Have a Beer with Natalie Cilurzo of Russian River Brewing Company

The creator of Pliny the Younger shares what she loves most about California living.

Story courtesy of Visit California.

Natalie Cilurzo will never forget the day everything changed for the Russian River Brewing Company. It was February 5, 2010—the first Friday in February—and as she and her husband Vinnie walked up to their cozy brewpub in downtown Santa Rosa they noticed a long line of people waiting to get in. Bewildered, they approached the crowd.

“Vinnie asked them, ‘What are you here for? What are you waiting for?’ Natalie recalls. “And they said, ‘For your beer.’”

“Vinnie said, ‘We don’t open for four hours.’”

“And they said, ‘Don’t you know that Pliny the Younger has been rated the best beer in the world?’”

Unbeknownst to the Cilurzos, 100-point scores from BeerAdvocate.com and RateBeer.com had transformed their limited-release triple IPA, Pliny the Younger, into a craft beer phenomenon. The lines have only grown since that day, and now thousands of people line up to sample Pliny the Younger during a two-week window each February. The couples’ flagship double IPA, Pliny the Elder, has received similarly exalted reviews and draws visitors to the pub year-round.

“We got schooled pretty quickly at how to manage large crowds at our pub and we’ve been refining it every year,” Natalie says. “We’ve become a destination.”

This year alone the Cilurzos have poured Pliny for patrons from 48 states and more than 40 different countries, including China, Guam, India, Japan, Norway, Panama, Peru, the Philippines, Thailand and Venezuela.

Plans are underway to open a second pub in Sonoma County, where the couple has lived for more than 20 years, but until then the long lines are likely to remain.

Visit California recently interviewed Natalie about her Golden State lifestyle. You can view the entire Q&A here.