Survey: Russian River Brewing Co.'s Pliny the Younger brought in $5 million for Sonoma County

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February’s release of Pliny the Younger generated almost $5 million in economic impact from those who traveled from outside the county to taste the world-famous beer, according to a survey by the Sonoma County Economic Development Board.

The board found this year’s two-week event at the Russian River Brewing Co. in downtown Santa Rosa brought in $4.88 million in economic impact from beer tourists. That was an increase from the 2013 survey that found there was an almost $2.4 million impact from the event.

“I think it’s a staggering increase,” said Ben Stone, executive director for the board. Stone added that many nearby businesses have benefited from the large crowds, from the coffee shops nearby on Fourth Street to hotels and gas stations. “The nice thing is that they are sharing the pot of gold.”

Every year, beer lovers from across the world wait in an hours-long line to sample Pliny the Younger during its limited release, driven by its reputation as one of the best beers in the world.

The survey results were culled from responses by 35 percent of the attendees at the event, who were given forms to complete at the brewpub as they were being served. It included questions about how much they were spending directly and also about other peripheral, secondary tourist expenditures they may have incurred within the county.

More than 16,000 people attended the event, the survey found, with 61 percent traveling from outside Sonoma County. People came from 40 states and 11 foreign countries.

It found that the average customer spent $73 per visit at the brewpub.

The survey found that 40 percent of the out-of-town attendees stayed in local lodging and the average they spent was $165 a night.

Forty-three percent of those visitors were repeat customers and 92 percent said they would attend again.

The report also tracked the categories where customers spent their money. Not surprisingly, patrons spent $933,111 at bars, including Russian River Brewing. Restaurants also benefited with $872,386 in spending, while hotels and other lodging received $501,075 and retail stores a total of $296,106. Customers spent $146,540 on transportation services such as cabs.

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

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