Pliny The Elder | Russian River Brewing Company

3,676 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: 3,676 | Ratings: 14,331
Photo of Kdouble
4.68/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Bottle dated 12-22-16 poured into a snifter about a month old.

A: a clear and very clean amber color. Around 1-2 fingers of head and tons of lacing left as it faded.

A: The pine definitely dominant with a little grapefruit and a hint of some type of spice.

T: Multiple tastes in this one. An interesting flavor to start and then the pine really shows up. As I pause in between drinks I get a little more of the grapefruit and a little spice.

F: Hops and more hops with some bitter pine rounding it out.

O: A fantastic beer with an amazing hoppy taste. Left me wanting another one or two. Definitely hit the mark and lives up to hype. I really want to try the Younger version to compare.

 696 characters

Photo of gopens44
4.69/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Looks beautiful. Classy, almost fake looking advertisement contrived head. Two, nearly three fingers of firm, fluffy solid slightly off white foam provides a confident lacing that remains consistently about an inch high in design thoroughly across the glass.

Nose provides an equal portion of malt and hops invasion that results in slight pepper, a little bubble gum, mango, muted pine and a hint of vegetable earthiness.

Taste is equally satisfying, but departs from any sweetness that was in the nose while maintaining a solid attack of pine bitterness and alcohol bite that I was missing from drinking all the New style IPAs lately. With this one I can almost taste what went on to influence so many west coast IPAs I've come to enjoy. It truly is the"Elder".

 768 characters

Photo of neil2me
4.49/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I've heard so much about Pliny over the last few years and I finally had an opportunity to have it on a trip to San Diego.

We found it on tap at Toronado (great beer bar), and I was expecting something earth shattering, but for me the hype did not live up to reality. That's not to say I don't like it, but I was expecting more.

 329 characters

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

After more than 100 of these its time to rate. Piney aroma and taste coupled with slight tropical dry vibrant mouthfeel leading to a crisp clean very hoppy but so concealed with flavor and very little malty tone coming in a distant 4th dimension on this. Tried them all and still my amazing. You marry this kind of beer.

You cannot get tired of this beer. It will haunt you.

For those who like a juicy hop bomb!

 413 characters

Photo of afroskully
3.89/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Had this at the brewery last month. After all the hype I was moderately underwhelmed. I'd definitely drink this again, but after tasting a lot of what the NE is pumping out in the IPA world, I'd much rather the fruitier juicier varieties. Having said that, this beer is very well balanced. Creamy, bready flavor without bitterness. I favored the Blind Pig over this one, but this is a solid DIPA.

 397 characters

Photo of StoutElk_92
4.8/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

17.25 oz. bottle dated 11/11/16

Pours clear gold with a dense creamy white foam head. Smells bready and doughy with loads of bright tropical fruit and citrusy notes of passionfruit, guava, mango, peach, papaya, grapefruit, orange peel, with floral earthy herbal grass and dank resinous pine. Tastes like passionfruit, guava, mango, peach, papaya, grapefruit, orange peel, some bready malts, with bitter floral earthy herbal grass and dank resinous pine. Feels medium bodied, creamy and smooth with moderate low carbonation. Overall a real great and classic DIPA.

 563 characters

Photo of soaksash
4.88/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

This is it. This is probably the beer that will turn any beer snob snob into a beer snob (apologies, not really a fan of "beer snob" as a term but it sounds quite poetic).

The thing is I only had it twice, but it still remember it vividly. Among IPAs, it is by far one of the easiest to drink. The perfect analogy is Jennifer Lawrence wearing a dominatrix costume. Its powerful, fragrant, hoppy, amazing complex but it light and unbelievably easy to drink, lulling you to a state of wanting to drink it over and over (of course, responsibly)

After drinking a huge array of IPAs, you realize that complexity and power are different things, and most IPAs confuse overly powerful flavors with complexity and general deliciousness. This is one of few that manages to pull it off

Apologies it sounds ranty, just finished a bottle :D

 831 characters

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

A clear light gold color with a nose of citrus and honey. A creamy effervescent mouth feel, a malty bitterness with citrus mingling and that same hint of honey emerging on the finish. As it warms, more is emerging. This seems like a simple beer at first but don't be fooled. There are subltle complexities here that need to be studied. That would explain the long run Pliny has enjoyed.

