Pliny The Elder | Russian River Brewing Company

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Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder
14,947 Ratings
Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder

Brewed by:
Russian River Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: American Imperial IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 08-24-2003

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Ratings: 14,947 |  Reviews: 3,764
Photo of RidiculedDisplay
4.74/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On-tap at Hollingshead.

Appearance: Pours a amberish straw color, with a 2 and a half finger head which settles to a nice half-finger foam. Lacing is thick and sheet-like upon swirling. Pretty nice looking, but not that pretty of a body color compared to say, 90-Minute IPA or some other DIPA's out there.

Smell: Wow. A familiar smell after one tries out some of the better DIPA's out there, but this is exceptional even among the greats. Grapefruit, orange hop aromas are the most prominent on the front end, with pine and floral on the back. Simply juicy smelling. Some caramely, somewhat unidentifiable sweet notes also break through. Great.

Taste: Thick and juicy orange and grapefruit, bordering on pear and mango hop flavors. Mmm. Pine and light floral on the back end. Candied sugarey sweetness, a little maltey backbone. I think the beauty of this one is that, unlike some of its cousins, Elder retains that incredible hop punch without seeming too "heavy." Hard to explain to a degree, but I suppose what I'm trying to say is that the alcohol is virtual imperceivable. The flavors, too, blend together in perfect unison. It's far more easily quaffable than a Yule Smith, for instance, which is just as amazing in hop profile, but leaves one pausing more over the sheer "weight" its flavor seems to carry with it. Anyway, I'm digressing, but I'm trying to convey just how simultaneously rich and drinkable this beer is.

Mouthfeel: Juicy juicy juicy. Light carbonation.

Drinkability: An amazing IPA. I've enjoyed many world class DIPA's lately, and Elder did not disappoint. Again, I think its beauty is in how (somehow) Vince managed to make this simultaneously so packed full of hop amazingness and yet not make the brew entirely overpowering. Fantastic craftsmanship.

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Photo of warriorsoul
4.69/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Thanks to the ever-so generous zrrbrrt for a growler fill of this PA nonetheless.
Pale orange in color with a half finger of white head...most of which fades rapidly and some spotty lacing.
Citrus punch in the nose...mainly grapefruit with a slight caramel malt backbone.
Taste is phenomenal...huge orange/grapefruit hop profile. Just enough bitterness to stay true to the style and just enough malt to add some sweetness to the offering. Alcohol is nowhere to be found...have no idea how this could be 8%.
Finishes bitter, but very clean.
Mouthfeel is medium-bodied...a bit thinner than your typical double...drinkability is wicked good.
This growler disappears too quick...the perfect brew to share/surprise friends and fellow BA's.
Cheers Josh!

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Photo of Viggo
4.72/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I'll hit 1000 karma with some style. Big thanks to DrJay for bringing this up from Philly! Can't believe you blessed us with Pliny's presence.

Pours a clear amber, huge thick white head, lacing everywhere, great retention, this shit sticks. Smell is huge hops, tons of pine, citrus and floral, some toffee, real balanced and pleasant. Taste is hopped up as well, some toffee notes, pine, citrus and floral, more pine, bit of malt, nice bitterness. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with low to medium carbonation, very smooth, insane balanced, could drink this all night. Thanks again Jay!

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Photo of Sammy
4.15/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

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

pre-holiday tasting at my place attended by me, DrJay, Viggo, biegaman, and northyorksammy. DrJay contributed this amazing growler. thanks jay!

pours a deep amber colour with a huge dense off-white head. very slow to drop and leaves tons of sticky lace.

aroma is incredible. pine and grapefruit. resiny. tangerine and orange too. bready malt. hops are clearly the focus, but the malt is not left behind.

taste is great. great bitterness, but not over the top. resin and pine. citrus of all types - grapefruit, orange, and tangerine. the grapefruit and pine dominate, but the others come through too showing additional layers. 'wow' is the one thing that i just kept saying as we drank this. caramel sweetness. bready malt. bit of lingering sweetness.

mouthfeel is great. excellent body and great carbonation level.

drinkability is excellent. perfectly balanced. it takes great skill to find the right mix of hops and malts to have everything come together just right.

this was by far my favourite beer at this tasting. if i was stranded on a desert island with only two growlers it would be this one and some masala mama. big super extra thanks to jay for scoring this one and hooking us all up. probably the first time pliny has been to toronto and i suspect it'll be a while before it is again.

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

I have had this before, but I finally got to have another one this afternoon at the brewery and properly review the Great Pliney The Elder. And boy, did I forget how great this one is.

Beer pours a bright, clean and clear copper color. Head is good, but just slightly weak for my tastes. (A bit of a nick pick here...)

