Piney River Brewing Company

Archive for January, 2012|Monthly archive page

A Doer, Not a Dreamer…Piney River Brewing Style

In Start up on January 29, 2012 at 9:58 pm

It started early in the week…we spent our evenings wrestling with white pine boards for the walls of the tap room at the BARn.  We knew we needed to just “take a day” and work non-stop on our construction work.

My mom was coming in for a visit, and we knew that we would have a little childcare for Andy available.  I also shoved my regular five day a week job into four days this week and took Friday off.

The Piney River Brewing “weekend” started on Thursday evening.  Brian, Andy, my mom and I went to the Midway Bar and Grill in Mountain Grove for dinner.  The Midway has had our McKinney Eddy Amber Ale on tap for a few weeks, and we wanted to meet the owner and have dinner.  First of all, let me say, going into a restaurant and ordering your own beer is NOT overrated.  It’s fun!

The Midway had a big McKinney Eddy Amber Ale sign hanging inside, and right next to it was a huge “Support Your Local Brewery” sign.  Wow.  Thanks, Grellner.  (Our distributor hooked them up with the cool signs.)  We recommend the homemade Midway “chips” with your McKinney Eddy.  Yum!   We met the owner, Shari, and of course, it was Andy that really recognized her because he knew her as the mom of one of his classmates.  Thanks, Andy.  And a BIG thanks to Shari and the staff at the Midway for supporting your local brewery!

Rodney Edwards at Grellner invited us to a meeting with the sales staff at Grellner on Friday morning, so we got up and around early for a 7:30 a.m. meeting in Rolla.  We had the opportunity to meet several members of the sales staff, and Piney River Brewing is the featured brewery for the month of February for the Grellner sales staff.

The great news for all of our customers in the Central and South Central Ozarks is that Grellner will be pushing our beer out to ALL retail locations in their sales territory.  Lake Ozark, Sedalia, Warrensburg, Lebanon and all of the towns in and around those areas will soon be offered a beer handcrafted in the Ozarks.  We’re very excited about offering “Missouri Mule IPA” at the home of the University of Central Missouri Mules.  We can’t wait to provide locally brewed Piney Pints to be enjoyed at Lake of the Ozarks and at Bennett Springs State Park and on the Niangua and Gasconade Rivers.  Plus, Grellner worked with the corporate folks at Casey’s, and our UPC symbols are now in the Casey’s corporate system.  We know there are some towns in the Ozarks where Casey’s may be the only place to buy a craft beer. (If you are one of those folks, ask Casey’s to get some Piney River Beer for you!)

On our way home from Grellner, we stopped in and met the owner at Triplett’s in Licking.  He had Piney River beers right there next to the “big guys”.  Doug at S&S Package in Houston also chatted with us for a bit.  He’s selling Piney River four-packs and as singles which allows people the opportunity to try one before they buy the entire four-pack.  And we can’t overlook Houston’s Pit Stop which has supported craft beer in the Ozarks for a long time, and they are thrilled to have a locally crafted beer to sell in their store.

We were home and working in the BARn by 10:30 a.m., hanging more white pine on the walls.  With the help of my dad, we about got a 60′ X 8′ wall covered.  Whew.  He was so tired, he wouldn’t even take any beer home with him as thanks for his help.

We stopped for dinner, went back out to the brewery to set up for being open on Saturday, and headed back out about 7:30.  Since we hadn’t been to Rolla in a few hours, we headed back that way and stopped in at The Speakeasy, a new 1920’s style bar that recently opened in downtown Rolla.  The Speakeasy was very cool, definitely a good place to spend some time on a Friday night.  Currently, our McKinney Eddy Amber Ale is on tap at The Speakeasy, and you may see some more Piney River brews there very soon.

Our evening wasn’t over though, from Rolla we drove to Salem to the Horseshoe Bar and Grill, a new restaurant/bar that opened late last year.  Although the owners at the Horseshoe hope to add some more taps, they are currently offering McKinney Eddy Amber Ale in its Piney Pint form, and they are selling a few of them.   They have hopes of putting in a set of “local” taps in the near future.

Brian and I finally closed our eyes about 1:30 the following morning…a pretty late night for us.  I told Brian that the breweries in urban areas have it easy, just walking a few blocks to find their beer on tap.  In rural America, you have to cover a lot of miles between the brewery and the places that have you on tap, but that’s what we love about bringing craft beer to the Ozarks.  We know how to celebrate those wonderful places in between us and the stores and restaurants that are serving their local craft beer!

