Pliny The Elder | Russian River Brewing Company

3,677 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

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Reviews: 3,677 | Ratings: 14,332
Photo of rsn3214
5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Not overrated at all. Tastes like what an IPA should taste like, and thats how its been described. Easy to see why this is the holy grail of IPAS. Strong citrusy, piny smell with a great amount of hops.

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Photo of edward_boumil
4.34/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Given as a gift. Thank you!

L: Interesting look, hazy but not turbid. Golden color with slight burnt orange highlights. Pours a bubbly, soapy head that fades a bit but is easily coaxed back by swirling.
S: Bread and earthy, almost like a nice bread baked with basil and other herbs. Slightly sweet aroma with minor hints of ethanol, has a bright citrus zest note.
T: Repeat of nose with bread and earthy flavor. However hops come through here with notes of citrus, mostly a sweet grapefruit rind note. Finishes with a very soft bitterness. To me, its impressive that this bitterness is so soft, and this is coming from a New England boy.
F: Ridiculously smooth. Mouthfeel is soft, smooth, and easy-drinking. There's a bit of a crispness from the carbonation but its pretty balanced. Very refreshing. Only critique would be that its a bit thin
O: Extremely good beer, has a good malt/hop balance, very drinkable, very tasty. If this was readily available it would be a summer staple of mine.

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Photo of umichfan
4.21/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a tulip glass, a beautiful hazy orange color with a bright white head that holds pretty well. Very floral nose with some pine and a touch of citrus peel. Won't know you're drinking a DIPA, as finishes much cleaner and lighter than most. I'll admit that for me it didn't live up to the hype, but a very clean, crisp and bright beer. Definitely deserves accolades, but by no means blew me away. However, it's a pioneer beer for the style and I certainly wouldn't turn it away if offered.

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Photo of drunkenmess
4.09/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Pretty much what everybody else has said about it.

Pure hoppy goodness
Crisp looking body
Awesome head
Lasting lace
Amazing zesty fruit nose
Full flavored "punch you in the face" with a "kind hello" flavor thats not too much but just enough to respect it.
Super juicy DIPA and full of tropical flavors with dank hop greatness!

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Photo of alos31
4.9/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is my favorite beer. The theater associated with it! Great color! Classic IPA notes, but not too bitter. Grapefruit rind, and lemon with some apple.

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Photo of gongon78
5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pliny the Elder looks, smells, and tastes like beer...a really good beer for anyone. It's an IPA, but it doesn't kill it for people who says IPAs are too hoppy.

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

Well where to start with this one..... hands down one of the best beers if not the best out there. This one definitely did not disappoint. The look was absolutely beautiful and crisp like a diamond. The smell was beyond what you would get with a typical DIPA a semi hoppy and friendly scent. The taste was probably the best part about this because the taste was so fresh and so delightful that grapefruit and the fresh hops and pine flavors all go extremely well together. The feel and finish was somewhat on the dry and somewhat bitter side I almost couldn't tell that it was this smooth. Overall one of the most if not the most beautiful and freshest, crisp, and clean beers ever created and does more than check all of the boxes when looking for a nice and fancy beer. I recommend to all to try it.

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Photo of lordofthewiens
4.63/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Liberty Alehouse in Santa Monica.
A bright gold color with a small white head.
Beautiful aroma. Floral and citrus hops, with a little bit of pine. Good malt background.
Grapefruit and orange up front, followed by some pine resin. Caramel.
Very balance, very good.

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

Had it a few times on draft and a few times from a bottle poured into a pint glass. I don't have much to add to the multiple exhaustive reviews. It is currently my favorite beer.

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

Pours a unblemished golden straw color with a thick frothy white head. Nose is floral, pine with a bit of light citrus. Beautiful taste transition, first you get that smooth light citrus, orange and grapefruit peel, fades to floral and then finishes pine like. Minimal malt profile here but it is still a balanced beer meaning they loaded up this beer on it's malt base almost to the tipping point with hops but stopped short at the Percy amount! Nice clean bitterness to it if you let it sit on your tounge. Mouthfeel starts out sticky but quickly transitions to a crisp bitter clean finish that leaves your palate dry and craving for more Pliny! Excellent beer.

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Photo of Bluerabbitbell
4.69/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

From tap at RRBC. Can I gloat.... I had this from tap at RRBC! Never thought I would have the chance to try this beer, let alone from RRBC! Besides all the other great attributes mentioned from others, to what sticks out to me is the thick mouthfeel! Wow! Totally great and unexpected!

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Photo of Lee_G
4.5/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled on 3/6/2017 (16 days old)

Beautiful Gold color and very clear.

Hops, citrus and faint pine.

Fantastic balance of hops and citrus ending with pine notes.

Crisp and clean.

