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Russian River Brewing ‘bugs’ circa 2006

Russian River Brewing microbes - parts of original mixed cultureBarrel room, Russian River brewpub, Santa RosaThe carboys at the top contain many of the microbes that became part of the “Russian River bacteria blend” that contributes to the unique character of beers such as Temptation and Supplication. Details are in a story posted at Good Beer Hunting.

The photo was taken in 2006 in the barrel room of the Russian River Brewing Co. pub (at the time, its only brewery) in Santa Rosa, Calif. These days, hundreds — heck, maybe thousands — of brewers ferment beers with that they call their own unique mixed cultures. This is relatively new.

(Some might even suggest so new that we should wait to be sure the aren’t racing ahead a bit quickly.)

For “Still Friends After All These Years” I talked with brewers who have kept in touch with the same microbes (known affectionately as bugs or critters) that soured their beers for the past 15 years, and sometimes longer. Included are a few beers you may have forgotten, or perhaps never heard off.

The carboys in the photo are long gone. The blend of microbes Russian River co-founder Vinnie Cilurzo settled on is stored in plastic totes today, although he is using a new process to make Temptation and other brands these days.

He has been, and still is, generous about sharing these Russian River bugs with homebrewers. Twice he has taken wood chips aged along with Damnation, something Russian River does every twenty-third batch, and soaked them in Beatification or Sonambic, then given away “dime bags” of the chips at conferences. He also provides More Beer, a homebrew supply store, with Cabernet Sauvignon barrels that were used to make Consecration. The supplier cuts those into chunks it sells as part of a kit.

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