Hundreds flocking to Santa Rosa for rare brew


They stood in a line that stretched around the block, in the rain, no less, a line that took hours to get through and in some cases, even longer to get to. People came from Reno, Santa Maria, Orange County, and beyond – all for beer.

"It just makes my heart really happy," one man told ABC7 News.

"It's simply euphoric," said another.

But it's not just any beer. At the Russian River Brewing Company, this is the one for which customers wait all year, a not so modest little brew called "Pliny the Younger," named after an ancient Roman magistrate.

Apparently, Pliny the Younger was a fan of beer -- and so is brew master Vinnie Cilurzo, who never expected that what began as an experiment, would become a phenomenon. "Well, it blows me away. I'm still surprised when all these people show up every year, very humbled," he said.

There are a lot of secrets that go into making the beer. First, Cilurzo brews it for twice as long, but more important, is the hops. There is three times the normal amount of hops in this beer and the alcohol content is 10.25 percent. "You can't drink Younger all day. You can have two and that's good," Cilurzo said.

Around 1,400 people were expected to enjoy some of the beer Friday. Such is the power of a triple strong, India Pale Ale, a beer that's hoppy, bubbly, bitter, and fruity all at once. "It's the best beer I have ever had, hands down. It's almost too strong to be almost to be able to be that undrinkable," Brent Barker said.

It's clearly an attraction. Last year's release brought $2.3 million into Sonoma County. "We'll have a line almost every day for the next 14 days. It's an odd thing," Cilurzo said.

It's hard to understand -- until you taste it.

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