Russian River Brewing Co. seeks buyer for its Santa Rosa production facility
By BILL SWINDELL

For sale: Equipment that has produced some of the world’s most celebrated beers, from Pliny the Younger to Pliny the Elder and Blind Pig. The production brewery has the capacity to make up to 20,000 barrels annually, including the hoppy India pale ales that are a favorite among American beer-drinkers as well as a barrel room to age sour beers.

Price: Negotiable, but likely a few million dollars.

Absolutely not included: The legendary brewer who made those beers.

It may be a beer lover’s dream, but the challenge for sellers Natalie and Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River Brewing Co. is finding a bonafide buyer for their production brewery on Ferdinand Court in Santa Rosa.

The couple will have no need for the production brewery once their $35 million brewery — featuring a top-of-the-line brewing system from Germany — opens in the fall of 2018 in Windsor. (They are keeping their Santa Rosa brewpub.)

“We have had a few calls,” said Natalie Cilurzo, who owns the brewery with brewmaster Vinnie, her husband. “But at this point, I think we need to expand the search a little bit farther.”

The problem they face is that the brewery’s capacity is much too large for those looking to break into the industry and much too small for large brewers such as Lagunitas Brewing Co., which is near capacity at its Petaluma plant.

Locally, Bear Republic Brewing Co. would be the only viable candidate for the facility based on its size, but that company opened its own Cloverdale plant a few years ago.

“We have proven you can make really good beer out of this facility, so that helps,” she said.
Most likely, Cilurzo said, the buyer will be an established U.S. craft brewer looking to grow market share and make inroads into the lucrative Northern California market.

Such transactions are common in the industry. For example, Pizza Port Brewing Co. of Solana Beach bought Stone Brewing Co. of Escondido’s old equipment as the latter grew its operations.

In Petaluma, 101 North Brewing Co. uses a system that it purchased from the Lake Placid Brewing Co. in Plattsburgh, N.Y. 101 North brewer Joel Johnson said in an email that it took four tractor-trailers and another truck with a low-bed trailer to transport the complete brewhouse to its current location.

Cilurzo noted that the landlord has agreed to provide a long-term lease for the new buyer and that the location has enough space to open up an on-site taproom to bring in customers, although approval from Santa Rosa city officials would be needed.

“There’s just so much infrastructure in place already,” she noted.

The only thing not included in the sale is lab equipment to test for beer quality, and a bottling line.

“You would be able to come in and start brewing,” Cilurzo said. “Heck, whatever grain we have left in the silo, we will just leave it for you.”

You can reach Staff Writer Bill Swindell at 521-5223 or bill.swindell@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @BillSwindell.