Stephan Pastis gives nod to Russian River Brewing in 'Pearls Before Swine' comic strip

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Russian River’s Pliny the Younger isn’t being released for another six months, but it received a shout-out in a popular comic strip on Thursday.

“Pearls Before Swine” referenced the limited edition triple India Pale Ale in its most recent comic, featured in more than 600 newspapers nationwide, including The Press Democrat. Created by Santa Rosa’s Stephan Pastis, the cartoon revolves around the daily antics of several animals.

In Thursday’s comic, Rat finds a box that answers all of life’s questions and tells him the key to happiness is Pliny the Younger. There’s one problem, though. The box is sponsored.

“I like the idea of this great box of wisdom supposed to dispense real wisdom just selling out, being commercial and being an advertisement for something,” Pastis said in an interview.

Russian River Brewery co-owners Natalie and Vinnie Cilurzo shared the comic on Instagram and Facebook.

“My initial reaction was that it was funny,” Natalie Cilurzo said. “The whole sponsored part was hilarious to me. I thought it was cute.”

The Cilurzos are friends with Pastis and his wife, Staci, but he completed the comic strip months before they met. He also hadn’t tried Pliny the Younger until the Cilurzos brought some to his house.

“Truly, they were phenomenal,” he said. “That is the best beer I ever had.”

In his 18-year career as a comic, Pastis has referenced Santa Rosa about 20 times, he said. This is his second time mentioning Russian River, and he’s given a shout-out to Sierra Nevada Brewing once as well.

“It’s not without risk, sometimes,” he said. “In the old days, if you mentioned a brand, all hell would break loose. That rule appears to have lessened.”

Pliny the Younger’s 2020 release is set for Feb. 7 at the brewery's downtown Santa Rosa and Windsor brewpubs.

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