Dismiss Notice
Curious about recent updates to the site and app? Check the Announcements forum for updates.
Dismiss Notice
Love Belgian Beer?

Join us Sep 17 in Portland, Maine for Return of the Belgian Beer Fest, featuring hundreds of authentic Belgian beers and Belgian-inspired offerings.

Tickets + more: beeradvocate.com/belgian

Pliny The Elder | Russian River Brewing Company

3,603 Reviews
Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder

Brewed by:
Russian River Brewing Company
California, United States | website

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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 3,603 | Ratings: 13,875
Photo of davejy
4.6/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Look: Amber and nice golden color. Nice

Smell: Good amount of hops. Smells fresh of pine.

Taste: Nice DIPA and balanced.

Feel: Medium and the hops lingered for a bit. Fresh.

Overall: I've had this many times. Better draft than bottled. Too many people hunting bottles nowadays. Draft is a lot easier to find. A must try.

Long time user, but 1st review.

 367 characters

Photo of TheDuvvv
5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Look: Crystal clear, golden in color, head was a very bright white and dissipated moderately fast (about 10 seconds)

Smell: Majorly floral/hop smell, maybe some light pine

Taste: The most balanced DIPA I have ever tasted, very good and refreshing splash of hop bitterness and a nice sweetness to compliment the biter

Feel: Light to medium body, with a good carbonation that is there without being abrasive

Overall: Thankful that I was able to try this beer, I've had some very good IPA's, but this is by far my favorite mostly due to how balanced it is and still being able to keep a strong but good bitter flavor

 617 characters

Photo of dexterk1
4.77/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Had this on draft in San Diego recently. Color is a beautiful golden/ light copper. This beer comes with a lot of hype and therefore a lot of expectation when someone who has been seeking it finally tries it. For me it lives up to the hype. Taste is an excellent balance of citrus, fruity and pine. Finish is excellent and leaves you wanting and able to have more. Ends pretty cleanly without much bitterness. Smell is almost better than the taste. Aromatic, clean and not heavy or overly piney/resinous. Overall, a beer worth seeking out an having for sure.

 567 characters

Photo of DaverCS
4.64/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Picked up a case while at Russian River on a beer trip with my dad.

Pours a filtered golden-honey color with 1 finger of a well retaining head. Phenomenal lacing on the glass.

Aroma is primarily dominated by pine, a bit of grapefruit, a solid amount of malt sweetness, and a kiss of citrus.

Taste is much more balanced than expected. There is a very prominent malt backbone that keeps the bitterness in line. I was expecting a hugely bitter hop bomb, but this is balanced. Sure there is a solid kick of bitterness but it’s not overwhelming. There is a mild amount of carbonation with a creamy mouthfeel. Taste is again very pine-forward and resinous. Some nice citrus notes come forth, as do grapefruit peel.

My overall assessment is that the beer is very good. However, the hype surrounding it is a bit insane. It’s a prime example of the class: no off flavors, well-balanced, and delicious. My only critiques is that the malt-backbone is a bit too much, which does mute some of the hops and creates a bit too thick of a mouth-feel for my preference. I see this pairing well with Pliny and beer bites of course! It gets a 93/100.

 1,143 characters

Photo of luisitoelmatador88
4.75/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Look: copper gold and clear. standard CA west coast imperial IPA colors.

Smell: very clean smelling brew with hops shining. I also get a nice citrus blend and floral. Very minimal caramel malt sweetness.

Taste: hoppy, citrus, a bit of stone fruit. You get a super amazing hop bit at the back in the finish and it smacks you right in the face. The subtle malts your get in the beer accentuate the sweetness you get from the fruity notes. The medium level bitterness can be compared to like an orange zest or orange pith type thing. This beers balance is spot on.

Mouthfeel: I pretty much this is the characteristic that has been setting this beer apart for me ever since I first had it back in the day. The mouthfeel is smooth and a little thin for an 8 percent but not in a bad way. In this scenario the light character of the beer gives it an insane drinkability and refreshing satisfying quality. After waves and waves of flavor pummel your palate, the piney delicious hop oils coat your tongue with a beautiful aftertaste.

