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Pliny The Elder | Russian River Brewing Company

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3,644 Reviews
Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder

Brewed by:
Russian River Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: American Double / Imperial IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 08-24-2003

For Trade:
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Reviews: 3,644 | Ratings: 14,105
Photo of soaksash
4.88/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

This is it. This is probably the beer that will turn any beer snob snob into a beer snob (apologies, not really a fan of "beer snob" as a term but it sounds quite poetic).

The thing is I only had it twice, but it still remember it vividly. Among IPAs, it is by far one of the easiest to drink. The perfect analogy is Jennifer Lawrence wearing a dominatrix costume. Its powerful, fragrant, hoppy, amazing complex but it light and unbelievably easy to drink, lulling you to a state of wanting to drink it over and over (of course, responsibly)

After drinking a huge array of IPAs, you realize that complexity and power are different things, and most IPAs confuse overly powerful flavors with complexity and general deliciousness. This is one of few that manages to pull it off

Apologies it sounds ranty, just finished a bottle :D

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Photo of BierRunner
4.75/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A clear light gold color with a nose of citrus and honey. A creamy effervescent mouth feel, a malty bitterness with citrus mingling and that same hint of honey emerging on the finish. As it warms, more is emerging. This seems like a simple beer at first but don't be fooled. There are subltle complexities here that need to be studied. That would explain the long run Pliny has enjoyed.

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Photo of alexbutler
4.73/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Not over the top aroma but this guy packs a punch. Beautiful creamy head sits on a perfectly crystal clear amber body. There's a pine crispness and a deep woodsy undertone that carries the mouthfeel... Lingers just long enough to appreciate the complexity of the hops but not too long as to have your mouth feel caked over. I'm very impressed with this... It was on my to-do list for a long time. Cheers!

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Photo of jimmypanda
4.76/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Aroma: pine, some resinous notes, citrus/floral characteristics typical of West Coast IPAs
Appearance: copper color with a hint of haziness, head was about one finger and had great lacing
Taste: Citrus, orange, grapefruitish notes followe by a subtle dankness to it. Crisp, dry finish and lingering hop bitterness.
Overall: an amazing example of classic west coast ipa's and all the hype is somewhat overdone but I can see why it is so sought after. I compare this IPA to the Beetles of IPAs on the Westside.

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Photo of Dragginballs76
4.59/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - Pours semi transparent yellowish color nice thick foamy white head lasted several minutes and left tons of lacing down the glass.

Aroma - Pine, grapefruit, orange peel, pineapple and hint of mango. The aroma is very balanced between the tropical fruit and pine.

Taste - Wow super smooth, more of the pine and hops come out in the flavor than in the aroma, still getting the grapefruit and orange/mango. It is hard to believe this is 8%.

Feel - medium body nice hoppy bite good carbonation slightly bitter.

Overall - This has been a huge want for me for some time and it lives up to the hype. Amazing flavors and so smooth.

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Photo of Drvitlkeyustolit80
4.5/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

First had 6/6/15 at the Cheeky Monk in Denver. The process I went through to get this beer was insane. I drove from Easton, PA to Denver, CO just to get it. I mean I did continue on to Boise to move in my brother, but the beer was the highlight of my trip.

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Photo of Amguerra305
4.16/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clear yellow with a slight tinge of a hue towards the red spectrum but not close to Amber. Smell is citrus dank. Hints of orange and grapefruit, almost juicy in some way. The taste is very balanced for what is supposed to be an over the top IPA. Strong pilsner malt sweetness up front followed by only a touch of bitterness on the back end. It feels medium heavy and sticky. Overall this is a solid beer That gives hope to those who do not normally enjoy IPA's that there can be some great ones out there. Malty and bitter but not overtly so.

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Photo of jhartley
4.41/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 510ml bottle into a Teku glass. Bottled on 10/12/16, so roughly 5 weeks old.

Appearance: Light amber body, clear and filtered. About a 1/2 fingers worth of head, which dissipated over a couple of minutes and leaves plenty of islands of lacing in the glass.

Aroma: Pine, grapefruit, pineapple and spice.

Taste: Starts out with a tea like flavor, which slowly fades into spicy pine and grapefruit and a mild tropical fruitiness.

Mouthfeel: Full on hops right away and a nice lingering pine bitter-tang.

Overall: Oh yeah! Lives up to the hype! Curious to see any differences this might have if it was super fresh, because this one is tasty! The aroma seems a little muted to me, but the taste more than makes up for it!

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Photo of Reema
5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Serving type: freshly bottled (10/31/16) 500 ml bottle into a tulip glass

Pours a beautiful orange amber color with the slightest of haze. Smells of intense grapefruit, honey, resinous pine, with a pleasant malt sweetness. Taste reflects the smell perfectly. Initial huge flavors of grapefruit intermingled with pine finish with a semi-sweet lingering bitterness. Feel is medium plus, semi thick, fluffy, sufficient carbonation to tingle the tongue. Overall, this is a perfect West coast D/IPA. If you can imagine a perfect West coast D/IPA, this is probably it.

