Pliny The Elder | Russian River Brewing Company

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Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder
15,028 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

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 15,028 |  Reviews: 3,772
Photo of aforbes10
4.89/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On tap at Capone's today in Norristown, PA...right next to Founder BReakfast Stout and Bell's Expedition. Awesome. Pours orange, slightly hazy. Nice compact foamy head. Smells like citrus, fresh cut gras, huge hops, summit? Simcoe? whatever they are they smell fantastic. Taste is tremendously flavorful. Massice punch of grapfruit and hops. Malt body is substantial and creamy. hops linger and bitterness is unrelenting. delicious. Creamy and full bodied. Melds well with the amazing beer that lives up to the hype and that is absolutely made to be freshly poured from a tap.

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Photo of NJpadreFan
4/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pliny the Elder

On tap at Capone's- Norristown, PA

A- Bright orange with a frothy sitcky head. Heavy lacing down the whole glass.
S- Big sweet grapefruit, orange and tangerine.
T- Citrus! Grapefruit, Tangerine, Orange dominate. A nice oily green hop flavor kicks in, in the end.
M- Sweet and dry up front with a oily hoppy bitterness in the end.

Overall- Very smooth for 8%. Highly drinkable and tasty.

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Photo of salvadorwill
4.52/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer is the stuff dreams are made of. This beer represents the only time that a beer has been so good that I dreamt of it that night.

That aside-

A- A wonderful copper/brown color. Looks exactly like a double IPA should. That being said I have had other beer that the color blew me away, and PTE is a good looking, but not amazing.

S- Almost a perfect smell. I don't want to venture to guess what hops are used, but whatever they are they mix their smells into a boquet of hoppy goodness.

T- This is the best tasting IPA I have ever had, and I can say that without hyperbole. The diffrent hops mix into a spicy, piney, citrusy flavour that kind of makes my tounge tingle. It is balanced very well with a toasted biscut and malt flavour.
The unique hop flavours and biscut flavours mix flawlessly.

M- Because this beer has so much going on in it, it is a little thicker than most other IPAs. However it is a double IPA, so that is expected. Coates the tounge well and lingers in it's flavour.

D- I find that every sip is a revelation, plus it is pretty strong. I can only drink about 3 or 4 of these max, but quite drinakable for such a complex beer.

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Photo of callmemickey
4.82/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Hazy orange-amber in appearance .. minimal head (note.. these were in small sampler glasses)

S: Bold piney hops, hints of citrus and a nice malty caramel base can be made out.

T:: Mirrors the aroma profile rather perfectly.. the piney hops are delicious, with a bit of complexity and distinctive notes in there ... didn’t get much of a sting from any alcohol which was a nice treat

M: Tingling on the tongue.. while this beer is in your mouth, you know it.. as soon as you swallow the taste crisply and cleanly fades.. leaving a very refreshing feel that makes you want more...

D: Yeah... this beer is heavenly if you like good clean refreshing hops

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Photo of k3n
4.65/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On-tap at Hollinshead this week (an ill-advised diversion during my lunch break).

A: Hazy amber-orange. Not too much head, but probably due to me asking for a small pour due to my time-constraints. Everyone else's pours looked appropriate.

S: Clean zing of piney, resin-y hops, plenty of grapefruit rind, and caramel waaay in the background.

T: Much like the smell, along with a hit of alcohol heat. Quite refreshing.

M/D: I've had IIPA's that were simply too oily/syrupy to be highly drinkable, but PtE manages to cram in all that creamy/oily/thick body, and then finish really damn clean, and invite you back for another slug before you realize it.

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Photo of BravoTwo
4.72/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A - Clear golden amber with a slight head

S - Very piney hops smell, very aromatic with a floral tone. Smells very inviting.

T - Exceptional piney hops taste with clear flavors. Very crisp and clean with distinctive flavor. Tastes like a northern California forest would taste if you drank it.

M - Clean and clear, crisp with good carbonation.

D - Really great, very drinkable double IPA. Very clean and tasty, and easily drinkable. I'm sure that directly off the tap this beer would even be more enjoyable.

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

Served in a Pint Glass at The Drafting Room in Exton, Pa. Ate a little chicken gumbo along side.

A- Cloudy, with a mellow orange color. Some bubble rise throughout.

S- Piney hops! Citrus, very little to no malt, just hops. Typical West Coast hops smell.

T- Phenomenal!! Sweet Jesus, I love the hoppiness of this beer. Strong Piney/Citrus hops and very little malt. Unbelievable.

M- Nice, medium carbonation. Numbing effect on tongue from strong hop presences. Amazing.

