Pliny The Elder | Russian River Brewing Company

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Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder
14,889 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
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Ratings: 14,889 |  Reviews: 3,755
Photo of ghostwalker
4.45/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Golden body with a reddish tinge. Head is thick and creamy. A vision in my Stone RIS tulip.

Nose is spicy and piney. Sweetness is present, but the strong hop spice dominates.

Flavor is deeply steeped hops. Having seen the hop bill for this brew, I know that I am not familiar with two of the varieties. It presents a very complex and interesting blend of various hop characteristics. Pine dominates, not so much citrus to my palate, but it is there. The sweet malt is also there, but obviously not the main attraction. Very tasty indeed.

Mouthfeel is creamy with a moderate amount of the enamel stripping quality that I love.

Drinkability is remarkable, considering the ABV. I think that the pineyness could build up over a few pints, limiting drinkability at some point, but this one 500mL bottle will not be enough.

Love it! Please bottle the Younger next for those of us who cannot just drop into the brewpub.

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Photo of Silenus89
4.22/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

P. Golden color with a nice hazy to it and excellent lacing

S. Citrus, pine, grapefruits Truly a nice smell

T. Pine a little honey and citrus

MF. Good Carbonation medium bodied

D. Very good drinkability for a DIPA

I like this beer alot but this isnt the best offering from RR for me

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

now THIS is what i was expecting out of the mighty pliny.

Poured a light golden honey color with a fluffy nice sized head.

i didn't even have to raise the glass up to smell the wonderful hop scent and excellent malt profile. what a great smelling DIPA!

wonderful and similar to the scent. a bit fruity as well, maybe a hint of apricot in there?

crisp and clean mouthfeel

drink em if you got em!

you know, generally, i don't even care for pales, IPA's and DIPA's...etc. this is a testament to how excellent this beer is. good show.

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Photo of SickBrew
4.3/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Purchased from the Belmont Station in Portland OR. on my first visit. The beer looks good with about one finger of head in a pint glass. Nose is about par for this style but I was expecting just a bit more from such a highly decorated brew. Taste is good and meets expectations. I do like my imperials to boast more hops and bitterness with some malty background and this just fell a wea bit short. Mouthfeel is medium and the carbonation is good. Overall this is a really good IIPA, but not super great.

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Photo of number1bum
4.45/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

MANY thanks to mymrnngjckt for this treat. I beat his ass in fantasy baseball and he included this in a mixed 6er prize. Thanks man.

Pours a slightly chill hazed orange amber color with about a finger and a half of light ivory head on top. Head retains pretty well, keeping a thin lace and leaving a little bit of stick. This was looking like a 4 at first but after each sip the lace reloads itself and stays nice and full all the way down.

Smell has an incredible burst of grapefruity citrus hops, and a ton of pine resin, as well. Huge hoppy nose that is really amazing and very aromatic.

Taste is also loaded with awesome hop flavor. I'm not sure what I can say that others haven't said. Just tons of grapefruity citrus and pine resin, and some herbal characters, as well. There isn't really a prominent malt flavor here but the hops are loaded with flavor so this never feels like a true hop bomb, although it toes the line. Bitterness is substantial but it doesn't quite overwhelm the hop flavor.

Mouthfeel is not quite full, and actually as hoppy as it is I'd expect it to be a bit slicker and creamier.

Ok, yeah, this definitely lives up to the hype. Top notch DIPA for sure. Thanks again Kevin.

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Photo of jojox
4.04/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had on tap at Monks in Philly. No notes, just from recall.

I was excited to try this after missing a few of the kegs around in SEPA - apparently we'll be seeing a lot more of it from now on.

Hazy gold color, good head, lasting.

The smell is very IPA, tons of hop resin and sticky bitterness.

Tastes like the smell, hops from beginning to end, but also somewhat balanced by the malt. I don't know how old this is but I'm guessing its different than the guys drink in CA in the shadow of the brewery. Still, strong but not over the top hops.

After getting a few sips in, I don't notice the hops anymore. There develops a kind of dull middle taste, I can't describe the flavor but it's kinda vanilla/cream/strangeness that's dull and takes over the middle of the palate. It also makes the mouthfeel a little dead. If it was on tap every day, I probably wouldn't drink it all that much, to be honest...

very drinkable, but I'm a little disappointed with this dull middle flavor. Its not a bad flavor, it's fine, but not as interesting as I wanted.

