Piney River Brewing Company

A Craft Beer Book Review: The Craft Beer Revolution

In The Beer on June 22, 2014 at 10:12 pm

I love to read. But I don’t have much time to read these days.

This past week I had some time alone, away from the brewery to stick my nose in a book. The Craft Beer Revolution: How a Band of Microbrewers is Transforming the World’s Favorite Drink by Steve Hindy, a co-founder of The Brooklyn Brewery was so interesting that I had to carve out a little time tonight to tell you about it.

So…I’ve got Full Circle by New Holland Brewing on the patio table, Ani DiFranco and a cacophony of frogs and insects playing in the background as the sun goes down ending the first weekend of summer for 2014. craft beer revolution book

Steve Hindy’s first life was as a Associated Press journalist. He’s traveled the world and written about the news happening there, but in 1984 he returned with his family to live in New York where he took up home brewing, and in 1988 co-founded The Brooklyn Brewery.

Hindy’s new book covers the past 48 years of craft brewing in the US, beginning in 1965 with Fritz Maytag’s purchase of the failing Anchor Brewing Company in San Francisco. Maytag’s was the pioneer of American craft beer.

This book is broken up in historical segments that are well-crafted and easy to read. Hindy spends particular time on “the class of 1988″, those brewers that started their breweries almost 20 years after Maytag’s and Anchor. Among that class were Wyncoop, Rogue, Deschutes, Matt, Goose Island and others. And since this is Hindy’s story, The Brooklyn Brewery story is told here, too.

An unusual number of English majors have found themselves involved in the industry (including yours truly), but all of the stories include an entrepreneurial spirit, a belief in their community, a love for great food and drink and the willingness to make sacrifices and work harder than they have ever worked before.

Hindy recounts the stories of the growth of some brands like Boston Beer, Pete’s Wicked Ale and Hart Brewing (which later became Pyramid) through IPOs. He covers the stories of some of the second generation of brewers which included figures that I also see as pioneers, such as Kim Jordan and Jeff Lebesch of New Belgium Brewing and Sam Caligione of Dogfish Head Brewing. About 1000 breweries sputtered to life in the 1990s, and Hindy tells about the innovation the new generation of craft brewers brought about in the US.

And of course the past decade has brought great change to our nation as American craft beer has become recognized around the world. Hindy discusses some of the political changes that have come about between brewing organizations in the US. He also provides some personal experience and thought about the three-tier distribution system that US Brewer’s operate under.

If you enjoy craft beer and want to learn more about its origins, this book is a must-read. There are parts of the book that will mean more to different folks depending upon if they are home brewers, distributors, retailers, or part of an American craft brewery.

It was in 2008 that I said to Brian, “These are our people,”  about craft brewers after reading a story about the craft brewing industry. Once again, Hindy reminded me that Brian and I follow in the footsteps of great people that have helped pave the way for craft beer in the US.

I’m glad to read their stories of working late into the night, of their belief in making a high quality product, of their budgets and brew houses built with financial creativity. I especially loved reading about Kim Jordan (New Belgium) picking her son up from school and delivering cases of beer to retailers with him in tow, and after putting him to bed at night, working into the night on marketing and other aspects of their fledgling brewery. Perhaps the most exciting take away from this book for me is that there is still a lot of American craft beer history to be written, and our little brewery here in the Ozarks is part of that.

Thank goodness there’s a high percentage of English majors in the craft beer industry because we have the opportunity to read books like this one! I don’t know what’s on your summer reading list, but you should definitely take some time to read this one. Best enjoyed with an American brewed craft beer in hand!

American Craft Beer Week–Piney River Style

In Beer Events on May 11, 2014 at 10:28 pm

ACBW14_flag_downloadSince 2012 we have celebrated American Craft Beer Week with events throughout our distribution area.  American Craft Beer Week is the official week that craft beer is celebrated across our nation, and we love taking part in this nationwide celebration.

This year is no different for us.  Tuesday night we will be at Flying Saucer in Little Rock with one of the extremely limited kegs of Mule Team, our 3rd Aleiversary Imperial IPA, to share at their #ACBW event.  On Thursday night, we will be at Mama Jean’s Market in Springfield (the Sunshine location) at a special craft beer tasting event.  To celebrate #ACBW, Mama Jean’s is putting many of their craft beers on sale, too!

Friday and Saturday are our own brainchild for American Craft Beer Week.  For us, American Craft Beer Week is about celebrating craft beer that’s brewed in the Ozarks, craft beer that celebrates the Ozarks, and craft beer that’s meant to be consumed in the Ozarks…preferably while enjoying our great outdoors.

piney river weekend at dawt millAmerican Craft Beer Week–Piney River Style begins Friday night at Dawt Mill in Tecumseh, MO.  Join us and some of the Piney River crew for a tap takeover.  Old favorites will be available as well as some never before served beers, including at least one special tapping of a cask of a Piney River beer–a Piney Pin.  Hobby Farm, our honey basil ale, will make it’s 2014 seasonal debut on Friday night, too.hobby farm ale

Dawt Mill is known for their talented chefs, and Chef Ryan Van Winkle is hosting a special “Chef’s Table” dinner in his private kitchen.  This Chef’s Table event will feature foods that are paired with Piney River beer, and a member of the Piney River crew will be there to talk with you about our beer and our brewery, too.

