Piney River Brewing Company

Archive for August, 2011|Monthly archive page

New Microbrewery Stuff

In Start up on August 25, 2011 at 10:25 pm

Visitors to Piney River Brewing Company last week got a chance to take a gander at some of our new brewery “stuff”.

First came more stainless–our new (to us) 7-barrel brew house.

Yes, we were planning to build our own system, but Brian found a used system at Big Muddy Brewing in Murphysboro, IL.  Don’t worry, we’re going to use the parts we were already working on to add some components to this brewing system.

It took two trailers and two trucks, but it all arrived safely at the BARn.

Now, the fun part…getting it all hooked up.  Rees Oil arrived today to install the propane tank which will provide heat for the brew house.  A glycol chilling unit is on its way to Bucyrus, and it will be used to provide constant cool temperatures for the fermentation vessels and bright tank.  Speaking of…

These fermentation vessels are just about ready for “insert beer here”.

This may be my personal favorite of the new “stuff”–the semi-automatic keg cleaner.  No more busting my knuckles taking corny kegs apart.  Although I have dubbed myself “Keg Queen”, it’s not because I’m drinking them dry.  I just clean ’em.  This little machine is going to make my life a heckuva lot better.

Although we’ve still got to hook her up, here’s more or less where the new brew house sits in the brewery.

Notice the paddle leaning against the brew kettle?  That’s not just any old paddle.

That is the mash paddle (for stirring the mash when you’re making beer).

And that’s not just any old mash paddle.

That’s a handcrafted Ozark sassafras wood paddle.

Which in the Ozarks is the finest paddle you can have, folks.

Our good friend, Joe Richardson, made this paddle for us.  He started it quite awhile back, and he finished it and brought it over this week.  Joe crafted the paddle in his shop, and he even used a couple of tools from Charlie McKinney’s blacksmith shop before the job was complete.

From what Joe told us about making the paddle, it took a lot of determination and time, but it was like all great things in the end–something he was really proud of.  And we’re proud of it, too.  Thanks, Joe!

And finally, did you see those bright colored lights behind that new brewhouse?

That’s what happens when your dad learns how to use the Internet.

Yep, Happy Birthdays and Merry Christmas to Brian and I.  My dad did a little online shopping and hooked us up with more neon than Bucyrus has probably ever seen.

So far the Bronzeback seems to be the most popular.

We’ve also started work on putting the old barn wood on the walls upstairs.  But that’s another blog post…

There’s lots to see at Piney River Brewing Company these days.  And our feverish brewing efforts have paid off; we have Ozark Firefly Wheat; McKinney Eddy Amber Ale; Bronzeback Pale Ale; Old Tom Porter and Missouri Mule IPA on tap (until we don’t) this Saturday, August 27th.  Come on out and see us and our new brewery stuff–12 to 5 p.m.

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The Fun of Microbrewery Ownership

In Start up on August 20, 2011 at 10:04 pm

If you read our blog regularly, you know that microbrewery ownership is a lot of planning, risk taking, sweating and late nights.  AKA…work.  And in our case, we already have day jobs and a small farm.

This Saturday was another great example of why microbrewery ownership is so much fun even when it’s so much work.  We had been closed for three Saturdays–two because we were traveling on vacation and at a wedding and one because we had no beer.  We hated to be closed for three weekends, but we didn’t have a choice.

We opened little earlier than usual this Saturday…at noon.  As we anticipated, our customers were pretty darn thirsty.  It wasn’t too long after noon that the cars and trucks began to roll up the driveway…and they rolled in and out all day long.  Friends, neighbors, people from St. Louis, Indiana, Virginia, Texas, Washington, Roby, Cabool, Licking, Mountain Grove, Bucyrus, Houston, Elk Creek, Edgar Springs, Springfield…am I forgetting anyone?  (Probably…sorry!)

Visitors to the brewery today were able to see some new, cool stainless steel–our new brewhouse–and our new neon signs.  More about both of those in a later blog post.