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Photo of LittleBreeze
4.49/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks, Daniel, for sending this one

This was a fun beer! Cooper with a big white head. Fantastic citrus smells. Big grapefruit, lemon and the right amount of pine. Big hops but the sweetness on the finish balances it all. Extremely drinkable. I wouldn't mind this beer being easier to get. It could easily become one of my favorites.

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Photo of kmeves
4.32/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear light copper/amber body with a frothy off white head and medium carbonation. Aroma is medium sweet with grapefruit, pine, bread and caramel sweetness. Flavor is grapefruit, pine and caramel. Very simple yet a wonderful blend. Medium to full body, thick texture. Sweet bitter/caramel flavor lingers nicely. Great beer!

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Photo of blitz134
4.52/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I was lucky enough to have a friend graciously send me two bottles of this and the pig...

Clear, dingy yellow colored brew. Nice foamy white head on top that clings to the glass well, middle of the road foam density. Carbonation bubbles quickly rise to the top. Given the hop level the appearance is as expected.

Aroma doesn't dissapoint. Its got a bit of everything in here when it comes to the hops, quite floral and sweet, pink lemonade and grapefruit, tangerine rinds, hint of hop spiciness. Some bubble gum hints. No malts, hehe.

Actually...this one isn't that bitter to me. Tons of hop flavor, really smooth bitterness. Hello tastebuds! This is the UPS man delivering a bit ol' box of hop flavor right to your door! Flavor is a bit less sweet than the aroma, more pungent and piney notes show through along with more citric fruit rinds. Basically no malt or yeast contribution. Notes of the alcohol are non existant.

Nice smooth mouthfeel, not really dry, a bit fuller than expected. It lacks that sharp edge IPAs usually have. I don't think the carbonation level is that high either really. If it was any higher you wouldn't be able to pour it given the head retention properties hop oils have.

Pretty good stuff. Alcohol is well hidden which could be dangerous. I would pick this up on occassion. My taste preference have shifted over the past year and a half, so I'm no longer focused on super hoppy beers like I used to be. I dont want to say this is overrated, but I've had other beers on the market that I thought were just as good as this one is.

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

Another Russian River offering that lives up to the hype. A well balanced, well crafted double IPA.

Pours copper with a huge fluffy head that falls to amazing lacing. The aroma is strong with floral hops. The flavor is vast, with grapefruit dominating, with a tea-like tannic finish. The mouthfeel is thin, slightly clingy. Delicious, well balanced with an apricot-like finish.

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Photo of watchnerd
4.42/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from City Beer in San Francisco.

Holy molly grapefruit! Citrus explosion in my nose that goes nuclear in my mouth. It's like performing cunnilingus on a woman made of citric acid.

And a little bit of that hemp stink one gets with West Coast hops.

Not as in your face or as bitter as, say, Stone's Ruination Ale, although, in a floral sense, just as hoppy. Ultimately more drinkable than the ruination ale, though.

I've got to get more of this stuff. It's up there with Old Rasputin for one of the best West Coast brews.

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

A - Clear golden yellow with a bigh white head.

S - Big citrus hop scents. Grapefruit, lemon, pine. Man this smells good.

T - Big hop bite of grapefruit, lemon rind and pine. Good malty backbone with a slight sweet caramel.

M - Good carbo and medium body. Smooth and balanced.

D - This is a supremely drinkable DIPA. I could toss these back for a while, though I would be able to taste anything else afterward.

Overall, just a sublime example of a DIPA. One of my favorites. Wish it was easier to get in Chicago. Guess I will have to settle with 3F.

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Photo of bigelo1016
4.82/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - beautiful hazy light amber with a pillowy white head and excellent lacing

S - WOW. Smack in the face with grapefruit/citrus aroma and a nice pine spicy note

T- Hops dominate at first. lucious citus notes followed by a sweetness at the end. all the while the malt backbone carries it.

M- Perfect carbonation, medium body, suprisingly smooth for this level of IBU

D- really easy to drink (except for the price)

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Photo of eberkman
4.12/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured clear orange/gold into a snifter. Sticky white head, lots of lacing. A good looking beer.

Aroma is awesome. Huge, juicy ruby-red grapefruit from the Cascade hops. One of my favorite smells in the world.

Taste, however, while good, was a bit of a letdown. Not the citrus fest I was anticipating. But a nice malty backbone with good, powerful hop presence. Seemed to oddly lack some of the sweetness I associate with other DIPAs, like DFH90.

OK mouthfeel -- silky and oily. Drinkable in the sense that it's a good sipper and an interesting, complex beer. But it's a sipper, not a session beer.

