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Russian River Brewing Company's Pliny the Younger to be sold in $10 bottles in 2020

After a 10-year break, beer lovers this coming February will again be able to take home one of the world's most coveted brews: Pliny the Younger.

Russian River Brewing Co. announced Monday that it would allow patrons at its Santa Rosa and Windsor brewpubs to buy two 510-ml bottles per visit during its annual two-week release of Pliny the Younger, which will begin Feb. 7.

First brewed in 2005, the triple India pale ale attracts people from all over the world who come to Sonoma County to sample the super hoppy beer with a smooth finish that belies its 10.25% alcohol content.

“This is one of those ‘never say never' things,” said Natalie Cilurzo, who owns the brewery along with her husband Vinnie, the brewmaster.

The bottles, costing $10 each, will be available only to patrons who are served at either of the two brewpubs.

They will not be for sale in the brewery's gift shop nor at any retail outlet or outside taproom.

“We want to make people have the full experience and take home the commemorative bottles,” Cilurzo said. “We also want to be able to control the crowds.”

The brewery had allowed customers to take home Pliny the Younger in large, glass growlers through 2010. Then buzz about the beer exploded on social media, resulting in hourslong waits to get inside the Santa Rosa brewpub, overwhelming the small staff that found itself swamped five minutes after opening.

“Hands down, it was the worst day in our pub's history,” Cilurzo said.

The next year, they began offering only on-site consumption - in limited 10-ounce pours - as well as distributing kegs for a select number of taprooms across the country.

The long waits have subsided somewhat with the opening of the new Windsor facility in October 2018.

The Windsor plant also allows for greater production and has its own bottling line. Russian River this year made 350 barrels of Pliny the Younger and next year is slated to make 500 barrels, Cilurzo said.

Cilurzo said the plan is to see how this bottled release goes before committing to future years.

The bottling is likely to fuel wider interest in the specialty brew, though Cilurzo said she hopes the bottles find a home among beer drinkers and don't become the subject of bidding wars on digital platforms.

“This is something they can have and share with their friends,” she said.

You can reach Staff Writer Bill Swindell at 707-521-5223 or bill.swindell@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @BillSwindell.

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