Overall: Even though I am not as amazed with this brew as I was my first couple tries I am super appreciative of the path its paved for so many breweries and recipes that followed. It's been around for forever and its quality hasnt seemed to diminish too much.
A super fresh Pliny the Elder at just the right temperature still hits the spot and is a real treat. Whether in bottles or draft.

 1,421 characters

Photo of DirtyDawg10
4.93/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I have been waiting to taste this one for a very long time and it definitely lived up to the hype. The beer pours out to a clear light Amber hue with a frothy white head. I could immediately smell some floral, pine and citrus aromas. The taste is more of a mix of the piney and citrus hoppiness with a caramel malt flavor in the background. The mouth feel is very smooth. This has to be the most perfectly balanced beer I have ever tasted. In fact I'm not sure that I knew what a balanced beer truly was until I tried this beer. Very drinkable and satisfying beer.

 564 characters

Photo of Lingenbrau
4.59/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Given its current state, and its history, it is hard to knock this epic IPA. A perfect classic beer to get ts style, and even after all these years, a must buy when obtainable. Cheers!

 185 characters

Photo of ktarrant
4.91/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

So I bought this beer, but let it get warm for a few days and then put it in my checked bags to take home. So it definitely didn't meet strict freshness standards. Totally delicious though. Color is paler than I expected. Smell is floral and inviting. Taste has a sweetness I didn't expect, but works well ... reminiscent of how Belgian beers use sweetness to complement the booziness. But it doesn't come off as something decadent and rich like you would expect from an imperial IPA ... it's something that I want to drink a few of because they are so damn drinkable.

 568 characters

Photo of Skrumpy
3.91/5  rDev -15%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

So I know this beer gets all the highest marks, and I do think it's a good beer, but not a 5 or 100. I had an imperial pint at The Horse Brass Pub in Portland, OR. The head was thin and dissipated quickly. Minimal lacing. The color is golden amber, clear in appearance. The smell is very nice; pine, citrus and caramel malt. Also some earthy tones, and bread. The flavor is pine and grapefruit, with a sweet malty finish. Bitter hops aftertaste, very resinous mouthfeel. An excellent beer overall.

 506 characters

Photo of OuijaBored
3.87/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Very disappointed in this DIPA. The pour was too pale and had no head. Could have been a light beer. The nose is nice with good pine and little citrus. Will head back to my big VT and MA DIPAs from the Alchemist, Hill Farmstead and TreeHouse. Sorry, wanted to like this beer.

 275 characters

Photo of RyanTheLion76
4.95/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Dated 4/26/16, consumed 5/13/16. Poured into a Spiegelau IPA glass. Has a clear, golden yellow hue with a white head. Strong lacing. Aroma yields notes of orange, tangerine, grapefruit, and pine. Very hop-forward taste with little-to-no perceivable malt character; taste follows the nose exactly. Fairly hefty body, but not super thick for a DIPA. Finish is perfectly balanced and super refreshing, leaving no lingering bitterness.
Overall impression: this beer has effectively ruined other IPAs for me. The legends aren't without merit; this is one hell of a double IPA and basically sets the standard of what an excellent double IPA should taste like. It's flavorful, but not obnoxiously hoppy, and it doesn't use so much malt that it ends up tasting sticky or syrupy, but enough to support the citrus character and perfectly balance the hop bitterness. It's crazy to think the guys at Russian River crafted Pliny not because they knew what would make an amazing DIPA, but because they were trying to learn how to brew a DIPA. And I doubt they ever guessed it would become such an iconic, sought-after beer.

 1,110 characters

Photo of joodstryr
5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a straw color with a tick, rocky head.

Citrus and grass in the nose. Like you're mowing a grapefruit tree and you put your face in the grass collection!

So amazingly bitter and fresh. Citrus juices, piney flavors, grassy notes.

 235 characters

Photo of d3brewing
4.6/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

We get a shipment of these every other week in San Diego and it's always a treat. For a double ipa the new it seems like the new breed is taking over but this is still the classic.
A: Light orange and hazy. Nice creamy almost white head of very small to moussy bubbles.
S: Pine and citrus on the nose with a little biscuit/breadcrust
T: The pine and citrus from the nose are a smooth punch to the tongue. I get no grain and medium bitterness on the back end. Bittering hops linger through aftertaste and bring you back wanting more.
O: The classic example of a double ipa. Is it worth trading your first born? Not if you have other quality hop options in your back yard but every beer drinker needs a fresh pliny in their lifetime.

