Follow Up – Russian River Leaves Washington with No Pliny

The best part of the beer business is the beer; the worst part is the business. As we reported the other day, Russian River Brewing (Santa Rosa, CA) has opted to withdraw from the Washington beer marketplace. Last week they sent out a letter notifying their wholesale customers of the decision. Since the vast majority of you, like me, are not wholesale customers, I decided not to publish the contents of that letter. I considered it, but decided against it.

Today, we received an email update from Russian River Brewing. Since this is a more public-facing statement, one that they published on their blog, I am publishing it here. Like the author, I hope this helps put the matter to rest. We will miss Russian River Brewing’s magnificent beers, but it is not the end of the world. Alaska Air flies direct from Seattle to Santa Rosa. Cheers to that.

Vinnie and I have recently made the difficult decision to stop distributing in the state of Washington.  Unfortunately, the letter we drafted and addressed to our Washington accounts made it’s way to the media and is online for the whole world to read!  If you have not yet read it, go to the Seattle Beer News website.  It’s clear and it’s honest.  There is a lot of chatter and speculation on the internet about what’s “really” going on.  The truth is spelled out and not between the lines.  We just don’t have the beer.  For those of you who have been to our brewpub, you are well-aware of how busy it is all of the time.  Our brewpub accounts for more than 50% of our revenue, which is extraordinary for a brewery our size!  The beer we are not sending to Washington is going straight to Downtown Santa Rosa to feed the machine we call our brewpub.  It will not be distributed to other wholesalers.  I did, however, address the difficulty we have had managing our brand in Washington, which appears to be due to some unique state liquor laws.  But that’s not why we pulled out.  That only helped us decide which market.  If we had the beer, we would absolutely be happy to continue our relationship with Click and ship our beer to the beautiful state of Washington regardles of state liquor laws.  To squelch any other rumors:  we have NO plans for expansion at this time.  Those conversations are still at the “Vinnie and I chatting on the couch in the evening over a couple glasses of wine” phase.  As for the rumor that we are pulling out of Oregon or any other market: those aren’t true at all!  Any other rumors, probably not true either 🙂

I hope this clears things up.  We are most apologetic to our fans and friends in Washington.  We also hope to return someday if you will have us back!

Natalie and Vinnie Cilurzo

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  1. Is it just me, or is there something fundamentally wrong about the owners of Russian River sitting down to discuss future plans over a glass of wine, rather than over one of their excellent beers? 🙂

  2. @Martin, I don’t know, I see plenty of winery owners in Triplehorn all the time. I’d imagine as much as you love something it’s nice to break up things. I know when I go to a beerfest one of my favorite beers is the one I have after I have had a cider taste after tasting 12 or so beers. The palate needs to be taken in different directions sometimes.

  3. Beer Geek. Wine Snob. Not mutually exclusive. Living in Santa Rosa (Sonoma Co) and not drinking wine would be a bit like living in Portland and not drinking beer. It’d be weird. Foolish, really.

  4. Not abandoning Oregon–whoo hoo! (Sorry, that’s rude and mean, but man, no Pliny would make for a dark effen day down here on these, err, dark days.)

    Also, Vinnie got his start in the wine biz, and he is in California. It’s as if a Seattleite had mentioned discussing it over coffee. The two are complimentary, no?

  5. While I like Russian River’s beers, good riddance to the stupid Pliny alerts when it would go on tap/arrive in bottles. I honestly think that if Pliny had been in constant supply here, it would have lost its mystique LONG ago. It is a great IPA, but there are no shortage of them around here.

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