Pliny The Elder | Russian River Brewing Company

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Pliny The ElderPliny The Elder
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: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Pliny the Elder is brewed with Amarillo, Centennial, CTZ, and Simcoe hops. It is well-balanced with malt, hops, and alcohol, slightly bitter with a fresh hop aroma of floral, citrus, and pine. Best enjoyed FRESH! That is why we make it in such limited supply. Actual bottling date is printed on each bottle!

User Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 3,796 | Ratings: 15,137
Photo of Troyone
4.97/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a clear apple juice color with a three inch head and lacing also some carb action.

Extremely sensation smell one should consider using this hop aroma instead of potpourri. An aroma of toasted caramel malt with a heavy dose of perfume, pine, lemon, and lime hops.

A moderately sweet and bitter taste that resembles the smell with a roasted close to burnt caramel malt and more lime in the hops.

Has a medium to full body; dry some what syrupy texture; lively almost soft carbonation; and a smooth metallic, chalky, and some what alcoholic finish.

Excellent for one who can handle the hops.

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

I return from an extended absence older, mayber wiser, but definitely enriched by my crossing of this beer path. A sophisticated IPA- very strong, floral, with a bitter edge but not enough to put you over. Color a gold sunset amber- wonderful head with an aroma of wild windswept flowered prairies. I wax a bit here but this beer will wake your a-- up! I had no expectations and the pints opened my eyes to a beer that can hold a candle to my San Diego stonewarts- not as balanced as my masalade mama- but still very enjoyable,especially paired with the panfried trout supper. Aroma faintly of spring hynacith- but has the staying power of strong praire grass. Flavor grabs you in a hops vice, more a hops shroud. Enough of a balance to warm and season the palate through and beyond the initial sips. A great beer that deserves its elder designation. Try to capture some if you can and savor-Ok

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

Dark golden with a nice 1/4" head of pure white foam. Aromas are intense. Floral, citrus, spice, and more. HOPS! and some biscuity malts and some weed-like aromas as well. The taste is hoppy and bitter with a very deep flavor complexity within the confines of the citrus, flower, and other hop induced flavors. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, drinkability is up there. A killer DIPA. I like this brewery very much.

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

Served on tap in a pint glass at RFD's

Appearance: Clear light amber topped by a thick white cap of foam. An everpresent smallish layer of foam was supported by the streamers of bubbles. Modestly thick, but overly splotchy, coating of foam on the glass.

Smell: Heady blast of piny resins and grapefruit. Occasional whiffs of skunkweed and rancid cheese, but in a good way. Very very green and vegetal. Hop Ottin' turned to 11, then given some steroids.

Taste: Intensely bitter spruce and acidic citrus hop juice is what this is. Just enough malty sweetness to prevent hop tea syndrome. Exquisitely off its rocker. Alcohol is well masked.

Drinkability: When I win the lottery, I will buy a modest shack across the street from either Russian River or some place that serves it, just so I can have the occasional sip of this hop nectar.

Mouthfeel: A slightly watery medium body, but in a good way. Hop juice and high abv must be less dense that malty goodness.

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

Not quite as over the top as I was expecting, but this one did not dissapoint. The beer was a golden color with a great head that was very thick and fluffy. The smell was very floral and full of citrus. The taste was extremly balanced and went down very smoothe. Flavors of sweet malt and spicey hops mixed perfectly to create a true joy to drink. One of the best DIPA's I've had.

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Photo of noob
4.47/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Oh damn, this was good. Had on draft at the Toronado in SF during Big Beer Month. A creamy head topped this golden beer. Aroma is sweet, and almost fruity. This is a hop monster, but totally drinkable and well balanced. I need more Russian River beer!

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

Straight from the keg, this baby arrives with a medium copper body topped off with a single finger of dirty white, dense, and rocky foam. Clarity is excellent for a Double IPA with superb lacing on a beer-clean liter mug.

The nose encapsulates a long walk through a pine forest following a warm autumn rain...all pine, all the time! The initial taste mirrors the nose as the opening hop bite literally puckers the insides of the cheeks. Once past the opening shock, the mid-taste reveals a heavenly sweet malt mix. The finish is drop-off dry and clean with the hops slowly fading out of the picture.

The mouthfeel is satisfying and the drinkability factor will only get you into trouble without a designated driver close at hand.

The pure hoppiness of this brew is in direct contrast to many of the out-of-control, over-hopped Left Coast DIPA's in that it is far from overbearing...another victory for Vinnie!

