Pliny The Elder
Russian River Brewing Company

Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder
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From:
Russian River Brewing Company
 
California, United States
Style:
Imperial IPA
Ranked #3
ABV:
8%
Score:
100
Ranked #30
Avg:
4.64 | pDev: 7.76%
Reviews:
3,939
Ratings:
11,625
Status:
Active
Rated:
Sunday at 02:07 AM
Added:
Aug 24, 2003
Wants:
  7,644
Gots:
  4,817
SCORE
100
World-Class
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 TheWaySheGoes:
Photo of TheWaySheGoes
Reviewed by TheWaySheGoes from Illinois

4.72/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5
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
More User Ratings:
Photo of Wattie83
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.
Sunday at 02:07 AM
Photo of thebigbambino
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.
Sunday at 01:19 AM
Photo of Mdog
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.
Saturday at 05:06 PM
 
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
Photo of Captain69
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
Photo of Julius_Menashe
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
Photo of GRPunk
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
Photo of JZH1000
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
Photo of HorseheadsHophead
Reviewed by HorseheadsHophead from Colorado

4.82/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5
Comes in a crystal clear golden color, with a creamy, marshmallowy bright white head. Incredible retention with sheets of lacing.
The aroma doesn't explode from the glass, but it's nice. Earthy and piney, with pithy grapefruit. Think forest floor, littered with grapefruit peels. Potting soil, pine needles, pine cone, grapefruit peel, a touch of grass, and orange peel.
Juicy yellow grapefruit, and bright fresh white pine hit in equal measure. Grapefruit and orange peels and juice take over and dominate, but earthy pine needles remain in the background. The malt is subtle, biscuity, slightly toasty, offering a slight sweetness but remaining subtle. It finishes clean and crisp, moderately bitter. Hop oils, grapefruit and pine linger on your tongue and make the palate sticky.
Nice medium-plus body, good carbonation, moves quickly and smoothly on the palate but leaves a lasting impression.

This is every bit a world-class WCDIPA. Tastes phenomenal.
Jul 30, 2022
Photo of BigMac59
Reviewed by BigMac59 from Texas

4.4/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5
The look is clear straw to golden with a nice off-white head. Lots of nice lacing.
Aroma is piney and malty with a little dank to it. Taste is lightly fruity, piney, slightly sweet and moderately bitter. The mouthfeel is very nice with good carbonation, and a dry finish. Overall a delicious west coast IPA.
Jul 28, 2022
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Reviewed by ericstin from Rhode Island

4.28/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25
Man, I have been trying to get a hold of this for awhile now. Finally got to try some this week. I wanted so badly to love it! Man is this stuff overrated. Unbelievable. It is a delicious beer, don't get me wrong. But as they haven't changed the recipe (I don't think) this stuff IMHO is not worth seeking out if you've had all of the good stuff. You will be underwhelmed. It is a piney, resinous, hoppy west-coast IPA. I found it to be a glorified Sierra Nevada Torpedo.
Jul 16, 2022
Photo of ivanbrew
Rated by ivanbrew

5/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5
Probably the best IPA in the world!!! Crisp clean floral hi carbonation everything you can ask for thank you Russian River
Jul 15, 2022
 
Rated: 4.54 by Paul_J

Jul 10, 2022
 
Rated: 4.75 by Cuervo_PCB from Florida

Jul 04, 2022
 
Rated: 4.55 by mcbridec6 from New Jersey

Jun 23, 2022
Photo of Limazulu
Reviewed by Limazulu from Idaho

5/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5
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
Rated by cdinardo21 from Pennsylvania

4.6/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
The quintessential westie.
Jun 15, 2022
Photo of frankdatank1337
Reviewed by frankdatank1337 from California

4/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
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
 
Rated: 4.17 by Chuckg93 from Oregon

Jun 13, 2022
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Reviewed by bbtkd from South Dakota

4.6/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75
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
Reviewed by garymuchow from Minnesota

4.3/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5
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
 
Rated: 4.42 by Miles_Nilges from New York

Jun 05, 2022
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Reviewed by Whiteweasel from Illinois

4.68/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75
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
Reviewed by Act25 from New Jersey

4.64/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5
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
Reviewed by cthenderson99 from North Carolina

4.65/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5
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
 
Rated: 4.91 by mvansis

May 21, 2022
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Rated by Youvegotyourselfastew from New York

3/5  rDev -35.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3
Just a regular hoppy ipa to me
May 10, 2022
Photo of maddogruss
Reviewed by maddogruss from New Jersey

5/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5
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
Reviewed by osheamatth from New York

4.56/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
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
 
Rated: 4.8 by RiverJim

May 05, 2022
 
Rated: 4.18 by Pro_Magnon from Texas

May 01, 2022
 
Rated: 4.31 by Rabusta

May 01, 2022
 
Rated: 4.73 by Affinity from Missouri

Apr 30, 2022
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Reviewed by barndweller from California

5/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5
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
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Reviewed by Sparty1224 from Michigan

4.5/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
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
 
Rated: 4.58 by michaelsmith11 from Illinois

Apr 26, 2022
 
Rated: 4.46 by darktronica from Indiana

Apr 17, 2022
 
Rated: 5 by brn9000 from Illinois

Apr 17, 2022
Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
Beer rating: 100 out of 100 with 15564 ratings