Pliny The Elder | Russian River Brewing Company

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Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder
14,998 Ratings
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: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 08-24-2003

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 14,998 |  Reviews: 3,771
Photo of Sammy
4.15/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Light orange body and good white head that lasts. Lace in glass. Very fresh, brought by Dr.Jay from Capone's near Philly on Russian River night. Bitter bias but also well malted. Perfect soft carbonation. Smooth orange and grapefruit taste.Bitter, sweet, then bitter aftertaste.
Much better balance noticed on-tap at both Solena Beach and Port Carling Pizza Ports just 7 weeks later.
Three-and-a-half years later, in-your-face hops, but drinkable.
Over four years later sample at Table Rock and was great.
5.5 years later and very good well integrated DIPA fresh bottle from OCBeerSociety extra.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.52/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

after years and years and years of waiting for this one and reading the heavy hype, my new beer drinking girlfriend sourced 2 bottles of this for us. apparently she called all over denver and finally hooked it up at mr. b's liquor. thank god she did. this mythical beer pours a slightly cloudy honey orange color with a one inch bone white head that has excellent retention. the smell is amazing, really tropical hops. im picking up passion fruit, clementines, and something even more intense like a pau pau or a mango, im not quite sure, but its all from the hops. makes me think there is nelson sauvin in here, but i cant confirm that, similar profile though. flavor has all the same hop essences, but is rounded out with a crackery seedy malt flavor that lays just under the hops, which arent in any way overbearing and bitter. this is really sensational. mouthfeel would be a 6 out of 5 if that was a choice, it is light feeling and smoothly creamy despite its squarely medium body. its got this perfectly made richness of feel when its held in the mouth, it gets foamy and huge and cloud-like. well carbonated but not like soda pop, its more tame and gentle, different vibe totally, but equally bright. quite a surprisingly dry finish, but appealing in this context. the aftertaste is legendary, hanging on forever. forever. every tastebud on my tongue is firing, bitter ones are dancing up front, sweet ones are tickling me in the back, and fruity like the islands somewhere in between. my inner beer geek is just brimming with accomplishment and radiating joy. this is fucking excellent. worth every dollop of hype, i cant wait for my next go!

edit: even more perfect on tap, at the brewery. if you like hoppy beers, this is a sojourn worth taking. just sensational!

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Photo of acurtis
4.1/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Naven hooked me up with a fresh 500ml bottle of Pliny. Bottled 9.23.2010
Poured into large red wine glass. Copper color with 1/2 finger white head that sticks to the glass. Head fell, left small and bubbly Super aroma dominated by flowery hops with some citrus. Amazing flavor balanced with hops and malt. Spectacular soft carbonation. This has to be the most drinkable double IPA i've tasted. Simply awesome.

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Photo of kylehay2004
4.97/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Very excited to have had my sister ship me three of these from Cali to Florida. Date on these is 4/3/12, today is 4/18/12.

A: single finger head with nice circumferential lacing on a pale golden with a subtle crimson hued body.

S: floral and to stay in the same vine of imagery, a bouguet of citrus, earthy, floral and mild pine hops.

T: Basically perfect balance in the hop flavor as well as transisiton between flavors. Everything is here and nothing clashes; pine, floral, citrus, earthy etc. Very nice.

M: very smooth. not overly sharp or crisp. medium body and moderate carbonation.

Overall: this one certainly lives up to the hype. This is a beer I could drink everyday. Excellent. Glad I have 2 more bottles.

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Photo of jaydoc
4.53/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.95/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On tap at Beachwood BBQ in Seal Beach, CA.

A - Arrived a slightly cloudy pale orange color with a 1/2 inch head. The lacing is amazing.

S - Smells of delicious flowers and citrus hops. There is also a nice tart fruit smell.

T - Absolutely delicious citrus hops with little bitterness. There is also a subdued fruit essence taste present.

M - Carbonation was somewhat flat but the beer was very smooth and fresh.

D - This is a very, very good beer. I know this is a different style of IPA but I enjoyed this beer much more than Blind Pig. This was a very good companion to my BBQ feast.