Aromas are AWESOME! You don't have to get your nose close to notice the great floral hop smell.

Flavors are just as great as the aroma. A big huge mouthfeel is the first thing I notice, then a blast of fresh hop bitterness... hops taste of big pine flavors and some citrus like notes. Beer finishes with a touch of malt sweetness, and just the slightest note of alcohol. It's just enough alcohol not to knock you around, but enough to remind you that you are drinking a BIG beer.

Although this is a fairly high alcohol beer, I order this anytime I see it on draft. (which isn't often enough) An excellent beer. One of my all time favs.

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Photo of CRJMellor
4.54/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a clear, light amber, gold and orange color with a fluffy, slightly off-white head. Tons of pillowy lace on the pint glass.
Aroma had an abundance of fresh, resined, oily hop notes. Very floral in a deep, kind of oily way. Aggressive hops obviously dominate but a hint of caramel and citrus fruits sneak out, especially as the beer warms in the hand.
Flavor is well balanced to start but the hop bitterness just keeps increasing. Almost too hoppy is a phrase that would come to mind for me. A little more malt presence would provide a tad better balance. Still great just absolutely palate blowing with the IBU’s
Mouthfeel is very solid with the right levels of carbonation and some malt profile. Again if you love hops this might be the quintessential hop ride of your life. Just keeps climbing the IBU mountain.
Drinkability is solid but I like my beers with a tad more balance than this one. Much more drinkable the warmer it got as the maltiness and floral notes seemed to release more.
re-rated May-14 after visit to brewery. this really is the quintessential American DIPA

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Photo of JohnnyM2002
4.42/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sampled on-tap into a pint glass; let it sit for about 15-20 minutes before I took my first sip.

A - Burnt copper color with a foamy head & good retention.

S - Powerful aroma of sweet hops. Exactly what you'd want and expect from a Double IPA - strong hop smell with a grassy/citrus background.

T - Extreme hop punch, but no real bitterness. The sweet aroma is lacking in the taste, as more of a grassy/pine flavor joins the powerful hops. Finishes with a tingling of citrus...the alcohol is noticable but not overpowering.

M - Not a heavy body - rather unexpected. Finishes very crisp and bold.

D - Overall, the best tasting and most well-balanced double IPA I've had. The high ABV doesn't come through in the taste as much as you would expect. Definitely lived up to the hype.

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

On tap at Russian River Brewing in Santa Rosa.

The aroma was wonderfully pungent. The nose was dominated by an explosive burst of resiny and citrusy hops. A light and sweet maltiness poked through at the end. West coast all the way baby!

The flavor of the beer was primarily that of citrusy hops (duh) with enough of a light caramel maltiness to help round things out. As potent (and lovely) as the hops were, they were very smooth. The beer was well attenuated and wasn't smackingly sweet, which is were I feel that most double IPAs are susceptible to loosing points. The beer had a very "bright" taste and a nice spiciness that I prefer in DIPAs.

The mouthfeel was crisp and the carbonation seemed dialed in just right. The beer was well attenuated and crisp at 8.0%, it was in no way too heavy and very drinkable.

On a bragging note, I was lucky enough to be at RR Brewing when they had 5 IPAs on Tap: Pliny the Elder, Pliny the Younger, Summit IPA, Plind Pig, and RR IPA. I had 'em all baby!

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Photo of granger10
4.13/5  rDev -11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Bierria Paradiso in D.C. Bright orange color with a touch of copper. Foamy cream white head. Tons of sheets of lacing. Smell is very citrusy with some floral freshness. Lots of sweeter fruity malt flavors as well. Taste is similar. Orange dominated but there's more of a resin piney flavor that what I smelled. Underlying tropical sweetness the whole way through but it's quite bitter. Hops hit their high point about midway through but the finish is a bit weak. Sweetness comes through a bit more at the end. Body is a touch lighter than I might have hoped. This beer really has a nice balance of malts and hops and alcohol for a DIPA. Very drinkable. The mouthfeel and finish could have been a touch better. But overall, very enjoyable.

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Photo of sleazo
4.74/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at O Briens.

What can i say, i am a hop head and this clearly delivers. Elder is a reddish copper beer with a fairly small head. The aroma is of hops, hops and more hops. I would give this a 5.5 if i could for the aroma. Tastewise this is exactly what i want out of a double IPA. A true hop monster that overwhelms the tongue with resiny citrusy goodness. It is a little thin in my opinion but still had a nice bite to it. The alcohol level is present but it is kind of hidden so you could drink a few of these before it hits you.

A very fine example of a Double IPA. A must try for any hophead.

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

A - Clear golden color with a russet hue, small head, fair amount of lacing clings to the glass.

