|July 10, 2008|
On July 10, the highly anticipated first bottling run of the popular Pliny the Elder took place at Russian River Brewing‘s new production brewery in Santa Rosa, California. I was on hand to help out for the eight hours it took to do the run, emptying nearly three pallets of 16.9 oz. bottles onto the line and making hundreds of case boxes — my particular jobs — while Vinnie and team attended to the other details. Before we were even done with the bottling run, the first pallet was loaded in the van and whisking its way to area retail stores, but only accounts that agreed to store and display the beer cold. Suggested retail is $3.99, though you can also buy bottles at Russian River’s brewpub for $4.50, which is more in line with their pint pricing of $4.25. While we were still there bottling, both Vinnie and I got e-mails from friends saying they’d already bought bottles of Pliny at Ledger’s in Berkeley, which was fun. It was a long, hard day (I’m glad I don’t have to work that hard every day) but also very satisfying, too. The day before, Russian River also bottled several pallets of Blind Pig IPA.
Russian River Brewery in the early morning.
The bottling line, ready to run.
The very first bottle of Pliny the Elder coming off the bottling line.
The second, third, and so on, bottles on their way to the labeller, as Vinnie mans the control in the background.
A view from the other side, where I loaded bottles onto the line to insure a steady supply of bottles to be filled with Pliny.
Which I got from pallets of fresh bottles next to the bottling machine.
A look inside the filler.
As the day wore on, cases, and then pallets, were filled with freshly bottled Pliny. Guy (on the right) pulled bottled off the line and loaded the empty mother cartons, while Vinnie continued to work the controls for the bottler.
A close-up of those controls.
The first pallet, just before it left for Ledger’s and other destinations in the East Bay.
Which was next to the barrel room, where an increasing number of barrels are aging.
The last bottle of the day nears the labeller.
And finally, the last bottle is labeled.
A happy and tired Vinnie Cilurzo, after a day of bottling his Pliny the Elder Imperial IPA.