 386 characters

Photo of alexbutler
4.73/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Not over the top aroma but this guy packs a punch. Beautiful creamy head sits on a perfectly crystal clear amber body. There's a pine crispness and a deep woodsy undertone that carries the mouthfeel... Lingers just long enough to appreciate the complexity of the hops but not too long as to have your mouth feel caked over. I'm very impressed with this... It was on my to-do list for a long time. Cheers!

 404 characters

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

Aroma: pine, some resinous notes, citrus/floral characteristics typical of West Coast IPAs
Appearance: copper color with a hint of haziness, head was about one finger and had great lacing
Taste: Citrus, orange, grapefruitish notes followe by a subtle dankness to it. Crisp, dry finish and lingering hop bitterness.
Overall: an amazing example of classic west coast ipa's and all the hype is somewhat overdone but I can see why it is so sought after. I compare this IPA to the Beetles of IPAs on the Westside.

 508 characters

Photo of Dragginballs76
4.59/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - Pours semi transparent yellowish color nice thick foamy white head lasted several minutes and left tons of lacing down the glass.

Aroma - Pine, grapefruit, orange peel, pineapple and hint of mango. The aroma is very balanced between the tropical fruit and pine.

Taste - Wow super smooth, more of the pine and hops come out in the flavor than in the aroma, still getting the grapefruit and orange/mango. It is hard to believe this is 8%.

Feel - medium body nice hoppy bite good carbonation slightly bitter.

Overall - This has been a huge want for me for some time and it lives up to the hype. Amazing flavors and so smooth.

 639 characters

Photo of Drvitlkeyustolit80
4.5/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

First had 6/6/15 at the Cheeky Monk in Denver. The process I went through to get this beer was insane. I drove from Easton, PA to Denver, CO just to get it. I mean I did continue on to Boise to move in my brother, but the beer was the highlight of my trip.

 259 characters

Photo of Amguerra305
4.16/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clear yellow with a slight tinge of a hue towards the red spectrum but not close to Amber. Smell is citrus dank. Hints of orange and grapefruit, almost juicy in some way. The taste is very balanced for what is supposed to be an over the top IPA. Strong pilsner malt sweetness up front followed by only a touch of bitterness on the back end. It feels medium heavy and sticky. Overall this is a solid beer That gives hope to those who do not normally enjoy IPA's that there can be some great ones out there. Malty and bitter but not overtly so.

 543 characters

Photo of jhartley
4.41/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 510ml bottle into a Teku glass. Bottled on 10/12/16, so roughly 5 weeks old.

Appearance: Light amber body, clear and filtered. About a 1/2 fingers worth of head, which dissipated over a couple of minutes and leaves plenty of islands of lacing in the glass.

Aroma: Pine, grapefruit, pineapple and spice.

Taste: Starts out with a tea like flavor, which slowly fades into spicy pine and grapefruit and a mild tropical fruitiness.

Mouthfeel: Full on hops right away and a nice lingering pine bitter-tang.

Overall: Oh yeah! Lives up to the hype! Curious to see any differences this might have if it was super fresh, because this one is tasty! The aroma seems a little muted to me, but the taste more than makes up for it!

 745 characters

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

Serving type: freshly bottled (10/31/16) 500 ml bottle into a tulip glass

Pours a beautiful orange amber color with the slightest of haze. Smells of intense grapefruit, honey, resinous pine, with a pleasant malt sweetness. Taste reflects the smell perfectly. Initial huge flavors of grapefruit intermingled with pine finish with a semi-sweet lingering bitterness. Feel is medium plus, semi thick, fluffy, sufficient carbonation to tingle the tongue. Overall, this is a perfect West coast D/IPA. If you can imagine a perfect West coast D/IPA, this is probably it.

