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Beer Camp Across America

Brewing with Russian River

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When Vinnie Cilurzo brings you growlers, you rejoice. Vinnie, co-owner and brewmaster of Russian River Brewing Company, visited us recently with a few hundred ounces of an experimental Beer Camp Across America brew in hand.

Vinnie’s a proactive fellow. After our teams talked about a recipe, we proposed a late-September brew date for the first batch. He had the itch, though: Vinnie jumped on his 20-gallon MoreBeer homebrewing kit and churned out round one. Along with that special liquid, he also brought several rock star folks from breweries abroad: Hedwig Neven, brewmaster of Duvel Moortgat, and Jean-Marie Rock, longtime brewmaster at the Orval Brewery. Jean-Marie is renowned for his handle on Brettanomyces, a wild yeast prone to funky, nuanced flavors and is embarking on a new adventure. Vinnie learned a thing or two from Jean-Marie and today receives plenty of acclaim for using “Brett” in his barrel-aged beers.

Gathered in our tasting room, Vinnie, Hedwig, Jean-Marie and our founder, Ken Grossman, all sampled Vinnie’s Beer Camp Across America handiwork. It doesn’t contain Brettanomyces, but Belgian yeast imparts its own unique characteristics. From the growler flowed a straw-colored blonde ale, its head modest but brilliance high.

“It’s going old school on the hops,” Vinnie said. “Brewers Gold for the bittering and Celeia, a type of Styrian Golding hop, which I believe Hedwig here from Duvel uses a lot of.”

Celeia hops also went toward dry hopping.

“It’s very dry,” Ken noted with a smile after his first sip. “I think it’s pretty well balanced…”

For round two we’ll scale the beer up to our 10-barrel pilot brewery here in Chico, California. How soon? Vinnie walked through our doors this morning.