Piney River Brewing Company

Brewcyrus Does Portland, A CBC 2015 Recap

In Beer Events on April 20, 2015 at 10:13 pm

“This is insane,” the cab driver said to Brian and I.

He was talking about the 11,000+ people in attendance at the Craft Brewer’s Conference in Portland last week.

“We aren’t able to handle groups like this,” the cab driver said. “We had a big coffee convention here, but those people didn’t go out to big events every night and need rides everywhere.”  (Which leads me to believe that the coffee folks just don’t have nearly as much fun as the beer folks.)

This was our 5th time to attend a Craft Brewer’s Conference, our first time to visit Portland, and the first time we were able to take our brewers—Amber and Lucas—to the conference, too. I’m sure we can all do much more damage to the Portland experience in the future, but while we were there we went hard and jammed as much fun as we could into the hours our feet were on Oregon soil.

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Left Bucyrus about 4:15 a.m. (CST) on Tuesday morning. Our plane landed in Portland about 2 p.m. (PST), and we were at Breakside Brewery drinking their GABF Gold Medal winning IPA and Pale Ale within two hours. Special thanks to the staff at Breakside for showing us around and for incredible hospitality.

A barrel full of tasty pours at Breakside.

A barrel full of tasty pours at Breakside.

And if it isn’t a small world—while at Breakside, we met Breakside brewmaster Ben Edmunds, and he asked, “Piney River? Do you make a porter?”

Of course we make a porter. Our Old Tom Porter had been part of the “Best of Craft Beer Awards” held in Oregon in January (where we bagged a gold award for our Masked Bandit IPA), and Ben was one of the judges. He liked the porter enough that he snagged the extra can of Old Tom Porter to take home and enjoy.

Checking out the barrel room at Breakside.

Breakside brewer, Nao, showing us the barrel room at Breakside.

We went from the brewery to the circus-themed opening ceremony where we started catching up with our craft beer friends and family while noshing on piles of oysters and Voodoo Donuts, all paired with Oregon-brewed craft beer. And that was followed by a fun little party in our hotel hosted by Lagunitas Brewing. No naps needed, it was an hour or two into Wednesday morning before we closed our eyes.  Time change and jet lag?  Take that!

Opening Reception at CBC 2015

Darth Vader on Bagpipes, Opening Reception at CBC 2015

Fire hoops at the Opening Reception, CBC 2015.

Fire hoops at the Opening Reception, CBC 2015.

We ran into David, Kathy, Keith and Alex from Bluff City Beer and Logan and Rodney from Grellner Sales.  It's one big happy craft beer family!

We ran into David, Kathy, Keith and Alex from Bluff City Beer and Logan and Rodney from Grellner Sales. It’s one big happy craft beer family!

On the bazillion square foot trade show floor at the conference we all fought off ADD trying to keep track of where we had been, who we talked to, where we wanted to go, who we needed to talk to all while being distracted by things we had never seen. Shortly after the trade show opened, we were all aware that our new Wild Goose Canning Machine was part of their floor display. How exciting is that?

Wild Goose Canning!  Piney River Brewing!  We CAN! Part 2...coming soon!

Wild Goose Canning! Piney River Brewing! We CAN! Part 2…coming soon!

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There were educational seminars every day on very exciting beer topics like “Yeast Management”, “Dry Hopping” and “Operating in Confined Spaces” that Lucas, Amber and Brian went to. Making high quality beer is numero uno at Piney River, but I attended classes that helped me stay in the know on the marketing and selling of craft beer in classes like “DIY Kick Ass Beer Festivals”.

We went to sweet parties at night hosted by Lagunitas, Oskar Blues and industry suppliers. We had the most fun on Thursday night at “We Can Jam” a canned craft beer party at the Wonder Ballroom hosted by Wild Goose, Crown and others supplying the canned craft beer industry. The event featured canned craft beer, music by Scott Pemberton Trio and The Supersuckers, and a photo booth.

Hey!  It's our West Coast craft beer family--Mike & Linda Hess and brewer, Frank.  We first met Mike & Linda in San Francisco at CBC 2015, and last CBC we both won World Beer Cup Gold Awards in Denver at CBC 2014.

Hey! It’s our West Coast craft beer family–Mike & Linda Hess and brewer, Frank Butler, from Mike Hess Brewing in San Diego. We first met Mike & Linda in San Francisco at CBC 2011.  Last CBC we both won World Beer Cup Gold Awards in Denver at CBC 2014.

This is called: How Many Brewers Can We Fit in a Photo Booth?

This is called: How Many Brewers Can We Fit in a Photo Booth?

The Supersuckers at Wonder Ballroom

The Supersuckers at Wonder Ballroom

A little Piney River fun in the We Can Jam photo booth.

A little Piney River fun in the We Can Jam photo booth.

(It was in the photo booth we determined that Brian lost his CBC badge. Have you seen The Hangover…everybody is having fun that they can’t remember the next morning, so they look at the photos. That was us. On Friday morning, when Brian couldn’t find his conference badge, we had to look back through photos from the night before. Brian was last seen wearing his badge in the We Can Jam photo booth. He must have accidentally removed it when he took off the feather boa he was posing with.)

