Piney River Brewing Company

Posts Tagged ‘Black Walnut Wheat’

Honey, I Shrunk the Piney River Cans

In The Beer on October 12, 2016 at 10:11 pm

Today was a cloudy, rainy day on the Piney River Farm; not too different from the cloudy, rainy night in 2011 when Piney River first canned craft beer in the Ozarks. Today’s first–12 ounce Piney River cans.

Those of us that have been canning beer on the Farm are still trying to adjust to these smaller cans in our hands, but we’re doing what many of our consumers and our distributors have asked us to do by putting our beer in a smaller can.

Waaay back in 2011 when Piney River was the first microbrewery in the state to can beer at their brewery, we were following suit with the 16-ounce pint can like our craft beer brothers and sisters in the Midwest—Tallgrass, Surly, Sun King. We’re in the Show Me state, why not show our customer a true pint? Plus, it was perfect—the Piney Pint.

Back then, there wasn’t much canned craft beer on the shelves in 2011 and 2012 or even 2013, but now canned beer is growing by leaps and bounds, and breweries that were once only bottling their beer are now canning it, too. Twelve-ounce cans are easier to source, plus, if you were a brewery already packing 12-ounce beers, it only makes sense to continue that in a can form. And now, it’s easier to find 12-ounce cans on the shelf here in the Ozarks than it is possible to find 16-ounce cans on the shelf.

I even had a conversation with a fellow brewer that packaged beer in 16-ounce cans and started packaging certain beers in 12-ounce cans for grocery stores. He thinks that it will ultimately lead to the demise of his 16-ounce canned beers.

Our distributors were also asking for 12-ounce cans from Piney River. For those distributors that sold 12-ounce/6-packs and 16-ounce/4-packs, they felt like they could sell more cases of 6-packs than 4-packs. Truly, a case of 6-packs equals four purchases to be empty the case, and a case of 4-packs require six purchases to empty the case. Plus, we’re hearing about this issue that the consumer can’t generally do the math that even though a 4-pack usually costs less than a 6-pack, all the consumer sees is 6 beers versus 4 beers.

And while we love floating down the Big Piney with pint of Piney in our koozie, we have heard from some of you that your 16-ounce beer gets warm before you finish it. Can we suggest here that you drink just a wee bit faster, perhaps? Just an idea….But never fear, your warm beer concerns have also been heard!

So, raise those Piney pints high in the air (or save them for your beer collection); either way, they are going away.

Today, we canned Piney River’s Black Walnut Wheat in 12-ounce cans, and that will be followed up by 12-ounce versions of all of our core beers in the coming weeks. Depending upon your distribution market and the stock of 16-ounce beers your distributor has in place, you will see 12-ounce 6-packs of Piney River beer in your favorite drink-buying place very soon or shortly down the road.

In the upcoming months, you will also see us release “Raise a Ruckus” (an Imperial Stout) and 2017 Mule Team Imperial IPA in 12-ounce 4-packs. We thought 10% ABV might be a little more easy drinking in the smaller sized can, and we can keep it at a good price point, too.

Four brands will remain in 16-ounce cans until we run out of the blank pounders. Masked Bandit IPA and Old Tom Porter are two brands you already know well. Two new Piney River offerings in 16-ounce 4-packs will be River Access Ozarks Lager and Aux Arcs Dry-Hopped Saison.

Same delicious Piney River beer. Same commitment to quality. Same love of what we do…just in a smaller package and lots more of them.




Chchchchanges Coming in 2017

In The BARn, The Beer on September 21, 2016 at 10:59 am

We are so excited to bring you the Piney River Brewing Company 2017 release calendar!

Twelve ounce cans are headed your way! There will be more information about that later, and actual 12 oz cans sooner rather than later, too. Stay tuned for that!

We are releasing–in limited quantities–new canned beers throughout the year. They are Raise a Ruckus Imperial Stout, River Access Ozarks Lager and Aux Arcs Saison. 

And that foeder, those barrels, the original BARn is officially where we’ve got the funk going on.  The first of our Farm Raised Funk was Lizzie Twister, the first funkified beer from the BARn.  We plan to release even more Farm Raised Funk in 2017.

