Each year millions of swallows return to the cliffs of San Juan Capistrano. It’s a sure thing. You can count on it like clockwork. Likewise, each year thousands of beer geeks flock to Santa Rosa, California for the annual release of Pliny the Younger, the much-ballyhooed Triple IPA from Russian River Brewing.
When they release the beer on the first Friday in February, the lines wrap around the block and beer geeks wait for hours to secure sips of the coveted nectar that most people still consider craft beer’s largest whale. Sure, Russian River Brewing sells a lot of beer, and for them the economic impact is immediate and direct, but a recent survey shows that the economic impact for Sonoma County is also significant.
The data shows that in 2016 the release of Pliny the Younger contributed almost $5 million to the local economy. That number has doubled since 2013, when the impact was gauged at $2.4 million.
This year the Pliny the Younger release attracted 16,000 visitors to Sonoma County. Over half (61 percent) of the people who attended the release were tourists. Of those thirsty travelers, 85 percent were from California, which isn’t surprising, but the rest came from 40 different states and 11 different countries.
Forty percent of the out-of-towners stayed in local lodging, paying an average of $163 per night. In the end, 92 percent said they would come back and do it again.
As for the brewery, each of the 16,000 beer geeks spent an average of $73 at the brewpub. You do the math.
Behold, the power of beer. Behold, the power of Pliny.