Russian River’s Pliny the Elder

If you have been around craft beer for any amount of time and like IPA’s, I’m sure you have heard of Russian River’s Pliny the Elder.  This Russian Rivers Double IPA has a diehard following of hard core hop heads.  I would consider myself a hardcore hop head, but living in the North East, we don’t get any Russian River beers including Pliny the Elder.  Since I wanted to try this beer and see what the hype was, I traded beer with a guy in Southern California.russianriver_pliny2

Here is what Russian River has to say about Pliny the Elder:

Pliny the Elder was a Roman naturalist, scholar, historian, traveler, officer, and writer. Although not considered his most important work, Pliny and his contemporaries created the botanical name for hops, “Lupus salictarius”, meaning wolf among scrubs.” Hops at that time grew wild among willows, much like a wolf in the forest. Later the current botanical name, Humulus lupulus, was adopted. Pliny died in 79 AD while observing the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. He was immortalized by his nephew, Pliny the Younger, who continued his uncle’s legacy by documenting much of what he observed during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius

Ok, Nice history lesson, but I want to know about the beer…

Russian River Pliny the Elder

Russian River Pliny the Elder

Here is my take on Pliny the Elder.


Very pretty beer, glowing orange with a creamy think head.  The head dissipated rather rapidly, it did leave a touch of lacing, but not much.  The color of this beer is what got me, it is very hazy, but the way the light bounces through the haze really makes the beer glow in my glass.


This is where I expect this beer to shine, a double IPA in my book should have tons of aroma.  This beer doesn’t disappoint, a very aromatic beer, good bit of sweet malt, grapefruit, orange, and pine all blend together very nicely with a hint of dried apricot.


I quite enjoyed the taste of this beer.  It had a deep creamy caramel start that smoothed out into a Soft fruity citrus.  The soft finished out in a nice rounding bitterness.  I’m really enjoying the malty creaminess and the good strong hop presence.


Glassware: Tulip, Pint

Calories: 8% abv this beer would have about 250 to 275 cal per 12/oz (Calorie Chart)

Overall Impression:

This is a very enjoyable DIPA. Mine was bottled on 06/10/2009.  Not the freshest, but not out of date by any stretch either.  I will definitely seek out this beer again, but I’m not sure about the hype.  What I think is that it set a new standard for imperial/douple IPA’s with its bold aromatics and malty, creamy, hoppy flavor.   A world class, no doubt, but today there are others that are just as good.

Every has an opinion on Pliny the Elder, whats YOURS?


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9 Responses to “Russian River’s Pliny the Elder”

  1. JT Neville Says:

    I said it the last time you tried Pliny, either get it fresh or not at all. Newcastle isn’t the same beer more than 40 miles out of the city center, Guinness changes for the worse the farther it is brewed from Dublin and Pliny is meant to be enjoy within weeks of bottling. Try it like that and then say it isn’t worth the hype.

  2. Simply Beer Says:

    no doubt, I’ve heard that from a number of people on twitter. I’m trying to get a fresher bottle to re-review.

  3. Michael Reinhardt Says:

    Thank you! I think it’s good, too…but not worth the hype. I drank mine very fresh. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very drinkable and tasty.

  4. Tyler Says:

    If your looking for some fresh Pliny I’d be more than happy to make a trade. Today the bottles were dated 10/08/09, and I picked up 3, very delicious. Just let me know email is

  5. 100beers30days Says:

    It’s one of my favorite beers of all time. So incredibly well balanced, and every time I put my nose to the glass, I breathe a sigh of happiness!
    Just recently had Pliny the Younger for the first time, and was equally blown away by my first sniffs and sips as my first time with the Elder.
    Have a look at my review of them together!
    Russian River is an amazing breweries. One of my tops.

  6. lisa Says:

    this beer is at its very best out of the tap! im too fortunate to have this pleasure so close to me, i highly reccomend visiting one of the many northern ca places that has this treasure on tap -YUMMMM!!!!!

  7. Simply Beer Says:

    it is really tasty. On my last trip to SF I had it many times including at the Russian River Brewpub.

  8. Melvin Says:

    Agreed. This beer, like many and especially hop laden west coast IPAs must be consumed fresh as can be. If you wait, the hoppy piny citrus goodness fades. The verbiage on the bottle actually says it must be drunk fresh unlike other RR brews. I think of it like freshly squeezed orange juice (or any juice but I’ll use orange); the longer you wait, the freshness deteriorates and it begins to taste like regular bottled sugary juice instead of citrusy orangy tangy fresh juice. It’s a beautiful thing; you can’t store it, you MUST drink Pliny ASAP and hope to get a few bottles or glasses on tap with each batch RR makes. There are other great IPAs and PTE is simply an outstanding brew which sets a very high standard to which many should strive to be in their unique way.

  9. Simply Beer Says:

    Hi Melvin, I had the pleasure of many PTE while I was in SF last summer, including a couple at the RR Pub. It is one of now many phenomenal IIPA’s around now. One of my favorites still is Captain Lawrence IIPA. Like Pliney this beer is amazing fresh. Pliney really set the bar high for many IIPA’s.

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