Piney River Brewing Company

Archive for August, 2012|Monthly archive page

Craft Beer for Capitol Hill

In The Beer on August 23, 2012 at 10:14 pm

We’ve been doing the usual around here…making beer, canning beer, cleaning kegs, doing tastings, festivals and tap takeovers, and talking to politicians.

Okay, so we don’t talk to politicians every day.  In fact, we really try to stay away from most things political, but things have changed lately.  As members of the Brewer’s Association, we’ve been diligent about contacting our legislators regarding our brewery and brewing legislation.

At the Craft Brewer’s Conference in San Diego this year we had the opportunity to talk with Representative Pete DeFazio of Oregon a passionate voice for craft beer on Capitol Hill.  Pete loved our story…the fact that we brewed in barn.  In fact, he wanted to make sure that Brian met his friend Jim Koch (maybe you’ve heard of him…he started a little craft brewery known as Samuel Adams).  We promised Pete that we would contact our own US Representative Jo Ann Emerson and share our story and our BARn with her.

Just this week, we had the opportunity to host Representative Emerson and her staff at the BARn as part of her annual agriculture tour.  Brian was away sharing beer with our craft beer loving friends in Arkansas, but that didn’t stop me from sharing the story of how we renovated a 70-year old barn on our farm and started brewing small batches of beer in it.

This is where I shared a laugh with Jo Ann and our state representative-elect Robert Ross. I think I was explaining our motto “we can sleep when we die”.

I showed everyone our fat and happy girlfriends that consume our spent grains.

And of course, we sampled the beer!

Jo Ann’s favorite was the McKinney Eddy Amber Ale. She had to have a growler of it to take home to share with family. She also took home one of our sampler glasses, which she said was “just the right size”.

As a politician, Jo Ann has ample opportunity to serve her constituents, and she even tried out the tap handles behind the bar, talking about a fund raiser she does annually where she serves beer.

Jo Ann pours up a 4 ounce pour of Black Walnut Wheat.

Of course, I took the opportunity to thank Jo Ann for her support of the Small Brew Act, legislation that seeks a recalibration of the federal excise tax for small brewers.  If the legislation were approved, it would provide us with  additional funds to invest in growing Piney River Brewing.

I explained to Jo Ann that we regularly bring people in to Texas County to visit our brewery and get a taste of the Ozarks–literally.  I also pointed out that in addition to living the American dream with our brewery, Piney River Brewing is an all-American endeavor.  “You can’t outsource locally brewed beer to China,” I told Jo Ann.

Jo Ann gave me a hug before she left.  She was so impressed with what she found behind our barn doors.  She even mentioned that she would like to get some Piney River beer for a Capitol Hill reception with fellow representatives later in the year.  We certainly hope we can provide Piney Pints for Jo Ann, Representative De Fazio, and anyone else that wants to enjoy a truly American beverage that can cross all political lines.

Jo Ann also sent us a very nice note thanking us for our hospitality.

While we’re on the subject, I should also mention that we made sure the McCaskill sisters got some of the freshly canned Black Walnut Wheat when Claire McCaskill made a recent stop in Houston.  Claire hasn’t been to the brewery, but we were lucky enough to host Lisa and Ann last fall.  What a pleasure!

And last but not least, a keg of Black Walnut Wheat was made available for a special dinner Missouri’s Governor Jay Nixon hosted last week at the Missouri State Fair.  We understand that our Texas County brewed beer was enjoyed by several!

Brian and I often tell others that we love being in the beer business because beer makes people happy.  There’s something else we’ve realized, too in this year of contentious political debate…Beer is bipartisan.


Special cheers to Doug Davison from The Houston Herald who took part in the tour and tasting on Friday.  He took photos and shared them with me!


Craft Beer Lake Ozark Style

In Beer Events on August 14, 2012 at 10:59 pm

We received a few flyers about the Midwest Wine and Brew Fest in Lake Ozark a couple of weeks ago. There were several wineries listed on the flyer, but there was only one brewery. Yes. You guessed it. Piney River Brewing.

Really? The only brewery? No competition for craft beer lovers? Seriously?

Alright! We knew we were going to rock the festival.

The festival was in a large, spacious, carpeted room. We had three full size skirted tables to spread ourselves out on. There were silver trays with little packages of palate cleansing crackers and silver dump buckets. (I left our five gallon beer festival plastic bucket behind the tables.)

And the crowd? They were even better!

From across the state and even from out of state, these legal drinking age attendees from young to old were serious about their wine and craft beer. (My favorite ones–the mature women that come up to our table, lean in close like they are sharing a secret and say, “I like wine, but I really like beer.”)

Great location. Great crowd. And the breweries and wineries got to sell their beer and wine at the event! The wineries sold their beer in to the chamber at wholesale pricing, and the chamber sold t to those in attendance at retail pricing with the profit going to the chamber. Since we can’t sell our beer that way, our lake area distributor, Grellner Sales, sold cases of our beer in to the Chamber. Those in attendance walked away with four-pack after four-pack of Piney Pints. Near the end of the day we even donated some of our beer to the chamber to sell to a customer that really wanted to take home some handcrafted Piney River beer.

I promised Morgan Crainshaw with the Chamber that I would try to get more breweries to come out to this event in 2013. What a great opportunity to meet a bunch of people who like distinctive beverages!

Piney River’s great day was not over yet!