It was at We Can Jam that we with the help of the Wild Goose employees dreamed up the idea of the best canning machine install ever—Canapalooza at Piney River Farm. We decided that it would take the entire Wild Goose crew to help install our new machine…and a bonfire…and beer…and Lucas delivering firewood…and beer…and a float trip…and beer…and music…and beer….all in the beautiful Ozark hills of Brewcyrus. No word on when the bus from Boulder will arrive….

We did not put our politics aside while in Oregon. Everyone from Piney River stopped at the Brewer’s Association booth and sent an emails to US Representative Jason Smith and US Senators Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt asking them to co-sponsor the Small BREW Act because excise tax reform for small breweries is an important thing to all of us craft brewers and it will help create jobs and provide funds to reinvest back into our local breweries. And I stepped up into a board role for Missouri Small Brewer’s Guild.

The Brewer’s Association puts on an excellent conference every year. Not only is it fun, but it’s an opportunity for breweries of all sizes to come together and network and learn together. The commitment to high quality craft beer is unwavering, and the industry suppliers know that we want the tools to help us achieve that. We can see a lot of those tools first hand. We also were able to take part in a full slate of classes with excellent guest lecturers. Brewing is not always glamorous or high paying, but it is awesome to be able to connect with others in the industry in this way once a year.

Before 12 a.m., we were on the Friday night red-eye flight out of Portland.  Saw the sun come up in Detroit.  Found ourselves back in Bucyrus by 1:30.  Three time zones stops in 9 hours.  #howweroll

Next year’s conference is in Philadelphia. Brian and I are going back to the scene of the crime—that’s where we first met in September 1992 at small liberal arts college on the Main Line. And that’s when the next World Beer Cup Awards will be held, too.  We imagine that it may just be another good time.

Craft Beer…It’s Something We Can All Agree On

In The Beer on March 30, 2015 at 10:21 pm

We don’t claim to be particularly political at Piney River.  But we do believe in speaking up about things that are important to us to our elected officials. As we’ve learned over the past four years, craft beer crosses all political lines, and we can all come together to share a beer.

And that’s how this came to be.

Brian shows off the new construction project to US Representative Jason Smith (MO-8).

Brian shows off the new construction project to US Representative Jason Smith (MO-8).

We were very honored to host our Congressman for Missouri’s 8th District at Piney River today.  Representative Jason Smith and his aides Eric Harmon and Tammy Corrigan picked a beautiful day in the Ozarks for a look around their local craft brewery–and it was a first for Representative Smith in his district!

We shared the Piney River story…from home brewing to professionally brewing 10 gallons at a time to adding brewers and other staff members in our rural Missouri small business!

Brewer Amber Powell got her chance to speak up about being a female brewer in a male-dominated industry.  Go Amber!

Brewer Amber Powell got her chance to speak up about being a female brewer in a male-dominated industry. Go Amber!

And here's everyone that was on hand today at the BARn with Representative Smith--Jonathan Bates; Ian Dreisel; Amber Powell and Brian and Joleen.

And here’s everyone that was on hand today at the BARn with Representative Smith–Jonathan Bates; Ian Dreisel; Amber Powell and Brian and Joleen.

Representative Smith was genuinely interested in the entire process from brewing to packaging to shipping beer to distributors. We were able to tell him about the great support we receive locally and the way that support allows us to give back to our local community.  Plus, our BARn is a place that brings people from all over to Bucyrus, MO to spend money and to create great memories that make them want to come back and bring friends with them.  We talked about small business issues such as financing and employees.

Brian shows off some canned beer ready to be shipped to Representative Smith.

Brian shows off some canned beer ready to be shipped to Representative Smith.

We had the opportunity to thank Rep. Smith for the support he’s already given for lowering federal excise taxes for small brewers, and we asked him to consider co-sponsoring a bill that we’ve worked with the Brewer’s Association to support, HR 232, the Small Brewer Reinvestment and Expanding Workforce Act.

There are over 3,000 small brewers in the US today.  Craft beer recently took a double digit market share.  Great things are happening with craft beer in the US, and today we had the opportunity to share our personal story with a member of Congress.  What a privilege!

Just like we’ve told you, we also told Representative Smith that we are in this business because we are doing something we love and celebrating and sharing the Ozarks, which we also love.  Representative Smith grew up just one county away near the headwaters of the Current River.  He understands the love we have for this area, too.

And I’ve said it before, so I’ll say it again…at the end of the day, beer is bipartisan.  Let’s raise a pint to working together to grow craft beer in the US!

4th Aleiversary—The Best One Yet

In Beer Events on March 17, 2015 at 9:33 pm

Yes, we had some anxiety about the 4th Aleiversary.

Just like the 3rd Aleiversary, we planned to be overwhelmed.

Portapotties?

Check.

Two food trucks?