Overall, a very good DIPA. But it didn't quite live up to its legendary billing. That said, I'm stoked to have had the opportunity to try it. You can't get it on the East Coast.

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Photo of PittBeerGirl
4.27/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Dlucky for this one. My first Russian River experience. Poured into my snifter.

A-Body is a nearly crystal clear vibrant amber and some bubbles can be seen rising to the top. Pours with a one finger foamy white head that quickly subsides to a thin collar but amazingly it leaves traces of lacing all the way down the glass.

S- While the foam is still present the nose is dominated by juicy citrus (grapefruit) hops. When the foam subsides a more spicy hop can be detected.

T- Upfront is lots of almost sweet juicy citrus (mostly grapefruit). Underneath is a hint of malt. Piny hop flavors rise for the finish. It leaves a medium strength residual bitterness behind...which can be overwhelming at first...but as you sip more it becomes more of an underlying spicy compliment to the juicy citrus flavors upfront. Very well done.

M- Medium carbonation and a smooth, somewhat oily, yet light body.

D- This is an excellent DIPA. I have been dying to try Russian River beers ever since I joined BA and this is my first one. I am looking forward to their other brews. This was unfortunately gone too fast. Did I mention that the alcohol was completely hidden?

Note: This is the only beer in my top 50 I am below the rdev on.

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Photo of paco1029384756
4.87/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a cloudy amber orange color with a small head and nice lacing.

Scent of sweet fruits and sour citrus. A huge and full scent without being over the top, marvelously balanced.

Taste is sharp and fruity with a huge hop character. Lemon, orange and mango primarily make up the fruity flavor while earthy malts compliment the hoppy bitterness. Goes down with a hoppy trail that fills the mouth. Finishes dry and malty, with the bitter lasting flavor of hops. Alcohol is very nearly unnoticeable, again superbly balanced.

Mouthfeel is light, clean and tight, very smooth traveling through the mouth.

Drinkability is very high, I can't get enough.

Awesome stuff, if I could find it locally I would buy it by the case, growler, pint, keg, or any other vessel I could find. Highly recommended, and a must try for IIPA lovers.

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Photo of mhewes
3.93/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A : Pours a nice clear golden color with a good head, not much lacing

S : Citrus and floral hops, a touch of malts

T : This one has a really strong malt backbone to it that I wasn't expecting. The hops were a lot more muted than I was expecting. You could still taste them (mainly citrus) but I was expecting more from it

M : Medium-bodied, good carbonation

D : Real easy to drink but I was disappointed in it after seeing how highly rated it was. To me, it didn't have that something special to make it stand out as being the best of the imperial IPAs out there.

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Photo of waldowin
4.32/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a murky golden amber, light becomes diffuse as the glass widens. Just a ring of head, eggshell white in color, lacing is nonexistent. Not surprising for a beer with this much hop juice, but not exceptional.

Smells of pine needles, cedar, and a hint of grapefruit. Very thick, like shoving your nose into a pine tree and breathing deep.

Taste is very mild on the tip of the tongue, and then swirls into a biting tang on the edges of your mouth. Just a small hint of malt in the form of grapes and malt in the center of the mouth, but no more than enough to let you know it's there. Finish is very dry and slightly acidic.

Mouthfeel is surprisingly not thinned out, for a beer with this much hop action. They didn't pound on the sugars to make it "balanced", it's just about right. Really surprising for a DIPA.

It's a very good DIPA, has more hops than you'll ever need, and tastes great. It's just so bitter and acidic, that more than one bottle would leave you with a sour stomach. Definitely worth a buy though!

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Photo of mentor
3.65/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a four finger yellowed head over a mildly hazed golden. Gorgeous frothy head clings and caves. Smells pink greapfruit pith, piney, grassy, and garlic.

Tastes potent hop flavored with noticable hop bitter and decent underlying malt sweet. Hop flavor consists of pith, grapefruit, garlic, tangerine, and oranges. Hop flavor is so strong that it comes across as a bit sour. Hop bitter is grassy and mixes with a clean alcohol. The alcohol dries the beer, despite a malt dextrinous. Malt flavor is absent, or at least buried under all the hop character. Md-light body and moderate carbonation. Decent, but I'm not seeing what all the hype is about.

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Photo of madtappers
4.58/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Bought a bottle of this at my local bottle shop after reading all the rave reviews about this beer.

Poured clouded with a nice hop aroma, very drinkable IPA. Would buy again but at this price there are many other IPAs that are better for the money.

