On the Road with Russian River in Germany


Michaelismesse, Miltenberg, Germany, September 3, 2017

We have traveled a long way and are a bit jet-legged. Although we are tired we cannot go to sleep. Vinnie & Natalie Cilurzo, owners of Russian River Brewing Company and I are here for the factory acceptance test (FAT) for the new brew house (75 bbl/90 hl Cold Wort) they are building in Windsor, CA. This is an exciting trip that has been a long time coming!

To try to get us sleepy, Michael Kurzweil, the GM of Ziemann Burgstadt, is taking us to the Michaelismesse in Miltenberg. A 650 year old tradition here, an event not all that different from a county fair in Colorado, except that people are dressed different – traditional Bavarian dress and there is beer everywhere and for everybody. The event is a big market with a huge beer tent. I guess sales people have been getting thirsty for 650 years, hence the purpose of the beer tent. Now, of course, the beer tent is the main attraction with the band and the market is still there, although smaller then before. Only beer brewed in Miltenberg can be served at the fair so since two years only Faust is served. Our friend Cornelius Faust, third generation brew master, and his cousin Johannes Faust, serve us proudly their beer in the one liter glasses. A wonderful classic, but drier and less malty then what I am used to, Festbier (Octoberfest beer) is what they brewed for this year’s festival. They serve 1,000 hl of this beer in the 10-day festival, so needless to say, the beer was more then drinkable. Prost!

Ziemann Production Facility, Burgstadt, Germany, September 4, 2017

I slept well. Vinnie did not. Too much excitement for today! It’s not everyday that you see your new, dream brewhouse for the first time. We go to the Ziemann factory and at Hall 6 all the new brewing vessels for the new Russian River brewery are standing proudly, shining in the middle of hundreds of boxes and crates full of parts. The next step is the pre-piping of all the vessels to create a functioning brew house.

Lots of excitement for a brand new brew house!

We start with the mash tun for a detailed review of all the piping orientations and workmanship. Really wonderful to see how well these vessels have been made and although we have not made any beer in them the feeling is good. Special are the “star” designs at the bottom of both Whirlpool and Lauter, eliminating the mild steel support structure you see under conventional brew houses. We delve into more details and at the Lauter we decide to also go into the vessels, Vinnie & Natalie lead the charge. A partly assembled racking device is already in place. The false bottom with slotted plates is fully mounted and ready to do it’s job. A detail that turns out really nice is the decision to polish the entire vessel wall (above and below) the main brewing floor.

We all feel good – real good – and after review of the 3D model and countless details we go back to the Adler Hotel. Time for dinner and a beer from our friends at Faust! Tonight, we drink the Weizen and Bayerische Hell, great beers, also brewed on a new Ziemann brewhouse.

Thanks Cornelius & Johannes for the great beer! Thanks Michael and Ziemann team for the great looking brewing vessels! Lets get them safe to the U.S. so we can start brewing more Russian River beers.