D- This beer is as good as it gets in my book. Best IPA I believe I have ever had. I'm glad it is hard to get because it makes it extra special. Everything as advertised.


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Photo of klewis
4.32/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Super extra thanks to weeare138 for this extra!!
Hand bottled 10/8/07 into a 12oz

A: Pours a crystal clear amber with a brief bubbly head. Spotty flares of lacing.

S: A big beautiful smell of floral hops and caramel malt. Very inviting.

T: Nicely balanced with a sweet malty taste quickly giving way to a vegetal and grassy hop taste and a good dose of bitterness. A bit earthy in the finish.

M: Full-bodied, thick, and syrupy. Carbonation is very fine and minimal.

D: Not the best DIPA I've had, but a damn fine example anyway. Glad I got the chance to try this.

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Photo of sfoley333
4.7/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into pint glass from tap at Pizza Port Carlsbad 09-30-07.
One of my favorite double IPAs first tried here back in 2004.
Poured copper orange color with nice sticky head with scents of the herbal pine of Norcal with hints of citrus. Taste more grapefruit pine flavor with nice balance between very bitter hoppiness and sweet maltiness. That where this beer shines the most. Mouth feel nice smooth feel that helps with the flavor to mask the 8% alcohol content. This helps make it very drinkable but becareful because this one will pack a nice punch.

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

Pours an orange brownish color with a frothy and creamy white head that builds up several inches in the glass. Lacing is left along the side of the glass as this one is consumed. Smell is of herbs, perfume, earthy, and pine, with some citrus notes. Taste is at first hoppy and citrus, but finishes with a moderate bitter finish. Mouthfeeling is a bit oily and maybe syrupy as well.

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Photo of franksnbeans
4.6/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a surprisingly golden color for a DIPA with lively carbonation and a sizable head that laces throughout the entire pint. Smells like bready sweet malt and fresh juicy hops. Taste is as it smells, big juicy hops with a huge rush of balancing malt. Medium at most in the mouth with good carbonation. Rediculously drinkable for a DIPA!! No abv apparant, just some hop juice to brighten my day.

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Photo of Lothore
4.2/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Poured on tap at the brewpub. It is a beautiful deep golden color with a small head which sticks around until the bottom of the glass.

S- Smells of oily piney hops with a distinct sweet maltiness in the background.

T- Tastes of bitter piney hops with a good amount of sweet maltiness to balance it out. A bready doughy flavor is in the background.

M- Thick with a lot of carbonation that gives you an awesome kick. Great mouthfeel to say the least

D- For an 8 percent abv brew this went down extremely smooth. I drank it so fast in fact that I definitely was feeling the alcohol afterwards that I didn't taste. All in all a great DIPA.

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Photo of Lupe
4.45/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours a crystal clear honey-orange, topped with a two finger frothy white head that lasts. Nice lacing left behind along the sides of the glass.

Strong hop aroma. The smell hits you before you even pick up the glass. Lots of citrus hop goodness with some pine and malt in the back ground.

Lots of hop flavor but nicely balanced by the malt. More balanced then you would think from the aroma. Citrus and floral flavors give way to some toasted malt sweetness.

Full bodied and creamy. Very refreshing and wonderfully balanced, more so than other double IPAs.

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Photo of colinsk
4.4/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is the classic Double IPA or Imperial IPA if you prefer. The hop aroma is so strong you will smell it before you raise the glass to taste it. While the aroma is overpowering it balances the intensly strong hop flavor present in the beer. The malt and bitterness balance in nearly perfect. Be careful of the excessivly (but to style) alcohol in the beer! If you like double IPAs this is a great beer to try.

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Photo of session1979
4.67/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Special thanks to flexabull for giving me the opportunity to sample this wonderful beer.

Setting: Drank this over labor day weekend and boy what a treat.

Appearance - Poured a clear honey amber with a frothy 2 finger marshmallowy head. Great retention and lacing.

Smell - One of the most complex nose's I have experienced full of citrus, pineapple, pine, floral spices, gummi candies and light warm malts.

Taste - Refreshingly bitter raw hops which are very nicely balanced with malts and floral notes. The taste is not as complex or intense as the nose but very nice.

Mouth - Full creamy body coats the mouth with wonderful hop flavors. Just the right amount of carbonation.

Drinkability - A very well balanced and therefore easy to drink beer. I could easily enjoy 2 or 3 glasses in a sitting.

Overall - What a wonderful culmination of time and effort from Russian River. This beer warrants all of the accolades it receives and will continue to impress craft beer lovers for ages to come.

