try thousands of
great beers. This beer is absolutely remarkable. From the delicate astringency of the first sip to the final mustache wetting last gulp. My hat is off to the people brewing at Russian River.

Apr 28, 2022
Photo of Sparty1224
4.5/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
by Sparty1224 from Michigan

Serving: 1 Pint 1.25 Fl. oz. bottle poured into a Tree House teku glass. Bottled on 3/29/22, making this 29 days old (or fresh).

A: Pours a pretty clear, golden yellow color. Bright white, foamy head.

S: A good balance of fruity notes and piney notes. Some pineapple and mango accented by a sweet piney resin. Doesn't really pop a ton though.

T: Nice pineapple, mango, some tangerine. Less piney on the flavor. Pretty bitter and dry finish. Again, doesn't really explode with flavor here.

M: Nice a full, very drinkable. Not a bruiser by any means.

O: I've only had this one other time, on draft about 8 years ago. First time out of the bottle here, and it's pretty fresh. Much like Blind Pig, which I had yesterday, there is really nothing that stands out on first sip to make you think this is a Top 30 beer. You have to think back in the early days when craft beer was just getting going, that, yes, this could be the poster child for the West Coast-style IPA and one of the best beers at the time. And then as the years go on, I think the hype just perpetuates and when people review it, they feel guilted into giving it a 5/5. I've definitely had similar beers, albeit ones indebted to Pliny, but still similar. Arctic Panzer, Perm Funeral, any of the latest IPAs from Short's. This is still a good beer, don't get me wrong. It's just not this amazing world-beater that's going to shock you anymore. And that's fine. It's a legend, it's the OG, and craft beer really wouldn't be where it's at without it.

Recommendation: Despite losing some of its luster, this is still a must-try for any beer lover.

Apr 28, 2022
4.58 by michaelsmith11 from Illinois on Apr 26, 2022
4.46 by darktronica from Indiana on Apr 17, 2022
5 by brn9000 from Illinois on Apr 17, 2022
Photo of Viaduck
4.24/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
by Viaduck from California

I finally get my chance to sample this legendary IPA. It was given to me by my sister’s friend, a nice lady in her 90’s who is friends with the owners of Russian River. The body is a hazy orange/amber with an off-white head that was smaller than expected. A fairly strong aroma of citrus, pine & hops greets the nose. Its taste is not as bitter as implied by the hoppy aroma & this is a hint of sweet, salty & tartness added as well. Flavors are as expected: tangerine, grapefruit, pine, hops & bread. Medium body with excellent carbonation, no sign of the 8%. Very thirst quenching. I would agree with those that say more recent IPA’s have surpassed this classic. It’s still great. Mr P. Elder has been on my list of must have beers for a long time & im glad to have finally enjoyed it.

Apr 16, 2022
Photo of Newbeergeek1
4.55/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75
by Newbeergeek1 from Maine

On a cruise to San Francisco and found Gott’s and a Whole Food, one for draft and the other for few bottles. Drafts (I wasn’t driving so I had two) were wonderful and lived up to the hype and then some. I can only hope that the bottles will be close to as good as the drafts. Smooth, left a little lingering bitter taste in a good way, ABV didn’t overwhelm the taste. Being from the east coast I found the hazy vs clear IPA’s kind of a fun discussion with myself. My last beer if I am on death row would be Heady Topper so I am comparing Pliny to Heady and trying to be objective. I must say liked Heady better, but not by a lot! I have been hearing about Pliny for years now and it’s everything I hoped it would be. Absolutely glad I had it.

Apr 14, 2022
4.24 by foundersasap from Michigan on Apr 12, 2022
4.75 by dan_amdg from Illinois on Apr 03, 2022
Photo of atomicbeer
4.03/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
by atomicbeer from New Mexico

Draft pint at the Anaheim Packing House. So excited to finally find this beer on draft. A very good beer but not the greatest IPA I’ve ever had. Very nice pine hop blast with a fine malt finish. A good solid 4.00 IPA.

Mar 22, 2022
4.54 by cgrunin from Texas on Mar 18, 2022
Photo of DIPA_Davi
4.04/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4
by DIPA_Davi

It’s a very good IPA. But it’s NOT a DIPA / Imperial and doesn’t even belong in the conversation. If it did, it sure as hell wouldn’t be in the top 25%. This might be the most overhyped beer on BA. Too bad because NoCal has the DIPA market flooded with excellent beers. This isn’t one of them, since it’s not a DIPA.

Mar 10, 2022
Photo of StephenLovett
4.46/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5
by StephenLovett from California

Pours a clear light gold with a 1/2" head of a mix of white small and larger bubbles.

The nose is deceiving as it's dominated by a bold dry hopped "Cascade" scent that is almost overpowering leading a first timer to expect a typically over-hopped, nothing-but-hops IPA. Happily that's not the case.

The magic here is the balance, something that so many IPA's get wrong. All the more remarkable for it being a double.
Most stronger beers strike a balance with the strong hop aroma and flavor that results from aggressive dry hopping by starting with a high original gravity. This results is a sweet/tart balance that leans in the direction of a California style barley wine and is easy to get wrong.

Consummate skill in the brewing arts yield something that I've never experienced before which is a very pleasing hop forward flavor profile with its resultant citrus / pine flavors, but still retaining the malt flavors, with no sweetness. This beer is just perfectly balanced. It really is a work of art.

Medium body, carbonation strong enough to meet the stronger flavors, but not overwhelm them. Did I mention balance?

It's a bit much for a daily drinker for me, but there is no denying that it's a really exceptional beer, and an IPA I really enjoy which is a rarity. More remarkably its big brother Pliny the younger strikes an equally skillful balance in a triple. Hats off to Russian River Brewing, really fine work.

Mar 07, 2022
Photo of Tallmountainman
4.96/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5
by Tallmountainman from Washington

Yes. It is one of the best IPAs in Northern CA

Mar 02, 2022
Photo of Winton_Ross
4.38/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25
by Winton_Ross from New York

Lovely beverage, but not in my current style of preferred brews? Never cared for green anything in my beverages. Delicious, however, and better with my almost clear-broth chowder.

Feb 22, 2022
Photo of EllaRulestheWorld
4.88/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75
by EllaRulestheWorld

What I wanted. As advertised.

Feb 18, 2022
Photo of jonphisher
4.14/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25
by jonphisher from New Jersey

Pours a pretty much clear light gold; beautiful white dense head with great retention; splotchy lacing.

Very citrus forward aromas, some subtle sweet grainy aroma and some subtle dank.

Citrus forward taste, just as the nose; gentle malt sweetness and littof sap.

Medium body, gentle but plentiful carbonation, high and tongue coating bitterness that is nicely accentuated by a clean dry finish.

Thanks Dave for finally allowing me to try this iconic beer.

Feb 15, 2022
Photo of Tomlarson123
4.49/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5
by Tomlarson123 from Ohio

On Monterey bay watching the sunset. From a 510 mil bottled on Jan 22 2022. Hoppy dry. Refreshing full of flavor

Feb 15, 2022
Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
Beer rating: 100 out of 100 with 15549 ratings