Thank you so much for raising a pint with us in 2016.  None of this would be possible without your incredible support. Let’s raise a few more together in the upcoming year!


Piney River Brewing Wins Two Medals at the US Beer Open Championship

In The Beer on August 8, 2016 at 10:18 pm

IMG_1235Piney River Brewing recently won two bronze medals at the US Open Beer Championship for their Black Walnut Wheat and Bronzeback Pale Ale beers.

The US Open Beer Championship is held annually in Oxford, OH. Over 5,000 beers from around the world were entered in 90 different beer style categories. The contest is open to professional brewers and home brewers. US Open judges hail from England, Canada and the US.

Black Walnut Wheat won in the “American Wheat Dark” category. This American-style wheat beer is dark in color and is brewed with hand harvested black walnuts.   The beer features an aroma of black walnuts and finishes with a black walnut flavor.

This is the second year in a row that Black Walnut Wheat has placed in the US Beer Open Championship. In 2015, Piney River took home a silver in the American Wheat Dark category for the beer.

According to Joleen Senter Durham, co-founder of Piney River Brewing, Black Walnut Wheat is the flagship beer of the Ozarks brewery. “No matter where it’s sold, Black Walnut Wheat is always our most popular beer,” Durham said. “It’s easy to drink, and the black walnuts in the beer provide an interesting aroma and flavor profile.”

Bronzeback Pale Ale won in the “International Pale Ale” category. This American-style pale ale is pale yellow in color and features a lot of flavor and aroma from multiple hop additions during brewing and after fermentation is complete. Galaxy and Citra are the featured hops in Bronzeback Pale Ale.

“Bronzeback is one of my favorite beers to brew and to drink,” Brian Durham, head brewer and co-founder of Piney River Brewing, said. “This beer is crisp in flavor and has great hop aroma.”

This is the first award for Bronzeback Pale Ale.

Amber Powell is lead brewer at Piney River Brewing. Powell oversaw the production and packaging of both beers that placed in the competition.

“It thrills Joleen and I to bring more recognition to craft beer being made right here in the Ozarks,” Brian Durham said. “Amber and the staff here are consistently turning out great beer.”

Piney River Brewing is located on Durham’s 80-acre farm, operating out of a restored 75-year old barn and a larger barn. The Durhams founded the brewery in 2010 with a 10-gallon brewing system. In 2015, Piney River Brewing produced over 2,200 barrels of beer, and completed a $1.2 million expansion on the farm, allowing the brewery to increase production with a new brew house, canning line and cold storage.

Piney River Brewing operates a tasting room that is open to the public every weekend. The brewery has distribution throughout most of Missouri and Arkansas.

A complete list of US Open Beer Championship winners can be found at


Party Like It’s Been Five (?!) Years on the Farm

In Beer Events on February 24, 2016 at 7:27 am

5th aleiversary posterPiney River Brewing Company is celebrating their fifth anniversary on Sat., Mar. 19th at the brewery in Bucyrus.

The “5th Aleiversary” party will be held at the BARn—the brewery and tap room located off Junction ZZ—from 12 to 7 p.m.

“Once again, we are looking forward to enjoying a beautiful spring day in the Ozarks at our upcoming Aleiversary,” Joleen Durham, co-founder and owner, said.

Durham described the Aleiversary as “the biggest event in Bucyrus”. Last year’s event brought in almost 1,000 people from across the region to the Piney River Farm.

“The event is family-friendly, and there is no charge for admission,” Durham said. “Many Piney River fans look forward to this day at the BARn all year long.”

The Piney River tap room will pour several beers that are available year round in the tap room including Float Trip Ale, Black Walnut Wheat, McKinney Eddy Amber Ale, Bronzeback Pale Ale, Old Tom Porter, Missouri Mule India Pale Ale and Masked Bandit IPA.

Crankbait Cream Ale, the brewery’s spring seasonal will also be available. Paw Paw French Saison will be poured again for the day, and some yet-to-be-named beers may also be available.