Two really neat things happened today.  First, at last year’s TCMH Healthcare Foundation Chili Cookoff auction, I won (in a fierce bidding war) a small painting by local artist, Lanie Frick.  The painting is of a mule, looking out of a barn window.  Last year we didn’t even have a Missouri Mule IPA, but I had to have that painting for the BARn I was working on.  While hanging neon on Thursday, I found a spot for my mule painting.  It was just in time, too.  A member of Lanie Frick’s family visited the BARn today and saw the painting.  Although I had contacted Frick to tell her that I got the painting at the auction and where I was going to hang it, I was really pleased to be able to meet someone that could personally tell her that the picture was hanging in the BARn…not too far from kegs of Missouri Mule IPA.

Second, Piney River Brewing Company is very close to one of the largest military installations in the US–Fort Leonard Wood.  Fort Leonard Wood has been referred to as “Fort Lost in the Woods” due to its somewhat remote location in the Ozarks, but it’s amazing how many people have spent time on the base, especially for basic training.  I grew up with friends whose parents were stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, driving through the base to get to I-44 on the way to St. Louis and trying to avoid military convoys that were “practicing” their driving on our curvy roads.  Today, Fort Leonard Wood is a city within itself.   People from all over the world go to Fort Leonard Wood to train, and there are many people from all over the US that spend time stationed at the Fort.  Some of those people decide to return to the area to retire, some decide they don’t want to leave and some are just looking for a place to have a good time while they are stationed at Fort Leonard Wood.  We had three such groups of people visit the brewery today.

Our new Fort Leonard Wood friends were very excited to make it out to the brewery, and they are also excited to share the news with their friends.  (And we’re excited about that, too!).  Our Fort Leonard Wood customers always have interesting stories, diverse backgrounds, and some of them do really unusual jobs, too.  I’m not sure if everyone at Fort Leonard Wood realizes it, but the Big Piney River runs right through the base, so it only makes sense that our beer should end up in the hands of the folks that serve our country there!

As we finally sat down at the close of the day, we found ourselves laughing and telling stories that each one of us were part of today as we carried on many conversations, shared samples, served pints and filled growlers.  It was fun.  This microbrewery thing may be a lot of work, but days like this make it so much fun!

If you were one of our customers today–THANK YOU for supporting your local craft brewery!

Northern Brewer Saved PRBC

In The Beer on August 7, 2011 at 8:32 am

Once upon a time there was a family in the Ozarks that started a nanobrewery called Piney River Brewing Company.  The family spent time every summer on a fishing trip on Rainy Lake in Northern Minnesota/Canada.  The first year their brewery was in operation, the family found it very difficult to pick “the right time” to leave the brewery for their annual pilgrimage to North Country.

However, as the summer of 2011 went along, the family realized that the first week of August would be a good week to make the annual Rainy Lake trip.  They began planning, and as luck would have it, they sold out of beer the week before they were to leave on vacation.

With their thirsty customers in mind, they made sure all four fermentation vessels were filled with beer that was fermenting in the brewery while they were in North Country.  They emptied the brewery fridge of yeast, but planned to order more yeast while they were on vacation.  They had a very tight brewing schedule:

Sunday, August 7th –arrive at home from North Country and transfer beer from fermentation vessels to kegs for carbonating.

Monday, August 8th—Brian goes to work and picks up the yeast ordered while on vacation and returns home that evening to double batch brew 20 gallons.

Tuesday & Wednesday, August 9th /10th—Brian goes to Big Muddy Brewing to pick up our new 7-barrel brew house.

Thursday or Friday night of the same week—Brian goes to work and returns home to double batch brew 20 more gallons.

The brewing family had a fabulous vacation of chilling out on the lake, catching fish and not really thinking about anything other than having fun on the lake.  It was on Saturday afternoon as the brewing family headed South back toward Missouri and began discussing the upcoming week’s events.

“You forgot to order yeast!” the brewer’s wife exclaimed.

The brewer began to consider his options so as not to throw the whole pbrewing plan awry.  After all, the Piney River Brewing customers are thirsty!

“Find out where Northern Brewer is,” the brewer asked his wife.

Blackberry in hand the brewer and his wife wound their way through St. Paul to a hoppin’ little homebrew store—Northern Brewer.  Together they picked up yeast to brew 40 more gallons of beer and some brown malt needed for the Old Tom Porter.

The doors of brewery will be open again on Saturday, August 20th, and thanks to Northern Brewer, the brewery will be well stocked with beer.

And that’s the story of how Northern Brewer—a home brew shop in St. Paul, Minnesota—saved Piney River Brewing Company.

Cheers to Northern Brewer!