S - This is like sticking your nose in a bowl of crushed hops, or maybe like snorting the resin. Smooth pine mostly with lighter citrus (orange). An excellent aroma. No malt at all though.

T - Strong pine resin upfront. No malt profile. The flavor is pine with a bit of lemon, orange and pineapple underneath. Not really bitter at all. That surprised me. Very enjoyable.

M - Smooth, thin, very refreshing.

D - Excellent. I would never have guessed the strength of this one. It is a beer that lives up to the hype. It was an awesome experience for sure. I had this at the Pizzeria Paradiso shorty before they kicked the keg. Lucky me!

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Photo of Mebuzzard
3.71/5  rDev -20%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A light amber color body and nice fluffy head. Good lacing.
Smell: hops right off the bat. Some sweet fruit like grapefruit and pinapple. Raisins, maybe.
Tastes of grapefruit, flowers, some grass and a bit of sweetness.
Mouthfeel was a nice balance between the hops, malts and alcohol. A good bite with hops and alcohol, finishes crisp and clean.

Edit: Had a fresh bottle (2 actually) today (3-17-11) and it seemed off. The flavors weren't as juicy and there was a dry grassiness to it, more so than the others I've had. Really hindered the mouthfeel and enjoyment...although still good. A bit overhyped

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Photo of Morris729
4.62/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy golden amber with a slightly orange tint and a fluffy white head that leaves a good amount of sticky lace behind as it slowly recedes. Nose is quite aromatic with strong scents of piney hops along with some fresh grapefruit. Taste is big-time hoppiness, but there is a fair amount of sweet malt to help keeps things somewhat in balance. Really delicious—this one’s a winner.

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Photo of tonloco
4.67/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I think this beer is very drinkable considering the higher ABV

But a couple of pints and you definately get a buzz

Average DIPA appearance. Maybe just a little on the pale side.

Mind-blowing taste, just incredible.

Had on tap, at Toronado, in the lower haight in SF.

for $3.00 a pint (mustve been happy hour)

If you like meaty yet smooth DIPAs (like me) this is for you

All Hail Pliny!

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Photo of Pooba001
4.62/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from growler into Sierra Nevada "tulip" glass, there is a slight haze, but the color is just what I want to see from a pale ale. Lovely lacy head that sticks. Smell is awesome, citrus/grapefruit, piney, resiny, slightly floral hops. I didn't speak for a few minutes after first taste. Wow. This beer is so well put together. All the flavors from the scent are here, the hop flavor is so juicy! The yeast works with the malt really well here too, the interplay is so beautiful. Only question is whether this is a 4.5 or a 5 in taste, tough call. Mouthfeel is good, slightly dry. Drinkability is exceptional for a beer this strong in taste and alcohol. My notes from last night say "I could drink nothing but this all week."

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Photo of freed
4.78/5  rDev +3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Had this on tap at OBF06. Twice. Was going back for a full glass when the "All out for today" sign got put up. Noooo!

Body is an elecric pine sap golden and almost dark enough that it resembles amber. You'd almost expect to find a fossilized hop in it. Great clarity and very active carbonation - it's a sight to behold.

The aroma is intense. Fresh cut spruce, resiny green, but without any acrid smells.

Taste contains a surplus of awesome. Explosion of citrus hops and a long, pitchy bitterness that escorts you through the drink. There's a mouthful of malt that resonates with the bitterness so it doesn't completely overwhelm the palate. The intense flavors also camouflage the high gravity.

This is a stellar beer.

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Photo of dbalsock
4.77/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

In the last month, I've experienced a lot of double IPA's, and to this date, the only one that stands out in my mind is Pliny The Elder. While most of the style seems one dimensional in its hopping, This Pliny had it all.

Appearance: Light amber with a thick (very thick) white head, about 1/4 inch deep. Heavy lacing on the sides of the glass.

Smell: Oranges and grapefruit tookover the nose for me. I'm used to the grapefruit in california, and actually kinda sick of it... but the orange made this near perfect.

Taste: Again the orange adn the grapefruit, but sweeter than in the nose. The subtle underlying malt adds a third layer to this amazing brew. One of the best beers I've ever tasted.

Mouthfeel: Bitter and refreshing as it should but, as well as light bodied. It was all usual for the style, except for the way it fit together in my mouth. Synergy is the key to this beer.

Drinkability: I would try to session this and fail, and wake up the next day and try again. This just became one of my favorite beers.

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Photo of Billolick
4.6/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Tried/enjoyed this over the course of 10 days in the Sierra and San Diego about 5 times.sheesh, I wish this was on tap in just about every craft beer stop in my neck of the woods! Anyway what can be added to the other reviews? Golden,glowing,shimmering olive oil amber. Light tan head, intense fine lacing. Grainy hop sniff. This is a beautifully crafted beer, hops are front, middle and rear. Grapefruit, pine tar, oily. I love this heady, artisinal creation! C'mon RR start shipping kegs of this to the east coast on a regular basis....Please?

