Beer Review – Pliny the Elder

  • Name: Pliny the Elder
  • Brewery: Russian River Brewing
  • Style: Double IPA
  • Origin: California
  • ABV: 8.0%

This is a beer that, seemingly, needs no introduction. Pliny the Elder has captivated the craft community for quite some time. Brewed by Russian River, based of of California, Pliny has developed a reputation for punching you in the mouth with 100 IBU of hops, but doing it in a lovable, classy way. With 174,000 reviews ratings on Untappd, Pliny has managed to maintain an obscenely high 4.55/5. So when I was presented an opportunity to do a beer trade for a couple bottles, I jumped at the chance.

Pliny the Elder has a rich, yellow color and a transparent body. It has a medium carbonation and builds a fairly deep head when poured into a glass. Its aroma is a very sweet, floral mixture of hops, as one would expect from an IPA.

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Taste wise, it’s exactly what I expected. I was immediately hit with a solid punch of hops. This beer is quite bitter, but not overwhelmingly so. As someone who does not enjoy overly bitter IPA, I was apprehensive about this one. If you’ve read my Shiner Wicked Ram Review, you will know that an ever building bitterness can completely destroy a beer in my mind. I have no issue with hops, but when the bitterness builds to the point that I can taste nothing else, I find it almost impossible to enjoy a beer.

Luckily, Pliny the Elder does not have that issue. While the bitterness is absolutely there, it has a nice mix of sweet in the flavor profile that helps to tone it down. Some of the bitterness holds in the aftertaste, but it doesn’t compound to the point of unpleasantness. In this way, it reminds me a lot of Arrogant Bastard Ale, it punches you with bitterness but relents enough each mouth-full to be enjoyable the whole way through.

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So does Pliny the Elder live up to the hype? More or less. While I wouldn’t give it a 4.55/5 (9.1/10), I do recognize that this is a great beer. IPA is no where near my favorite style of beer, which may have an impact on my scoring, but it’s definitely still a great beer. If you’re in California, go and get yourself a bottle NOW. If you’re not, and you ever cross paths with this beer, buy it. Trust me, this beer is absolutely worth buying and trying, if only to compare it to the hype!


Even as someone who is not an IPA drinker by choice, it’s hard to deny that Pliny the Elder is an excellent beer. It has a great combination of sweet and bitter which prevents the hops from being too intense. I highly recommend picking up this beer if you happen to cross its path.

Rating: 8/5/10

Question of the Day

Have you tried Pliny the Elder? What did you think? Let me know!

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Learn more about Pliny the Elder on Russian River’s websiteBeer Advocate and Untappd.



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