Pliny The Elder | Russian River Brewing Company

3,677 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: 3,677 | Ratings: 14,335
Photo of Bluerabbitbell
4.69/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

From tap at RRBC. Can I gloat.... I had this from tap at RRBC! Never thought I would have the chance to try this beer, let alone from RRBC! Besides all the other great attributes mentioned from others, to what sticks out to me is the thick mouthfeel! Wow! Totally great and unexpected!

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Photo of Lee_G
4.5/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled on 3/6/2017 (16 days old)

Beautiful Gold color and very clear.

Hops, citrus and faint pine.

Fantastic balance of hops and citrus ending with pine notes.

Crisp and clean.

This is a highly sought after beer in San Diego county and hard to come by at times. I've had it on tap and bottled, both have their advantages. If you are a fan of IPAs, Pliny the Elder will not disappoint

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

Bottle dated 2/13 (one month old):
(Revisit 4/4 bottle dated 3/21)
Beer pours gold - like a perfect hue of golden - and very clear. The head buildup is significant on a medium pour, with a combination of soapy and frothy head adorning the clear body. Lacing is quite heavy.

Nose is of floral hops to me. There's a little honey-like sweetness with a bit of spice. I get a little evergreen note with some warmth and effort, not as obvious as others have noted. With this I also get just a slightest note of onion/garlic that some doubles give off.
Revisit: Little more citrus orange rind and light sweet grapefruit pith, and a little more power overall, up a notch

The taste is a little more evident, especially in the pine notes. The beer opens as the nose indicated with a nice honey cracker malty opening. The pine is light on a colder brew, but blooms nicely as the beer warms. A light tickling of the carbonation leads to some anticipation before dissolving into the pine notes. These start more woody, but slowly move up the tree from trunk to green branch to pine needles. Further warmth allows me to note a light tangerine citrus rind note right after the carbonation fades. The malt opening comes out the other side as the bitter flavors fade, though the lingering taste is a woody pine bitterness.
Revisit: maybe I took so long to analyze the first time, I'm thinking the same here, just a little easier to detect.

I honestly expected more from the nose, and my initial sips had me wondering about the hype. But as it hit a more proper temperature, there were some lovely nuances I started to notice. The interplay of malt and bitterness in the middle is fun. I also expected it to be more bitter overall, but I liked the malt component of this beer.

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Photo of Oneguy73
4.54/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 2/11/2017, I brought home the max. (a 12pack of bottles direct from the brewery back to Chicago in my luggage)

Pours a beautiful, clear golden color with a slight bit of haze.
Smell: A bright and citrus smell with some hints of pine.
Taste: Bitter but without bite, if that makes any sense. Pine and grapefruit on the tongue. Finishes dry..

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Photo of Blackop555
4.6/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pour is golden orange. Thick, medium, Whitehead that last a while.

Smells Piney, Floral and light Citrus and Bready malt.

Taste is well balanced. Piney and malty. Hints of floral and citrus dry finish with a pine linger not bitter. smoooooth. Medium body creamy medium carbonation.

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

everything it was supposed to be, worth the wait with only one bottle secured i was disappointed there was not one more, definitely West Coast but one of the best....

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Photo of detgfrsh
4.15/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

On tap, had this right after Pliny the Younger for a side-by-side comparison. Pours a golden orange with a half finger of head. Hops dominate the smell, notes of pine. Medium feel with plenty of carbonation. Taste is mostly hops, notes of pine and citrus, with a bitter finish. Compared to Pliny the Younger, this is more bitter and harsh. Very good, but I think there are other DIPAs that are competitive with this one now.

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Photo of ManapuaMan
4.42/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled on 1/11, enjoyed 5 weeks later. Thanks, Jan! The bottles traveled a long ways to get here and I couldn't be more excited. Aroma of freshly cut citrus and pine needles bursts forth from beneath the cap. Orange gold pour with a frothy white cap that lingers. Taste is pine, orange rind, clementine, grapefruit, papaya over a biscuity malt. Not overly fruity or piney or resiny - just perfectly balanced. The 8% ABV is hidden until there's a bit of warmth at the end of the sip. A real gem.

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Photo of ichorNet
4.54/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Guess I'll just throw my voice into a crowded room full of high praise for this beer... this is the third time I've had Pliny and I always find it to be an incredible experience deserving of the laudation it regularly receives from those in the know. From the very first time I had this beer, I knew it was something special, yet so austere and seemingly "simple" that it really does exceed the sum of its parts. Here is potentially the single best double IPA in the world. A consistent, sublime experience captured in a pint glass to be savored and enjoyed. A sincere thank you to my buddy Joe, who bestowed a bottle of this (dated 1/20/17) to me as a quid-pro-quo for shepherding him to and from Logan Airport so he could attend a homebrew release party my buddy and I threw last weekend. Your attendance and contributions are appreciated!

Pours a beautiful, clear golden color with a tight, simple and hugely-retentive head of bone-white foam that laces extremely consistently and never relents throughout the whole pour. Carbonation rises steadily in small streams up from the bottom of my glass and each new pour re-rouses the head with an intense vigor. Pouring the entire bottle in yields a slight bit of haze. What a gorgeous IPA!

