California’s cult pilsner is back with the return of STiVO, a small-batch release from Firestone Walker Brewing Company and Russian River Brewing Company.  

 STiVO is an immaculately 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 for the first time ever. 

STiVO is available for a limited time online and at our three California taprooms in Paso Robles, Buellton, and Venice. It’s also on tap at Russian River’s Santa Rosa and Windsor locations. And for a limited time, we’ll have Russian River’s STS Pils on tap so you can enjoy a comparative tasting of Pivo, STS, and STiVO side-by-side.

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,” Matt says, noting that their collaborative connection spans more than 15 years.

Matt recalls that when Vinnie and his wife Natalie built their brewery, Vinnie would call regularly seeking technical input. Conversely, when Firestone Walker established its Barrelworks wild ale facility, the brewing team leaned on Vinnie for his expertise. Vinnie 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,” Matt says.

Passion for Pilsner

But it wasn’t until 2016 that Matt and Vinnie 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,” Matt says. “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,” Matt says. “This is a small non-production scaled brew, so we can afford to leave the beer this way.”

For this latest batch, Vinnie 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,” Matt says. “It’s a true passion project.”