“Our most anticipated limited release beer to be available at the Aleiversary will be our Mule Team India Pale Ale,” Brian Durham, co-founder and head brewer, said.

Mule Team IPA is an imperial India pale ale that was first brewed for Piney River’s 2014 anniversary event.

“This year’s Mule Team IPA has strong hop flavor and aroma,” Brian Durham said, explaining that the 2016 imperial IPA will be 10 percent alcohol by volume.

“All of the brewing staff is very excited about releasing this year’s version of Mule Team IPA at the Aleiversary,” Brian Durham said.

Mule Team IPA takes almost a month to complete from brewing to packaging. The “5th Aleiversary Limited Release” Mule Team label thanks the team—“dedicated employees, partnerships with distributors, support of friends, neighbors and craft beer lovers”—that has helped the brewery achieve success over the past five years.Mule TeamNEW

Mule Team IPA and the other beers will be available all weekend long, beginning on Friday afternoon when the tap room opens and going through Sunday evening, if they do not run out.

“Saturday’s party can be a little too busy for some people, so we will plan to have enough Mule Team IPA available to last all weekend long,” Joleen Durham said. “You will be able to enjoy a pint in the tap room or purchase a four-pack to take home.”

Durham noted that because Mule Team IPA is only released once a year, many people purchase multiple four-packs to ration it out throughout the year.

“Mule Team IPA is a beer that can be enjoyed a few months down the road if it is cellared properly,” she said.

In addition to the handcrafted ales, the Aleiversary will feature two bands providing live music—Casey Lynne and the Dealbreakers and Deep Fried Squirrel, both from Springfield. Both bands feature multi-talented instrumentalists and singers that perform Americana, folk and rock covers and original songs.

Two food trucks will be available on the 19th. Mike and Julie’s Smoked Meats of Huggins will provide unique handmade foods such as Irish nachos and smoked meat sliders. Twisted Mikes Food Truck of Springfield will provide a tasty twist on traditional sandwiches, tacos and fries.

Piney River Brewing is located on Durham’s 80-acre farm, operating out of a restored 70-year old barn. Durham founded the brewery with his wife, Joleen, in 2010 with a 10-gallon brewing system.

In 2015, Piney River Brewing produced over 2,200 barrels of beer. A $1.2 million expansion was completed on the farm, allowing the brewery to increase production with a new brewhouse, canning line and cold storage.

The brewery has distribution throughout most of Missouri and Arkansas.

Piney River Brewing Wins Four Awards at US Open Beer Championship

In The Beer on July 7, 2015 at 10:56 pm
A line up of the four Piney River Beers that won awards at the US Beer Open Championship—Crankbait Cream Ale,  Black Walnut Wheat, McKinney Eddy Amber Ale and Hobby Farm Ale.

A line up of the four Piney River Beers that won awards at the US Beer Open Championship—Crankbait Cream Ale, Black Walnut Wheat, McKinney Eddy Amber Ale and Hobby Farm Ale.

Piney River Brewing won a gold and three silver awards at the US Beer Open Championships on July 4th. The competition featured over 4,000 beers from 90 different styles from breweries from around the world. An international panel of judges gave the awards based on blind taste tests.

Piney River’s Crankbait Cream Ale received a gold award in the “American Cream Ale” category. This beer is a spring seasonal for the brewery, so it is no longer in production until next spring.

Three silver awards were given to Piney River for McKinney Eddy Amber Ale, Black Walnut Wheat and Hobby Farm Ale.

McKinney Eddy Amber Ale received the silver in the “Irish Red Ale” category. This beer is made year round by the brewery. It was the first beer Piney River packaged for distribution at the brewery in 2011.

Black Walnut Wheat is the brewery’s flagship beer, and it took a silver in the “American Style Dark Wheat” category. This beer is made with locally sourced black walnuts.

Hobby Farm Ale is Piney River’s current seasonal beer, and it’s brewed with honey and fresh basil. Hobby Farm Ale’s silver was in the “Herb and Spice Beer” category.

