Piney River Brewing Company

Archive for September, 2011|Monthly archive page

Microbrewery Owners Can Sleep When They Die

In Start up on September 22, 2011 at 9:30 pm

A year ago in September we still had some old barn wood on the BARn.  There were dirt floors, and there was certainly no plumbing or electricity.  The TTB probably hadn’t even opened the box with our application for licensure.

Somewhere over the past 52 weeks we got a concrete floor, plumbing, electricity, and we actually opened a nanobrewery.  Brian has brewed almost 70 batches of beer (10 gallons at a time).  I’ve cleaned a million kegs or maybe two million kegs (or so it seemed).  We’ve had hundreds of people come through the doors of our brewery.  We’ve had the opportunity to introduce some people to craft beer, and we’ve had the opportunity to enjoy sharing craft beer with fellow craft beer lovers.

If the last 52 weeks went by quickly, the last three of four weeks have been moving along at a warp speed.

The 7-barrel brewhouse is very close to being started up for the first time…we could do an hourly countdown at this point, I believe.

The fermentation vessels and bright tank are hooked up and have glycol running through them.

The upstairs tap room is beginning to take shape, and we have at least a ton of grain upstairs waiting to be poured down the pipe after milling, directly into the mashtun.

And I haven’t taken photos or blogged about any of this because there hasn’t been time, but I promise to document some of this with photos over the weekend!

Our prototype Piney pint cans are good to go, and we’re waiting on a date from the factory for a trip to Mississippi to see our cans made.

Our canning machine is scheduled to ship next week, and we may actually have cans of our beer in some of your hands for your Oktoberfest celebrations.

In between all of this we’ve been brewing beer, kegging beer and making tap room plans.  That’s right, a week ago we decided that we would have the tap room open every Saturday from 12 to 6 p.m.  We are going to be able to meet the demand with our new system, and we’re even training some help so we can take a weekend off every so often.

I remember sometime earlier this summer when Brian and I had worked several late nights in a row, I told Brian, “We can sleep when we die.”  We laughed about it, and we still do because right now death would seem to be the only way to get a lengthy amount of shut eye.

I’ve been watching some other up and coming breweries as they ready tap rooms and install brewhouses.  Some of them have more “professional help”, but all of them are up to their elbows in something, and nobody gets much sleep.  But it’s the best sleeplessness I’ve ever experienced because as I write this I can only smile about how far we’ve come at Piney River Brewing Company.  And a year from now we probably won’t have longer nights of sleep, but we will have progressed even further in building our microbrewery.

Come out and smile with us this Saturday or any upcoming Saturday from 12 to 6 p.m.  Cheers!


Hops, Hoptemonium, Hopalicious, Hoppiness, Hops!

In The Beer on September 15, 2011 at 9:37 pm

We signed a contract today.  Not a huge contract, but a contract nonetheless.  It is a contract that is vital to the success of Piney River Brewing Company in 2012.  It’s a contract that’s vital to the outcome of handcrafted beer from Bucyrus, MO.

We signed a contract for our hops.

Small, family owned brewery in the Ozarks has signed a contract with a US hop brokerage firm in Washington.

Why is it important to contract your hops, you might ask?

There are many different types of hops (grown around the world), and the hop farmers contract with breweries prior to their upcoming season so they will know how many hops of various varieties to grow.

Did you know that hops are the bittering agent used in brewing beer to provide a balance between the sweet wort that comes off the grain?  Did you know that hops provide aroma to beer?  Did you know that all beers have some amount of hops in them (some a lot more than others!)?   Hops provide flavor and aroma, and some hop varieties provide more flavor or more aroma, depending upon the variety.  In some brews hops are added only once.  In some brews hops are added multiple times throughout the boil and sometimes during the fermentation or after the fermentation process.

What is a hop?

Hops are the female flower clusters of the hop species, Humulus lupulus.

Hops are an herbaceous perennial that climb, so in cultivation, hop plants grow on a trellis system.  The hop blossoms are harvested when they are ripe.   The hop blossoms are dried, and the dried blossoms are turned into hop pellets. The hop grower promises that the hop blossoms will not have too many leaves or stems, and each specific hop variety has a certain amount of alpha acids.  These alpha acids are what provide bitterness or aroma when beer is being made.

We have contracted with our grower for several hundred pounds of hops of different types.

Pelletized hops currently in the brewery.