 563 characters

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

I seriously forget how amazing this is. The two i bought were bottle on 10/11/2016.

Poured into a tulip, the aromas are oustanding as usual. Nice clean white head about 3/4 of an inch. The color is that perfect color you get from a good IPA. The nose is almost sweet with amazing hop flavor. The middle has a great malt backbone to give a great full flavor. The finish is nice and dry with a good leftover hop profile aftertaste. The mouthfeel is very smooth with the perfect amount of carbonation. Also leaves a very nice lace on the glass.

 542 characters

Photo of jaw3944
4.98/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

This beer definitely lives up to the hype. While pouring it is could tell it was going to be good. It has that color all good IPAs have. About halfway through the pour the smell had reached my nostrils and what a smell it was. As good as it looks and smells it tastes even better.

 280 characters

Photo of HattedClassic
4.71/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Beer is a clear pale gold. Head is a nice and clean foamy white.

Smell is pretty hoppy. nice sweet malt backbone. Pine and grapefruit hop notes are good. Grapefruit notes are slightly stronger. Sweeter nose.

Taste is the same but more bitter and with a pine finish.

Heavy body. Tingling carbonation. Dry finish.

Very good. Worth the trip.

 343 characters

Photo of Club-DonnieT
5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

What is Happiness. From the forest green label which reminds me of the woods I grew up in as a kid in New England to the Red Circle a perfect BullsEye of perfection "Pliny the Elder" Simple yet such a subtle prolific statement. The cap three different tiny pushes as not to injury the perfection of the bottle..... Its happened.....the bottle is opened, what lies within is magical.
Nice creamy sweet head of the light foam of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans crashing together to form the perfect foam of the perfect wave...., The leaves begin to turn on my next sip, a low level of a autumn day mixed with hints of the last remnants of summer fruit-Citrus is in the air it lingers....I breathe in in anticipation of the next sip.... -smooth like the icefalls of Mount Washington, fast and pure coolness, no bite goes and continues to go down like fields of Angel Island a rugged perfection that is calm with light velvety undertones of prolific happiness setting the mind in a purity of bliss and emotionally safeness. I think as I take my last sip today is a great day, tomorrow will be even better.....(and this is only after my first encounter with the beer that lives within my soul. Thank you Russian River-Cheers (Beer Production 10-6-16--Beer Consumed 10-25-16) --Donnie T

 1,284 characters

Photo of Jaypeajus
3.72/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Looks magnificent. Good straw amber color, creamy head good retention. Smell citrus, sweet pine. Bitter taste-but smooth bit malty. Definitely gets the back buds goin. Feels smooth slick bit oily. Overall glad I got to try thanks NOYOUDIDNT.

 241 characters

Photo of NoYouDidnt
3.79/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Pours a golden orange with a one finger fluffy white head. Aroma, grapefruit, and sappy, grassy. Taste- medium bitterness at the end first off. Lingers long after the swallow. Grapefruit, piney. Bit of alcohol in there. Not sweet. Mouthfeel is pretty soft. Overall, this is a classic bitter DIPA. Bit too bitter for what I'd prefer most of the time.

 349 characters

Photo of EnzymaticHops
4.49/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Light amber with a pearly white head that never disappears. Upon opening the bottle, aromas of grapefruit and pine explode, but the fruitiness tends to fade as you drink. Has the perfect balance that a well-made west coast IPA ought to; citrus, resin, malt and no detectable alcohol on the palate. This beer races over the tongue with a medium body. Delightful.

 361 characters

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

This is a long review, so I'll cut to the chase and give the "Overall" first: This is hands-down one of the best DIPAs I've had in a long time. The clarity of the beer, the crispness of the taste, it's clean and unmuddled. It's complex but simple. I'm glad I have 2 more bottles.