I definitely will be going after more of this brew. One of the most aesthetically pleasing beers I have ever had. The lacing was absolutely the best I have ever seen. There were rings from top to bottom that showed my progress. Sweet.

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Photo of Texasfan549
4.75/5  rDev +2.4%

Photo of kjkinsey
5/5  rDev +7.8%

Photo of Knapp85
4.65/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Oh the mighty Pliny... Waited quite a while to finally try to gem. I was tipped off by a gentleman that moved to Pa from Cali about where to get Pliny in our area. He spoke if the Spinnerstown Hotel as if it was a sacred holy land of beer... He wasn't too far off! Long story short about a year after he mentioned it to me I saw the S. Town Hotel got it in on tap! I wanted to leave work early that day and fly down there asap! I walk in the door and the same dude from a year ago is tossing back Pliny's like he just bought the keg. I walked up to the bar and got my 1st one. The guy didn't remember me from before and got upset that I was ordering "his" beer! I told him that it's his fault because he tipped me off about it... Anyway it's got a lovely golden yellow color with a nice head in it. The aromas are breath taking. The flavors of pine like hops sting your mouth and make you beg for more. This beer is so tasty! I ordered 5 in a row that night. Coulda had 5 more, shoulda called a cab!

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Photo of GRG1313
4.55/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Ordered today on tap with a great hamburger at Father's Office in Santa Monica. Great lunch!

Pours golden dark amber in color with a nice white head.

A nose of fresh pineapple and sweet pine. This is all about the hops! Huge fresh, crisp and bright grapefruit, grapefruit skins and citrus character and flavors. Lemon and lemon oil tones in nose, mouth and finish.

There is a quality character to this hoppy brew and it there is no question but that it is out of balance with hops. It's great! I love it. More brewers should make out of balance, hop heavy brews like this one! A winner, especially on tap. Very food friendly with flavorful dishes.

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Photo of spycow
5/5  rDev +7.8%

Photo of djrn2
4.5/5  rDev -3%

Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
4.5/5  rDev -3%

Photo of metter98
4.42/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: The beer is clear orange to yellow in color and has a very slight amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a half finger high head that died down and left a large patch of bubbles in the center of the glass, a collar of large bubbles around the edge and some delicate lacing in between.
S: There are light to moderate aromas of grapefruit in the nose.
T: The taste has flavors of grapefruit, notes of caramel malts and hints of pine resin.
M: It feels medium-bodied and very crisp on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is very drinkable and has no trace of alcohol in the taste. It also has an excellent balance between the malts and the hops.

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Photo of nmann08
5/5  rDev +7.8%

Photo of biboergosum
4.27/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

510ml (?) bottle, 14 days old - fresher than I would ever really have expected. As I was approaching my 2500th review, I was at a bit of a loss as to which beer would be (potentially) worthy enough to mark this particular signpost of mine. Lo and behold, and damned near out of the blue, comes this early Christmas present, from the good DoktorZee - many, many thanks! Into my Laughing Dog Yankee pint glass this goes, in honour of my first bastion of hoppy indoctrination.

This beer pours a slightly hazy, pale golden amber hue, with three fingers of thick, bulbous, and melted marshmallow eggshell-white head, which leaves some broad streaks of sea-spray lace around the glass as it gently slinks away.

It smells of pungent tropical fruit - pineapple, papaya, and blood orange - a bit more pedestrian lemon and grapefruit pith, with some resinous pine needles and musty florals, all over a lightly bready, softly caramelized pale malt. The taste is bitter aged citrus rind - kind of a Cali fruit salad of orange, lemon, and grapefruit - all fresh and in your face, but, um, nice about it. Some further floral, perfumed hops flesh things out, until the unassuming caramel malt supporting act kicks in, along with a slowly simmering, mostly under the radar booziness.

The bubbles are pretty laid-back, just eking out their paycheck, the body a decently sturdy medium weight, and tacitly smooth - the hops and booze respectably keeping their distance. It finishes off-dry, but just barely, the melange of hops contending more with some uppity alcohol.

