Pliny The Elder | Russian River Brewing Company

3,647 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

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Reviews: 3,647 | Ratings: 14,158
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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Photo of Doryman
4.85/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I finally had the opportunity to try this beer. I found it on tap in Portland, OR. There's nothing I can write here that hasn't already been written. Given that I prefer IPAs above all others, this is the best beer I have ever had. Perfectly balanced. Complex and not obvious. It brought a tear to these eyes.

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

In blind taste tests I pig blind pig maybe 70% of the time so maybe that is a better beer but Pliny is truly legendary and doesnt need changed at all. Its higher abv makes up for the ever so slight difference from blind pig

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Photo of ThemThangs
4.68/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

The first IPA I actually liked. Smells and looks great. Taste is great as well, notes that remind me a lot of pineapple and pine. I haven't seen it available in awhile, but when I do, I get some.

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Photo of Zythophile
4.6/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle Date: 6/2/16
Palate Contaminants: other beer

Okay, I'll try it.

Appearance is a very clear amber with a head that lingers.

Smell is a pleasant cedar scent. Some other floral smells, along with candied orange. It's not the hammer and anvil like Trillium, but it is super nice. I guess I should get my nose out of the glass and pour some in my mouth...

Taste starts out with a savory earthiness. (That's such a strange description, but it's what I get.) There's sweetness, but it's not sweet; there's bitterness, but it's not bitter. The hopping is perfect, but I'm not getting enough complexity beyond the earth tones – which are perfectly executed – to really drive the rating up. Cedar, other smoked woods, and non-sweet candied citrus are the predominant flavors. Don't get me wrong, what's there is pretty damn good.

Feel is the smoothest and easiest to gulp that I've had. It's also has some weight to it. A little swishing around the mouth intensifies the flavors a bit without getting fizzy. Overall, I'd say that it cannot be improved upon for me.

I have some bacon-wrapped shrimp on a cedar plank in my freezer, and I'm going to have to cook those up to consume with my remaining bottle. Man, some West Coast IPAs crank up the bitter, but this one has exemplary balance, making me actually really enjoy that gustatory sensation.

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Photo of W_Des
4.57/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a deep golden color from the bottle. The nose has a medium pine and and sweetness. The body is balanced very well with malt sweetness and soft hop bitterness. Balance truly is the descriptor for Pliny the Elder and it finishes clean with a soft restrained bitterness.

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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.

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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

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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.

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Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
4.6 out of 5 based on 14,158 ratings.
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