This has been on my "must try list" since I first heard about it. I have no idea how long ago that was, but I know the beer was legendary and I've heard about it a long time ago (it is now Oct, 2016).

The bottle I had was 1 month old when I tasted it, though it was in my possession for almost 2 weeks (I had been sick and taste buds shot so waited to have it figuring the trade off between being able to taste and extra aging was valid). Three bottles, and a few other beers, were shipped to MA from CA via a trade for Tree House and other beers local to MA. It was out of refrigeration for a little under a week.

There was a lot of build up for this beer. I shared it with a good friend.

L: crystal clear straw colored. The current craze is cloudy/unfiltered, so this was a nice change of pace. This was as clear as any pilsner. It looked delicious.

S: Clean, refined, quality. I don't know how else to describe it. These days saying it smelled piny, a hint of citrus, and some brown sugar is so typical for a DIPA it's become cliche. The smell was not muddled or complex. It's straightforward and just what a DIPA should seell like. I can only imagine that 16 or so years ago when this smell was relatively new to the beer scene that people went crazy.

Before I tasted it, I reminded myself to be objective. I wanted to taste this beer and compare it to itself, not to other beers. This beer has been around a while, it's a flagship beer of Russian River, and I wanted to put myself back in time to when this beer could not be compared to anything else.

T: After having a gazillion fruity hop-bombs on the East coast, NEIPAs they're called, I was hoping for a good honest beer. No tricks or gimmicks such as excessive cloudiness, hop blasting, etc. This was spot on what I had thought and hoped it would taste like. It fits the cliche for DIPAs perfectly: it has a huge amount of hop bitterness (piney, grapefruit, pineapple) that is supported by a strong malt backbone. There's some sweetness, almost honey-like. It's piny, some hint of citrus, but the taste is clean and crisp and incredibly balanced. I think that's why I say it's quality. It's not aggressive or in your face in any way. It's frigging refreshingly easy to drink. I had guessed right that it's 8%, but it didn't taste like it. A more significant observation is that the flavor didn't linger. It didn't fall flat, but it faded quickly and made me to want another drink sooner that other big hop bombs do.

F: It was thinner than I thought it would be. This made the taste fade relatively quickly. I almost gave "Feel" a 5 because back when Pliny was first made this beer would have been considered full bodied. However, even back then, I'm sure I would have thought it faded quickly due to a thin mouthfeel.

O: This is hands-down one of the best DIPAs I've had in a long time.

 3,137 characters

Photo of StuB617
4.27/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

L: Pretty pour. Clear. Scant head with lingering lace.
S: The best part. Pine. Citrus. Oak. Must.
T: (Biased New Englander) Excellent beer but compared to... Thin and piney. That being said, each sip gets better and better. The alcohol heat not as well balanced. Too much bitterness for the malt. Lack richness of the best of Alchemy, Hill Farmstead and Trillium.

 368 characters

Photo of Beginner2
4.52/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

As non-hophead and as an occasional anti-hophead, I now know what you hopheads are talking about. (But it took the most iconic, if not your Holy Grail, to help me see your light.) Of course, living in the Midwest... I never expected to taste this. But coincidence had me in San Francisco's City Beer store and after they diligently went through my "1001" list told me that Pliny The Elder would be there at noon in two days. I showed up at the appointed time and bought three. I took one to a party that no one drank beer (lucky me again.) I took the two remainders home with one going to another party and found a fast way to make friends. (I may keep the last one to trade on BA, but I may also hog it myself this week... lucky me.)

Never has alcohol been concealed so well in a bitter beer... and never has the bitterness been so aromatic in my nose and so light on the tongue. Pliny will not convert me into the hophead ideology, but he has made me appreciate fully what I never thought I could.

 1,002 characters

Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
4.6 out of 5 based on 14,331 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.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.