Dismiss Notice
Subscribe to BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99! (Limited time offer, US delivery only)

Pliny The Elder | Russian River Brewing Company

Your Rating: None

Want it   Got it 
Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder
14,630 Ratings
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

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 14,630 |  Reviews: 3,714
Photo of jmalex
4.87/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Sampled on-tap at Capone's in Norristown, PA on 4-18-07 as part of a side by side comparison with Pliny the Younger. This review is from notes taken that night.

APPEARANCE: Amber bronze in color with not too much of a head at all.

SMELL: Perfectly subdued, yet extremely aromatic. Citrus, floral, and a hint of strawberry. Huge smells without being sickeningly sweet. Simply perfect.

TASTE: Huge flavors of the same floral, pine, and citrus, and everything is up front and in your face. A thick malt backing exists but can't seem to break through the huge hops flavors. No sticky sweetness whatsoever.

MOUTHFEEL: Very syrupy with a fine-bubbled carbonation. Nice.

DRINKABILITY: Easiest drinking DIPA anyone will ever have. I'm not an IPA guy, yet I'm absolutely blown away by this.

The more balanced of the 2 Plinys. A serious winner.

 852 characters

Photo of Enola
4.59/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Many thanks go out to Redwoodgeorge and mntlover for the chance to have this brew.

This was my favorite of the pliney's. The beer was a nice orange in color and there was a fair head. The smell is absolutly wonderfull. Sweet hops abound. The taste was very hoppy too with bitterness but not chemical like bitterness. Just a nice sweet hoppy beer that I would certainly drink daily if I could. The mouthfeel was nice and sticky and the beer was well balanced, even at 8%. This beer is worth the hype and I would advise you to try it if you like hops. I will most likely try to obtain more of this in the future.

 614 characters

Photo of alohaC
4.97/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On tap at Toronado, Ben n’ Nick’s, Liar’s Club, O’Brien’s and too many times to count, so it’s about time I review my boy, Pliny. Pours golden and slightly amber-ish with a nice, rock steady head. Sticking your nose in the glass in one of the true pleasures in craft beer - lots of sweet, fruity hops and caramel malt in a near perfect symphony. Tastes like it smells, only better. Resinous, sweet citrus hop candy with just the right balance of caramel and biscuity malts. It glides across your tongue and finishes super clean, a bit dry and with no alcohol burn. For me, this beer defines everything a IIPA should be. Extremely drinkable, sessionable - a brewing masterpiece. My favorite/#1/ if stuck on a deserted island beer of choice.

 745 characters

Photo of BlindPig
4.92/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A- Thick just off white head on a clear copper body.
S- Huge pine hops with citrus coming through too. Nice big juices just coming out of this one. It has a very complex hop aroma to it. Slight malt body in there also.
T-Big fruit juices just coming out all over in the flavor. This is all mixed in with some pine hops also. Malt comes through a bit and gives the hops a nice platform to stand on. Nice big bitterness is left on the tongue afterward along with the flavors of fruit juices (like grapefruit, orange, and others along those lines) and pine.
M-Full body with low, to maybe just scratching a little on medium, carbonation.
D- I think this is REALLY good! First time I tried it (just had a sip) I think I missed A LOT! Glad I got to try this again. VERY nice! Maybe my favorite DIPA.

 799 characters

Photo of JFazekas
4.82/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: Standard pint from tap

Appearance: Deep golden yellow in color.

Smell: Medium maltyness blended with a rich hop tone.

Taste: This immediately tastes what you think of when someone says the word 'beer'. One drink brings forth a blend of malt and hop. The taste keeps coming drink after drink. As the beer warms the flavor remains just as potent on the last drink as the first.

Overall: A truely great beer. Much more balanced and drinkable than its younger brother. The two most incredible things about this beer are the great hop quality and the amazing balance. Definately a beer I would put in my all time top 10.

