Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

Pliny The Elder | Russian River Brewing Company

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
3,633 Reviews
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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 3,633 | Ratings: 14,019
Photo of teddibrewski
4.71/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Got this one fresh from cali, all the way in England, just under 2 months since the bottling date. of 6/17/16. beer looks great standard for a double IPA. Smell is piney with a little sweetness. taste is piney resinous hops with some malty sweetness, really none of the tropical IPA flavours that are very popular (and delicious) at the moment more of the classic american IPA flavours. it feels good, real good. Overall a great beer and what i consider to be a nearly perfect example of this style. I got no off flavours, and perfect balance from this one.

 559 characters

Photo of Andrewm1011
5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

At first this beer doesn't blow me away, but what I love most about this beer is that the more you drink it, the more you want to drink it. For all IPA and DIPA lovers, you have to try this beer at least once in your life.

 222 characters

Photo of CrashingConcord
4.68/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Getting the big dog out of the way first. For my first ever review on this site, I've lucked out pretty hard. I will safely say that damn near every rumor you've heard about this guy is true. Not for the meek of heart, Pliny really is the stuff of bitter, bitter, monstrous legend. Smells like a grove of Juniper and Ponderosa, tastes like you dove headlong, tongue-out, into that grove. Pick the needles out of your teeth, sit back, and enjoy what Russian River hath wrought.

 481 characters

Photo of HipCzech
4.62/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

On tap at Russian River Brewing Company (Santa Rosa, CA), served in a nonic pint. Slightly hazy amber gold with a frothy head of white foam and rings of
light lace. Pine needles and grapefruit zest dominate aroma and taste while still restrained. Biscuit malt rounds out a lean and balanced body with a clean, bitter finish. Medium body and carbonation. Perfectly balanced.

 373 characters

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

Golden in color, impeccable clarity. White head with excellent retention & lacing. Classic DIPA aroma. Pine, citrus, hint of melon. Taste follows the smell, so clean and hop forward. Mouthfeel is fantastic - medium body, moderate carbonation, & a bone dry finish. Fantastic!

 274 characters

Photo of Wer34truh
4.46/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Surprisingly subtle for what I was expecting, which suit me fine as I always find some of the big-name West Coast DIPA's overly extravagant. Very solid, very drinkable, and very very excellent.

 193 characters

Photo of pezhead_79
4.78/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Well, not really a shocking revelation, but this is quite simply the most enjoyable IPA I've had. If you have not sought out a bottle of this do so now. Every type of beer style drinker will appreciate how truly great this beer is.

 233 characters

Photo of BigGold
4.49/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

First had poured from 17.25-oz. bottle, label stamped bottled on "051616," gift from friend who visited brewery, into nonic pint. A bit late to my first Pliny, this now-traditional DIPA does not assault any of your senses, as do many newer IPAs, but rewards slow contemplation.

 278 characters

Photo of THSdrummer
4.46/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very near clear (slight haze/cloud to it) yellow with a foamy 2cm white head. Head formation is nice and bubbly, with solid retention and lacing left behind. Aroma is bolstering with hops. Specifically, it has a piney, herbal, and sticky resin quality to it. The hop aromas are kept at a volume around 7 out of 10, in other words, solid, but not over powering. Taste is very much smooth pine hop qualities, with herbal and resin hop notes adding to the character. Pliny the Elder is a bit on the bitter side, but nothing overwhelming. It is well balanced, and well executed - the best part of this beer. Mouth feel is bubbly, with a slight abrasive quality in an otherwise velvety texture. It feels filling with a medium-thick consistency. Overall, it is a fantastic beer that does hops justice. It is worth noting that this beer is incredibly hyped, and while it is good, it isn't a case of the mind-blowing Master Exploder Tenacious D scenario.

Served in a 12oz snifter.

 981 characters

Photo of tompearson
4.14/5  rDev -10%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer has been cloned over the years because it really is special. That said IPA hop profiles have moved along and in a good way. Pliny will always be a special beer and hopefully will continue in production forever. Let's be thankful Russian River created such an iconic brew and one we will continue to build from.

 323 characters

Photo of BeerDocT
4.81/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

BIG thanks to my friend Nancy for trading me one of my home-brewed quads for this Legend of American Brewing. My fingers are trembling as I type this...tears are streaming down my face...LOL! I love IPAs and Double IPAs...this really is an honor.

Appearance 4.0: Pours out a very attractive deep, golden hue. OK head (1/4") and decent lacing. No particulate matter; completely clear.

