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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Another Growth Sector for Sonoma County's Economy

Another growth area besides wine that is. As to be expected in Sonoma County wine and the resulting tourism are huge. But what's this new growth area? It's something pretty closely related to premium wines -- craft beer.

At Lagunitas Brewery in Petaluma CA

Lagunitas, founded 1993, and Russian River Brewing, founded 1997, are big success stories known to pretty much any American beer aficionado. The Bear Republic is also noteworthy. There are lesser known ones around the county like Dempsey's, Third Street, and Ruth McGowan's that all double as restaurants. And tiny breweries like Sonoma Springs. Eight new ones have opened in the last couple years. There are 18 breweries in the county now. During the last two years Lagunitas' sales grew 40%.
 
If you haven't seen this one
locally yet you will soon. They're
expanding to Chicago.
Image from lagunitas.com
The first brewery to open in the U.S. after Prohibition was New Albion in the town of Sonoma in 1976. That brewery didn't last until the new wave of micro-breweries swept America, but it helped start the trend.

Then Russian River Brewery puts out a seasonal beer (available for only two weeks) that was rated as the best beer in the world a few years ago. When this beer is released in February it has a noticeable affect on the area as people come from all over to sample Pliny the Younger. This past year I talked to the first people in line for the first day of the release. They were from Denver and had lined up at 3 am for the 11 am opening.

News article

Video on Pliny the Younger release