 641 characters

Photo of rkuhnel
4.75/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

his was on-draft in a 16 oz glass from the Russian River Brewpub in Santa Rosa. I have heard a lot about this, so was looking forward to seeing if it lived up to its reputation. The brews were all listed in various color chalks on a board behind the bar, and according to it this one checked in at 92 BU’s and 8% ABV. When it was set in front of me I could smell the hops from two feet away. This one is potent! The odor just leaps out of the glass with piney and floral hops. You don’t need to take a big sniff to get what is going on here. Besides the hops, there are also some wonderful rich malts, nuts toffee, caramel, and fruit. I cannot imagine a beer smelling any better than this. As a pub pour it came without any head, but after drinking off the first inch, and almost swooning in the process, I swirled it and got a nice fat off-white head that left lots of fat chunks of lacing on the sides of the glass. A beautiful light orange, this is a feast for the eyes and as the head slowly settles down you are so taken by its overall beauty you almost hate to disturb it. The flavor is similar to the nose, and while the malts and the hops dominate, there is a serious bitter finish worthy of a DIPA. The mouthfeel was excellent, very rich and creamy and simply glides across the teeth and tongue. It tastes just as good going down the pipe as it did at first sip. The brew is simply incredible. It has that wonderful bitterness that all great DIPAs should have, and hides the alcohol very well. It is too bad this is only available on tap, because I would love to share this with my friends so they can appreciate it also. I have been saving a score this high for just a brew like this. Ranks with the best beer I have every had the pleasure of drinking. Maybe Pliny the Younger will be that perfect 5.0 if I ever get to taste it

 1,839 characters

Photo of wcudwight
4.91/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Thanks to RedwoodGeorge!!! You are the man!!! Also thanks to mtnlover for helping with the hook-up.
Pours a crystal clear bright golden color with a 1/2" White head with decent retention. Lot's of sticky lacing clings to the glass.
Aroma: If they bottled the aroma as a perfume and put it on my wife I would not be able to keep my hands, lips or ____ off of her. Lot's of tropical fruit. Mango is the most noticable.
Flavor: Believe the hype! It is that good. Although it may not be what you are expecting. I've had more bitter DIPAs with the in your face hops, but I haven't had a better DIPA. Hop profile is true to the nose with heavy mango, pineapple, grapefruit flavors. Nice sweet honey like malt flavors and just a touch of the alcohol shines through to warn you to not drink this like a marathon runner drinks Gatorade.
Mouthfeel is silky smooth, crisp and yet hoppy.
I could easily session this ale. It's that balanced, that smooth, that good!
This beer was hand bottled by RedwoodGeorge and the quality of the bottling and packaging is impeccable.

 1,063 characters

Photo of Prufrock
4.42/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

growler into a pint glass. orange-gold with an inch of frothy, foamy white head, which was great to see, as the growler had made a cross-country trip. tons of thick rings of lace and a few rising bubbles.

initial aroma, apparent as soon as the top is flipped, is a grassy, abrasive raw hoppiness. follows with a thickly sweet, candied hop aroma. strong pine and grassy component, along with a gummi candy-like fruitiness. mango, pineapple, grapefruit. smells fantastic.

starts surprisingly light and balanced, with a medium, slippery body and a gentle carbonation. a hint of balance and a slight honey sweetness, until the finish is overwhelmed with a nicely abrasive, but impressively nuanced, grassy and hoppy bitterness that lingers. very drinkable, in spite of its impressive hop profile; the growler may not last the two nights i'd hoped it would. drinkability weakens slightly as the beer warms; i think it needs to be a little colder to take a touch of the edge off. but overall, a fantastic beer that completely lives up to the hype.

 1,047 characters

Photo of barleywinebrewer
4.08/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

thanks to fartingdog for this growler straight from the brewery!

I have debated DIPAs vs Barleywines with many before. I have even had via trades more DIPAs than I would've bought on my own. This beer keeps coming up as a definative version of the style.

I'll leave the drinking notes to others. Is it good - yes! I do think other brewers are starting to catch this or surpass this. That said, enjoy it if you can! Don't sell the house for it, but definitely one that must be tried and appreciated. I would gladly have another sir!

 538 characters

Photo of northernbrews
4.67/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Handbottled 22oz bottle from the PtE handbottling project in PA. Received in a trade from BeerBeing.

Thanks again Alex for the opportunity to try this rare beauty.

Appearance: Pours a clear orangish-yellow with a nice two finger off-white head. The head leaves some nice lace as it slowly fades.
They did a great job with getting the carbonation right on this one.