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Photo of Overlord
4.6/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Exceptional IPA. Exploded with bitter, grapefruit/floral hops. Drinkable despite the strong flavor and high alcohol content. Some sweetness in the form of pink/white grapefruit and citrus, but also a great balancing array of bittering flavors. All of the various tastes are superbly blended.

Pours a beautiful coppery color. Tough to find, but excellent.

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Photo of Floydster
4.73/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Originally reviewed a couple months ago, but had to do another because it is by far my favorite beer

Served in 12 ounce goblet at Naja's Place in Redondo Beach near the pier and King's Harbor and a 1/2 liter tankard at Hollingshead's more recently

I will start off by saying that Russian River is my favorite brewery in the world and this is their best beer, this is also the beer that made me want to start reviewing beers and made me an IPA fanatic, particularly doubles and imperials

Unfortunately, I have not been able to try Pliny the Younger yet, cannot wait until Hollingshead's in the city of Orange gets more after the new year

Pour was a golden orangish yellow color with a 3/4 inch foamy head that let the perfect smell out through its small openings

Smell was full of hops and some small amounts of citrus including lemon, lime, orange, and grapefruit

Taste was nice and bitter, not too much of the fruit in the aroma can be tasted, especially at the ned of the sip, this a strong tasting double IPA that is closer to perfection than anything else I have had, it has a nice bitter bite at the finish making you want more and more

Could drink these until I pass out they are so good and the alcohol is hidden very well, the brew is not too heavy, actually extremely light for an imperial IPA

Good to know that they keep this year round at the bar near my house, always be the number one candidate when there is not something else interesting to try

This is going to be available in 22 ounce bottles in about six months because RR is expanding, that should be a great treat for everybody on the east coast who does not have access to this beer

Pizza Port is having a two dollar pint night featuring this coming up and you could be certain that I will be there drinking at least five of these, if not more

I have not tried Dark Lord Imperial Stout from Three Floyds or the Younger like I previously mentioned, but I believe this should be the highest rated beer in the world, flawless

It is so complex and subtle at the same time, this is hands down my favorite beer in my favorite style of beer

Gotta try this if you are a fan of IPAs, or just want to try one of the best beers in the world in general

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Photo of BeerTruth
4.53/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Last of three beers I had at Russian River, perfect beer to end my trip there. Poured into a nonic pint glass, ah yes, Happy Hour all day on Sunday :)

Pours a mostly clear copper hue with a lot of bubbles racing to the top that create a perfect fluffy white one finger head that stays around until the very end. Stickiness is everywhere on the glass. Smell has all hop scents mixed in; evergreen pine, grapefruit/lime citrus, and earthy hops. Caramel malt does make an appearance, just enough to balance the huge hop character. Taste starts off with a tiny bit of alcohol but is quickly taken over by the huge citrus hop flavor. Grapefruit, lemon, lime, oranges with a good pine undertone. With how much hop is present on the tongue, this beer isn't dry or very bitter at all. Caramel malt is actually quite noticable for such a hop bomb. Mouthfeel is medium bodied bordering on full with a whole lot of constant carbonation. Creamy DIPA which is a very enjoyable in every aspect. For 8% abv this one goes down very easy. Get your hands on this one for sure. I would definitely love to try the Younger, see how that compares.

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Photo of jeffjfindley
4.35/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Lovingly consumed at Father's Office. A fair color for an IPA, coppery, and with abundant head. Retention was respectable, but not enviable. Smell was grassy, and alive with sweet malt and sticky hops. Taste was nectary, caramel with a fine blend of hops, with center stage shared beautifully between pine and citrus characters. Mouthfeel was rich and malty, but very clean. Unarguably, this is one hell of an IPA.

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Photo of HardTarget
3.8/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at O’Brian’s in San Diego

Aroma: Mild grassy hop (sorry, pub reviews always suffer on aroma).

Appearance: Amber glass with great clarity, thin cover managed a bit of lace.

Flavor: Tangy hops are firm but not overwhelming. Base is adequate but not sweet.

Mouthfeel: Oily texture, medium heavy body.

Overall Impression: Hyped? It’s a good IPA, double is subjective. No flaws, chock full of hops, but I just didn’t “wow”. I’m thinking that D/IPA’s are to the West Coast as Mild Cask Ale is to the UK. Maybe there is a subtleness that I’m missing. I love me some hops, but this just struck me as a good, not great beer.

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Photo of celistealth
4.55/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured an attractive bright orange with an average head, somewhat persistent retention left sticky and spotty lacing.

S: Smelled surprisingly bright and sweet for a DIPA. Notes of citrus peel and a subtle resin of piney hops. Though strong and oily, not overly resinous/bitter.

