Pliny the Elder, one of the country’s most highly rated brews, will be temporarily produced in central California next year as Russian River Brewing Co. upgrades the equipment at its Santa Rosa brewery.
Firestone Walker Brewing Co., located in Paso Robles, will brew Pliny next February when Russian River installs new brewing equipment at its facility off Santa Rosa Avenue, which produces about 11,000 barrels annually. Its downtown brewpub, which produces 3,000 barrels annually, will not be affected.
Firestone Walker will brew Pliny for draft distribution only, and bottled Pliny will continue to come from its existing inventory in Russian River’s fermenters, according to a blog post by co-owner Natalie Cilurzo.
“It is merely swapping out our current ancient 50-barrel brewhouse to a brand new more efficient one,” Natalie said via email. “If anything, we will probably make better beer from the (new) brewery.”
She stressed again that Russian River has no expansion plans as she and her husband, brewmaster Vinnie Cilurzo, pay down debt after buying out all of their outside investors.
The Cilurzos have insisted their priority is maintaining the high quality of their beers rather than expansion. Pliny the Elder, a double India pale ale (IPA) brewed year round, is rated No. 5 on Beer Advocate’s user rating while Pliny the Younger, a limited-production triple IPA sold only for two weeks a year in February, is rated at No. 3.
Vinnie will work with Firestone Walker’s brewmaster, Matt Brynildson, during the temporary production to maintain consistency of the very hoppy Pliny the Elder, the 14,000-barrel brewery’s most popular beer.
The old equipment was purchased from Dogfish Head Brewery out of Delaware and had been in use for six years. The new four-vessel, 50-barrel brewhouse was made by AAA Metal Fabrication in Beaverton, Ore.