Check.

Security?

Check.

Beer trailer with six taps outside?

Check.

ID bracelets and beer tickets?

Had those to.

We even had a brand spanking new deck addition–built just in time.

Everyone knows that the sun always shines on the Aleiversary, so even though we began watching the weather religiously a month in advance, sunshine seemed pretty likely (insert fingers and toes crossed).

On February 13th the construction on our building ground to a halt with snow, cold, snow that melted into ice to be topped by more snow that melted into ice to be topped by more snow that melted into ice. Finally, the weather warmed up on March 7th and the great melt and dry-out began. Only six days to the 4th Aleiversary (insert nervous mud discussions here).

Due to construction, our parking lot was cut down (to a mud pit) the week before the Aleiversary. The week of the Aleiversary, the rebuild of the parking lot began. A couple dozen loads of chat later, hours upon hours of work by Holland Excavating, some additional gravel laid on Walnut Grove Drive by our township, and with some gravel spreading help from Brian in the skid steer, we were ready for the for the 4th Aleiversary.

Of course, it rained up until the morning before the Aleiversary. The yard around the brewery was muddy, but the field (aka additional parking) drained well. A little well-placed gravel, some caution tape and we were ready to go.

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Smokey Folk from Springfield and Joshin the Giants from Joplin provided handcrafted tunes that were enjoyed by all ages all day long.

Smokey Folk

Smokey Folk

Joshin the Giants

Joshin the Giants

Emma, Lucas and Ian served in the taproom. Pete and Amber served at the beer tent. Tessa and Jonathan sold beer tickets outside. Jamie and Brian handled parking.

Pete and Amber at the beer trailer with the head root beer maker.

Pete and Amber at the beer trailer with the head root beer maker.

Ian and Emma behind the bar in the tap room.

Ian and Emma behind the bar in the tap room.

Ian and Lucas behind the bar in the tap room.

Ian and Lucas behind the bar in the tap room.

Jonathan and Tessa took care of beer tickets for almost every customer that came through the Aleiversary.

Jonathan and Tessa took care of beer tickets for almost every customer that came through the Aleiversary.

I tried to do everything else as needed (no photos of that).

I cannot say enough about our staff and the work they do to help put the Aleiversary on. In addition to helping get everything ready for the day, they arrive early the day of the event and work their butts off until every customer goes home. There is no time for breaks, eating the great food served or even sipping a beer. They put their heads down and poured beer and tried to keep customers happy for seven hours straight. And they did a fabulous job with helping make another wonderful Piney River experience at the 4th Aleiversary.

Asking 21-year olds to wear a wristband and to purchase beer tickets made for a very smooth day for patrons and for our staff. Nobody had to wait very long for a pint at all.

The 2015 Mule Team IPA was delicious and smooth. Several people were proud to take home a four-pack or more.

Both decks and the tap room were filled.

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Even the muddy yard became a place to sit and enjoy a beer with family and friends.

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Both food trucks had a steady line of customers all day long, but the waits were very reasonable.  Mike and Julie’s Smoked Meats and Aviary on the Fly both received rave reviews and even sold out of some food items. We appreciate everyone supporting our local food vendors, too.

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At some point about mid-day a customer said to me, “The parking lot is full.”

I thought, “The parking lot????”

“You mean the field?” I asked.

“Yes.”

cars at aleiversary

Indeed the field was nearly full of cars, and all day long only one truck needed some assistance in getting out.

One of our neighbors noted to his wife that at about 12 p.m. when cars were pouring down ZZ Highway, it “was like we live in the city”.

And we appreciate our neighbors sharing this little piece of heaven with the hordes of folks that want to celebrate Piney River in the Ozarks. Thank you!

We believe 850 or so people came out and participated in this particular Piney River experience.

As the official “field attendant” for every car that came down the drive last Saturday, Brian had the opportunity to personally greet most folks that joined us. As I wound my way up and down and in and out of the brewery and the grounds, I kept running into friends, family and fans. We were honored to host staff members from three of our distributors, too. I hope we had a chance to say hello, shake a hand, share a smile or laugh with you.

The Aleiversary is not about selling a bunch of beer a the BARn one day a year. The Aleiversary is about celebrating craft beer in the Ozarks with you. Two people that some thought were a little (or a lot!) crazy had a dream about making beer in a barn on farm just up the hill from the Piney River.

We dreamed of making beer that celebrated our home, a great place in the US—the Ozarks. We dreamed of making beer that could be canned for consumption in the beautiful and secluded places of the Ozarks. Four years later, all those dreams and much more have come true.

From Brian and I and our whole Piney River Crew, THANK YOU for four phenomenal, unforgettable, mind-blowing years!

Cheers to you!  From All of Us--Jamie, Emma, Brian, Joleen, Pete, Amber, Tessa, Jonathan & Ian (Lucas, not shown)

Cheers to you! From All of Us–Jamie, Emma, Brian, Joleen, Pete, Amber, Tessa, Jonathan & Ian (Lucas, not shown)

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