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Photo of Mach1_zach
5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I seriously forget how amazing this is. The two i bought were bottle on 10/11/2016.

Poured into a tulip, the aromas are oustanding as usual. Nice clean white head about 3/4 of an inch. The color is that perfect color you get from a good IPA. The nose is almost sweet with amazing hop flavor. The middle has a great malt backbone to give a great full flavor. The finish is nice and dry with a good leftover hop profile aftertaste. The mouthfeel is very smooth with the perfect amount of carbonation. Also leaves a very nice lace on the glass.

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Photo of jaw3944
4.98/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

This beer definitely lives up to the hype. While pouring it is could tell it was going to be good. It has that color all good IPAs have. About halfway through the pour the smell had reached my nostrils and what a smell it was. As good as it looks and smells it tastes even better.

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Photo of HattedClassic
4.71/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Beer is a clear pale gold. Head is a nice and clean foamy white.

Smell is pretty hoppy. nice sweet malt backbone. Pine and grapefruit hop notes are good. Grapefruit notes are slightly stronger. Sweeter nose.

Taste is the same but more bitter and with a pine finish.

Heavy body. Tingling carbonation. Dry finish.

Very good. Worth the trip.

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Photo of Club-DonnieT
5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

What is Happiness. From the forest green label which reminds me of the woods I grew up in as a kid in New England to the Red Circle a perfect BullsEye of perfection "Pliny the Elder" Simple yet such a subtle prolific statement. The cap three different tiny pushes as not to injury the perfection of the bottle..... Its happened.....the bottle is opened, what lies within is magical.
Nice creamy sweet head of the light foam of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans crashing together to form the perfect foam of the perfect wave...., The leaves begin to turn on my next sip, a low level of a autumn day mixed with hints of the last remnants of summer fruit-Citrus is in the air it lingers....I breathe in in anticipation of the next sip.... -smooth like the icefalls of Mount Washington, fast and pure coolness, no bite goes and continues to go down like fields of Angel Island a rugged perfection that is calm with light velvety undertones of prolific happiness setting the mind in a purity of bliss and emotionally safeness. I think as I take my last sip today is a great day, tomorrow will be even better.....(and this is only after my first encounter with the beer that lives within my soul. Thank you Russian River-Cheers (Beer Production 10-6-16--Beer Consumed 10-25-16) --Donnie T

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Photo of Jaypeajus
3.72/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Looks magnificent. Good straw amber color, creamy head good retention. Smell citrus, sweet pine. Bitter taste-but smooth bit malty. Definitely gets the back buds goin. Feels smooth slick bit oily. Overall glad I got to try thanks NOYOUDIDNT.

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Photo of NoYouDidnt
3.79/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Pours a golden orange with a one finger fluffy white head. Aroma, grapefruit, and sappy, grassy. Taste- medium bitterness at the end first off. Lingers long after the swallow. Grapefruit, piney. Bit of alcohol in there. Not sweet. Mouthfeel is pretty soft. Overall, this is a classic bitter DIPA. Bit too bitter for what I'd prefer most of the time.

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Photo of EnzymaticHops
4.49/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Light amber with a pearly white head that never disappears. Upon opening the bottle, aromas of grapefruit and pine explode, but the fruitiness tends to fade as you drink. Has the perfect balance that a well-made west coast IPA ought to; citrus, resin, malt and no detectable alcohol on the palate. This beer races over the tongue with a medium body. Delightful.

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Photo of GeeL
4.93/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This is a long review, so I'll cut to the chase and give the "Overall" first: This is hands-down one of the best DIPAs I've had in a long time. The clarity of the beer, the crispness of the taste, it's clean and unmuddled. It's complex but simple. I'm glad I have 2 more bottles.

This has been on my "must try list" since I first heard about it. I have no idea how long ago that was, but I know the beer was legendary and I've heard about it a long time ago (it is now Oct, 2016).

The bottle I had was 1 month old when I tasted it, though it was in my possession for almost 2 weeks (I had been sick and taste buds shot so waited to have it figuring the trade off between being able to taste and extra aging was valid). Three bottles, and a few other beers, were shipped to MA from CA via a trade for Tree House and other beers local to MA. It was out of refrigeration for a little under a week.

There was a lot of build up for this beer. I shared it with a good friend.

L: crystal clear straw colored. The current craze is cloudy/unfiltered, so this was a nice change of pace. This was as clear as any pilsner. It looked delicious.

S: Clean, refined, quality. I don't know how else to describe it. These days saying it smelled piny, a hint of citrus, and some brown sugar is so typical for a DIPA it's become cliche. The smell was not muddled or complex. It's straightforward and just what a DIPA should seell like. I can only imagine that 16 or so years ago when this smell was relatively new to the beer scene that people went crazy.

Before I tasted it, I reminded myself to be objective. I wanted to taste this beer and compare it to itself, not to other beers. This beer has been around a while, it's a flagship beer of Russian River, and I wanted to put myself back in time to when this beer could not be compared to anything else.