Saturday was another great day at the brewery.  We had a lot of “regulars” and  a lot of newcomers as well.  We love the way people enjoy sitting down with a pint and taking in the tap room in the works, the cows and calves in the pasture, the sunshine and fire pit outside.  We are so glad the BARn is place that people want to come back to!  Thank you for letting us be a part of the good times in your lives!

Sunday wasn’t a day to sit around either.  We had a brite tank full of Missouri Mule India Pale Ale to can.  We kegged some of the IPA, then we cranked out 84 cases of beer that already has a destination point in its future…Springfield, MO.  That’s right, on Friday Heart of America Beverage Company is sending their first beer truck in.  They are taking Missouri Mule IPA and McKinney Eddy Amber Ale to the thirsty people in Southwest Missouri.  Lance Forsee and the folks and Heart of America already have a plan in place to distribute our beer to selected locations in Southwest Missouri, and we are looking forward to sharing those locations with you very soon.

About 7:30 tonight Brian and I sat down to a dinner of leftovers and Rompo Red Rye Ale that was brought to us in a growler from Jackalope Brewing in Nashville, TN.  The beer was good, but the long weekend of work was even better.

“Heckuva weekend,” I said to Brian.

Brian gave me a high five and quoted a line from Tom Asacker, that has been our mantra since we began this thing called Piney River Brewing Company–“The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.”

Cheers to all of you–the distributors, the sales teams, the retail stores, the restaurant and bar owners, the customers that visit us and the places that carry our beer.  You are the best, and you give us the inspiration to keep “doing” craft beer in the Ozarks every day!


The Barn in the BARn Tap Handles at Piney River Brewing Company

In Start up on January 19, 2012 at 9:39 pm

This blog post is long overdue…it started sometime last March when Brian and I were at the Craft Brewers Conference.  While looking at everything from keg collars to glycol chillers we picked up some information and talked to some companies that make tap handles.

Fast forward to this past summer when a pressing need for tap handles was upon us.  We knew that we needed tap handles for our off premise sales.  We needed a handle that was distinctive, that said “PineyRiver Brewing”, and that covered the bases of the various beers we offer.

Covering all of those bases is pretty hard, especially when you’re trying to be fiscally responsible.  Add to that the fact that we have started our brewery with five regular beers on tap, so we needed to be able to cover all five beers with our tap handles.  Plus, we didn’t want to go with some “made in China” tap handle that was stamped out thousands of miles from the people that would be enjoying the beer we brewed in our barn in Missouri.

Enter David Pepper and Firkin Taphandles.

I found a story on David in the St. Louis Post Dispatch about his efforts at helping Schlafly create new tap handles in conjunction with their 20th anniversary.

Brian and I met David at his home in St. Louis the first weekend in September while Andy was enjoying The Cardinals Crew Festival at Busch Stadium with his Grandma.  While Andy was getting Jason Motte’s autograph and talking to Tony LaRussa, Brian and I unloaded a bunch of original wood from the BARn into David’s garage.

Yes, you heard right, we used the old wood that came down off the barn for our tap handles.  David has done some tap handles for breweries that used reclaimed woods of various sorts.  We used our own reclaimed wood.

That’s a nail hole going through the bottom of that tap handle.

David also designed a special slot in each handle that allows us or the restaurant or bar serving our beer to slide the name/style of beer in and out of the tap handle as the beer changes.  One style of tap handle that covers all five of our current styles of beer.

And our tap handle design?  Well, that was pure inspiration thanks to our friend Joe Richardson. 

Remember the sassafras mash paddle Joe made for us?

If you are someone that spends time holding a paddle  while canoeing on a river, you know the shape of the end of the paddle in your hand.  We decided to use that same shape in the hand for our tap handles.

Two tap handles, one paddle handle.

We’re pretty proud of our tap handles.  We’re glad we were able to support another small business in Missouri.  We love the old barn wood re-used in tap handle form.  And we especially hope that a lot of our barn handles find a way to a bar or restaurant near you.

And here are a few more photos just for fun…Cheers!


Charlie McKinney’s Sign and the PRBC Fermentation Vessels

In The BARn on January 8, 2012 at 6:13 pm

If you ever visited our friend Charlie McKinney’s blacksmith shop—McKinney Forge in Bucyrus—you would have noticed a large and colorful sign mounted high up on the wall in the shop.  The sign was pretty hard to miss…lots of words and color and pretty darn interesting to read.

The sign was scavenged from a road side trash pile by Charlie and Marian somewhere down South.  Charlie and Marian were collectors of things for their shop, studio and home.  When Marian auctioned much of the blacksmith shop, the sign came down, and the brewery was deemed a great place to hang it.