“Once again, it’s a great honor for us to shine the spotlight on the Ozarks with these four awards,” Brian Durham, owner and head brewer at Piney River Brewing, said. “Our goal has always been to make high quality craft beer, and these awards show that the hard work of our brewing team is paying off.”

Piney River has also won gold awards at the World Beer Cup, the Great American Beer Festival and the Best of Craft Beer Awards.

All of Piney River’s beers are packaged in 16-ounce pint cans and kegs and sold for distribution throughout the Ozarks. Distribution is available in Missouri through Bluff City Beer in Cape Girardeau, Poplar Bluff and Herculaneum; Grellner Sales in Rolla, West Plains, Camdenton and Sedalia; Heart of America Beverage in Springfield and Joplin, and NH Scheppers in Jefferson City and Columbia. Glidewell Distributing in Fort Smith distributes Piney River beer throughout the state of Arkansas.

Currently a $1.2 million expansion is underway on the Bucyrus farm where the brewery is located. A larger brewhouse, fermentation and packaging line are part of the expansion in a 12,000 square foot building located next to the original barn where the brewery began.

Plans are currently underway for Piney River to expand distribution to St. Louis in the fall. Eventually, the brewery hopes to distribute beer throughout the entire state of Missouri.

Getting Ready for GABF 2014

In Beer Events on August 27, 2014 at 9:43 pm
Our first Piney River toast with our Gold medal winning Old Tom Porter.

Our first Piney River toast with our Gold medal winning Old Tom Porter.

You may have heard that at the Great American Beer Festival in 2013, Piney River took home a gold medal. Yep, we’re still kind of in shock about that win. But after our Gold Award experience at the World Beer Cup in April, it’s safe to say that we are really excited about entering in the 2014 GABF Competition. The chances are much greater that we will come away empty handed than with any awards, but our level of excitement for the competition is much higher in 2014 than it was when we shipped off a slew of Piney Pints in 2013.

So, if you happen to be in Denver the first week of October, come see us! We are thrilled to have the opportunity to represent craft beer made in the Ozarks again, and since many people have been asking, here’s the Piney River line up:

float trip aleFloat Trip Ale, 4.5% ABV, 18 IBUs  The 2014 World Beer Cup Gold Award for American-Style Wheat Beer, Float Trip Ale is a wheat-based blonde ale featuring subdued fruitiness a light hop bitterness and a crisp, smooth finish.

black walnut wheat labelBlack Walnut Wheat, 4.5% ABV, 18 IBUs  Black Walnut Wheat is an American style wheat beer with a black walnut aroma and a crisp, black walnut finish.

sweet potato aleSweet Potato Ale, 6% ABV, 24 IBUs  Sweet Potato Ale is our fall seasonal.  It is a malt forward blonde ale featuring the flavors of roasted sweet potatoes, spices and vanilla with a balanced hop profile, a subtle vanilla and spice aroma and a smooth finish.

Last year on Friday night we had to stop serving Sweet Potato Ale because we were into our second keg, and we were asked not to run out.  On Saturday the Sweet Potato Ale ran out in the first session.  We thought we should bring back this crowd pleaser for another go round, since beers made with sweet potatoes aren’t easy to find in the GABF hall.

old tom labelOld Tom Porter, 5% ABV, 25 IBUs  The 2013 GABF Gold Medalist in the Brown Porter Category, Old Tom Porter is full of roasted malts featuring chocolate and coffee flavors with a balanced hop profile for a smooth finish.

masked bandit black rye ipaMasked Bandit India Pale Ale, 7.5% ABV, 70 IBUs  Masked Bandit IPA features full-flavored dark malts and spicy rye combined with citra, centennial and amarillo hops to create a rich, full-bodied and complex India pale ale.

This year we have the awesome opportunity to share our Old Tom Porter at Friday’s GABF Media Lunch.  Old Tom will be paired with one of the courses at the lunch, and we’ll have a chance to share a little bit of our story with those present.  How cool is that?!

Let’s just say, the Piney River crew will work our way through the next few weeks, and we’ll be hopping on a plane bound for Denver.  We’re so excited about yet another trip to Denver.  We’re excited about pouring our beer for over 40,000 craft beer lovers. We’re excited about being with “our people” for four days.  We’re excited about the possibilities at GABF 2014!