T: Much rounder than the nose, the citrus and pine notes from the hops are complemented by underlying malts and what I can only describe as a buttery, oily sweetness. A long finish of grapefruit zest, followed by minty piney resin, with a toffee-like background throughout.

M: Quite oily and syrupy, without being overly viscous or astringent. What I could only describe as buttery-oily and chewy, with smooth carbonation that thickened the brew without making it airy.

D: A bit more drinkable compared to most other DIPAs due to its subtler hoppiness, but also more filling due to its thick mouthfeel and full flavor. I could do a couple pints in a night, but any more would be labored.

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Photo of trevorwideman
4.57/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On tap at Toronado, SF, CA.

Pours a rich orange-red with 1/2 inch of head with lots of sticky lace and mild carbonation. Aroma is resiny, piney and floral, but the citric hops dominate.

Flavour-wise, this one is all about balance, balance, balance. Pine, grapefruit, oily hops, and alcohol balanced out by caramel, vanilla, and lots of bready and crackery malt. Very yin-yang, but still leaning towards the hops a bit. Massive amount of flavour, you can't help but hold this one in your mouth for a bit and savour it. Mouthfeel stings a bit with the high acidity, very sticky. Medium body, medium carbonation, dry as hell. I could drink this all night long, no joke, screw the 8%, I'll just hurt in the morning, It'll have been worth it, and I would taste hops forever and ever and ever.

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

Sampled at the great Naja's Place in Redondo Beach.

A - The beer pours a deep golden color, with a slightly hazy, finger deep head with great retention and lacing.

S - The beer smells strongly of citrus with orange, passionfruit, and other tropical notes. I get a tinge of alcohol.

T - The beer is surprisingly not overhopped. I'm also getting fruits, a slight malty note; the body is heavily citric with lemon and orange dominating! This tastes absolutely wonderful.

M - The beer is medium bodied, low in carbonation, and finishes dry.

D - This beer is extremely drinkable for a DIPA, largely because it's not particularly alcoholic. I think you can enjoy this with almost any type of food.

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

Pint on-tap at Hollingshead,

A: Amber coloured, with a thick, white head, which leaves excellent lacing.

S: Smells like a pine forest, very fragrant, if I go up to the taiga in Canada, that's what it should smell like.

T: Delicious, full of pine and grapefruit bitterness, probably the most bitter beer I've ever had, but that's part of its appeal to this hophead, a great beer taste.

M: Smooth, creamy, and o' so resiny, perfect for a Double IPA.

D: Incredibly drinkable, even for an 8% beer, it's so delicious, you'll keep wanting more, Russian River is doing great things in the world of craft beer, I can't wait to see what they try next. In conclusion, this is a great craft beer and Double IPA, worthy of its accolades.

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

After all the wait finally a 750 ml naked, unmarked, and capped bottle received in trade with Risser09. Chilled and poured into a Duvel tulip glass foamy off white (sort of cream) colored head rose to one finger and now lingers a centimeter above the surface, lacing is already apparent. The body is a robust orange with warmer lighter highlights.

Smell is obviously very aromatic tones of hop fragrance, ballasted by a solid malt backbone. I get notes of grapefruit, mild almost hidden touches of piney grass toward the finish, floral accents, that piney raisin like aroma which I assume comes from the clash of substantial malt slamming up against a hearty hop and dry hop regimen. I also notice touches of fresh earth and maybe if I imagine a touch of blueberry and bubble gum.

Taste is extremely balanced in comparison to the aroma. Bitterness is not over welling or sharp, the hops provide great balance and showcase themselves in a very round manner with out making the beer too bitter or crushing to the palate. Although malt is not the focus of this beer it does play an extremely integral roll in the flavor. I don't think many dark malts or high Lovibond Crystals where used. The malt really provides a great ground for the hops to function, clean slightly sweet and sticky, but not toasted or over done. There is that tasty slightly resin like, olily mouth feel, which is always welcome in a Double IPA. I get fruit notes like strawberry and others.

The ABV limits this slightly to maybe two to three glasses in a sitting but thats fine.. If I were to use this in a dinner setting I would put it more toward the end just because of the slight lingering quality. I normally don't think of Double IPA as food beers, but I think this one in-particular could do the trick, because of its subtle and semi dry finish....

In my experience there is something about Russian River's beers that just do it for me. Its not that they are doing any thing that much crazier or more out landish than any other brewery, its that they are doing it more tastefully, this is of course my opinion and subject to change in the future, but for now I love you russian river. Nothing is over done and nothing is under attended to.

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Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.64 out of 5 with 15,028 ratings