Piney River Brewing Company

Archive for March, 2011|Monthly archive page

The good life

In The Beer on March 31, 2011 at 10:49 pm

When we started the brewery we knew that our wheat and our pale ale would get a thumbs up from the public.  The wheat is smooth and easy drinking.  The pale ale, for those that like a little more hoppy beer, also as one beer reviewer said, “tastes the way beer is supposed to be”.  They both go great with all kinds of foods, too.

We also had an amber ale that we were fond of.  Our friends were fond of it, too, but our amber ale is “different” because it has more caramel and biscuit flavors at the front.

McKinney Eddy Amber Ale samples were on tap in the brewery in mid-March, and after one weekend, we were OUT of amber ale.  Once again, the people had spoken.

Last week we went to the craft brewer’s conference with ten gallons of McKinney Eddy Amber Ale conditioning in the walk-in.  Three  of our fermentation tanks were also filled with McKinney Eddy Amber Ale.  We left those three children all alone for almost a week hoping that nothing would go wrong to interrupt yeast, fermentable sugars and general beer goodness.

On Monday night, we put in a long one in the brewery, kegging all that amber ale, stopping in between batches to read a book and do goodnight hugs and kisses with Andy.  Sometime after 10 p.m. we had a line of kegs heading toward the cooler.

Brian also carbonated the amber ale that was already conditioning in the walk-in.

On Wednesday night we had a little celebration of the good life.  Homemade pizza and handcrafted beer.

So we took a couple of pints from the amber ale stash in the brewery, but don’t worry, we’ve saved some for you, too.

Come out and celebrate the good life with us on Saturday afternoon, April 2 from 12 to 4 p.m.  Cheers!


Base Camp with “Our People”

In Beer Events on March 27, 2011 at 7:17 pm

Wow.  That’s really the only way to describe our first Craft Brewers Conference.

Sponsored by the Brewer’s Association, this year’s conference was held in San Francisco.   We had a view of the Golden Gate Bridge from our hotel.   We rode the BART.  We ate dinner one night at Zuni.  We also attended a beer and chocolate event at Pier 17 and a concert at the Fillmore.  Other than that, the conference could have really been anywhere in the US.

We spent most of our time in classes, in the exhibit hall or at hospitality events hanging out with other people in the industry.

First, let me tell you, the beer flowed.  Craft breweries from around the nation were invited to provide kegs and cases of beer.  We had the opportunity to sample beer that we would never be able to find in Missouri.  For example, in one sitting Brian and I split a can of extra pale ale from Baxter Brewing in Maine and a bottle of summer Kolsch style ale from Alaskan Brewing.  It’s not often you can do that in one sitting.  Wednesday night’s opening reception included a “conference beer” and beers on tap from breweries around the Bay area—some of which would only be available in a brew pub setting.  What a treat!

Around all that beer it sort of felt like a never ending beer festival.  We got into San Francisco in time to check into our hotel and hop on a bus for California Academy of Natural Sciences museum.  We were greeted by a T-Rex skeleton and an official glass.  The BA gave us the run of the place that night with great beer and appetizers everywhere.  It was awesome!

I exuberantly quipped to Brian, “It’s not every day you get to drink beer in a museum!” At that time Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Craft Brewing was walking by, and he asked, “Are you going to drink tonight?”  He held up his glass to clink to mine.   In an effort to not miss an opportunity, we thanked Sam for his book’s influence on our decision to start making and selling craft beer in the Ozarks.

The fun didn’t stop there.

We ran into Mike, Lynda and Greg Hess from Hess Brewing in San Diego.  They are operating a nano-brewery in San Diego and championing small breweries across the nation.  We’ve been following them online since the middle of last year.

I attended the Pink Boots Society meeting with Michelle Kelsall of Offbeat Brewing in Cheshire, England.  Michelle is a brewer that is currently on a small system, and her brewery was being upgraded to a 6 barrel system while she was in San Francisco.

The male to female ratio at the CBC was heavily skewed to the dudes (especially heavily bearded, young and skinny dudes, a.k.a. brewers).  About 70 women in brewing came together for the aforementioned Pink Boots Society Meeting for a couple of hours on Friday.  At the meeting were the women who founded with their husbands Pizza Port in Carlsbad, Maui Brewing in Hawaii and O’Dell Brewing in Fort Collins, and there were women like me who are newly involved in the brewing industry.

Brian and I spent some time talking to some of our “local” craft brewers—Marshall Brewing in Tulsa; COOP Ale Works in Oklahoma City and Mother’s Brewing in Springfield.

"Musical" painter dancing and painting to the music at the Fillmore.

The exhibit hall was packed with vendors of everything from chillers to hops (and lots more beer to sample).  We met some of the vendors we’ve been working with, and we met some that we will work with down the road.  We honed in on the canning line we intend to use.  We brought home a stack of information to wade through.

We attended classes on marketing, hops, law, sanitation and more.  Missouri’s own Dan Kopman of Schlafly and John MacDonald of Boulevard were honored by the BA for contributions in the industry.  Ken Grossman of Sierra Brewing and Fritz Maytag of Anchor Steam Brewing opened the conference on Thursday morning with a sit down session sharing from their hearts about how and why they are in the brewing industry and what the industry was like when they started out.  As they ended their talk, special 30th anniversary beers were handed out to each row in the audience.  Corks were popped off the bottles throughout the room, and at about 10:30 in the morning on Thursday, 3,900 people in the brewing industry shared a toast.  That’s pretty much the way things roll when you’re in brewing.

Chocolate beer event at TCHO Factory.

We learned a lot.  We met a lot of people, had great conversation and shared our stories.  We’re already planning to attend next year’s CBC.  And most importantly, we’re excited to be back in Bucyrus where we will crank up the machines to brew some more great beer to share with our friends and neighbors.