The view from the Gravel Bar at Dawt Mill.

The view from the Gravel Bar at Dawt Mill.

On Saturday, you can join Brian, Andy and I on an official Piney River float trip on the North Fork of the White River.  We are leaving Dawt at 10 a.m. and plan to put in at Blair Bridge and meander our way back to the gravel bar while sipping on our very own Float Trip Ale.  Althea  Spring, rainbow trout, cold, clear Ozark water, limestone bluffs and gravel bars make a complete American Craft Beer Week experience when you’re in Piney River Brewing country!

Concert HERE on Saturday night!

Concert HERE on Saturday night!

Saturday’s fun will be topped off by an 8 p.m. concert at the Gravel Bar with a band we love so much–The Hamburger Cows.  Steve Ames, Jeff Sowards & Bo Brown from Springfield will bring original tunes and covers of classic tunes  creekside on the North Fork of the White.  We expect that general merriment and more Piney pint consumption will ensue.

ALL of these events are open to the public, and we hope to see you in Little Rock, Springfield or at Dawt Mill!

If you are interested in part of the events at Dawt Mill, but cannot attend the entire weekend, please feel free to join us for part of the weekend.  The tap takeover on Friday night and the concert on Saturday night are open to everyone, reservations are not required.  The Chef’s Table event is open to the public, too, but reservations are required.  The dinner spaces are filling quickly.  You can bring your own canoe, kayak or tube to Dawt and put in with us on Saturday morning, or join us somewhere along the way and end the afternoon with a Piney Pint at the Gravel Bar after you take out.

I should also add that this is a family-friendly event!  We love that we are celebrating craft beer, and we can include our son, Andy, in this weekend.  He would be very sad if we did not include him in our stay at Dawt and our float trip!

Lodging is available for one or both nights.  Dawt Mill has rooms and cabins available as well as campsites.  Registered guests for the weekend package receive special Piney River swag, Piney Pints, discounts on Piney Pints.  For additional information or to make a reservation for the Chef’s Table or for lodging at Dawt, contact them at 1-888-884-3298  or  417-284-3540 or dawtmill@dawtmill.com.

Just like the saying on the BARn bar–“Don’t forget to have a good time”–wherever you see Piney River during American Craft Beer Week, we promise you will have a good time!

I’ll close with this photo–Piney River’s official “American Craft Beer Week Selfie”.  The Brewer’s Association asked all of us to take selfie featuring someone from the brewery wearing something with a brewery logo, with a bottle or can of our brew in a location that represented the area we brew in.  So, in early March, we were driving down to Gaston’s to do an event with the Brew Belles, and we drove past Hodgson Mill, which is VERY well known in our neck of the woods.  We stopped to look at the water, and Brian said, “We could do our selfie here.”  Perfect idea!  Brian grabbed one of the canned beers we brought along for the tasting…little did we know it was a future World Beer Cup Gold winner.  Couldn’t be a more perfect way to say, “Cheers!” to American Craft Beer Week 2014!

pineyriverbrewingco_briandurham_MO

 

The Behind the Scenes Peek at Our First World Beer Cup Win

In The Beer on April 15, 2014 at 9:36 pm

I need to preface this blog post by saying that I feel like anything I write here is going to seem much less dramatic than Piney River’s first big win at the Great American Beer Festival.  Even in those moments after we won Gold at GABF last October, I remember thinking, “There will never be another moment like this one.”  There’s only one first time.

Shortly after the 2013 Great American Beer Festival, we were contacted to participate in the largest beer competition in the world–the World Beer Cup.  Also put on by the Brewer’s Association, the World Beer Cup is an international stage for the winning beers.  Gold, silver and bronze “cup” awards are given based on blind taste judging from a panel of judges–mostly from around the world.  A World Beer Cup is held for two years because the competition is only held every other year,  and this year, the World Beer Cup was scheduled to be held in Denver on Friday night following the Craft Brewer’s Conference.

Again, we entered the maximum number of beers–this time it was four styles.  In February, Brian and I sat at the dining room table with four packs of freshly canned beer around us.  We made our selections and sent our beers to Denver about a month ahead of the competition.

I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that Brian and I had more than one conversation about the possible “huge year” that we could have with a GABF gold followed by a World Beer Cup win.  Was it possible?

We arrived in Denver last Monday evening.  We attended our first Craft Brewer’s Conference (CBC) in San Francisco in 2011.  Over the past four years, we’ve watched the conference more than double in size.  The trade show floor has grown too large to leisurely walk through.  But the quality of the programs and the access to industry tools and information is unparallelled.  Although we get up early and stay up way too late every night, Brian and I really enjoy taking a vacation from our day jobs to attend the CBC.