 732 characters

Photo of jas0n02
4.85/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Exceptional top notch Double IPA. One of my all time favorites. Pour a clear orange/golden color. Very smooth mouth. Tastes of citrus and pine. Very clean finish.

 162 characters

Photo of jjapter
5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

poured from 510ml bottle, clear copper, creamy white head that sticks around for a while. loads of citrussy resinous hop on the nose, hint of grapefruit. The taste is amazing, there's just so much flavor, a really complex satisfying bitterness that's intense and smooth, can't really taste malt. feels luxurious in my mouth, this is just fantastic beer

 353 characters

Photo of Zoomslowik
4.56/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 4/13/16, so I'm not likely to get it fresher unless I go to the brewery.

L- Much lighter color than any IPA I've had. Very light orange, I can actually see through it. Thin white foam.

S- Very nice aroma. Piney, citrus, slightly dank.

T- Not a lot of bitterness. Mostly bready malt and dank. Slight orange notes. Much different than your usual hop-bomb IPA's.

F- Fairly heavy for an IPA, solid carbonation.

O- It's a very good IPA that I would buy regularly if I could reliably get it in my area. However, I'm not sure I'll go through the trouble of acquiring it again, especially since it would likely be more than 3 weeks old.

 644 characters

Photo of Christoffer91
4.44/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Fresh bottle; dated 4/14 I believe and tasted on 4/30. Everyone knows about this beer, so I'll just give my general impressions having had a lot of other west coast IPAs.

First, don't come to Pliny expecting "tropical" or "juicy" new American or NZ hop profile; it's a more classic hip profile, but a damn good one. I got a lot of Simcoe dankness on the nose, which I'm a fan of. Hop flavor opens up to more citrus notes. Again, no super-hype hop flavor citra bomb here, just all the best of what classic west coast hop flavor should be. Also, surprisingly not that bitter; we drank a growler of fresh Ruination 2.0 just before this, and it was night and day, with the Stone being much more bitter.

Next, the thing that blew my mind about this, and what I'm really taking away from my first Pliny is the malt character. Hops are important in an IPA, but this has to be the most delicious malt flavor I've tasted in a long time. For an "epitome of the style" type of beer, it doesn't seem like other brewers are nailing the Pliny balance the way they could be by this point in time. It's perfect; not sweet, but present, super uber clean, with substantial mouthfeel like a good pale ale has. I guess "dry" is a word that gets tossed around IPA a lot, and maybe the hops increased the perception of sweetness for me, but it was not thin (which a lot of IPAs are), yet not heavy (which a lot of IPAs are). So clean.

Great beer.

 1,430 characters

Photo of ChrisSchlosser
4.5/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

My friend from California sent this to me, I've been wanting to try it for a while. I was a little surprised at the color, it was more of a dull gold color than I'm used to seeing for IPAs. Overall it was very good, maybe a little overhyped but definitely enjoyable. I would love to have it again.

 297 characters

Photo of Nin10dude64
4.59/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

poured into a tulip

pours a bright orange, clear with no haze, a short head forms and dissipates

smells of sweet citrus, and I almost want to say that I picked up plum..but I am unsure

taste was bready, hop bitterness was pleasant, not overbearing, very malty

an incredibly smooth and creamy mouthfeel, this beer redefined IPA's for me. It really adds to the spectrum for me, however, I did have it almost 2 months after bottling. But I had no choice, they brought it to me from a case in the back. What was I going to say, don't you have a fresher one? I felt it was take it or leave it, and the choice was obvious. My mission will now be to drink it as fresh as possible, to see how much stronger the hop bitterness and presence can be. maybe I will have it on tap next since it seems easier to get it that way here in the Southland

 839 characters

Photo of Eli2814
3.43/5  rDev -25.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