T: After having a gazillion fruity hop-bombs on the East coast, NEIPAs they're called, I was hoping for a good honest beer. No tricks or gimmicks such as excessive cloudiness, hop blasting, etc. This was spot on what I had thought and hoped it would taste like. It fits the cliche for DIPAs perfectly: it has a huge amount of hop bitterness (piney, grapefruit, pineapple) that is supported by a strong malt backbone. There's some sweetness, almost honey-like. It's piny, some hint of citrus, but the taste is clean and crisp and incredibly balanced. I think that's why I say it's quality. It's not aggressive or in your face in any way. It's frigging refreshingly easy to drink. I had guessed right that it's 8%, but it didn't taste like it. A more significant observation is that the flavor didn't linger. It didn't fall flat, but it faded quickly and made me to want another drink sooner that other big hop bombs do.

F: It was thinner than I thought it would be. This made the taste fade relatively quickly. I almost gave "Feel" a 5 because back when Pliny was first made this beer would have been considered full bodied. However, even back then, I'm sure I would have thought it faded quickly due to a thin mouthfeel.

O: This is hands-down one of the best DIPAs I've had in a long time.

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Photo of StuB2485
4.27/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

L: Pretty pour. Clear. Scant head with lingering lace.
S: The best part. Pine. Citrus. Oak. Must.
T: (Biased New Englander) Excellent beer but compared to... Thin and piney. That being said, each sip gets better and better. The alcohol heat not as well balanced. Too much bitterness for the malt. Lack richness of the best of Alchemy, Hill Farmstead and Trillium.

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Photo of Beginner2
4.52/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

As non-hophead and as an occasional anti-hophead, I now know what you hopheads are talking about. (But it took the most iconic, if not your Holy Grail, to help me see your light.) Of course, living in the Midwest... I never expected to taste this. But coincidence had me in San Francisco's City Beer store and after they diligently went through my "1001" list told me that Pliny The Elder would be there at noon in two days. I showed up at the appointed time and bought three. I took one to a party that no one drank beer (lucky me again.) I took the two remainders home with one going to another party and found a fast way to make friends. (I may keep the last one to trade on BA, but I may also hog it myself this week... lucky me.)

Never has alcohol been concealed so well in a bitter beer... and never has the bitterness been so aromatic in my nose and so light on the tongue. Pliny will not convert me into the hophead ideology, but he has made me appreciate fully what I never thought I could.

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Photo of aquabears
4.49/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Clear golden amber in color, minimal head and minimal lacing. Smell is sweet fruit and slightly astringent. Taste is bitter and complex and smooth, mild fruitiness , some grassy flavors, citrus peel. Light bodied and mild carbonation.

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Photo of anthony23cippy
4.53/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sent from a friend in CA to me in Maine, 2 day shipping, bottled on Sept 19th drank on October 1st. Poured into a pint glass, pours a straw golden yellow with a 1.5 finger white foam head. Good lacing. Smell is of grapefruit, melon, pine, and an almost bubblegum. taste is much of the same mostly grapefruit, the bubble gum comes through more in the taste, pine, and a bit of melon. Mouth feel is typical of the style, not too thick like other DIPAS I've had though. Honestly it tasted a lot like Lunch by Maine Beer Company. Definitely a difference between west coast and east coast DIPAS though. Overall a great beer, and one I would go through lengths to drink again, but I wouldn't put it above a few New England DIPAS. Overall 4.5/5.

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Photo of MrHolden
4.58/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Draft pour at Russian River in Santa Rosa, CA. Pours an Amber gold with a finger thick white head that's whipped creamy and won't die. Aroma is huge grapefruit, notes of honey, pine, citrus, and faintly yeasty. Flavor is bitter hops, pine, notes of citrus and a long smooth bitterness. The mouth feel is medium bodied and creamy, incredibly smooth going down. It's so round and lively fresh off the tap, and worth the trip out here.

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Photo of Prologx
5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Nice big citrus aroma. Taste of citrus pine, hoppy, but extremely smooth, followed by tropical flavors. Extremely perishable, Must drink within 2 weeks, it loses flavor right after. Even if exposed to heat during those 2 weeks you lose flavor. I believe many who didn't give this a beer the raiting it deserved was due to getting a bottle that was greater than 2 weeks old, or delivered warm via ups/FedEx.

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Photo of ryno6616
4.83/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Finally can check this one off my list thanks to a great trade with MitchellM.
Being on the east coast, this is not available to me regularly, so it was up to a trade to make it happen. Sent a mix of Treehouse and Alchemist brews for my first Pliny. It is everything other people have said. It is a fantastic beer and a must to check off any ones list. But if you are lucky to be near Alchemist and Tree House for example, this is a different brew all together. Extremely good and worthy of its 100 rating for sure. The fact I prefer Treehouse or Alchemist over this RR brew doesn't mean it is any less spectacular.

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Photo of Misterdubs
4.05/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

If your ideal IPA/DIPA is along the lines of Tree House and Trillium you will be disappointed. It is a solid beer, but it's not worth being rated as high as it is, especially in comparison to the NE coast IPAs (impartial reviewer, as in from the Midwest).

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Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
4.6 out of 5 based on 14,105 ratings.
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