Smell 4.75: Really fantastic bouquet! Pineapple Upside Down Cake immediately comes to mind, followed by a deep, malty, hoppiness. Very, very promising.

Taste 5.0: Front is somewhat dry and stays in the front of the palate. Almost a "dusty" flavor of hop alkaline bitterness. Very nice. Middle is like an explosion of hoppiness (hence the name of the beer; Pliny the E. died during the famed Vesuvius eruption), with well-balanced maltiness seeping in from the top of the palate. Still, this level is somewhat dry, which is remarkable given this beer's ABV. Finish is silky smooth and hoppy, with a very, very pleasant hint of alkaline hoppiness and a slightly sweet hint of sweetness floating around. Also a warmness in the mouth at this level, which indicates the high ABV. No "booziness," though. Aftertaste is long and lovely: smooth, malty with a slightly piney hop hint.

Mouthfeel 4.75: Excellent level of conditioning for this style. Not an area where this legend lets you down.

Overall 4.75: Excellent and easily understandable as to why it is a legend and why it inspired its own parade of copies. What a genius blending of hops and hop additions. This beer is BIG...8% ABV will knock you out if you aren't watching and can really sneak up on you because Pliny does not have any hint of booze whatsoever. Experienced tasters may feel a slight warmness which indicates that this brew will kick you in the keister, but other than that, the focus is on the amazing hop blend. Expertly crafted at every level, Pliny is worth tracking down. Thanks again, Nancy!

 1,973 characters

Photo of colts9016
4.5/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Finally got to try this beer. I am so stoked. It is a medium amber color with a one finger white head. The head is creamy and frothy with a decent amount of lacing on the glass. A good amount of carbonation bubbles are visible in the glass.

The nose is rich grapefruit, pine, lemons, floral, caramel, toasted bread, and yeast notes.

A very strong grapefruit, pine resin, lemons, floral, perfume, caramel, toasted bread, and yeast.

M: carbonation, slightly astringent, and finish crisp.

O: A very hoppy beer with a strong malt back bone. Good beer glad I finally got to drink it.

 586 characters

Photo of BeerStud187
3.77/5  rDev -18%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

I don't get it. It's a fine light DIPA I guess, but don't get the hype. It was slightly harsher and skunked than I expected. Yes, it has the nice citrusy and IPA'y goodness that we expected, but nothing out of worldly. I would rather have something by Knee Deep. However, one caveat. I've found that more than any other beer IPAs are dependent on their freshness and very greatly. I have previously sworn that other IPAs were great and than tried them later and not had the same response. It's possible the offering I had did. It do it justice. Yet, I was not impressed. This was just another IPa to me.

 613 characters

Photo of Lappleby24
4.17/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bottle to snifter. Bottled 6/28. Very clear and light Amber. Sporadic lacing. Lots of hops, lots of malt in the nose with some pine. Hop forward flavor, obviously. Pine and citrus really shine through. Fairly well balanced. Mostly lives up to the hype, but falls short of some of the great east coast DIPAs, in my humble opinion. (Fiancé does not believe it lived up to the hype.)

 382 characters

Photo of Weixiaobao
4.51/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Toronado on Haight, 05-Jul-2016.

A: Light, very clear, heavy lacing.
S: Hops, more hops, pine.
T: Similar to the smell, a hop bomb. More juiciness and citrus coming through on taste.
F: Heavy buzz going on second pint. Happiness of finding this brew and having on tap in the great city of SF is a real thing.
O: A true winner. In a way, I think this is hard to distinguish from a number of the IPAs it's inspired. The hype is justified, though. So happy to have notched this one.

 490 characters

Photo of BeerGuy8315
4.66/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. Bottled 6-16-16.

A: Pours a clear golden-amber color. A one-inch, foamy, off-white head with fair retention. Small amounts of thicker white lacing.

S: Aromas consist mostly of hops and citrus notes. Some pine, floral, and sweet malt undertones.

T: Taste matches the aromas well. The hops are definitely front and center here accompanied by some milder citrus notes as well. Nice strong hoppy bitterness with grapefruit, orange, and sweet malt flavors as well. Very well balanced.

F: Light to medium bodied. Smooth with good carbonation.

O: Overall, this is a great DIPA. Happy I was able to trade for this and get to try it finally. Would love to try it fresher or straight from the source. Great showcase of a hop bomb, though I think I was expecting a little more with all the hype surrounding this one but still an awesome beer!