This is a highly sought after beer in San Diego county and hard to come by at times. I've had it on tap and bottled, both have their advantages. If you are a fan of IPAs, Pliny the Elder will not disappoint

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Photo of cjgiant
4.57/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle dated 2/13 (one month old):
(Revisit 4/4 bottle dated 3/21)
Beer pours gold - like a perfect hue of golden - and very clear. The head buildup is significant on a medium pour, with a combination of soapy and frothy head adorning the clear body. Lacing is quite heavy.

Nose is of floral hops to me. There's a little honey-like sweetness with a bit of spice. I get a little evergreen note with some warmth and effort, not as obvious as others have noted. With this I also get just a slightest note of onion/garlic that some doubles give off.
Revisit: Little more citrus orange rind and light sweet grapefruit pith, and a little more power overall, up a notch

The taste is a little more evident, especially in the pine notes. The beer opens as the nose indicated with a nice honey cracker malty opening. The pine is light on a colder brew, but blooms nicely as the beer warms. A light tickling of the carbonation leads to some anticipation before dissolving into the pine notes. These start more woody, but slowly move up the tree from trunk to green branch to pine needles. Further warmth allows me to note a light tangerine citrus rind note right after the carbonation fades. The malt opening comes out the other side as the bitter flavors fade, though the lingering taste is a woody pine bitterness.
Revisit: maybe I took so long to analyze the first time, I'm thinking the same here, just a little easier to detect.

I honestly expected more from the nose, and my initial sips had me wondering about the hype. But as it hit a more proper temperature, there were some lovely nuances I started to notice. The interplay of malt and bitterness in the middle is fun. I also expected it to be more bitter overall, but I liked the malt component of this beer.

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Photo of Oneguy73
4.54/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 2/11/2017, I brought home the max. (a 12pack of bottles direct from the brewery back to Chicago in my luggage)

Pours a beautiful, clear golden color with a slight bit of haze.
Smell: A bright and citrus smell with some hints of pine.
Taste: Bitter but without bite, if that makes any sense. Pine and grapefruit on the tongue. Finishes dry..

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Photo of Blackop555
4.6/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pour is golden orange. Thick, medium, Whitehead that last a while.

Smells Piney, Floral and light Citrus and Bready malt.

Taste is well balanced. Piney and malty. Hints of floral and citrus dry finish with a pine linger not bitter. smoooooth. Medium body creamy medium carbonation.

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Photo of dgmirelli
4.69/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

everything it was supposed to be, worth the wait with only one bottle secured i was disappointed there was not one more, definitely West Coast but one of the best....

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Photo of detgfrsh
4.15/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

On tap, had this right after Pliny the Younger for a side-by-side comparison. Pours a golden orange with a half finger of head. Hops dominate the smell, notes of pine. Medium feel with plenty of carbonation. Taste is mostly hops, notes of pine and citrus, with a bitter finish. Compared to Pliny the Younger, this is more bitter and harsh. Very good, but I think there are other DIPAs that are competitive with this one now.

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Photo of ManapuaMan
4.42/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled on 1/11, enjoyed 5 weeks later. Thanks, Jan! The bottles traveled a long ways to get here and I couldn't be more excited. Aroma of freshly cut citrus and pine needles bursts forth from beneath the cap. Orange gold pour with a frothy white cap that lingers. Taste is pine, orange rind, clementine, grapefruit, papaya over a biscuity malt. Not overly fruity or piney or resiny - just perfectly balanced. The 8% ABV is hidden until there's a bit of warmth at the end of the sip. A real gem.

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Photo of ichorNet
4.54/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Guess I'll just throw my voice into a crowded room full of high praise for this beer... this is the third time I've had Pliny and I always find it to be an incredible experience deserving of the laudation it regularly receives from those in the know. From the very first time I had this beer, I knew it was something special, yet so austere and seemingly "simple" that it really does exceed the sum of its parts. Here is potentially the single best double IPA in the world. A consistent, sublime experience captured in a pint glass to be savored and enjoyed. A sincere thank you to my buddy Joe, who bestowed a bottle of this (dated 1/20/17) to me as a quid-pro-quo for shepherding him to and from Logan Airport so he could attend a homebrew release party my buddy and I threw last weekend. Your attendance and contributions are appreciated!

Pours a beautiful, clear golden color with a tight, simple and hugely-retentive head of bone-white foam that laces extremely consistently and never relents throughout the whole pour. Carbonation rises steadily in small streams up from the bottom of my glass and each new pour re-rouses the head with an intense vigor. Pouring the entire bottle in yields a slight bit of haze. What a gorgeous IPA!

The nose is bright and citrus-forward; surprisingly playful and fanciful, with a slight papaya note along with some hay and pine resin. Simple, evocative, devoid of trends... PtE is an exercise in perfect balance and execution, and the nose is no exception by any means. Slightly grassy and even a bit earthy, with some juicy tangerine and clementine in there as well. I'm also getting a bit of green onion, which I know is a note that a lot of people have an issue with, but which I find to be a surprisingly great element that contrasts well with the citrus peel and fleshy, fruity notes here.