Most importantly, we get to be with “our people“.  The longer we are in the industry, the more people we know.  Sometimes we only see these people once a year, so it’s sort of like a mini-family reunion–with lots of beer!

cbc 2014 denvercbc 2014 mile highcbc 2014 stringdusters

Some highlights of the week–Great meal and craft beer at Euclid Hall.  CBC opening reception at Mile High Stadium.  Canarchy at Star BarThe Infamous Stringdusters in concert at the Ogden Theatre hosted by Oskar Blues Brewery.  Interesting seminars on everything from dissolved oxygen in your beer (yes, this is something we do worry about) to forecasting sales of seasonal beers.  We even got to see Andy  featured on the trade show hall floor in the You Tube I made of our labeling machine in action labeling cold, wet cans coming off our Wild Goose canning line.

Friday night and the World Beer Cup Gala rolled around really quickly.  This time there were no dreams of winning gold while sleeping the night before.  No “signs” on the trip to Denver.  Again, we found ourselves sitting amongst a bunch of folks from California.  Charlie Papazian had his tuxedo on.  The lights dimmed.  The awards ceremony began.

cbc 2014 wbc gala 2cbc 2014 wbc gala 1

Four-thousand seven hundred fifty-four beers from 1,403 breweries representing 58 countries were included in the competition.  (This was a 21 percent increase over the 2012 World Beer Cup.)  Stiff competition.

I’ve always teased Brian about being an immediate gratification kind of guy, and that’s exactly what we got on Friday night.  American-style wheat beer was the first category.  Bronze and silver were announced and popped up on the large screens in the ballroom.  “And the gold goes to…”

“Float” was all that Chris Swersey was able to say before Brian was whooping and jumping up out of his chair beside me.

Things were moving in slow motion for me.  I remember hearing Brian start getting rowdy, but I sat and watched our name fill the screen.

There it was “Float Trip Ale” in large print with “Gold” right next to it.

High fives.  Hugs.  And then we were standing next to Paul Gatza getting ready to walk on stage for a photo with Charlie Papazian.  AGAIN!

world beer cup award by hess

As we left the stage, there were arrows pointing us back behind some curtain where our actual award engraved with our name was given to us.  Andy Sparhawk, the craft beer coordinator at the Brewer’s Association, came running over to us, eyes as big as saucers.  Andy was the one that asked back in October last year, “What will you do if you win?”, referring to the possibility of a GABF award.

Andy, Brian, and I had an “Oh my god, how is this possible?!” moment together.  More high fives and yelling.  This is the stuff dreams are made of !

This time, Brian had the shakes.  He went to get us celebratory beers, and he couldn’t hold the glasses still.  As we weaved our way through the crowd to get back into the ballroom, our friends from The Public House Brewery in Rolla were on a back row with high fives and hugs.

Hey Brian--It's a World Beer Cup GOLD!

Hey Brian–It’s a World Beer Cup GOLD!

When we got back to our seats, one of the ladies from the California group, said, “You freaked us out.”  Then she wanted to know exactly who we were.

That was the only award for Piney River that night.  But as we know, one is all you need.

Two hundred twenty-six breweries went home with one award that night.  Twenty-six breweries won two awards, and one brewery won three.  Twenty-eight percent of the awards went to breweries outside the US.  We saw World Beer Cup awards go to breweries from all over Europe, and also to breweries in Asia, Australia, South and Central America.

We were there to witness our friends from Mike Hess Brewing in San Diego as they received their first major award–a World Cup Gold for Rye beer.  Mike Hess Brewery started out as a nanobrewery, and we first met the Hess family in 2011 at the San Francisco CBC.  Mike Hess recently put in a larger brewhouse and canning line.  I got to yell, “Gold, baby!”  Brian ran up and high fived the whole crew on their way to the stage.  After the ceremony we all went to the top of the hotel and celebrated with a bottle of champagne.

Cloud 9--it's somewhere near the top of the Hyatt Regency in Denver

Cloud 9? It’s somewhere near the top of the Hyatt Regency in Denver.

The Hess crew celebrating GOLD!

The Hess crew celebrating GOLD!

Once again, we are fortunate to receive a huge honor for an extremely Ozark-centric beer.  Float Trip.  A “float trip” is a quintessential Ozark experience.  We’ve made a world class beer that celebrates something that we all love to do in the Ozarks.  Even better–this beer is a great beer to drink when you’re on a float trip!

Yeah, it’s still insane here at Piney River, but the time of our lives just keeps getting better and better.

cbc 2014 wbc award

Piney River Brewing received their gold award at the 2014 World Beer Cup held in Denver on Friday night.  Shown here, left to right:  Brian Durham, head brewer and co-founder; Joleen Durham, co-founder, and Charlie Papazian, president of the Brewer’s Association.

Piney River Brewing received their gold award at the 2014 World Beer Cup held in Denver.  Shown here, left to right: Brian Durham, head brewer and co-founder; Joleen Durham, co-founder, and Charlie Papazian, president of the Brewer’s Association.

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