Pliny The Elder | Russian River Brewing Company

3,659 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: 3,659 | Ratings: 14,229
Photo of avas
4.25/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottled 8/5. Consumed 8/16.

A: Pours a clear golden yellow. Sits in the glass a transparent golden straw with little carbonation bubbles. Nice puffy head of medium and big soapy bubbles sticks around, leaving thick lacing on the glass.

S: Major notes of grapefruit pith and dank, floral earth. Light, very slightly sweet malt in the background, but overwhelming bitter citrus and resin.

T: Follows the nose. Citrus dominates up front--lightly sweet grapefruit pith and lemon juice. Excellent mid-mouth balance provided by a lightly sweet crackery malt presence. Pine and spruce round out the taste, providing a lingering bitterness on that coats the sides of the mouth.

M: Archetypically west coast in feel, it's ultra potent in its up-front delivery of the hops and unforgiving throughout the taste, providing continuous waves of intense flavors. Medium feel is slightly creamy, but nowhere near the level of its east coast counterparts. The overwhelming bitterness on the finish stings the back of the mouth long after each sip.

O: Revisiting Pliny for the first time since I began exploring the hazier, 'NE-style' IPAs, Pliny certainly continues to hold its own. While it doesn't possess the fruitiness or creaminess that I've come to expect of similar world-class IPAs, it's not attempting to do so. Instead, it maximally delivers all of the floral, earthy, and bitter citrusy aromas/flavors its hops have to offer as best as anything else out there. For the style, it reigns supreme in my book.

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

On tap, served in a tulip at the Library Ale House in Santa Monica. Pours Golden with a robust head. Smell is pine and citrus. Taste follows, piney, resiny, grapefruity, with intense bitterness. Relative to that bitterness, and the abv, a pretty low malt profile. Much more about the bitter than the sweet. Love that. Reminds me of why this one is a classic. Terrific mouthfeel, too--balanced, with moderate, totally apt, carbonation. Some will now prefer the Dank NE hop bombs, some won't, but everyone should see that what this tries to do it does flawlessly.

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Photo of JerzDevl2000
4.69/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

After seeing this on every "top" list for years and years, I finally got a chance to have one of these tonight - props to Ryan at the Cloverleaf for getting this for me and being kind enough to trade it! This was dated 6/1 and I wanted to get to it while it was still fresh, which was thankfully the case!

The pour to this looked just like it did in the image up above - amber, luminescent, and full of a head that just never quit. It stayed throughout my session and stuck around on the side of my pint glass as the fullest and soapiest lacing that I've seen in quite a long time. Pine, resin, grapefruit citrus pith, and alcohol were all in the nose with even more in the taste. Unbelievably smooth for something this strong, to the point where there was no overt hop burn to be detected. The mouthfeel was that of a strong herbal, minty hoppiness with lots of resin underneath, as that stuck around on my teeth long after each sip went down. Truly, a "West Coast" beer from start to finish!

The alcohol was here but with a frest-cut grassy feeling and enough of a malty presence to give this body, you'd never realize that this even had any potency to it. So easy to see why this was on every "must-try" list that I've come across over the years - just like Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, this was the gold standard for it's respective style. Find this however you can and for heaven's sake, drink it fresh!

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

Golden with a nice white head small bubbles stream upwards
Smells floral pine lemon
Perfect hop profile and nicely balanced. Floral and citrus notes
On tap at brews and burgers in Davis. Always a great beer.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
4.6 out of 5 based on 14,229 ratings.
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