Behold, the power or Pliny – survey reveals the economic impact of Pliny the Younger

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.

Credit where it’s due. I got the stats from the San Francisco Business Times and the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.



  1. If you check the impact of Three Floyds Dark Lord Day, which is this Saturday, I think the benefit to the local economy is even greater.

  2. Wow, this doesn’t even include all of the tappings at bars across the country. I live in Philadelphia and whenever a bar gets Pliny the Younger it is usually a ticketed event.

  3. Kendall,

    I always wondered about the allure of Pliny since Beer Junction always had a limit of 1 to a customer when this beer used to be available in Washington. I finally succeeded in securing a bottle and found myself wondering what the big deal was. Of course what tastes good is in the palate of the beholder. Glad my sours are available in Washington and in bulk without lines around the block.

    1. I know what you mean. I like Pliny, but it has gone fully through the hypecycle. I’d really be interested to see someone do an in-depth look at the relationship of hype on rating sites, when you consider population size of markets within a distribution network, relative number of breweries (size of beer culture) and a beer’s real or perceived rarity.

      Beers like Pliny, HeadyTopper and TreeHouse Green are really good beers, but I struggle to understand how people believe they are the gifts from Dionysus. Big markets with lots of reviewers but not a huge percentage of beer drinkers, relatively few local breweries, and the ability to get ones hands on regional or national standouts must contribute to some sort of Beer Advocate Syndrome.

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