So... the almighty Pliny... we finally meet. Let us begin.
For starters, it's a much lighter color than I'm used to with most dipas, which stands out as pretty unique. I like the look of its bubbles running up the sides of the glass.
The smell is pretty standard. Can't pinpoint which hops are used, but their presence is obvious, a nice little malty "aftersmell" is present as well.
Tastes good, good balance of sweet and bitter. I'm not much of a hophead, but I would have preferred a stronger hop flavor than it has. But it's a solid taste, I can see why people like it.
It's got a clean, light mouthfeel. Very drinkable, so be careful, drink it too fast and you'll remember it's 8%!
Overall, good brew. Did it blow my mind? No. Would I stand in line for hours to buy it? No. But it is good. I'd chalk it up to being a great intro if youre looking to get into the realm of DIPAs, and I'd leave it at that.

 910 characters

Photo of erk0607
4.53/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Look: Clear, dark straw, amber, white head, remains foamy/creamy
Smell: Piney, citrus zest, hoppy, smells like a tropical fruit juice you'd get in a carton
Taste: Hop forward, pine, more citrus taste than the tropical fruit you get in the nose, some bitterness you'd associate with orange zest.
Feel: medium mouthfeel, some foaming action, light, refreshing fizzy carbonation
Overall: Definitely an IPA, and it's understandable that this is the standard for an IPA. Would get again if I had the chance and I'm not even a huge IPA guy.

 537 characters

Photo of Beers-es
4.72/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On tap, this beer is mostly clear yellow-gold, much paler than you'd expect from most double IPAs. Two fingers of dense white head leaves full sheets of lacing. Smell is not particularly complex, but outstanding, featuring grapefruit, orange and pine.

Taste follows, with citrus and pine and a modestly bitter but lingering aftertaste. It's lightly carbonated with a solid medium feel and an touch of smooth slickness.

Overall a very well crafted IIPA that drinks like a lower ABV beer. It doesn't explode in any one area the way so many top-level modern IPAs do, it just nails every aspect almost perfectly, adding up to more than the sum of its parts.

 657 characters

Photo of Jebburrows
4.45/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Found 1 random bottle in a small fridge at Cask in downtown SF. All the way w HT and other tops. A little less creamy, thick than the others, could see through it.

 163 characters

Photo of rodbeermunch
4.82/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Appearance is a yellow color similar to macro, and an amazing clarity as well. Good white head forming 3/4" depth. Awesome aroma of resinous mango, guava, tropical fruits, tangerine and citrus.

Taste is excellent hop flavors along the lines of the aroma, soft bitterness, super cracker light toasted pale malts. Drinks so easy. Pine is in there too. This was the first to pack lots of proprietary hops into a super dry light body, but with a heavy abv you won't know about unless you read it or until you feel it.

The prototype.

 537 characters

Photo of sjdevel
4.77/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Huge billowing foam with a moderate pour from a 16 oz. bottle. Not just bubbly, but frothy! Great head retention! A beautiful light golden/copper color that is crystal clear (clear enough to read fine print through).

The aroma is pretty powerful. It is citrusy and very floral. Slight tart smell and slightly fruity. There is also a hint of caramel and malt.

There is a nice PUNCH of hops at first. Very crisp and “bright” tasting. The bitterness is pretty strong at first, then it fades a bit to let the other flavors make their appearance, but then it seems to come back. During this gracious pause from the hops, you get flavors of sweet caramel and a savory buttery flavor. There is also a nice roasted woodsy / earthy flavor as it starts to trail off. As the other flavors and hop bitterness fade, you are left with nice citrus and a slight charred wood after taste.

Upper light to low medium mouthfeel. Doesn’t feel this as it stays quite bubbly the whole time in the glass. It does feel quite slick (probably form the larger amounts of hop oils).

Great! Not sure about this being the perfect beer though. It is balanced quite well -some more sweetness would be ok though. All of my favorite hop flavors are in this one. This brew never lost its fizz and never a gap or hole in the foam. This was earthier than I expected. It definitely got better tasting after it warmed a bit.

 1,465 characters

Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 3,603 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Return of the Belgian Beer Fest

    BeerAdvocate Brings its All-Belgian Fest to Portland, Maine on September 17, 2016. Tickets are on sale now.

    Learn More
  • Get the Mag

    Become a BeerAdvocate magazine print subscriber today.