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Recently the man himself, Vinnie from Russian River, gave Embrace the Funk a few minutes out of his ultra busy schedule to answer a few questions. I’m a big fan of the Russian River line up and what Vinnie’s brewery has done for the American Craft Beer scene so this is quite a treat from me!

ETF- What was the first sour beer you remember tasting and loving? 

VC-Cantillon for sure, and it was at their brewery, I was 20 years old.

ETF-What is your most ambitious sour project to date?

VC-They are all ambitious as we are doing them in the same building(s) as we make our non-funky beers.  There is always the risk of a cross contamination.

ETF-For homebrewers just starting down the sour road what would be your top 2 pieces of advice for them to be successful?

VC-Two pieces of advice for starters:

1- have at least two of everything, that is, keep your non-funky and your funky parts separate.  This includes everything, buckets, tubing, pumps (if you use one), etc…

A second piece of advice would be to not set your expectations to high.  If your first sour/barrel beer is drinkable, I think that is a great accomplishment.

ETF-What do you think is a good beer to introduce people to the sour/wild category of beers and why?

VC-If you are talking about a RRBC beer I would say Sanctification, this is our 100% Brett fermented blonde beer that we also add Lacto and Pedio to.  It is not so over the top sour as some of our barrel beers that stay in oak for 6 to 12 months.  Also, I would say try a Berliner Weisse or Gose Beer, they are both mildly sour and great start sour beers.

ETF- Can you give us the scoop on what the next new bottled sour offering might be? 

VC-Our next sour / barrel beer (other than our standard Temptation, Supplication, & Consecration) is our Breast Cancer awareness fund raising beer, Framboise for a Cure, it is only sold at our brewpub and will be out sometime in October.

*Side note on Framboise For a Cure.. .It is an event during Breast Cancer Awareness month that Russian River kindly puts on to raise money to help fight cancer. Even if you can’t make it out to their brewpub and purchase a bottle, you can still help by donating to such places as the Susan G Komen center.

Again big thanks to Vinnie for taking the time to do the interview. I really appreciate it. The Russian River beers are all worth seeking out and I hear the pizza at the brew pub is simply awesome! I hope to bring you more interviews with professional sour brewers soon! If you have read this far then here is a special treat for you….the Sanctification Clone recipe directly from  Vinnie in an email awhile back that goes well with this article. He is truly one of the best in the beer world.  Stock up on Sanctification from RR and then compare your version with his… Enjoy!

You could easily homebrew this beer at home as it is fermented in stainless steel and none of it goes into oak barrels.

Here are some basics:

85% 2-row Malt
5% Vienna Malt
5% Wheat Malt
5% Acidulated Malt

OG: 1.058
TG: 1.006-1.010
ABV: 6.25%
BU’s: 25ish

Styrian Golding 90 minute – beginning of boil
Sterling 15 minutes to go in boil

The yeast is a mix of Brettanomyces and bacteria’s.
50% Brett Brux.
10% Brett Claus.
10% Brett Lambicus
30% Russian River Brewing “Funky Bunch” house yeast culture- mix of Brett, Lacto, Pedio, & other wild yeast

The RRBC house culture we call the “Funky Bunch” could be cultured from a bottle of Beatification.

You’ll see a long lag phase at the start of fermentation and then a slowing of fermentation when it gets to 1.020, from there it has to sit for a couple of months before it gets down to the gravity listed above. Depending on if you bottle or not you will need to make a decision on the final gravity. If you do bottle it has to be bottled at 1.010 or so, but, not above that or the bottles will over carbonate and the bottles might explode.

Good luck,


Me and Vinnie during GABF 2010