Maybe you’re familiar with this:

Yes, it’s a Chili’s. It’s not just any Chili’s, though. This is the Lake Ozark Chili’s and quite possibly the coolest Chili’s ever.

Earlier in the year Travis Powell, managing partner at this Chili’s contacted us via Facebook. He was enjoying Missouri Mule and McKinney Eddy Amber Ale and selling Piney Pints in his restaurant. We planned to take samples of our new Old Tom Porter and Black Walnut Wheat by the restaurant.

We didn’t get to meet Travis Saturday night, but we did get to meet Cameron Starkey, a manager, and several great staff members. This Chili’s is serious about offering great craft beer to their patrons–regulars and people traveling through looking for a local beer to go with their meal.

Brian talks with the manager, Cameron, at the Chili's bar in Lake Ozark.

Cameron and his staff were SO excited to receive our new beers. They were happy to meet us in person. They can’t wait to visit the BARn, and they opened their doors to us to train their staff about Piney River Beer. And finally, they even wanted our photo with our beer on their bar.

Paul’s Supermarkets, Hy-Vee and a bunch of new friends a Chili’s. Lake Ozark better get ready; a local beer is finding its way to your shores!


A Toast to Local, Handcrafted Ozark Beer

In The Beer on August 7, 2012 at 9:17 pm

We went back to the scene of our very first tonight.

We had a delicious dinner of Ozark BBQ and fried okra.  We tipped back a pint of McKinney Eddy Amber Ale (they were out of Black Walnut Wheat).

We were at Olig’s BBQ in Licking.  While Olig’s is a great little barbecue joint…in an old barn, no less…Marie and Dan Lewis were the first restaurant to put Piney River beer on tap.

We had mentioned the possibility of putting our beer on tap in Olig’s last summer, long before we even had draft beer available for restaurants.  Some of our beer in a growler had been sampled by the staff, and when they heard that they could have us on draft last winter, they were the first place to take a keg.

When we heard that we had our first tap handle (that’s brewery speak for getting on draft in a restaurant or bar), Brian, Andy and I had dinner at Olig’s that night.  McKinney Eddy Amber Ale was the first beer to find its home in the kegerator at Olig’s.   The patron’s loved it, and of course, the Lewis’ did, too.

Since putting the McKinney Eddy Amber Ale on draft, Marie has added another Piney River tap handle—Black Walnut Wheat.  Apparently the patrons are enjoying that one, too; there wasn’t a drop for us to drink tonight.

That’s alright, but we were planning to have a toast with Black Walnut Wheat.  A toast to Black Walnut Wheat.  A toast to putting another beer into a Piney Pint…only eight months after our first two Piney Pints hit the store shelves.  A toast to never letting anyone out work us.  A toast to celebrating the Ozarks with craft beer about the Ozarks.

So we had a toast with McKinney Eddy Amber Ale to all of that.  And it was good.

The really cool thing is that every table around us was drinking McKinney Eddy Amber Ale.  And it’s not because that’s all that Olig’s has on draft!  No, Dan and Marie and their staff encourage everyone to try their local beer.   Piney River beer has become the draft beer of choice for many of Olig’s customers thanks to their belief in and their support of the local craft brewery.  Let’s face it, we’re in the heart of a certain formerly St. Louis-owned, now Belgian-owned brewery territory, but there are TWO, yes, that’s one and two, tap handles from the little brewery in Bucyrus that handcrafts every beer that goes out the big barn doors.

While we filled our bellies with delicious smoked beef and pork, garden fresh veggies from the salad bar and locally handcrafted beer, I realized again that it means a lot to Dan and Marie that Brian and I—the local brewery owners—take the time to come in and enjoy some BBQ and a laugh or a story with them.  Unlike anybody else, we’ve got the corner on the local brewery market in their establishment.  How cool is that?!

And it’s because of this great love for local beer that from 6 to 11-something last night we were doing this last night:

Yes, we were doing the first can run for Black Walnut Wheat.

Big thanks to our friends and help, Jamie and Debra Smith, for hanging with us and getting all that beer canned and packaged last night.

As Brian and I rolled into bed about 1:30 a.m. this morning, Brian said, “We’ll never let anyone out work us.”

I reminded Brian, “We can sleep when we die.”

We were able to can enough beer for three of our distributors—Grellner Sales; Heart of America Beverage, and NH Scheppers.  (Beer for Arkansas is up next, we promise!)  Folks throughout much of the Ozarks will have a Piney Pint of Black Walnut Wheat in their hands, in their cooler, on their float trip very, very soon.

It was our great pleasure to send the first four-pack of Piney Pints to Rodney Edwards at Grellner.  Rodney was the first distributor willing to take a chance with us.  Rodney’s sales staff has Piney Pints stocked in little and large retail locations across the area, and they are keeping us busy filling kegs for the many draft accounts they have picked up.

Word got back that Rodney was able to enjoy those first beers at the end of the day today.  And they were good.

Two great, local retail establishments—Pit Stop Convenience and S&S Package in Houston—have invited us out to share our Black Walnut Wheat and our Old Tom Porter on Friday.  We will be providing tastings of both beers from 4 to 6 p.m. as they make their Piney Pint debut in Texas County, and Dean and Doug have promised to have lots of Piney Pints in stock and cold.

Local, handcrafted beer.  That’s what it’s all about.  Thanks to you for enjoying one with us!