Celebrating Craft Beer in the Ozarks–Piney River Style

In Beer Events, The BARn, The Beer on March 2, 2014 at 10:53 am

It was in March of 2011 that Brian and I cracked open the doors to the BARn for the very first time. Somewhat to our surprise, folks showed up! We filled growlers, we poured pints, we sampled the beer that we were brewing after work, sometimes after midnight, on our Sabco Brew Magic 10-gallon system. The “system” for serving beer that first year at the BARn included a table across the middle of brew house floor and picnic tables and camp chairs located out in front of the BARn.

A year later, we had a bar built in the upstairs of the BARn. Pallets of grain were stacked around the Advantec covered floor, we had seating for 30 (not counting the camp chairs). Friends provided some tunes. Black Walnut Wheat came back (for good) on draft. The First Aleiversary was born.

Then came the 2nd Aleiversary in March 2013. Was that really just one year ago? The first live music was planned and performed at the BARn (thank you, Barak Hill, Jody Bilyeu and The Taylor’s). We featured some special beers–Hot Date Ale and Low Water Bridge IPA. Mike and Julie Anderson never knew that they could handcrank so many potatoes for their Irish nachos.

The middle of March is coming around again, and we are so excited for our 3rd Aleiversary! So many of you are planning to join us on March 15th. We know the Aleiversary is something that is anticipated by many, and we are anticipating the opportunity to give back to you for your great support of Piney River brewing throughout the year.

All hands on deck! Our great staff will ALL be here on the 15th to take care of you…from parking to pints, we’re going to make sure you’ve got plenty of libations to celebrate with us all day long. The BARn will be open from 12 to 7 p.m. that day.

Food! Mike and Julie Anderson of Huggins will be back with delicious smoked meats, and an electric potato slicer for their famous Irish Nachos. Plus, they have a great new trailer that they will have in front of the BARn for serving all of their foods.

Music! Live music has become a regular part of Saturdays at the BARn, and we are so excited to welcome back two bands that have been a fun part of our Saturdays in the past year. The Farethewells from Salem and Deep Fried Squirrel from Springfield will be here with original tunes, covers and taking requests. Banjos, fiddles, upright bass–Brian and I know that the BARn was made for these sounds, and we regularly watch in wonder when the magic is happening on a Saturday at the BARn.

Beer! This is the best part of the Aleiversary, the opportunity to craft new beers for everyone that comes to celebrate craft beer in the Ozarks with us. Throughout the day on March 15th we will be tapping some special beers. We plan to have to some special cask ales that will be cracked throughout the day, some kegs of beer on tap, and we have brewed a large batch of “Mule Team”, an Imperial India Pale Ale, that will only be available at the BARn on March 15th. We will have kegs of it on tap, and we are doing a special packaging run of it, and four-pack pints will be for sale, too. Brian and I have dreamed of making Mule Team for a long time, and we’re very excited to have this beer on draft for the Aleiversary and package it for you to take home, too!mule team labelI keep telling folks that we plan to double, if not triple, the population of Bucyrus on March 15th. We hope there’s a little green grass peeking through the front yard of the BARn that Saturday. Mike and Julie will be parked in front of the BARn, and we will have a “cash only” beer tent outside to serve up beer. We have more picnic tables on order that will be out front, and you’re welcome to bring camp chairs and pop up canopies for your own party at the party. The Farethewells are the first band up, and Deep Fried Squirrel will close the party down. There is no charge to attend the Aleiversary, and it’s family friendly. We’ll have Andy’s Root Beer on tap until we run out of it. If you need a place to stay while at the Aleiversary, may we recommend Almoos’t Heaven Bed & Breakfast in Success and Boiling Springs Resort in Licking.

We can’t wait to celebrate 3 years of craft beer in the Ozarks with you in just two weeks!

3rd aleiversary


The All True Story of Piney River’s First Trip to the GABF

In The Beer on October 15, 2013 at 10:20 pm

There’s a really good chance you know how this story ends. But beyond the official photo and press release, you really need to know the whole story.