Flavor is, of course, heavily bitter and reliant on pine and grapefruit to nail down the palate, though the subtle workings of biscuity, bready malt and the even-handed juicy/tropical aspects really bring the whole thing home. The flavor is probably where the concept of "balance" that PtE stands for comes across the best, I feel. The initial flavor is shockingly bitter with grapefruit peel melding instantly with clean, golden malt just in time for the piney and tangerine-like back. Finishes dry... really dry, actually, with a lingering oily, fruity note.

Feel is slick and palate-coating, with a tempered carbonation and medium body that belies its 8% strength. Ethanol is mildly present but not at all overabundant or intense. In my opinion, 8 to 8.5% is probably the best DIPA alcohol range, and this represents the best-of-the-best of the lower-ABV DIPAs. If you haven't had this, you're missing out. A simply amazing, balanced drink. Makes a mockery out of many lower-caliber IPAs. Worth getting by (nearly) any means possible.

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Photo of c_tails
4.63/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

from bottle dated Jan 5 2017
not much else to say that hasn't already been said but in the face of all of the hype and that this is my first time trying this beer i do have to say its quite perfect. such an excellent balance of the fruity/grapefruit/pithy hop elements with big bitterness and a light dose of booze on the back end it is hard to argue that its not perfectly crafted. i'm glad i have more to drink from a trade.

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Photo of peterpunk15
4.46/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a bit darker than most NE IPAs I'm used to, smells really good and the taste is good, not great. I feel like this is a superb offering of a basic concept.

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Photo of NickandToni
4.9/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Maybe the very best West Coast IIPA there is. I was lucky enough to grab some bottles with my brother and share this great beer with him. Outside of Whole Foods in San Jose, you have to walk out of the store and upstairs to this great beer drinking spot. The bartender was great and we were lucky to share a couple bottles.

L: A much clearer pour than I'm used to back east
S: Mmm. Pine sweetness, matched with some tropical goodness, with a pleasant grapefruit (cut in half, sugar sprinkled, and flame torched) aroma just waiting to be enjoyed
T: Matching the nose, which by the way, is a staple of greatness. Full of magic and depth while delivering a well balanced moment worthy of sharing at your biggest occasions.
F: The mouthfeel is light for such a big taste. Lighter than expected but says volumes to this remarkable experience
O: Whenever on the West Coast I will make this a go to beer. Among the very best in world.

When one has a life mission, lives the dream, creates a moment of enjoyment to all that shares your craft, you sleep with dreams that your life's work makes a difference. Thank you Russian River Brewing Company. You made my trip to California special.

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Photo of Red5StandingBy
4.34/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from 510ml bottle into standard pint glass. Bottled on January 13th 2017.

L: Clear light coppery yellow. Two finger white head with great retention. Sticky lacing.

S: Pineapple, pine, grass, light toasted malt biscuit, mint.

T: Grassy/earthen hops, citrus and pine make their presence known as well. Toasted biscuit malts. Perfectly balanced and complex. Absolutely delicious.

F: Medium body, very crisp and refreshing.

O: Well known as one of the most prestigious beers of all time and it more than lives up to its reputation.

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Photo of cambabeer
4.48/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Well I finally had it, I probably over-hyped this one going in. This is just good beer. In an age where there's so much craft beer out there that it all tries to be crazy and unique, this one just hits all the marks with out trying. I tried to put myself back in time as well to when there weren't a billion IPAs on the market and yeah, this would have blown my mind. Simply put, I think this set the standard for a reason, but people are out there now successfully making beer just about as good. Not knocking this beer at all, but if you're waiting for a beer to change your entire life, that's not what Pliny is doing (in my opinion). Nice yellow color, quite a bit brighter than a lot of IPAs out there. The pine in the nose is 90% of what comes through. Mild carbonation and just a ton of hops in the aftertaste. This is good drinking, and beer as it should be.

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Photo of manku
3.68/5  rDev -20%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a few at Whole Foods...$5.99 seemed like a good price. Brew date 1/13/2017, so pretty fresh!

I'd first drank this 7-8 years ago... a friend at a liquor store turned me onto the time, I could buy as much as I wanted! (Think it was $4.99 then, maybe even $3.99). Even then, before I even knew what an IPA was, I found them too hoppy and bitter. However, scarcity and an open mind makes me try it when I do see it retail.

I prefer lagers, wheat beer and belgian ales...more malt than hop, so these double IPAs don't do much for me. Really too strong and powerful to enjoy, though this is more balanced and clean than many.

Had a Far Out IPA on tap the other day that I enjoyed much more...

My advice: ignore the ratings and hype and trust your own taste buds. They're the only ones that matter!

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Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
4.6 out of 5 based on 14,332 ratings.
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