Aroma: I was hoping the hand-bottling wouldn't hurt the aroma on this. The only way to get a better aroma, you'd have to sniff straight hops. Truely fantastic aroma. Starts off with pine, grapefruit, apricots, and slight alcohol. This is balanced out by some nice malt notes. This is the exact aromas I want from a Double IPA. Not overkill, but just right.

Taste: The taste is less pronounced thatn the aromas. Some of this may be due to the hand-bottling. Lots of the same flavors are there, just not as intense. Pine, apricots, and grapefruit are balanced by some nice malt.

Mouthfeel: The hop flavors coat the roof of my mouth for a little bit. They make my tongue tingle a bit. I wish this were a little more creamy followed by more hop tingle. I'm sure both of these would be much better if this was fresh and not hand-bottled.

Drinkability: This is very tasty and balanced. The hops are the focus, but the malt balance these out to make this dangerously drinkable. This drinks better than most IPAs...I wish I had more of this.

Overall: This is one of the best IPA's I've ever had. I can see why this keeps racking up the medals for Russian River. If I were drinking this fresh from the tap in Santa Rosa, it would likely get straight 5's. This is one of the many beers that have put Russian River on the map. I just wish Vinnie would start bottling this and more importantly shipping these wonderful beers to MI.

If you see any Russian River product, especially this one, you'd be a fool not to pick it up, because if you don't, you'll be missing out on one of the best beers from the Best Brewery in the World (in my opinion).

 2,029 characters

Photo of Risser09
4.77/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

750mL Bottle From The PtE Bottling Project - 2006 Vintage - Served At 45 Degrees Into a Snifter

Appearance: Pours a vivid orange with a thick, white head. Bubbles range from tiny to the large ones at the surface. Lots of carbonation gives life to the beer.

Smell: Aromas of pine and grapefruit are heavy. Sandalwood, cedar, and leather. Very big aromas but not as floral as other DIPAs.

Taste: Bittering hops aplenty. Pine is the foremost flavor followed by some citrus and a buttery cream finish. For this reason I think this beer shine with its complexity. From the strong aroma, to the pine and then the creamy finish makes it unlike most beers. It's a roller coaster that ends on a very satisfying note.

Mouthfeel: Pinchy at first with hops and carbonation. The creamy finish is outstanding and make the aftertaste desirable. Smoothe and quenching.

Drinkability: Awesome. This is a spectacular beer. The hoppiness isn't going to knock you down and the soft finish will keep you coming back for more. THe 8% alcohol by volume is hardly noticable. Top notch beer.

 1,081 characters

Photo of jasonjlewis
4.38/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A great beer. More mild than pliny the younger with less of an in your face smell. The taste is more balanced with a great hoppiness with some caramel malting to balance without getting in the way of my hop fix. The mouth feel is crisp yet malty and hop oily. I could drink this all day and the 8 percent alcohol doesn't bother me at all. Go try this beer. NOW!

 361 characters

Photo of IntriqKen
4.62/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

8% ? Where do they hide it?
Poured beautifully with a clear orangish-yellow liquid topped with a full finger of off white head that melted slowly to very sticky, side mapping lacing.
Aroma was all about hops...citrus and piney hops...very fresh.
Mouth is again all about hops...piney...pink grapefruit...lemon peel, but all of it is mellowed and perfectly balanced with the sweetness of the hops.
This is an extremely balanced DIPA...nothing overpowers, yet everything lets itself be known.
I could drink these until the bottom of the stool is as familiar as the top of the bar.

 595 characters

Photo of vwcraig
4.5/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz. bottle from PtE project. Huge thanks to Akorsak, Phatz and anyone else out there involved.

Poured this sample into a wide-mouthed goblet. Medium copper color with a thin white cap that lasts until the end. Fast-rising tiny bead rising from bottom of glass. First smell reminded me of HopSlam, honestly. Has a sweet citrusy/grapefruity smell that I absolutely love in a big IPA. Could sit and sniff this for quite a while. First taste was unbelieveably smooth and sweet with a bitterness bash coming in mid-palate and lasting quite a long time. As it warms, the malty tones makes themselves known and it turns into a piney bitterness. I adjusted to the bitterness rather quickly and found this to be fairly well-balanced. Definitely full-bodied and sticky. Resiny feel left behind and there is little carbonation felt on tongue. Awesome and sneaky drinkability; deceptively smooth. I have had stuff claiming 100+ IBUs and can't remember one that actually seemed as bitter as this one. Excellent experience.

