Pliny The Elder | Russian River Brewing Company

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3,623 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

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Reviews: 3,623 | Ratings: 13,970
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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Pours deep amber with golden highlights, wide white foam head. Aroma is excellent, hops with fruity, citric, floral characteristics. Taste is hoppy and malty, extremely well balanced. Aftertaste is spectacultar. This beer is imposible to get in Mexico, a friend brought it to me from San Diego, very fresh. Amazing beer.

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Photo of Gables
4.84/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Thanks to MadDawg for sharing. Awesome DIPA of course. Wish it was readily available, but happy to have it. Juicy as all hell and just a near perfect beer

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Photo of ptykozoon
4.07/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a bright honey, the head and lacing are strong and linger.

Sweet honey and a bitter forest.

The balance here is fresh overpowering lively piney hops with a touch of sweetness. Bitter and refreshing.

Mouthfeel is bright which only adds to the abrasion of this beer. Lots of resin. ABV tastes around 8.5.

A legend and the definition of a benchmark. RR should be proud of their consistency.

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Photo of JeffGilmore
4.82/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Pliny is definitely one of my all time favorites and worth the considerable effort required to procure. After two years of regular consumption I have found it to be a bit sweet for my changing taste buds, but compared to off- the-shelf doubles, it still reigns superior.

A: Golden with a thick creamy head

S: Citrus and pine

T: Sweet and smooth

M: excellent, slightly thick and a bit of lingering sweetness on the finish

Overall, one of my favorite beers but I would highly urge any IPA lover to try Blind Pig at the RR brewery.

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Photo of The-Adjunct-Hippie
4.43/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I feel bad as this was bottled 6 months ago, but I was just given this now. So it's as fresh as I can possibly get it, since we don't get it in my area.

The pour is magnificent with mango-apricot glows highlighted by pale edges as its light struck. Slight haze, 10% opacity. Head is huge, 3 fingers, and develops a reverse bowl in the middle.

Aroma is...holy smokes. Perfect combination of pine and fruits. Uhhhh...mazing? It's got herbal notes, spicy notes, as well as the trademark freshly peeled orange, cored pineapple, and pine needles. Touches of raw avocado, sushi style. As the head recedes, onion and dank resins come out that slightly distort the pure aromas here.

Taste? Wow. Pliny is neither overwhelming nor plain. I was expecting a palate buster but that's not the case. It scrubs the tongue slightly with a bit of oils and resins, but for the most part it stays very tropical with a hefty dose of malty biscuit notes. Mango, papaya, melon, cantaloupe, orange, pineapple...then the resins come in to dirty it up just a touch. Finish is dirty pine, dried mango, and hop resins.

Feel is thick, juicy, and enough carbonation to let it slide down easily and make it pleasurable.

Pliny is one HELL of a beer. It's no wonder it scores a 100 out of 100 on BA. It's a fine choice and makes it easy for me to finish the whole thing. Might as well say it - the best DIPA on the planet.

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Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
4.6 out of 5 based on 13,970 ratings.
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