Brian and I decided that we were going to attend the GABF (Great American Beer Festival) this year. We wanted the opportunity to enter our beer in a national competition—mostly to see what kind of feedback we would receive. We have two brewers that are new to brewing and to the industry—Lucas joined our team in January and Amber joined our team in April. We wanted them to get their first taste of “the industry” of brewing, and heck, Brian and I always enjoy hanging with “our people”.

We left Bucyrus as 4 a.m. on Wednesday. There was a lot of talk about sleeping on the drive to Denver, but there was very little sleeping done. We were all too keyed up to sleep. There were soybean fields, corn fields, rolling Kansas hills, a big tom turkey standing on the edge of a cornfield, the world’s largest prairie dog….

We got to Denver, settled in to our hotel rooms and went to a special event at Wynkoop for the GABF attendees. There were some great beers on tap, yummy food, and our St. Louis Cardinals advanced to the NLCS.

Cardinals advance to NLCS.  Surly Pentagram.  Hanging with your peeps at a private party at Wynkoop.  #winning

Cardinals advance to NLCS. Surly Pentagram. Hanging with your peeps at a private party at Wynkoop. #winning

We made our way to Star Bar for a few beers, and Brian and I finally went back to our hotel around 1. Lucas and Amber closed the place down. So much for starting the day at 4 a.m.

On Thursday we drove up to Fort Collins to a VIP event at New Belgium—such a great place with awesome co-workers that really care about taking care of fellow brewers.


We stopped in at Odell where a friend showed us the brand spankin’ new brew house and tap room expansion. Odell Brewing, a family-owned business that started on a kitchen stove, is SUCH an inspiration. (Thanks again, Lynsey!)

Thursday night was our first session at GABF. Each session is 5 hours. I don’t know how many people are at each session, but the GABF was a sell out with 48,000 tickets. That’s a lot of people! We were pouring Black Walnut Wheat, McKinney Eddy Amber Ale, Old Tom Porter, Missouri Mule IPA and Sweet Potato Ale. We sent our beer out in advance, in kegs, and they were already set up and ready to go. I should add here that the Brewer’s Association puts on this event with the help of volunteers. The volunteers are AWESOME. They work their butts off, and everyone that helped the area we were in and at our table was spectacular. I don’t remember all their names, but they were great.

Every session opens with a bagpipe parade.

Every session opens with a bagpipe parade.

The Piney River booth.

The Piney River booth.

The Piney River Crew in the booth.

The Piney River Crew in the booth.

The GABF divides the breweries up according to region. Our booth was in between Nebraska Brewing and Budweiser (St. Louis connection). Rockbridge, Tallgrass, Springfield Brewing Company and Mothers were some of the other beers in our section. There were breweries from all over the US—a lot of representation from breweries in Colorado and California. It was neat to have beers from New Glarus, Surly, Sun King, Three Floyds, Russian River and Elysian available to sample—all under one roof. There were also some lesser known breweries (some even smaller than Piney River) with great beers to sample, too.

Our Sweet Potato Ale was a big hit from the first night. There was only one other sweet potato beer being poured, and the brewery it was from was not pouring it. It was being poured at the Craft Brewers Guild tables. On Friday evening, we had to stop pouring the Sweet Potato so we would still have some for the later sessions. We still ran out of Sweet Potato in the first session on Saturday. Then, the attendees began hitting the Black Walnut Wheat.

On Friday we traveled to Upslope in Boulder for a special event with Crown Packaging (the place we get our cans from) and Wild Goose Canning (the company that made our canning machine). The labeled Piney River cans went over better than free beer. There’s serious interest among craft brewers in finding a way to do lots of brands without purchasing lots of truck loads of cans. This little brewery in Bucyrus has found a great option for breweries that can.

The very cool Sanitas Brewing logo--a new brewery that cans which we also visited in Boulder.

The very cool Sanitas Brewing logo–a new brewery that cans which we also visited in Boulder.