 1,014 characters

Photo of tonistruth
4.19/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

on tap @ O'Brien's in San Diego, CA

A- thin white head with a decent hold, golden straw with tint of honey

S- all hops, fresh, pine, citrus floral

T- lot of citrus in there, a smack of grapefruit up front and in finish, citrus from finish dies slowly into aftertaste that is zesty orange, many different citruses , some alcohol

M- hops leave the palate crying (those are some happy tears though), high carbonation level, medium body, smooth flow with a dry finish

D- another great 2IPA, if you could get all this flavor in less ABV%, that would be session heaven. I'm starting to notice that you really have to look at each 2IPA to tell them apart anymore, its the little things that count. anyhow, try this brew

 727 characters

Photo of ClockworkOrange
4.62/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 750ml bottle from the PtE bottling project. I've had this beer on tap and from growlers many times and I must say this sample from the bottle is virtually indistinguishable from the tapped version. Much, much better than what you would get from a growler. Appears a clear golden amber color with two fingers of off white head. A fair amount of lacing clings to the glass as I make my way to the bottom. Smells of fresh, piney hops, sweet malts, grapefruit, apricot and a pleasant grassy note. Tastes of piney, citrusy, and lemony hops. Finish is peppery, bitter, and dry. Medium bodied with the perfect amount of carbonation. Dangerously drinkable. Believe the hype.

 680 characters

Photo of jcdiflorio
4.57/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

poured into a flared tulip glass from a bottle that Phatz bottled from a keg at the Pliny Bottling Project.

Clear golden,coppery color with a slight haze. White creamy head with great retention that leaves a lot of spotty lacing on the glass.

Intense aroma pineappley and grapefruity very hoppy buries most of the malt aroma. More of a fruity aroma than the Younger.

A burst of pineapple followed by a rush of grapefruit with lots of sweet carmell maltiness. Very well balanced. Leaves a nice piney taste lingering on the palate.

Very creamy and smooth as well. Great drinkability you get so caught up in the taste you don't realize how fast this beer is going down.

 678 characters

Photo of uberabr
4.5/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had this on tap at RR on Saturday. This is a great brewery that I’ve been wanting to visit now for quite a while. There's nothing supernatural about these beers, most of the appeal is how hard they are to find, but they are pretty damn good and you can tell the brewery as a whole ascribes to a level of quality and dedication that is surprisingly rare in this business. For some reason this brewery attracts a lot of sketchy-looking patrons, and the staff aren't exactly brain surgeons either, but I felt right at home anyway.

Drank from a pint. The bartender was this angry-looking skinhead who apparently either never learned how to pour a beer, or learned at Dodger stadium. This was a little upsetting. Appearance is a light yellow amber with some golden hues and some haziness. No head to speak of, thanks bartender. Carbonation and lacing were exquisite.

Hops, hops, and more hops. Smell is moderate but indicative of what's to come. Loads of cascade and a variety of other hops come together to give a fresh piney, grapefruit goodness. Nothing spectacular about the smell alone, although this could be due to the lack of head. Taste is bitter up front but well rounded, piney with delicate fruits and rich complexity of mild malts, all with a lingering early-hop pine backbone. Mouthfeel is full and bubbly. Drinkability, like all RR beers, is superb.

 1,366 characters

Photo of markgugs
4.66/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

poured from a growler into a snifter glass

A: Pours a beautiful, clear orange with an ample, fluffy head that lasts quite some time, leaving a tremendous amount of lacing as I quaff it.

S: I already knew how great this beer tasted before I decided to review it, but the aroma doesn't live up to the flavor IMO. Some nice notes of the grapefruit/pine and maltiness that is to come, but the scents don't do the beer justice.

T: I'm not sure words in the English language have yet to be created to describe the godliness of this beer. An immediate blast of sweet grapefruit hoppiness blasts the tongue, followed by a delicious and tantalizing mixture of additional maltiness, and finishing with a piney bitterness. This beer is perfect. Fact.

M: So creamy, so perfectly carbonated, so good. In the words of Frank the Tank, "it's so good, when it hits your lips."