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

This will be a bare bones review, based on brief jottings made in the noisy environs of O'Brien's pub, in the company of others, but tingling with the excitement of tasting this much anticipated ale, trying my best to capture the experience. When they bottle this nectar, I'll attempt again to encapsulate it's wonder.
Orange is the color, head is white, full, fresh.
Nose is lovely, floral, fruity, just absolutely aburst with pineapple, peach, grapefruit, tons of citrus...absolutely excellent!
Mouthfeel is slick and run over with hop oils. Taste is exhilirating, a blast of hops on the tongue, medium bodied, with a long, sticky, citric finish, and an utterly tangy texture. This seemed to fulfill whatever desires I'd need in a Double IPA, though the 8% abv didn't really make a dent in me...(or did it?)...this was one of the must-try's of my recent California visit, and I had several more samples on the next two days at the Strong Ale Fest just to be sure of it's worthiness. Yes. Yes, indeed. Very much so, and then some.
I'm in twitchin' anticipation for the day their bottling line runs, then this cult IPA can get even better recognition in the world at large!

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

Tasted at the Strong Beer Festival at Pizza Port in Oceanside/Carlsbad. One of the most memorable beers from a litst of many.

Pliny is golden and gorgeous. Deep straw yellow. Not watery looking, but a nice solid gold. Really quite beautiful.

Are those hops I smell? Yes, a "metric ass-load" of American hops. All the usual suspects are present with the balance tipping slightly in favor of pine over citrus. Very, very nice.

The taste is that rare and perfect combination of luscious malt and spicey, tangy hops. Phenomenal balance. Russian River hits it out of the park with Pliny. A superb American DIPA. Maybe THE American DIPA?

Your mouth will feel great.

Yes. I could drink this beer all day, all night. For real. I have lost the ability to sound unbiased. I love this beer!

Get some.

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Photo of donnebaby
4.28/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Light gold body, rich looks cash in. Heavy, synthetic, snowwhite head sets in. Thick lacing. Nose reeks of tropical fruits -- mango -- grows a hop edge and some alcohol steps in eventually.

Taste in the mouth is spicy, of full-body hop. Tropical fruits and hops dominate the palate. Great dry and full effect grain after. Comes right in and takes over the taste and feel of the brew in the mouth. Excellent transition, very smooth -- although some after dry hop jiggles or convulsions are felt. Not sweet -- money.

Great to find this on-cask at Naja's in Redondo Beach.

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

11/12/04- Sampled at the Toronado in San Francisco, CA

Appearance- Pours a semi-dark amber with a nice 3/4 inch white cream head and excellent lacing.

Smell- A good amount of hops and malt mixed in. Huge floral and fruity scents.

Taste- Wonderful explosion of hops and a decent malt background. Mostly grapefruit and floral/fruity flavors. I've had this numerous times and I guess it depends on the batch you get. As of recent this beer has been about as perfect as it can get. Sometimes though, it can be deceiving. My second ever Elder tasted like a normal IPA. Didn't have near the kick as it was supposed to.

Mouthfeel- Went down nicely. Nice carbonation. Caresses the mouth nicely.

Drinkability- Very easily could drink several of these. Didn't notice the abv. Went down like a good IPA. Wonderful if not tied with my favorite DIPA.

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.24/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: Sampled on draft at Naja’s in Redondo Beach during a recent trip here on a hot and sunny Saturday afternoon.

Appearance: Slightly hazed amber body with some light copper hints. Off-white head that is finger thick but lasts a while. Average conditioning.

Nose: Floral hops, massive sweet malts, fresh citric aroma with some pine oils.

Taste: Malty start, but whilst the sweet malts fill the middle and lay the foundation it is the sharp citric grapefruit as well as the thick heavy bitterness that lingers. Average carbonation gives a big presence.

Mouthfeel: Thick, oily and bold – massive sweet malt middle, dry acidic bitter rasping ending. Lays heavy on the tongue and coats the cheeks well.

Drinkability: Not exactly a session brew, a half-Pint of this could keep me satisfied for a while and accompany me as a sipper with little problem.

Overall: Second time I have tried this, and it tasted a little lighter then the inaugural visit. Still, this is a fantastic D-IPA that is classic West Coast.

Well Worth seeking out.

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Photo of rastaman
3.7/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Tap, Toronado, San Fransisco. Full on Americn hops in both aroma and flavour. Massive grapefruit pine, and heavy bittrness. Despite being massively hopped this manages to maintain some balance and softness around the edges. A good beer. Lots of flavour.

