Firestone Walker and Russian River unveil collaborative pilsner
‘STiV,’ returns with limited small-batch release; available in cans for the first time
STiVO is a conceived mashup of the breweries’ flagship pilsners, STS and Pivo. Previously released only in draft and last seen winning a gold medal at the 2018 World Beer Cup, STiVO is now available in cans (4-pack, 16-oz) for the first time ever.
STiVO is available in cans and on draft for a limited time at all Firestone Walker locations; on draft at Russian River Brewing Company locations; and online at FirestoneBeer.com.
Respect & friendship
Brewed at Firestone Walker’s Propagator R&D brewhouse in Venice, California, this latest batch is once again a testament to the longtime friendship and mutual pilsner passions of Russian River Co-Owner/Brewer Vinnie Cilurzo and Firestone Walker Brewmaster Matt Brynildson.
“Vinnie and I respect each other immensely as brewers, but more important, we’re good friends,” Brynildson said, noting that their collaborative connection spans more than 15 years.
Brynildson recalls that when Cilurzo and his wife Natalie built their brewery, Cilurzo would call regularly seeking technical input. Conversely, when Firestone Walker established its Barrelworks wild ale facility, the brewing team leaned on Cilurzo for his expertise. Cilurzo even gifted his original bottling line to Barrelworks.
In 2014, when Russian River was undergoing a brewhouse expansion, Firestone Walker temporarily brewed the brewery’s iconic Pliny the Elder to help keep the taps flowing—“That was the ultimate collaboration,” Brynildson said.
Passion for pilsner
But it wasn’t until 2016 that Brynildson and Cilurzo decided to brew their first official collaboration beer, and there was no question as to what they would brew: a pilsner. By that time, Russian River had made its mark with its STS pilsner, and Firestone Walker had done the same with its Pivo pilsner.
“We’re both mad about pilsner brewing,” Brynildson said. “We just love these types of beers and the simple recipes surrounding them.”
The result was STiVO, a happily arranged marriage of the STS and Pivo recipes, which were already quite similar except for the hop bill. They ultimately split the hops down the middle between Pivo’s German Saphir hops and STS’s French Aramis hops, both of which belong to the new wave of European hop cultivars.
After their initial batch in 2016, they perfected the recipe over a few additional batches, ratcheting down the ABV to 5.3 percent and brewing it in the unfiltered “Keller pils” style, ultimately snagging the lone gold medal in that style at the 2018 World Beer Cup.
As a Keller pils, STiVO presents a hazy appearance. “We leave it unfiltered in the Keller style because we both love visiting breweries and drinking pilsner straight from the lagering tank,” Brynildson said. “This is a small non-production scaled brew, so we can afford to leave the beer this way.”
For this latest batch, Cilurzo journeyed down to the Propagator for a memorable brew day and a “celebration of pilsner fanaticism.”
“STiVO is everything Vinnie and I love about a new-age craft pilsner—clean and aromatic, with a subtle hop imprint,” Brynildson said. “It’s a true passion project.”