Pliny The Elder | Russian River Brewing Company

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Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder
14,838 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:
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Ratings: 14,838 |  Reviews: 3,743
Photo of gregc
4.92/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Growler courtesy of stewdawg, showed up a day after he filled the growler, so i decided i needed to open it as soon as i got it, so it would be nice and fresh.

Pours a nice orange color with a small white fluffy head, that quickly fades away.

Aroma is beautiful...nice citrus (oranges and grapefruit) dominate the nose, with some pineapple, pine, some malty carmel and a nice breadiness. Wow this is the best smelling DIPA i have ever come across.

Flavor is amazing...bold citrus hits me as soon as it hits the lips, pine, caramel and the breadiness. Nice bitterness from the hops, this is so balanced.

Smooth, creamy mouthfeel texture with a bit of oily hops. The bitterness hangs around just long enough, then it smooths out. Nice carbonation..

what else can i say this is the most wonderful DIPA i have ever had, too bad i live on the east coast and it will probably be hard to come by again.

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Photo of roan22
4.85/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

My pint appeared to be a gold orangey color. The head dissapated fairly quickly but I knew it was fresh because of the lovely aromas.

The aromas were brilliant, like an herbal green plant, not quite pine, not quite citrus, but an herbal spicy balance of all three.

The taste was very smooth, hops tasted citrusy like oranges. A great zesty bitterness was there, and it never tasted too tart or too bitter. The malts tasted perfect and the balance acheived in this DIPA is quite phenominal.

The taste of fresh Pliney the Elder really impressed me because unlike every other DIPA I have had, it was not too sweet or too boozy on my palate. Very pleasant, very confident beer. It tasted as if it had been brewed for 100 years.

The only way the mouthfeel could improve, would be to throw in a little more of the hops that cause the long lasting bitterness after a sip. That would make it a 5 star beer for me. But I agree it is world class, an excellently brewed.

At 8% it is absolutely at the extreme end of my tolerance, so drinkability gets marked down just a touch. Can only have one pint of this if driving.

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Photo of Aimstatus
4.15/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

First off amazing.
A: A light medium caramel colored liquid with one to two inch head , that remains long after pour, with reasonable lacing that clings pleasantly to the glass.
S: scent of pine or forest like smell but in a good way. It's the kind of beer you imagine having at a summer bbq but better. The smell is neither over powering or to weak but just right the barely and hops are balanced perfectly.
M: I noticed the carbonation mostly immediately after my first gulp I had to do manly custom and burp. The beer was a thin liquid neither clung to the mouth or left a bad after taste.
T: well I believe I already mentioned, but to restate it amazing.
I want one now as I'm typing this review. So in general I think I'd have to say its one of those beers you can and/ or are going to want to drink every day.

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Photo of russpowell
4.55/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Got this one from tpd975, Cheers Greg!

Updated rating: the last few bottles had a much better nose! Not as good on draft IMO...

Pours an effervescent apricot with slight chill
haze & 2 fingers of thick egg shell colored head. Great head retention & good lacing

S: Citrus & pine, plus floral & grapefruit hops

T: Grapefruit, pine, breadyness, some dryness & resiny hops up front. Grapefruit & resiny hosp seize the flavor focus as this warms, some breadyness sneaks through as well. Finishes with much grapefruit, resin & a touch of toffee & pineapple

MF: Medium bodied, with medium carbonation & some creamyness to this. Great balance

Drinks pretty easy for the style & ABV, A pretty good DIPA, which I presume is even better on draft

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Photo of MiScusi
4.88/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A- no double IPA ever looks better than this. Clear rich Golden in color, generous white head. It can also look very pale yellow or orangish depending on the lighting.

S- sweet sticky pine. No DIPA comes close to the appeal of this smell.

T- Starts out with a light tasting pale malt combined with sweet hop resin. Citrus flavored hops try to poke through the pine cuts through it. Lingering pine and bitterness in the finish.

M- slick but not too slick. Still light enough to enjoy without it feel like you're drinking syrup like lots of other DIPA's out there.

D- self explanitory.

I have had this beer numerous times on tap (at Russian River brewpub and locally in So. Cal), and a handful of times from the bottle now. This bottled version is close enough to the fresh tap version for me. Fresh tap might be just a bit more intense in flavor and aroma. But there's no debating with me that any DIPA even comes close to displaying the hops and not letting the the malt interfere too much and create a cloyingly sweet hop soup like plenty of other DIPA's out there. Ok, maybe it's neck and neck with Alpine's Pure Hoppiness :)

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

Pours a brilliant amber red with golden highlights. A pillowy head rises and falls to a finger thick disk. Lacing leaves draping patterns across the glass. Smells wonderful. Piney, resinous, buscuity malt, spearmint, hints of citrus. Beautifully balanced! First taste is very solid! Carmel sweetness, bready malts give way to piney, slightly spicy / peppery hops. Not incredibly complex but something amazingly simple about it strikes my fancy. Just the slightest bit of alcohol on the finish. Soapy, solid mouthfeel. A highly drinkable DIPA from the guys who helped pave the road.

