Hops & Hugs at Russian River Brewing Co.

The folks at Visit Santa Rosa  say Santa Rosa is where “wine country meets beer city” Downtown Santa Rosa represents the city well by being home to two (soon to be three) breweries, not to mention (as I will in an upcoming post) several other pubs worthy of visiting.

Many of us have our favorite hangout, often a public house. A place to go at the end of the workday to check in with people and to be checked in with. For me this place is the Russian River Brewing Company; the one I am referring to when I ask a friend, “Going to the pub?”

Russian River Brewing Company

Russian River Brewing Company, downtown Santa Rosa, CA

Located at 725 Fourth Street, you may have seen, or been in, the impressive lines. Most notably, during February 2 thru 15, 2018, when they next release Pliny the Younger, lines can be expected to be 5-7+ hours long. I imagine it’s quite a fun experience to stand in line with fellow beer lovers and beer geeks from around country and world. I prefer to visit other downtown tap rooms for those weeks, as do most locals. During Younger season, I miss my “regular pub” but am so pleased with the tourism it brings to the area. The City of Santa Rosa even did an economic impact report on the 2016 Pliny the Younger release.

I say come by outside of “Younger Season.” If you’re an outgoing type, look for someone at the bar sipping on a taster set. They are likely visiting, and I have found these folks to be quite interesting conversationalists. It’s common for out of state (or country) tourists to make Russian River Brewery a prime spot on their vacation itinerary, year-round.

Despite the worldwide acclaim, the Russian River Brewery has retained a Cheers-like quality; even new employees seem to know my name. Granted, it is no longer my small neighborhood pub, as when I first tried the taster set 13 years ago. However, there are seven original employees and 15 who have worked there for 10 years or more. Co-Owner, Natalie Cilurzo can oftentimes be seen warmly greeting regulars and employees; the sense is given that RRBC is part business, part family. Regulars at the pub, like me, are made to feel like extended family. If you come back enough, you’ll get to watch people’s children grow up, see weddings occur, and sadly attend a few funerals.

On a bad day, I’ll stop by happy hour for what I call “Hops and Hugs,” both of which are served up to me just for the asking, whether by an employee or a regular. It’s also a great place to share good news, or just the everyday happenings of one’s life.

Beer Bubble Art (Courtesy of Diane Davidson)

This pub has served as a wonderful networking spot for me and has lead to several friendships. Seriously, some of these folks have helped me move, which I once heard was the definition of a “real friend.” I’ve received advice and help on everything from plumbing to real estate. In fact, my current downtown rental was obtained through this community.

I enjoy that children are welcomed; in the gift shop, you can even buy them a “Tiny Pliny/Half Pint” shirt. When I’ve been with small (AKA rambunctious) children, their mothers were most comfortable on the outdoor patio. I would also suggest the indoor dining area, if you want to keep the little ones from being underfoot in the more crowded bar section.

So, that’s why I’m a regular at the pub: the community it brings to my day-to-day life has been as exceptional as the beer itself. In my next post, I’ll share a few tips and my favorites from the menu.

Hope to see you downtown!


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