Piney River Brewing Company

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!


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