Pliny The Elder Beer Review

About Pliny The Elder

Pliny The Elder is one of the most well-known and most sought after beers in the craft beer community. It was first brewed by Russian River Brewing in 2000 and has made a name for itself as one of the best double IPAs in the world. Elder comes in 500 mL bottles and is sold throughout California. The price is set by RRBC, which means it costs around $6.99 just about anywhere you want to buy it.

Over the last couple of years, It has become more readily available in Northern California, but considering its reputation, it’s still out of reach for craft beer drinkers throughout the rest of the US and the world. 

PS - Don't forget to check out my review of Pliny The Younger as well! 


The Basics

Name: Pliny The Elder
Brewed by: Russian River Brewing Company
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 8.0%
Availability: Year-Round
Price: $6.99

The Review

General thoughts

There is a reason this is one of the most popular IIPAs in the world. The beer is clear, clean, crisp, and fantastically balanced. If you’re a fan of West Coast IPAs and Imperial IPAs, then you’re going to love this beer. The hop bitterness is prominent, but not overwhelming, and each sip finishes incredibly smooth. For an 8.0% beer, it drinks dangerously easily.



Pours a very clear golden-yellow, strong white head that leaves fantastic lacing on the glass as you drink through it.


Extremely piney with a good mix of citrus and floral notes. I always find this beer smells very similar to how it tastes.


Very bitter that lingers nicely, piney and earthy with some citrus. The bitterness is offset slightly with the malt, but you’re definitely left with a hop party in your mouth.


Medium-bodied with pretty average carbonation, and just the nicest twinge of alcohol. Not overwhelming and always leaves you wanting more.

How To Get It

Pliny The Elder is readily available throughout the Bay Area and in select locations in parts of California. Bottle distribution is slightly different than taps, so here and there it pops up elsewhere. If you aren’t in the normal distribution area, I recommend you try and trade for it. Here is a guide I wrote for The Beer Exchange some years ago that details how to pack and ship beer.


Pliny Variants

There are a couple of "variants" of Pliny The Elder now.

Pliny For President

In 2020 Russian River Release Pliny For President, which adds a two-step double dry-hop process to the original recipe. This was available in limited amounts throughout the 2020 election year. It was available on draft and in cans at both of their locations, and also made available for direct to consumer shipping within California. 




DDH Pliny The Elder

In 2021 RRBC released DDH Pliny The Elder. This variant ahas double the amount of dry hops as the original recipe, and comes out very similar to Pliny For President, with a few minor tweaks. This variant is made year-round and is available in both drafts and cans. 


Final Thoughts

Like every single thing in the world that gains notoriety, there are people who will shit all over it because they think it makes them edgy, different, cool, or contrarian - my personal favorite “it’s overhyped.” Don’t’ worry, there are plenty of people on the other end of the spectrum that think Pliny is God’s Gift to beer and that your life will be changed once you have it. An old beer friend of mine named Ryan said something that always stuck with me - “your life isn’t going to change over a beer.”

Here is my one plea. If you’re a fan of IPAs, especially if you’re a West Coast IPA fan, seek this beer out. Heck even if you don’t usually go nuts for hoppy beers, give this one a try, because it’s part of the craft beer zeitgeist.

It’s ok if you don’t like it, and it’s ok if you think it’s overhyped. Just sit down, open a bottle, and share it with people you care about and talk about it.

Reminders and Full Disclosure

I am not paid by anyone to review beers, and I don’t accept free beer from breweries to review. I co-founded and still maintain both and

I want to hear from you. Are there beers you want me to try? Local or not, I’d love to hear it so let me know!