The nose is bright and citrus-forward; surprisingly playful and fanciful, with a slight papaya note along with some hay and pine resin. Simple, evocative, devoid of trends... PtE is an exercise in perfect balance and execution, and the nose is no exception by any means. Slightly grassy and even a bit earthy, with some juicy tangerine and clementine in there as well. I'm also getting a bit of green onion, which I know is a note that a lot of people have an issue with, but which I find to be a surprisingly great element that contrasts well with the citrus peel and fleshy, fruity notes here.

Flavor is, of course, heavily bitter and reliant on pine and grapefruit to nail down the palate, though the subtle workings of biscuity, bready malt and the even-handed juicy/tropical aspects really bring the whole thing home. The flavor is probably where the concept of "balance" that PtE stands for comes across the best, I feel. The initial flavor is shockingly bitter with grapefruit peel melding instantly with clean, golden malt just in time for the piney and tangerine-like back. Finishes dry... really dry, actually, with a lingering oily, fruity note.

Feel is slick and palate-coating, with a tempered carbonation and medium body that belies its 8% strength. Ethanol is mildly present but not at all overabundant or intense. In my opinion, 8 to 8.5% is probably the best DIPA alcohol range, and this represents the best-of-the-best of the lower-ABV DIPAs. If you haven't had this, you're missing out. A simply amazing, balanced drink. Makes a mockery out of many lower-caliber IPAs. Worth getting by (nearly) any means possible.

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Photo of c_tails
4.63/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

from bottle dated Jan 5 2017
not much else to say that hasn't already been said but in the face of all of the hype and that this is my first time trying this beer i do have to say its quite perfect. such an excellent balance of the fruity/grapefruit/pithy hop elements with big bitterness and a light dose of booze on the back end it is hard to argue that its not perfectly crafted. i'm glad i have more to drink from a trade.

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Photo of peterpunk15
4.46/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a bit darker than most NE IPAs I'm used to, smells really good and the taste is good, not great. I feel like this is a superb offering of a basic concept.

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Photo of NickandToni
4.9/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Maybe the very best West Coast IIPA there is. I was lucky enough to grab some bottles with my brother and share this great beer with him. Outside of Whole Foods in San Jose, you have to walk out of the store and upstairs to this great beer drinking spot. The bartender was great and we were lucky to share a couple bottles.

L: A much clearer pour than I'm used to back east
S: Mmm. Pine sweetness, matched with some tropical goodness, with a pleasant grapefruit (cut in half, sugar sprinkled, and flame torched) aroma just waiting to be enjoyed
T: Matching the nose, which by the way, is a staple of greatness. Full of magic and depth while delivering a well balanced moment worthy of sharing at your biggest occasions.
F: The mouthfeel is light for such a big taste. Lighter than expected but says volumes to this remarkable experience
O: Whenever on the West Coast I will make this a go to beer. Among the very best in world.

When one has a life mission, lives the dream, creates a moment of enjoyment to all that shares your craft, you sleep with dreams that your life's work makes a difference. Thank you Russian River Brewing Company. You made my trip to California special.

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Photo of Red5StandingBy
4.38/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from 510ml bottle into standard pint glass. Bottled on January 13th 2017.

L: Clear light coppery yellow. Two finger white head with great retention. Sticky lacing.

S: Pineapple, pine, grass, light toasted malt biscuit, mint.

T: Grassy/earthen hops, citrus and pine make their presence known as well. Toasted biscuit malts. Perfectly balanced and complex. Absolutely delicious.

F: Medium body, very crisp and refreshing.

O: Well known as one of the most prestigious beers of all time and it more than lives up to its reputation.

Update: Same bottle, bottled on March 29th so less than a month old.

L: Same

S: Adding Grapefruit.

T: Grapefruit added here as well. Man this is so delicious.

F: Nothing to add.

O: Still blown away.

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Photo of cambabeer
4.48/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Well I finally had it, I probably over-hyped this one going in. This is just good beer. In an age where there's so much craft beer out there that it all tries to be crazy and unique, this one just hits all the marks with out trying. I tried to put myself back in time as well to when there weren't a billion IPAs on the market and yeah, this would have blown my mind. Simply put, I think this set the standard for a reason, but people are out there now successfully making beer just about as good. Not knocking this beer at all, but if you're waiting for a beer to change your entire life, that's not what Pliny is doing (in my opinion). Nice yellow color, quite a bit brighter than a lot of IPAs out there. The pine in the nose is 90% of what comes through. Mild carbonation and just a ton of hops in the aftertaste. This is good drinking, and beer as it should be.

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Photo of manku
3.68/5  rDev -20%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a few at Whole Foods...$5.99 seemed like a good price. Brew date 1/13/2017, so pretty fresh!

I'd first drank this 7-8 years ago... a friend at a liquor store turned me onto the time, I could buy as much as I wanted! (Think it was $4.99 then, maybe even $3.99). Even then, before I even knew what an IPA was, I found them too hoppy and bitter. However, scarcity and an open mind makes me try it when I do see it retail.

I prefer lagers, wheat beer and belgian ales...more malt than hop, so these double IPAs don't do much for me. Really too strong and powerful to enjoy, though this is more balanced and clean than many.

Had a Far Out IPA on tap the other day that I enjoyed much more...

My advice: ignore the ratings and hype and trust your own taste buds. They're the only ones that matter!

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Photo of JBowenGeorgia
4.68/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Glad to finally get to try this one, not too detailed of a review there are 'Pliny' of those on here. One of the best overall beers I've had, if you haven't tried it you need to!

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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.

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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".

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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!

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Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
4.6 out of 5 based on 14,335 ratings.
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