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Photo of GilGarp
4.45/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours from a 500ml bottle into the Sam Adams glass. Lots of warnings all over the bottle telling me to enjoy it now, not later. The dude abides...

Pours a golden orange color with lots of head that sticks around and leaves awesome lacing. Good, but not perfect, clarity.

Aroma is full of fresh hops, pine, lemons, limes, and a hint of sweetness like honey or maybe brown sugar.

Flavor is excellent too. Grassy up front followed by bitterness and it finishes slightly sweet. Nicely balanced for a double IPA, it never feels like an attack on my taste buds.

Mouthfeel is good but a little high on alcohol and the bitterness gets me in the back of my cheeks.

Drinkability is very good for a beer of this high hoppiness and ABV.

It's a great beer overall and I hope that Russian River brings more offerings to the rocky mountain state.

Bottled on date: 7/30/08

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

With Russian River just starting to appear in the area, I was excited to get a chance to try Pliny, but I was a bit worried about whether the beer would live up tot he hype that had been generated.

Rest assured, that you are unlikely to be disappointed if and when you get a chance to try it. Its a textbook example of what a DIPA should be, with a terrific hoppy smell and taste, while mantaining an excellent balance. The 8% abv disappears in the flavor, making it very drinkable, which many DIPAs struggle with.

Highly recommended.

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Photo of Dubbercody
4.37/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

500mL bottle, purchased locally...whoo Hoo to that! 081308 bottling. It's a really nice beer. The hops blend into the malt so beautifully. Nicely sweet with an awesomely hoppy bitterness. Great balance, there is a reason this beer is one of those "must have, everyone talks about it, no really will you trade me some, ISO, etc. etc. etc." beers.

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

This will not be my typical A,S,T, M, D review. I respect and love this beer too much for that.

To put it simply this beer is about as close to DIPA perfection as one can get. From the orange/pine aroma to the BIG citrus hop smack in the mouth to the lively body and the oh so smooth yet assertive body. This beer has it all in the realm of cream of the crop DIPA's!

PtE is,without a doubt, one of the Godfathers of the West Coast DIPA revolution. Along with the sadly retired Frank's of Pizza Port fame, PtE is one of the greatest beers of it's style, plain and simple. All beers in this genre can only hope to be mentioned in the same breath.

I flat out love this beer. I have absolutely nothing negative to say about it. From the hops to the body to the quaffable 8% ROCKS!

So, if you are lucky enough to to get a pint, or six, of this wonderful nectar do not hesitate! Grab one and enjoy! Pliny the Elder is about as close to perfection as a West Coast DIPA gets! Kudos to Vinnie and the entire Russian River team for creating and brewing such a wonderful product!

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Photo of Brewlore
4.8/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bottled on date of 8.25.08, imbibed 09.03.08

Having this on tap several times I'm quite curious to see how it holds in bottle form.

Poured a nice clear orange/amber color that soon formed a nice white head. The head however, quickly ran away and left a ring of lacing. A very attractive beer.

The aroma is outstanding. I got a huge whiff of it while pouring. A plethora of hop scents abound. There's a sweetness in the aroma as well (that'll probably be the malt). Big grapefruit and pine coming from the hops. Hint of orange (citrus) coming through a bit providing a slightly sweet scent too.

The taste has more of the aforementioned qualities but is a bit heavier on the pine traits. Surely not a bad thing. The bitterness I felt was very smooth. It didn't attack and maul you. It was more like being hunted then slowly being picked apart by hop beasts. Lightly spicy in the end, a quenching combo of pine, citrus, and some floral hops again but is flanked by a nice touch of the sweet bready malts.

Light to medium body and feels great on the palate. A bit lively too.

For hop lovers this beer is easily drinkable. It's quite potent at 8% but the alcohol is well hidden. Careful with the Elder.

Of course, having this on tap is where it's at, but trapping Pliny in the bottle is still damned good. One of my favorite DIPA's. It's a real treat to imbibe the elder.

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

Pours dark amber brown with very nice white head. Aroma is sweet citrus and pine with a background of hops. Flavor begins with a great and unique palate of roasted nuts, almost like creamy peanut butter. Nice finish of hops and citrus. Great medium body, very easy to drink. Unique and amazing double IPA.

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

Let me start out by saying I was super stoked to try this one. Had it on tap at Russian River in Santa Rosa. Pours a deep golden/amber and has a nice chunky white head that leaves good lacing.

