Beer Birthday: Vinnie Cilurzo

Today is the 47th birthday of Vinnie Cilurzo, founder and brewmaster at Russian River Brewing. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know Vinnie is one of the best brewers in America and is credited with having made the first Imperial IPA. Along with his partner Natalie, his Russian River Brewery in Santa Rosa, California won unprecedented back-to-back best brewpub (and brewmaster) awards at the World Beer Cups in 2006 and 2008, and their flagship Pliny the Elder has been picked as the best beer in America by AHA members seven years in a row, but was finally best this year by Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale, after which Vinnie sent Larry Bell and crew a case of Pliny. Vinnie is one of the nicest people in the industry you’ll ever meet. Join me in wishing Vinnie a happy birthday.

Vinnie and his wife Natalie from presented to Tom Dalldorf (middle), owner of the Celebrator, a Balthazar of their yummy Damnation Ale in honor of the magazine’s 17th anniversary. A Balthazar is 12 liters or contains about 16 normal bottles of beer.

Dave Keene, owner of the Toronado, Natalie Cilurzo, Dave’s girlfriend Jennifer and Vinnie at CBC in Seattle.

Garrett Oliver, brewer at Brooklyn Brewing Co., and Vinnie at the Brewer’s Dinner the night before GABF begins.

Vinnie and Rich Norgrove from Bear Republic at the Summit Hop Festival a few years ago at Drake’s.

Vinnie & Natalie Cilurzo
Vinnie with his wife and Russian River co-owner Natalie at GABF in 2009.

Vinnie and me his 40th birthday party at the brewpub a few years ago.

And again two years ago at the Firestone Walker Invitational, sharing some frites.


  1. Jim says

    Vinnie is truly a nice guy and deserves all the good stuff happening to his brewery. Years ago he was kind enough to email me specifics on how to homebrew the younger pliny several times. That’s something I’ll always appreciate. I proudly wear my Pliny the Elder t-shirt all voer Seattle and never fail to get comments on what a great beer that is. As it is, to be sure, but a mere pale reflection of Vinnie’s generosity to the legions of beer fans. Three cheers!

  2. Bob M. says

    I have been living under a rock for the past 12+ yrs on your success…. but way back in your blind pig days I had a source of beer 2nd to none when I lived in Temecula. You had no problem filling kegs for me (my personal use) and it was a sad day when you left. Had no doubt you would succeed elsewhere. Now I guess I need to figure out how to get kegs shipped to Charlottesville Va….!

  3. says

    Happy 40th Vinnie! Thanks for everything you’ve given to the homebrewer, craft brewer and beer aficionado over the years. Undoubtedly you’ll continue to amaze us as the years go on.

  4. Kevin LaMar says

    A belated happy birthday to the best brewer in the world. I’m ecstatic to be able to attain the Russian River beers on a regular basis.

  5. Judy Ashworth says

    I will never forget first meeting you. I knew we in Northern CA were in for a treat! YOUR “Flying Pig” preceded you!! I loved it, still do! Your high standards have of brewing has had an amazing influence on the Craft beers of today. HOPPY BEERTHDAY. Give Natalie a big hug for me .


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