Here’s the sign:

So what does a brewery do with a sign like this?

The sign was propped against a wall in a closed room for some time, but if you remember, in our last blog, we have been rearranging things and putting things away as we begin are settling in to our new brew house and anticipating opening the tap room upstairs.  The sign needed a hanging place.  And we found one…the wall across from the fermentation vessels.

Why the wall across from the fermentation vessels?

We have to go back to the dark ages.

Nobody knows quite when, but at some point many, many, many moons ago it was discovered that some mysterious substance could turn mundane ingredients into alcohol.  Ancient societies associated alcohol with the divine.  During the dark ages, brewers witnessed the foamy stuff that created alcoholic beverages, and they called it, “God is good.”

There was no understanding of what the foamy substance was or how it worked, but every time it worked, they said, “God is good.”

It wasn’t until the late 1600’s that a Dutch naturalist identified “animalcules” which were actually yeast cells.  In 1866 the scientist Louis Pastuer recognized yeast and the process it contributed to the making of beer.

In the late 1800’s scientists in Europe began to isolate specific strains of yeast because it was discovered that specific types of yeast added specific types of flavor to beer.  Today, at Piney River Brewing, we use specific yeasts grown in a lab to make our styles of beer.

We attach a hose to each fermentation vessel, and the hose runs down into a bucket of water.  As the yeast begins to eat sugars in the beer, Co2 is blown off the beer, through the hose and into the bucket of water.  As the Co2 comes out of the hose, a “chug-a-lug” sound comes out of the bucket, along with some bubbles—God is good!

You’re probably beginning to see why the wall across from the fermentation vessels was the perfect place for our unique sign.  Fermenting beer = God is good!

Brian and I hung the sign, and a day or two later, Brian and John McCarty were brewing a double batch of Missouri Mule India Pale Ale.  The first batch of beer went into the fermentation vessel as well as the yeast.  By the time the second batch of IPA was in the boil kettle, the yeast in the fermentation vessel had taken off.  A familiar glugging and bubbling sound could be heard in the brewery.

“Do you hear that sound?” Brian asked.

“It’s praise AND worship,” I answered.

Charlie's sign on the left, fermentation vessels on the right.

Some Saturdays you can hear the yeast in action at the BARn…come by and see us any Saturday between 12 and 5 p.m!

2012 at Piney River Brewing Company

In Start up on January 3, 2012 at 8:59 pm

We ended our year at Piney River Brewing Company with over 80 brews on the Sabco Brew Magic, about 100 barrels under our belt on the new brewing system, Piney pint after Piney pint coming off the Wild Goose Engineering canning machine and several happy retail locations that can’s seem to stock enough McKinney Eddy Amber Ale and Missouri Mule India Pale Ale.

Here’s how 2012 began at Piney River Brewing Company:

Yes, you’re seeing things correctly…that’s a brite beer tank full of McKinney Eddy Amber Ale, a fermentation vessel full of Missouri Mule IPA and a fermentation vessel half full of Bronzeback Pale Ale.

The amber ale and IPA are destined for cans and kegs for distribution.  The Bronzeback Pale Ale hasn’t been available at the BARn since August, but it’s all destined for kegs at the brewery.  We’ll be filling growlers and serving pints of our pale ale at the BARn on Sat., Jan. 14th.  We’ve finally got a stock of our five beers back on tap in the brewery!

Chairs will arrive for the tap room tomorrow, and slowly but surely we’re using our “spare” time to work on our tap room  and bar.  The average customer can’t tell, but we’ve finally organized a lot of our brewery “stuff”, separating Brew Magic parts from our big brew system parts, finding homes for all the tools that we use on a regular basis.  All of our kegs are painted with our logo and ready for use or are already in use.

Adding to the fun of the new year at Piney River Brewing are the grain-eatin’ girlfriends.

Hailey & Payette stop Brian in the skid steer as he heads to their feed trough with a bucket of grain.

The girlfriends are having babies!

Boise and her baby bull.

Dolly Varden & Pocatello had heifers.

General girlfriend/calf cuteness....

And…new locations in Howell, Phelps and Pulaski counties are carrying our beer.  If  your favorite package store isn’t carrying Piney Pints, ask them to get some!  If there’s a restaurant where you like to eat that doesn’t have Piney River Brewing on tap, ask them to get a keg!  Grellner Sales is currently distributing our beer in many counties in the Ozarks.  To stay up to date on where to find us, just check the “Our Beer” page on the Piney River Brewing website.  We’re updating the page as our distributor provides information to us.

Thanks again to all of you for your GREAT support of your local craft brewery in 2011.  And here’s to 2012!