Nose is all hops. Strong pine, grapefruit and lemon zest.

Malt backbone hits the palate for a split second and is then taken over by the hop bitterness. Intense pine and grapefruit. Medium body. Finishes nice and bitter with a touch of alcohol. Deceptively drinkable.

Very good version of the style. I wish it was more widely available down here in the IE.

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Photo of Domingo
4.64/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I've had this a few times at the yearly GABF, but it's always hard to tell how great something may or may not be based on samples.
Luckily this is now bottled and in the Denver area.
This brew is somewhere between bronze and copper with a nice amount of head, but not too overbearing or rocky.
This beer is all about hops...I mean a TON of them. Piney, grapefruit, pineapple, but still having a european floral presence in the background, too. There's even a little of the whole leaf spearmint in there, too. It's a hop tour-de-force, but it doesn't get tiring or overwhelming either. The malt doesn't really play a role here, but for some reason it has enough backbone to keep everything drinkable.
For an 8% brew, this goes down really easy. No burn or overblown sweetness.
This rocks. If you want to get something hoppy that isn't freakishly sweet or boozy, this is IT. This is *the* hoppy beer.

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Photo of murdoch22
4.64/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a short-lived coarse foam; some lingering fizz on the glass, and a very unusual orange color, with more red than most pales.

Smell it once; it's an IPA. Smell it again, carefully, deeply. Go on and get your nose in it--you're not going to get hurt. Yes, you'll be smelling hops for the next three days, but what else? I think shampoo manufacturers would call that essence "botanical." As a beer drinker who's had more than one tonight, i call it "hops dragged through a field of mint." Sure, there's the familiar grapefruit smell, but some sweetness, some chlorophyll, and some other unidentifiable elements come through.

It's smoother and more complex than most IPAs, especially imperial IPAs, which can suffer from being too strong, too sour, and too well-reviewed. There's a vague sense of citrus that you'll look for every time you sip it, since it's so fleeting, but so pleasant. It doesn't come off as being as strong as it is...does that add or subtract from the drinkability score?

As far as drinkability, there's a continuum, running between "session" and "imperial." Those which advertise themselves as "imperial" are far too strong to be drinking for hours on end. They are special examples of brewers' skill which should be sampled and enjoyed occasionally, and which most definitely don't lend themselves to excessive consumption. Though i wouldn't drink more...well, not much more...than a bottle's worth of this in a sitting, i can't get enough of it. I keep wanting to remind myself of the brilliance and complexity of this masterful beer, as well as to renew its flavor on the palate, which fades to a bitter (but not unpleasant) flavor of grapefruit rind, given a few minutes of typing without drinking. All in all, an impressive and unique take on the IPA style.

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Photo of dirtylou
4.77/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

ah yes, Pliny the Elder

16.9oz bottle obtained from a Damian and enjoyed after a long bike journey on labor day sunday

appearance: poured into my hopleaf tulip glass - the body is a bright and glowing orange tone with a nice frothy beige cap and moderate sticky lacing. Pliny is elegant and calm - a nice looking DIPA

smell: very aromatic as expected - pungent grapefruit pulp, citrus hopping, light pine. This beer has that bubblegum trait that i commonly pick up in 3 floyds beers that provides another nice twist on the nose

taste: The flavor profile is all hops highlighted by a bright (not bitter) grapefruit presence, lemon zest, bubble gum, tropical fruits and other citrus hopping. Alcohol presence is pretty minimal and the bitterness is low enough to make this insanely drinkable and one of the flagships of the style

mouthfeel: on the lighter side of my expectations, vibrant and alive on the tongue with less than full bitterness

drinkability: great

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Photo of BigJTrucker
4.33/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Now that Russian River distributes to Oregon, I get the chance to try this popular brew. Pours a beautiful copper color, thick white head with heavy lacing. Nice grapefruity aroma is just right. Taste is lots of citrusy bitter hops up front but seems to get piney as I drink more, low alcohol presence, and a healthy bit of malt sweetness. Mouthfeel is very sticky as a good DIPA should be. A very, very, very good beer. Well done Vinnie.

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Photo of itcomesnpints
4.9/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I was lucky enough to find this beauty at the Falling Rock Tap House in Denver. F%&$ing fantastic.
Bright golden orange with a great white head. Spectacular lacing that never stops clinging. Citrus and floral aromas combine with hops to clobber the nose. Immense hop tang mixed with grapefruit and pineapple glide smoothly over the palate. The most drinkable DIPA I have found yet.
Pliny The Elder is simply unrivaled among DIPAs. Perhaps my favorite beer of any style. My hat off and a full bow to Russian River Brewing Company for possibly one of the best ales I've ever come across.

