Crowds Line Up for Best Beer in America

(NECN/NBC News: Garvin Thomas) - If you want to know the exact recipe for capturing lightning in a bottle, don't ask the folks at Santa Rosa's Russian River Brewing Company.

First of all, beer is what they bottle.  

"I don't think there's any one thing you can really put your finger on," Natalie Cilurzo said.  

Secondly, Natalie and Vinnie Cilurzo sometimes wonder themselves just why their products - as good as they know they are - have so captured the fascination of beer connoisseurs worldwide.  

"I still to this day, it surprises me that we sell as much beer as we do," Vinnie said.  

What does not surprise Vinnie is that he is happy to be doing it. That, he knew after his first admittedly terrible-tasting attempt at beer-making.  

"This is something I could do for a living," Vinnie said.  

And that he has done - even before he and Natalie took over the Russian River Brewing Company a decade ago.  

Vinnie is credited in the industry with making the first double IPA - a beer with a lot of hops and a lot of alcohol. Which brings us to Pliny the Elder - the double IPA that Vinnie created for Russian River Brewing.  

It wasn't a breakout hit when first introduced, but its cult grew over time.  

"What was a keg at the pub became a keg and a quarter... then a third," Vinnie said.  

Before Vinnie and Natalie knew it, Pliny the Elder was selling out and cleaning up. The Homebrewers Association of America has rated Pliny the Elder the best beer in America four years in a row.  

Still, the exact mix of high quality and limited supply was not something the Cilurzos tried to do. It just happened.  Which makes it even more amazing then - That it happened again.  

There was a line out the door for last year's release of Pliny the Younger. Only available for two weeks starting the first Friday in February... There's a line out the door every single day.  

"It's kind of mind-blowing to me that someone would wait four hours in line to have an ounce beer!" Vinnie said.  

Which is in no way a complaint. These two couldn't be happier that people love what they make... Because they sure love making it.

"I'm very proud that every day whatever you get from our brewery we know that in our heart of hearts we have put our best foot forward," Natalie said.

Editor's note: In the video report above we incorrectly referred to the American Homebrewers Association as the Homebrewers Association of America. We apologize for the error.

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