An on the level, well-rendered DIPA - you get your hop fix, in spades, and yet the inherent balance remains steadfast. I gotta say, it delivers, and though it isn't perfect, what really is? I can see why the hype exists, and will indeed persist.

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Photo of oriolesfan4
4.5/5  rDev -3%

Photo of t0rin0
4.25/5  rDev -8.4%

Photo of WillieThreebiers
4.75/5  rDev +2.4%

Photo of superspak
4.2/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got in a trade with TopsecretWaffle. 510 ml bottle into tulip glass, bottled on 5/27/2013. Pours lightly hazy golden amber color with a 2 finger dense off white head with great retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lingers. Spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass. Aromas of grapefruit, tangerine, orange zest, lemon zest, floral, pineapple, honey, light caramel, bread, and floral earthiness. Damn nice aromas with good balance and complexity of hop and malt notes; with good strength. Taste of grapefruit, orange zest, lemon zest, tangerine, floral, pineapple, grass, pine, honey, light caramel, bread, and floral earthiness. Fair amount of earthy pine bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of citrus, citrus zest, pineapple, honey, light caramel, floral, grass, pine, bread, and floral earthiness. Awesome balance and complexity of hop flavors with a moderate malt balance; and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and body; with a fairly creamy, sticky, and lightly crisp mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a small warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is a highly excellent DIPA! Great hop flavor complexity and moderate malt balance; and very smooth to sip on. A highly enjoyable offering; but certainly not near the hype it gets.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.72/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

500ml brown glass bottle with standard pressure cap served into De Molen stemware in low altitude Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live.

A: Pours a 2.5 finger head of nice cream, good thickness, and good retention - especially for the style and ABV. Colour is a transparent yellow.

Sm: Fresh floral bittering hop notes. Maybe cascade? I'm bollocks at guessing hop varietals, but I do know that it's wonderfully pleasant and inviting. A moderate strength aroma.

T: Lovely fresh hop notes and floral notes. The balance is sadly off, with too much bitterness in the 3rd act and finish. It's a shame because the first two acts are so fresh, pleasant, and wondrous. It's quite well built. Deep, layered, and complex for the style. I'm impressed, but it's not without its shortcomings.

Mf: Smooth, pleasant, and wet. I'd definitely stop short of refreshing, but it's pretty good. Complements the flavours really well.

Dr: Very drinkable and pleasant for the style. Hides its ABV very well. I'd have it again on-draught - which is a rarity for me given the style. It's good and pairs well with meat, but it's not quite exemplary. I've had better IPAs.

Having tried many more beers in the style, I decided to revisit this one on 12/21/12. Bottled 11/30/12. 510ml brown glass bottle served into a conical Samuel Smith's pint glass. Expectations are high. Served straight from the fridge.

A: Pours a beige three finger head of nice froth but little cream, good thickness, and great retention considering the ABV. Body colour is a clear yellow/pale copper. No visible yeast. No bubble show.

Sm: Pine, pleasant citrus and floral hops, lemongrass, and nectary hops. No detectable hop bitterness, yeast, or alcohol. Pleasant and fragrant. Above average in strength. Appealing.

T: Grassy body with complex floral notes across the board balanced well against its subtle pine. A bit nectary. Flirts with a light soapy character but never quite crosses the line. Pale malts lend it body without compromising the well-executed balance. No yeast or alcohol comes through. It's very refreshing and enjoyable, with minimal hop bitterness. Very balanced and tasty, if somewhat simple compared to other beers in the style.

Mf: Smooth and wet. Nectary. Refreshing. Good thickness and palate presence; very light for the style and ABV. Complements the flavours well.

Dr: I know far more now about the style than I did when I last reviewed it a year ago (12/08/11 review above), but I still have to give it the same score. There is more to be done with a double IPA, and this is not the best one out there. I recall liking Heady Topper and Port 15 far more than this. An excellent Double IPA that would pair very well with any food. Hides its ABV well. Well priced for the quality ($3.25-$6.99 in L.A.).


06.20.17 impression on-draught at Freshcraft in Denver. Cost was $8.50 USD per 16oz pour.

Vibrant copper body colour. White head 2cm in height.