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

This is my first review in months, but I need to rave about this near perfect double IPA. I tried it for the first time at O'Brien's Pub last winter, but I was able to visit the Russian River Brewery in Santa Rosa this summer. Pliny is silk smooth with a great hop finish (25% simcoe hops). It reminded me a bit of Alpine's Exponential Hoppiness, which is one of my favorites. In leaving the brewery, I purchased a growler and kept it refrigerated for three days before catching a plane back to Southern California. It held up nicely on the plane trip and was a big hit back home (Gone in minutes!).

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Photo of UncleJimbo
4.3/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sampled on tap at Pizza Port Carlsbad.

This double IPA poured a clear, amber color with white foam that settled but clung and coated the inside of the glass a bit. The smell was fruity, spicy hops with not much malt. The taste was grassy, fruity hops with a good bit of malt to balance. The hoppy flavors lingered very nicely. The mouthfeel was smooth, dry, and very hoppy with medium body and moderate carbonation. The finish was slightly astringent. This was a very nice and very hoppy double IPA.

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Photo of oggg
4.02/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Sampled at O'Briens in a pint glass.

This double IPA was hyped up to me long before I walked into O'Briens. It has that great hop aroma that I love in double IPAs, but it's a bit harsh and over the top with the bitterness. Packed in with the hop flavor is some serious bitterness that just pounded my tongue into submission. More than the Exponential Hoppiness. After my tongue began to come back, I noticed a strong maltiness come out and shine. Alcohol is subtle. Full body.

Overall: Hoppiness is a bit too bitter for me, but the maltiness at the end is a great save. A hop heads dream.

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Photo of Gusler
4.34/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Draught @ O’Brien’s San Diego
The beer pours somewhat deep amber; the head is white and full in size, the texture semi-creamy with the lace a velum like sheet to conceal the glass. Nose is hop floral, sweet malt underneath, lime like crispness, fresh and a treat for the nose as well as the eyes. “Zap” the hops slam your taste buds to attention, magnificent is a word I think fits perfectly, stern acidity with a hop spicy dry aftertaste that leaves you puckering and eager for another taste. A beer certainly made for us lovers of hops and another great example of the big California Imperial IPA’s.

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Photo of Boilermaker88
4.45/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

When I saw this on-tap at the Carlsbad, CA Pizza Port I had to do a quick double-take and get a pint, fast. In light of my relatively recent love of IPA's and Double IPA's, I felt I shouldn't squander the opportunity.
Arriving in a standard pint glass, this double IPA showed off a murky orange/amber color topped with a firm, resilient off-white head that left clumps of lace down the glass. The aromas of pine needles and juicy grapefruits delivered a slap to the sinuses. Once getting past the pungent hops, I could make out a grainy malt aroma that added an added incentive to taste.
Taste I did. The sweet malts were noticeable briefly before getting shown the exit in favor of an avalanche of fresh hops. Lots of potent citrus flavor, slightly sticky pine sap taste and feel, and the light warming sensation of alcohol in the finish to warn of the well-concealed ABV. The feel was medium-bodied, vaguely prickly with carbonation and quite dry in the finish.
Pliny The Elder is one top-notch example of what appears to be a growing style. You definitely need to have your heart (and palate) set for some hops if you order a pint of Pliny.

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Photo of Mark
4.5/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I was expecting a much hoppier taste and aroma. Maybe the keg was near the bottom, I don't really know. Despite this "surprise" I found this a very drinkable beer. At over 9% abv it really went down easy. The beer was a light amber, head was full and left nice lace. At least my sample lacked the hop aroma, taste was very smooth and and did not feel like 100 IBU's. A very interesting beer that garnered a nice rating despite my surprise and questioning of it's being in top form. I tried this again at the pub and I will say wow! A much better sample, hops hops and more palate grabbing hops. Loved it.

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

This sat as a bright orange and gold color without much head, and it didn't leave too much lace either. It looks pretty good.

The scent is snappy but has an additional depth to the hops coming out in the smell. There's a lot to it, while being very enjoyable. The taste is very nice; the bitterness is hefty without completely obliterating the malt.

I'll have another.

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Photo of jcalabre
4.07/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I had this on draught at Stone's 7th anniversary party.
Appearance: this looks like a pilsener, but looks can deceive
Flavor: Can you say hop juice? How about Palate-Cleaner?
Aroman: HOPPPS
Get the picture? this is a hop head's dream. I really enjoyed this one, but it's not for the feint of heart

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Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.64 out of 5 with 15,137 ratings