Again I recommend this beer, but there are similar IPAs out there at a lower price.

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Photo of Homer27
4.85/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I've been waiting over 3 years to try this beer, finally found some distributed to Seattle. I was ready for a letdown because of the hype I gave it internally but it put me in my place quickly. Like John Stewart on Karl Rove. This is the kind of beer that gets me excited as hell about beer. Not since the Stone 10th have I tasted a beer this good.

A: Light, a pale ale as the name suggests. Excellent lacing and head retention. My wife put her finger to her nose and was going for the head when a ruler smacked her knuckles.

S: Hops, Pine and I seem to be the only one that got an overwhelming smell of apple.

T: I am at a loss how they made this beer so hoppy and so smooth at the same time. Again the apple, pine, hops and citrus - mostly grapefruit.

M: Silky, but not syrup. Slight carbonation.

D: Drinks like a 6.5% max. I couldn't drink this all night but I couldn't drink anything above 6% all night. Incredibly smooth for a high ABV like this.

I'm very happy with this beer and will buy a case next time I see it.

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Photo of dnichols
4.7/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to imacoug for sharing this fine beer with me. I served this brew into a 12 ounce mug.

A: It poured a cloudy reddish blond body with hints of amber. It had a moderate off-white head that was about a finger deep and lingered long into the drink. There was a healthy amount of lacing given the hefty ABV.

S: Nice blend of floral and flavoring hops. Exceedingly well balanced aroma with a decent presence of malts, citrus and pine aromas.

T: This was a wonderfully balanced IPA. It had a creamy malty and sweet front with a tangy citrusy accent (mostly grapefruit) and hints of pine.

M: It was medium to full bodied with a creamy and sweet front and edgy grapefruit bite. It finished very clean with little aftertaste.

D: It was a wonderful IPA, among the best I've tasted. It is a bit strong for a session beer but I would have no trouble going two to three deep before being forced to go elsewhere.

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

Poured from a bottle in to my Sam Adams glass.

A: Beautiful 2 finger foamy head topping a golden bubbly, semi-clear brew. Good lacing that would not stop.

S: The amazing West Coast hops smell of citrus, grass, resin and everything good about hops. The aroma on each sip was a pleasure.

T: Similar to the aroma; aromatic cirus notes, grassy. Bitterness in the back of the mouth and throat was well contained for such an amazing hops aroma. Some residual bitterness on the way down, but very, very smooth.

M: Coated the mouth well; lively carbonation.

D: Because the bitterness down the throat is so controlled, this is perhaps the smoothest IPA I've had, ever. To be able to have this incredible hops aroma and taste without knocking your palate with a hammer is truly a first for me. My new favorite of this style.

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Photo of waltonc
4.32/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle purchased from City Beer Store.

A: 31 millimeters of head. Orange with some haze, though certainly not opaque.

Smell and taste: Evergreens, orange and yellow-colored fruits, and whack quantities of hops. I ordinarily dislike such ridiculous hoppiness, but can make an exception for such a well-done IPA.

Although PTE is very good, I must admit I don't understand what the obsession seems to be. This is not a top 25 beer in my opinion.

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

16.9oz bottle received from largadeer. Thanks, dogg. Bottled on 30th July, decanted into my Duvel tulip at 2137h on the 9th of September

A: Hazy orange with a dense, two-finger beige head. Excellent retention and intricate lacework on the sides of my glass. Tons of carbonation. Very pretty

S: I've had this before, from a bottle, on tap and from a growler and every single time, I'm a happy man. Tons of hops - floral, citrus and pine. The pine is a lot more assertive than i remember it being but the delicate citrus aroma with oranges and sweet tangerines and floral notes are present and gorgeous. Excellent

T: Starts off with a sharp pine hops with citrus hops coming through adding the distinctive touch of grapefruit and orange zest. Malt is non-existent and this is a hop tour de force all the way. Excellent hop bouquet. Finishes dry, resiny and hoppy

M: Wonderful resiny hops coat the palate while the carbonation works perfectly, bursting little hop globules on my tongue and the drying finish? perfect

D: So much for savoring this. This one's disappearing all too soon :-(

Notes: I think god's playing a big practical joke. I love my dry as hell, brilliantly balanced DIPAs, most of which are outta CA and he puts me on the East Coast. Between last night's fresh White Knuckle, tonight's Pliny and tomorrow's Dreadnaught, I'm in hophead's heaven.

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Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.65 out of 5 with 14,889 ratings