 876 characters

Photo of DraftyBrew
4.75/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 5

After months of searching I manged to find some bottles and tried ito on tap at O'briens in San Diego. Was incredibly excited to try this. First I would like to say that Pliny lives up and exceeds all expectations. Upon opening a bottle you get a strong aroma of hops, fruits and pine. The beer pours a clear golden with moderate carbonation, and leaves a bright white finger head. First couple of sips you are hit by the full flavor of hops, leaving a slight burning bitterness. But the more you drink, the more layers of flavors are revealed. Fruits and spice become more apparent as the beer settles. A slight sweet malty linger backs up the hops on the tail end. Overall a very dynamic beer with a depth of flavor rarely seen. Very, very good and a must have for those who haven't tried it.

 794 characters

Photo of mklmcgrew
4.76/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bought a case at the brewery, after trying Pliny The Younger.

L - Pours a clear golden color. One finger head, nice lacing.

S - Knock your socks off aroma. Pine, citrus, hops, all together in an amazing blend.

T - Awesomely sublime. Well balanced bitterness and malt, with a strong hop presence, but not over the top. Some citrus presence also.

F - Smooth finish, but can feel a little heavy.

O - Amazing DIPA!

 417 characters

Photo of John1985
4.45/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Had this venerable ale on draft at the Monk's Kettle in SF. Ale was served in 16oz pint glass, deep yellow gold with an inch of white head. Aroma was hopped of pine and citrus. Taste was very smooth and balance for a double IPA of this strength. I did not detect any alcohol in flavor. Finished brisk and satisfying. Wow this was a great experience. I was expecting a hop bomb but this was a very drinkable, flavorful, smooth, exhilarating ale!

 451 characters

Photo of Kubishark
4.37/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at Russian River. Look, this is obviously a fantastic DIPA. A very dark golden and clear appearance, a very attractive beer to look at. Smells a little piney, a little hoppy, even a little bready. Almost goes without saying since its reputation long precedes my review, but it tastes very balanced. I'm not even the biggest DIPA fan, but I could really get behind this. Pliny really shines with its feel; so crisp and smooth. Feels incredibly medium bodied and light for its ABV, I love it. Overall I'm glad I've finally had one of these famous west coast beers I've heard so much about for so long.

 610 characters

Photo of Spamalot
4.78/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Reviewed from notes.
Bottle stamped 06/10 had 06/26. Tasted opposite a sampling of Trillium in two sessions on a Sunday.

L: Absolutely clean amber, like looking through colored glass.
S: Smell was subdued, not overly strong, but also less than I expected.
T: Taste was quite possibly the most balanced arrangement of hops and malt I've ever had.
F: Little thinner than i'd like, but to be expected with filtered IPA.

O: Balance is what sets this west coast IPA out and above the rest of the west coast styled IPA. Just extremely good, no hop bomb, no bitter end, no disappointment. One of the best beers in the world for a reason.

 632 characters

Photo of OmahaKF
4.36/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Smell is tons of citrus, pine, and a hint of tropical fruit - primarily passionfruit and pineapple. Taste is pine, orange pith, pineapple, and malt sweetness blended with surprisingly light bitterness. Just a really well put-together double IPA.

 247 characters

Photo of MattyTibbs
4.63/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

L - Poured a nice clean golden amber (if that makes sense)

S - Different from what I usually enjoy. Expected a bit more hoppy aroma, but it was pleasant

T - Didn't disappoint. Bitterness & hop profile compliment each other very well, almost perfectly.

F - Smooth body w/ clean finish

O - An awesomely balanced DIPA. Lucky enough to have shared w/ a couple of good friends.

 379 characters

Photo of 0366timmosams
4.83/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

The balance of this beer is what does it for me, everything about it makes it easy. Just sit back and relax, on a mountain range, on the beach, or on the back porch and enjoy.
Beautiful beer.

 192 characters

Photo of 11-52_4hops
4.71/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Over a thousand reviews laying out the details. Simply put -- see classic DIPA in the dictionary -- the edition before the overload of tropical smells and taste (not knocking those traits, love them too). See it done to perfection - a ton of flavor delivered with plenty of balance. A real treat for an East Coast father on Father's Day.

 337 characters

Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
4.6 out of 5 based on 14,019 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.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • Free Trial Subscription

    Reside in the US? Interested in a free 1-month trial subscription to the print edition of BeerAdvocate magazine?

    Yes! Sign Me Up!