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Photo of Callenak
5/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

What can I say that hasn't already been said. This beer is pure heaven. I've been fortunate enough to have this beer on many occasions. I don't care where I'm at, or what's on tap, if they have Pliny on tap…I'm drinking it and drinking it first. This is the only beer to date that I've felt worthy of giving all 5's to and waited a while to finally review it. Beatification was a close second. Russian River has quickly became my favorite brewery due to consistently amazing beers. I look forward to many more years of drinking Vinnie's trend setting beers.

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

I had the good fortune of having a pint of Pliny the Elder at the Grey Lodge in Northeast Philadelphia, far from it's land of origin. Despite the distance the beer tasted great.
Poured from the tap into an unmarked pint glass a pure gold color with slight orange tones. Light head with some good lacing, but overall the apperance is quite standard, not stand out.
The aroma is also subtle, mild but the hop character leads the way with some sweet alcohol in the deep nose. Some notes of honey and light crisp fruit.
The taste stands out as the dominant strength in this beer. Wow, it's amazing. A nice big citrus buoquet up front, flower, followed by a good grapefruit and pine finish. Solid sweetness throughout leanding balance to the high notes in the hops. It's solid all around, rounded and quenching. The burps even taste good, like Jagermeister. Stays good from first cold sip to final warmer gulp.
Despite the low head the carb is good and adds nice tingle to the hops. Full bodied by not syrupy. Drinkable? Hell yes, more please!

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Photo of DarkerTheBetter
4.5/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is based on notes from The Drafting Room and The Grey Lodge.

This beer came a slightly foggy gold, apricot and honey with only slight wisps of head.

Smells of sweet honey, fresh wheat bread dough, oats, banana and watermelon with a super nectarine, grapefruit, and pineapple, pine sap hop.

Tasted of a sweet light powdery caramel, honey, oats and pizza dough with a great grapefruit and pine sap zap. What’s nice about this is that the sweetness is very prevalent, but not easily identified.

Them mouth feel was medium to heavy bodied with a small creamy carbonation.

Tasty for sure. This kinda tastes how I wish Dreadnaught tasted.

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

Hazed gold with a faint orange hue. My pint arrived with a short cap of long lasting, cream coloured foam. Lacing was solid and rings formed at each sip. Very nice. The aroma was intense with sweet fruity, floral hops - very distinctive, kind of like fruity candies. Pine and grapefruit were also prominent and there was a light chalkiness or powderiness as well. Wow, this is quite a balanced monster. The bitterness is strong, but is kept in check by the malt until the finish where it lingers along with pine and grapefruit. It starts on the sweet side with a toasty maltiness. The hops (pine and grapefruit) really kick in after this, but stay balanced. There's also a pleasant fruit and floral quality to the hops that show up towards the end. Medium/full bodied, nearly chewy, with a luxurious, creamy texture. Alcohol wasn't apparent. It's scary how easy this goes down. Definitely a world class beer, highly recommended.

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Photo of PeatReek
4.37/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

The Elder has a perfectly clear, pale amber body with a thin white lid of foam. The aroma is green; somehow... oh, I know how, it's entirely composed of hops! Piney, resinous, citric, delicious hop aroma. The first sip is likewise a hop attack, very very strong with pine needle and somewhat grassy overtones (but in a good way, I'm not exactly sure how to describe it). It's supported by a crisp maltiness, very dry. Not full bodied; thin if anything, which only accentuates the hop character. Great, great beer. Consistently blocks my attempts to try other IPAs wherever it's on the menu.

P the E is definitely one archetype of West Coast IPAs. Sometimes I prefer the thick, sweet Hop-Rod style, but this beer is an extraordinarily drinkable example of the drier, crispy/hop-domination style, and that's good too. It's hard to describe how drinkable Pliny is. I mean, 8 percent?! I never would have guessed. No wonder I'm always so stumbly walking out of Toronado.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
4.63/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a perfect dark golden with just a wisp of a white head present. Decent lacing.

The smell is all fruity, piney hops. Very juicy, but a little faint.

The taste is perfectly balanced with a complexity that makes this beer extra special. Starts with crisp, spicy hops that have a nicely balanced profile, followed by some juicy stone fruit flavors in the middle, and finally a long, long very bitter but pleasant finish with a little grapefruit rind at the very end.

The mouthfeel complements the taste perfectly. Medium bodied, crisp, rich and creamy, all at the same time.

Very drinkable due to its complexity that keeps you going back for another sip.

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Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.64 out of 5 with 14,947 ratings