Soft openings

In The Beer on March 14, 2011 at 9:09 pm

When we started this process, we thought we would save our old barn, make a little beer in it, and see what the interest was in beer hand crafted on the Piney.  We had barely cleaned the old hay and manure out of the barn before word started getting out about Piney River Brewing Company, and we kept hearing, “This is what this area needed!”

After we got our licenses last year, we poured all of our energy into getting the BARn in shape to brew.  The brewing began in January, and the major construction work stopped.  Yet in between lots of brewing, we’ve been slapping up tin, hanging doors and cleaning up all the old barn parts and pieces scattered around inside and out.

We've closed off the "mechanical room".

We've about got the grain room/office interior covered in old tin.

We've enclosed both sides of the brewery viewing walls.

EVERYONE kept asking about our “grand opening”, which has not occurred.  We really aren’t ready for all of our friends and neighbors to show up here at once for a pint.  We have cracked the door open just a tad the past two weekends–filling growlers, offering samples, showing off the work in progress.

On tap...

And other stuff...

These soft openings have been fun.  We’ve had about 20 visitors a weekend, and we’ve been able to give tours and talk about craft beer.

For those of you that have come out to see us.  Thanks!  For those of you that haven’t, we’re going to keep opening up from  time to time on the weekends as we are able.

The last weekend we’ll be open in March is Sat., Mar. 19th.  Our hours this Saturday will be 12 to 4 p.m.  Cheers!

One of our growlers waiting for a fill in the brewery.

What the heck IS a growler?

In The Beer on March 8, 2011 at 10:32 pm

Well, here’s a Piney River Brewing Company growler.

These are half-gallon glass containers that hold beer.

According to the Alstrom Brothers at Beer Advocate:  In the late 1800s and early 1900s, fresh beer was carried from the local pub to one’s home by means of a small-galvanized pail. Rumor has it that when the beer sloshed around the pail, it created a rumbling sound as the CO2 escaped through the lid, thus the term “growler” was coined.

Before World War II, city kids used to bring covered buckets of draft beer from a local bar or brewery to workers at lunchtime or to their parents at dinnertime, a practice called “rushing the growler.”

In the 50s and 60s, waxed cardboard containers with lids were used to take home beer – it’s said that they were round and resembled take-out Chinese soup containers. And in many US states, it used to be (and still is) illegal for “liquor stores” to be open on Sunday. So if you wanted beer on Sunday you went to a bar and bought some of these “containers” of draft beer. However by the late 60s many bars had switched to plastic and eventually they were allowed to sell packaged beer after hours. Soon after, many states allowed Sunday sales at liquor stores and the concept of the growler soon died.

In the early 80s, Newman Brewing in Albany, NY used to sell soft plastic gallon containers of their beer. Apparently if you brought the empty back to the brewery, they’d replenish it with more beer.

A claim to the modern day growler states that in 1989, Charlie Otto and his father were discussing the dilemma facing the Otto Brothers Brewery. They wanted to offer “beer-to-go” for their local customers, but they were not yet in a position to bottle. Father Otto suggested the use of “growlers,” which were used in his younger days, but Charlie recognized the need for an updated package type. He purchased a small silkscreen machine, and set it up on his patio. Soon he was silk-screening his logo on half-gallon glass bottles that resembled moonshine jugs. The modern-day “growler” was introduced.

George Bulvas III, brewmaster at Water Street Lake County Brewery, WI, suggests that growlers are named for the buckets of beer once given to factory workers before their stomachs began to “growl” from hunger.

Whatever. Nowadays, a growler is simply a glass jug that carries a half-gallon of beer.

You can buy a growler full of Piney River Brewing Company craft beer for $14.  The growler is yours to keep, and you can bring it back for a refill for only $8.

A growler comes with a special lid that helps keep the carbonation in the jug.  The beer needs to be kept cold, and after the jug is opened the beer needs to be consumed within two to three days because it will begin to go flat.  Chances are, if you have a PRBC growler in your fridge, it will growl at you, and there’s no way that beer will sit around and go flat.

We will be filling growlers at the brewery on Sat., Mar. 12th from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.  We have Ozark Firefly Wheat and Bronzeback Pale Ale on tap.  Remember, we’re still under construction, but we’re happy to share our craft beer with you.

And, since I’ve started selling growlers, I’ve learned that growlers can also be used to hold loose change and to start conversation.  Really, how many things are out there that say “Bucyrus, Missouri” on them?


10 to 2 Today

In The Beer on March 5, 2011 at 9:10 am

10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today.  We’re open.  Yep, you heard it right, we’ve cracked the door to the BARn just a bit.  We have Bronzeback Pale Ale and Ozark Firefly Wheat on tap.  We’ve got growlers to fill, so you don’t have to be thirsty.

Back when we started this Piney River Brewing Company thing we thought that we would use our little Sabco system to test the waters.  We were going to brew some beer, create a really cool tap room with a spectacular view, and maybe, just maybe, drum up a few Piney River Brewing Company fans along the way.

We really wondered: what is the demand for handcrafted beer along the Piney River?

Well, you’ve made it crystal clear.  You’re thirsty.

We are far from having that taproom with the spetacular view complete.  And we already know that our 10 gallon system isn’t going to be able to meet the demand (or the people that are brewing on that system).  But we have brewed some beer, and it’s ready.

Come out and get some from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today, when we’re working in the brewery brewing MORE beer.  We have 1/2 gallon growlers that we are filling with your choice of beer for $14 apiece, and after you drink them, you can bring them back for an $8 refill of more beer handcrafted right here in the Ozarks along the Big Piney River. (I should add that we’re filling growlers until we run out of beer….)

If you don’t know how to find us, check out the map on our website at under “Contact Us”.