Beer lovers lined up in front of the Russian River Brewing Company for a taste of their limited release Beatification sour ale in December. (photo by John Burgess/The Press Democrat)

Just weeks before the release of Pliny the Younger, Russian River is taking advantage of the doldrums of January to close down for a little freshen-up at the brewpub on Fourth Street. Co-owner Natalie Cilurzo tells me the restaurant will be closed all week, reopening on Saturday.

“The biggest remodel that people will see is mostly behind the bar,” she said. “We are also refinishing the bar top, tables, and benches, doing some painting, fixing tiles/paint and ongoing graffiti problems in the bathrooms, replacing the ceiling and adding new lights, AC, and doing hood work in the kitchen.”

The remodel is mostly cosmetic, she said – there is no room, for example, to refit the small and basic kitchen, which basically just consists of a pizza oven (“If we can’t bake it, we don’t make it,” she explains). There is also not any room to add more equipment in the brewhouse next door now that they squeezed in one last fermenter recently.

The refit at the brewpub is in preparation for the Pliny the Younger frenzy, starting Feb. 7, and also for the 10th anniversary party, set for some time in April.

“Kind of exciting and nerve-wracking all at once,” she said of the project. “We have not been in construction mode for several years and those old feelings came back this morning when I entered the demolition zone.  But we are going to cleaner, more efficient, and happier when it’s all done on Saturday!”

Incidentally,  Natalie tells me that the renovation will not take out the performance stage and PA system in the dining room. The brewpub is taking a break from its regular live music schedule, but they do plan to keep the stage in place for use during special events.

And stay tuned for details of the Anniversary Party.

– Sean Scully