A man in a plaid shirt shook hands with people in a long line. It's the only place and time of the year when a brewer of beer becomes so popular that you might mistake him for a politician. Not that Vinnie Cilurzo ever takes the crowds for granted.
RELATED: Beer lovers line up for Pliny the Younger IPA at Russian River Brewing Company
"I am always nervous the night before."
Where else does a brewer become a public celebrity, and glad-hand his way through the line? Vinnie Cilurzo of @RussianRiverBC could run for office and probably win...out here, at least. #abc7now "I never know if the crowds will show." First person was in line at 11am yesterday. pic.twitter.com/rE0M0cW0tM— Wayne Freedman (@WayneFreedman) February 1, 2019
Cilurzo's acclaimed Pliny The Younger beer has returned to the Russian River Brewing Company for the 19th year, and with it, another layer of cult status among acolytes, some of whom travel thousands of miles for the experience.
"Pliny the Younger is what you judge every IPA on," said Jacqueline Muniz from Manteca.
"It's the IPA against which all others are judged," she said of #Plinytheyounger. Smooth and potent. Citrus twist, but subtle. #abc7now Brewery allows three beers in three hours. Then...time to go. Three is snug for most of us. pic.twitter.com/0jkRjhtgM0— Wayne Freedman (@WayneFreedman) February 1, 2019
The IPA is creating business which has added $3.5 million to the Sonoma County Economy last year alone.
The beer is smooth, despite an alcohol content of 10.25 percent.
"Full tongue taste comes at the back end," said one man at the bar. "There is a citrus note. Fantastic," added his drinking buddy.
No wonder the first person arrived in line at 11 am, Thursday. They say the socializing and wait add to the experience, though this year that line may not take eight hours because of a second brewery in Winsdor-you could call it the house that Pliny built.
Same three beers, three-hour limit.
"How many have you had," we asked Miguel Vargas of Santa Rosa. "Two," he said.
Vargas said after his third he is taking an Uber home.