Hops were first used in cultivation in 8 or 9 AD in the Hallertau region of present day Germany.  Germany still produces the largest amount of hops in the world.  North American hops are primarily grown in the Northwestern US.  Hops are also grown across Europe, in New Zealand, China, and the UK.  There are certain hop varieties that originated in Europe but are grown in the US today.

Hops are harvested in the US in late summer, and in a few weeks, we will have some hops in our brewery that were recently harvest out West.  The hops come to us in vacuum sealed 44 lb. bags.  We keep them in airtight bags in the cooler or the freezer at the brewery.

It’s all hoppiness and light here at Piney River Brewing Company with our 2012 hop contract out of the way.  Now we’ll just keep our fingers crossed for the right mix of sunlight and rain for US hop farms in 2012, too.

Even Microbreweries Need Friends in High Places

In Start up on September 9, 2011 at 6:43 am

A craft beer fan told Brian today that if I didn’t blog about the brewery soon, they were going to start a “Piney River Brewery Won’t Blog” blog.

I know you don’t want to read excuses, but this writer has been thinking about writing while helping Brian brew; cleaning, sanitizing and filling kegs; cleaning brewing equipment, and helping with general brewery construction and maintenance.  There’s the day job, too, and fall soccer has started for Andy.  But enough about that; I AM blogging tonight.

Right now, the owners of Piney River Brewing Company are racing against the clock.  We’ve felt like we’ve been racing against the clock for over a year now, but we finally have our big brew house and all the other components are coming in for us to be able to brew on the new brew house.  We’ve been working with companies like Rees Oil (propane to heat the brew house) and Anthony Heating and Cooling (glycol chiller, brew house exhaust, additional brew house vessels) and Joe Posant (wiring, wiring and more wiring).  We’re still not done, but every day we are making progress.  It was too dark to take a photo of the exhaust coming out of the barn, but here’s what it looks like on the inside of the barn.

We’ve finally hooked up the water to our bathroom sink.  The fixtures were my idea, and with the help of Rust Utility in Houston, we made it happen.  I think it’s perfect for a BARn.

Old Barn Sink and Faucet

Old Barn Wood Vanity

There are plans to have restrooms for the gents and the ladies, but one working toilet was added this summer.  We hope to add a stall and a urinal in this particular bathroom before the year’s end.

The other clock we are racing against is the weather.  We may have wonderful weekends outdoors for many more weeks, but since we’re in the Ozarks, we figure the weather will be all over the place.  Since we’re running out of space in the downstairs portion of the brewery, we’ve got to work on our taproom upstairs.

Plus, more and more of you are making an afternoon out of your visits to PRBC.  You’re enjoying a pint or two with friends and family.  Connections are being made between old friends, high school buddies, former neighbors…it’s great!  We created this place partially because we wanted to have a space where people could come together and enjoy great beer in a unique space that celebrates our Ozark heritage.  We are enjoying seeing this happen, and we want to make sure there’s plenty of room for everyone as our customers have to move from the outdoors to the indoors.

We saved much of the wood off the barn after it was removed, pulling nails and stacking it upstairs.  All along we planned to put the wood from the outside on the inside walls, upstairs.  Brian and I started the process of using the unique, heavy, old oak boards a couple of weeks ago.  Visitors to the BARn were able to glimpse at the future walls of the tap room.  We hung boards to the tops of the upstairs doors and a little higher, defying Brian’s fear of heights in the process.

Luckily, our friends John McCarty and Jamie Smith who have less fear of heights came over with long ladders, scaffolding and tools.  Truly, they are friends in high places.

Jamie & John a few feet in the air

And here’s the wall almost complete.  If you haven’t noticed them before, yes, those are the hay forks that have been hanging in the barn since it was built….

East BARn Wall

West BARn Wall

We’ll be working on getting the wood on the walls and off the floor so we have some space to store some things like pallets of pint cans, pallets of grain and kegs.  We’ll also be putting a new wood floor down very soon, running plumbing and moving the tap room upstairs.  Tables and chairs are being sought.  The rail is in planning.  The porch off the tap room will probably be added in a few months, closer to spring.

Meanwhile, come check out the progress on the BARn this Saturday from 12 to 5.  Our friend, Jamie will probably be here, and John may show up, too.  You can shake the hand of one our high placed friends and thank them for helping to create a great space to drink handcrafted beer in Bucyrus, MO.