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Photo of Tolann
4.87/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A - Cloudy and orange. I poured slowly since this beer is so turbid, so not much head. Still a gorgeous beer.

S - Sweet, clean Citrus Hops. Certainly plenty of grapefruit.

T - OMG wonderful! I could drink this for ever. The nose doesn't lie. Wonderful hops and lots of sweet wonderful citrus. Pure happiness in a glass, even after the day I had at work, the world is right.

M - My tastebuds are paralyzed by hops. This is a good thing tho. There'd not too long of an aftertaste, so your taste does calm down so you can want more... and more... and more Light/medium mouth feel. Not too much carbonation that would almost burn with this much hops. This is more balanced in the feel with the taste.

D - I'd drink this all nite, never get tired of it, but I think the abv would get the best of me. LOL So so very good tho and I must get more!

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

Appearance- Nice golden copper color with a descent size white, fluffy head. Lacing was present and stayed throughout the life of the beer.

Smell- Pine. Straight up pine trees. Also has notes of citrus(oranges and grapefruit) and a pleasing maltiness.

Taste- Imagine running through a forest, let's say your being chased by a monster or something(I know, just follow me here ok), and all of a sudden BAM you run right into a bushel of pine tree branches and it all gets into your mouth. Got it? Ok it tastes like that. A pine tree Mike Tyson punch to your mouth. Once you get past the pine tree extravaganza you get a nice hint of citrus and herbs.

Mouthfeel- A little lacking here. It was a bit thin and watery. The carbonation is medium which is nice.

Overall- OK I'm not a big IPA fan but I did my best to judge this beer properly. I had hoped for more balance between hops and malts but as far as DIPAs go I would say this is one of the best I've ever had. At 8% it makes for a very drinkable(sessionable) beer and I'm extremely excited to have been able to try it. Big thanks go out to my boy Devon who brought this back from his trip to Napa.

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Photo of lightindarkness
4.65/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

thanks swnicholson. Thanks.

Pours slightly hazy gold with a climbing fluffy off white head thinning out to sticky lacy bubbles.

Big sticky juicy pine, grapefruit, and nectarine crowd the nose, like cramming a pine cone and a grapefruit up each nostril. Sugary sweetness weaves through the juicy full aroma. Couldn't be this hoppy without a stiff resin in the background.

A hop delight on the taste buds. Spicy dry grainy hop flavors aren't overly sappy or syrupy. A lighter malt balance allows the hops to show through in all their glory, with a surprisingly delicate character despite their strength. Good grain presence without being caramelly or sweet, though deepening in the middle with some more intense grainy/hoppy flavor as it warms. Dry bitterness sits back on the tongue and seems to accumulate with each sip. Really nice blend of hop and grain into one incredible flavor.

Feel is nice, medium bodied with a submissive yet present carbonation. Dries out at the finish with a nice touch of alcohol fume resonating, but not detracting from the overall feel.

I must note that the bitterness keeps me from sipping it quickly, but the flavor and overall character cause me to keep wanting more.

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Photo of srandycarter
4.45/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A - Medium Dark honey, somewhat murky. Nice spongy 1/2 inch head, stays for some time. Pretty prevalent lacing.

S - Big hoppy pine and citrus.

T - Initial harsh hops, melts into sweet malt, then back to dry bittering at end. Makes you want another

M - It's a party. Nice roundness in the mouth, all the sensors touched. Medium to full body, great coating and carbonation.

D - I could drink this one until bad things happened. Happy suds.

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Photo of sevopie
4.8/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance - Bronze-gold in color with a creamy white head.

Smell - Muted piney hops with a sweet character.

Taste - Smokey sweet and piney hops, I can instantly see why this is so sought after. Malt makes an appearance, but only for show, along with a touch of honey/caramel.

Mouthfeel - Just slightly lighter than the Blind Pig, still very oily and smooth, and slightly lighter on the carbonation.

Drinkability - Oh lordy... this is a fantastically easy drinking DIPA. The bitter does not overwhelm, and it sits just right on the tongue. I hope this is here to stay in Denver.

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Photo of drbenzo
4.85/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer has a wonderful aroma and beautifuly complex hop characteristics. The complex hop characteristics is its most notable characteristic having filled your mouth with everything you want from a big IPA. If I was desserted on a dessert island... you get the point!

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

500ml, bottled on 7/30/08

A: Somewhat cloudy with an orangish hue. A small head, with a decent amount of lacing

S: Wonderful. Pine resin, grapefruit and citrus

T: Caramel malts, citrus flavor, did I mention pine?

M: Smooth, good acidity and balance

D: Dangerously drinkable

A benchmark DIPA. Thank goodness they built out that new brewery so we can get this in bottles whenever, wherever.

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Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.65 out of 5 with 14,838 ratings