Pliny The Elder | Russian River Brewing Company

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3,612 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: 3,612 | Ratings: 13,925
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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Photo of DaverCS
4.64/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Picked up a case while at Russian River on a beer trip with my dad.

Pours a filtered golden-honey color with 1 finger of a well retaining head. Phenomenal lacing on the glass.

Aroma is primarily dominated by pine, a bit of grapefruit, a solid amount of malt sweetness, and a kiss of citrus.

Taste is much more balanced than expected. There is a very prominent malt backbone that keeps the bitterness in line. I was expecting a hugely bitter hop bomb, but this is balanced. Sure there is a solid kick of bitterness but it’s not overwhelming. There is a mild amount of carbonation with a creamy mouthfeel. Taste is again very pine-forward and resinous. Some nice citrus notes come forth, as do grapefruit peel.

My overall assessment is that the beer is very good. However, the hype surrounding it is a bit insane. It’s a prime example of the class: no off flavors, well-balanced, and delicious. My only critiques is that the malt-backbone is a bit too much, which does mute some of the hops and creates a bit too thick of a mouth-feel for my preference. I see this pairing well with Pliny and beer bites of course! It gets a 93/100.

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Photo of luisitoelmatador88
4.75/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Look: copper gold and clear. standard CA west coast imperial IPA colors.

Smell: very clean smelling brew with hops shining. I also get a nice citrus blend and floral. Very minimal caramel malt sweetness.

Taste: hoppy, citrus, a bit of stone fruit. You get a super amazing hop bit at the back in the finish and it smacks you right in the face. The subtle malts your get in the beer accentuate the sweetness you get from the fruity notes. The medium level bitterness can be compared to like an orange zest or orange pith type thing. This beers balance is spot on.

Mouthfeel: I pretty much this is the characteristic that has been setting this beer apart for me ever since I first had it back in the day. The mouthfeel is smooth and a little thin for an 8 percent but not in a bad way. In this scenario the light character of the beer gives it an insane drinkability and refreshing satisfying quality. After waves and waves of flavor pummel your palate, the piney delicious hop oils coat your tongue with a beautiful aftertaste.

Overall: Even though I am not as amazed with this brew as I was my first couple tries I am super appreciative of the path its paved for so many breweries and recipes that followed. It's been around for forever and its quality hasnt seemed to diminish too much.
A super fresh Pliny the Elder at just the right temperature still hits the spot and is a real treat. Whether in bottles or draft.

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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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Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 3,612 ratings.
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