D: Well, hate to penalize it at ALL, but it's TOO drinkable and at 8% ABV, just one growler is pushing the limits. A superbly dangerous drinker.

Highly, highly recommended.

 1,050 characters

Photo of Budlum
4.63/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

Pouring this beer produces a generous inch of foamy and creamy white head that holds and clings to the glass indefinitely. The body is slightly hazy and a pale amber color.

This beer smells incredibly fresh throughout. Pine aromas absolutely dominate the smells beyond only a hint of citrus.

A huge rush of hops hit the tongue and hold for an entire sip. Flavors of pine and citrus blend together with a honey taste which never present themselves too strongly. A very lemon-like bitterness hits the tongue blending with black pepper for what is a very long, hop-flavored finish.

The mouthfeel presents a good viscous feel and a balanced tingle on the tongue but just feels a little too flat.

Drinkability with this beer is close to perfect. The hop strength is amazing but I don't get tired of this after a glass. The low ABV for the style is a very welcome addition for extended enjoyment.

 898 characters

Photo of woodychandler
4.29/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Once more, I was able to have some on-tap, this time at The Grey Lodge on my way to the Stillers/Iggles pre-season game at the Linc on 25 August 2006.

This was served with a light, bone-white head with little retention. It was sunshine-yellow in color with a light cloudiness. The nose was like sniffing a pine tree and singed some of my nose hairs. The pine taste was evident on the mouth with an interesting underlying sweetness, perhaps biscuity. The mouthfeel was unexpectedly thin. The finish was dry with a lingering presence of pine. Wow.

 548 characters

Photo of
4.83/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Growler courtesy of mac300, very much appreciated.

Clear, true-gold in color. Modest, off-white head. Lacing minimal, some legs.

Aroma is screaming grapefruit, then resiny pine. Somebody put a tree in a juicer, I think. After a while, some grassy notes peeped through. Fantastic.

Taste is...GRAPEFRUIT. I had to look at the label at first to make sure it wasn't grapefruit juice. Nope, definately beer. Grassy comes through, but more as a background note. Gotta be malt in here somewhere, maybe a biscuity flavor swimming around and surfacing every 4-5 sips? Some sweet flavor near finish, sugared oranges and just a bit of honey. This became much more apparent as the beer warmed a bit. Finally, big time pepper after just a few sips.

Medium in body. Carbonation seemed medium +. Bit of an acidic bite - could be toned down just a notch. Immediate feel of alcohol warming.

My kind of IPA, balance out the window! Despite that, for the true hophead, very drinkable (even at 8%). Worth the wait and not overhyped at all. This may be my favorite beer of all, at least of IPA types.

 1,094 characters

Photo of Bierguy5
4.34/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to mcallister and pixel for inviting my wife and I over to sample this growler. Bright gold in color, with a thick white foamy head. The head disappeared quickly, however there were some great patches of lace clinging to the glass. Great aroma of pine, citrus (namely tangerine), and grass. Solid sweet malt background, followed by a good amount of piney, citrusy hops. A lot of peach and tangerine flavors. Very well balanced. Medium body. Very nicely done.

 469 characters

Photo of mcallister
4.52/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Deep golden nearing copper. Thick white and fluffy head with some lacing great retention.

Thick herbal, grassy, lush pine aromas, with a resiny hop aroma as well. Malt is sweet smelling and well integrated. Nice flowery ending with hints of honeysuckle.

Smoothe as hell. Rich and creamy, hops aren't overpowering but spot on. Nice floral bittering ending, very piney mid palate. All about integration here. Malt keeps the hop at bay. Man can't get over the balance. An DIPA that is easily drinkable all day.

 513 characters

Photo of mikesgroove
4.42/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Enormous thansk goes out to zrrbrrt for the growler!!

Poured a deep crystal clear amber with a nce foamy head that was slow to fad, leaving a fine lace all the way to the bottom. The smell is deep piney hops with a bit of grapefruit thrown in for good measure. The taste...well lets just say this ain't you daddy's beer!! Knock you down hops, beautiful, strong, pine and citrus that will have you puckering your mouth for a while. Great dry finish. This is a hop heads delight and lived up to the hype I must say, etremely enjoyable and simply astounding!

 560 characters

Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.65 out of 5 with 14,630 ratings
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.