Sonoma Pride beer sales fund home rebuilds

Five new homes for Sonoma County fire survivors are nearly complete in southeast Santa Rosa, financed by proceeds from the release of a special fundraising beer called Sonoma Pride. A sixth home is expected to follow soon.

It all started just days after the October 2017 fires ripped through Sonoma County, when the owners of the Russian River Brewing Co., Natalie and Vinnie Cilurzo, decided to brew a special beer to raise funds for those most in need.

They revived their Sonoma Pride brand, began brewing a week after the fires struck, and in collaboration with 60 other breweries raised more than $1.1 million to help rebuild homes, feed people and replace kids’ bikes that were lost in the fires.

Another popular aspect of the fundraiser was a raffle for line-cutting privileges at Russian River’s annual release of Pliny the Younger, a triple IPA sold for only two weeks in February each year.

The $25 raffle tickets yielded 14 winners who, one per day, were the first to enter Russian River’s Santa Rosa brewpub during the Pliny the Younger release.

One of the winners donated the prize to a first responder who had lost his home the first night of the fires.

“He had the best time” savoring Pliny the Younger with friends and family, Natalie said. “It was definitely an honor to meet that guy and hear his story.”