Aroma brings floral hops, pine, and vague fruit. Pale malts seem to balance out any hop bitterness. Aromatic intensity is average.

Taste and texture: Creamy, smooth, wet, not unrefreshing, well carbonated.

Floral and vaguely fruity, with some light resin in there as well. A robust pale malt backbone keeps it balanced.

OVERALL: Drinkable for its ABV, but the balance isn't quite dialed in and I've certainly had expressions of the style that boasted more intricacy, diversity, and depth of flavour. Hop profile could be more interesting.



Grassier than I remember. The simcoe character borders on oniony. I rarely use the descriptor "catty," but I think it'd be fair to apply here.


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Photo of BEERchitect
4.55/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Sharply citrusy and bone dry- Russian River knows that these halmarks are the only ones that matter in this simple and strong style.

Pouring a highly carbonated and creamy overall appearance, the beer delivers the most supple of haze upon a strong golden, light copper hue. A creamy ecru head builds on the beer and coats the sides of the glass with sheets of lace as the beer falls for a very charming and stately appearance.

Aromas of every citrus fruit that you have ever known rushes to the olfactories with an onslaught that's extremely zesty, ripe, and fresh. Only the most supple of malty caramel notes inform the sweeter notions of fruit but intently stray from the focused citrusy notes of oranges and grapefruit.

Flavors follow suit with a strong emphasis on hoppy oils that remind the tastebuds of ruby red grapefruit pulp, freshly grated oranges, and tangerine succulence. Citrusy overall, but it's the underlying malty sweetness of thin caramel that gives the fruity hop flavors just enough sweetness to not become sour, acidic, or overly sharp. Lightly salty in taste, the beer's water profile gives a rounded element that's sometimes lacking in these dry beers.

But the dryness doesn't only manifest in taste, it also presents a quick evaporative feel just after the early creamy notion of malt whisps away and leaves a bitter, resiny-dry finish of citrus sharpness and lightly herbal/grassy bite in aftertaste.

Pliny is a quentessential IPA that displays all the finnese of hop oils and resins for ultimate clean citrus flavor and resiny bitterness. This only happens because of the understated and clean caramel malt base. Although this would normally expose a lot of hop and alcohol harshness in merely mortal beers, it's surprising that none of those show here. Russian River nails this one!

Thanks also bbehr and hopluva1!

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Photo of oline73
4.76/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I had this on-tap at Capone's during the Russian River beer event. Every time I have this beer, I can't believe how much I like it. I never thought it would live up to the hype, but it always does.

Appearance: Pours a clear golden amber color with a finger of off white head. It leaves some nice lacing as I got through my pour.

Smell: I had this next to the younger, and the smell is the only place where I thought younger won. Sweet mildly citrus hops with some malt sweetness in there as well. Not very strong.

Taste: There is less sweetness in the taste than there is in the smell. Bitter citrus peel hops hit the tongue pretty hard, there are also some pine notes in there as well. The finish is quite bitter with hardly any alcohol present.

Mouthfeel: The body is medium with a good amount of delicate carbonation. The finish is sticky and extremely dry.

Overall: I love this beer. You don't pick up the alcohol at all. The hop profile is amazing, and it has just the right amount of sweetness. I'd take this over the Younger if I had to choose just one of them.

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Photo of emerge077
4.3/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Finally, the illustrious Elder sits in the glass in front of me...

Orange body with more yellow-orange tones toward the base of the glass. Micro sediment hangs in suspension. Bits of spotty lace around the edge, with a good skim of foam, nice retention.

Juicy citrus aroma, sweet cotton candy, juicyfruit gum. Some resiny hop oils in the back. Nothing but rich fruity hops in this one!

Initial sips are bitter, some floral hop and grainy malt notes, tropical fruitiness, with a long earthy finish. Maltiness is huge, which performs a balancing act with the large hop load. Alcohol is slightly perceptible. Smooth and creamy feel, light astringency that is not a distraction. A fine savory beverage...

Dreadnaught is still my #1 DIPA, but PtE is a close #2.
Huge thanks to Jason for the trade!

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Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.64 out of 5 with 14,998 ratings