Saturday morning, about 5,000 members of the industry gathered in a ballroom in the bottom of the Denver Convention Center for the Great American Beer Festival Award Ceremony. Coffee, donuts, beer, bronze, silver and gold medals were awarded for beers in 84 different categories. We entered 10 beers—the maximum number we could enter–so we had 30 chances to win a medal. The possibilities were exciting, but we felt as though we would really just get good feedback to help us learn what to do for future competitions.

The stats for the 2013 GABF competition.

The stats for the 2013 GABF competition.

I had a dream on Friday night that we won a gold medal for McKinney Eddy Amber Ale, but at the ceremony 9 of the 10 categories came and went—including Amber Ale–without a mention of Piney River. Brown Porter, the 74th category of 84 beer categories, was our final chance. Brian, Lucas and I (Amber had to go back to Missouri for a family event) were sitting on a front row in a section with a bunch of people from CA that we didn’t know. But they knew each other because they kept congratulating other CA breweries as they received awards.

The bronze award winner for Brown Porter was announced. It was not us. Down to two chances.

The silver award winner for Brown Porter was announced. It was not us. And at that point, Brian, Lucas and I felt like our medal chances were over. What first time brewery wins a gold medal at the GABF?

Chris Swersey, the emcee, began announcing, “The Gold Medal goes to Old…”

“What?!,” I was thinking. Suddenly time slowed waaay down.

“Tom…,” Swersey said.

I screamed. I was sitting between Brian and Lucas, and suddenly we were high fiving and jumping up and stumbling down the aisle to accept a GOLD medal from Charlie Papazian.

Each of us has specific memories of going to accept that medal. Brian, who remembers walking on air, was tackled by a sales person from one of our distributors. I never saw it. I was just elated, reminding myself not to run to the stage. Lucas remembers feeling a little emotional, kind of teary-eyed.

And there we were. A gold medal around Brian’s neck. The flashes of dozens of cameras. The silhouettes of thousands of people looking back at us on that brightly lit stage. I never saw the red carpet, but Brian said one was there.

I had to snap a photo of all those people looking back at us.

I had to snap a photo of all those people looking back at us.

Piney River Brewing received their gold medal at the 2013 Great American Beer Festival awards ceremony held in Denver on Saturday morning.  Shown here, left to right:  Lucas Clem, brewer; Charlie Papazian, president of the Brewer’s Association; Brian Durham, head brewer and co-founder; Joleen Durham, co-founder and original keg washing queen. Not present, Amber Powell, brewer.

Piney River Brewing received their gold medal at the 2013 Great American Beer Festival awards ceremony held in Denver on Saturday morning. Shown here, left to right: Lucas Clem, brewer; Charlie Papazian, president of the Brewer’s Association; Brian Durham, head brewer and co-founder; Joleen Durham, co-founder and original keg washing queen. Not present, Amber Powell, brewer.

As soon as we walked off the stage, I gave Brian a GIANT hug. I remember thinking, “All that work. All the sacrifices. All days where we went to bed and got up to go to our day jobs in the same day.” I was so proud of Brian. I was so proud of Piney River. And then I started shaking.

I couldn't take a decent photo because I was shaking!

I couldn’t take a decent photo because I was shaking!

Lucas, Brian and I went to get a beer, but the beer stations were dry!!! (We need to time our medal winning a little better.) None of us really remember any of the last 9 award recipients. I was sending texts, tweeting and posting information online. Brian was texting our distributors. Lucas was texting Amber and his family.

By the time we were upstairs in the convention hall, the winners had been announced. Piney River’s booth was a non-stop sea of people. Yes, they were interested in Sweet Potato and Black Walnut, but many people just wanted to try Old Tom Porter. The story of Old Tom Porter would never be the same.

Later that afternoon, one of the judges of the brown porter competition stopped by to say how much they enjoyed our Old Tom Porter, and that even after the judging they finished drinking it. Another judge told us that gold medals only go to technically excellent beers. Brian realized that he no longer cared that he didn’t have formal brewing training and started Piney River as a homebrewer. Just like Paul Gatza from the Brewer’s Association said–when you’ve got a GABF medal around your neck, you can run through walls.

The winning entries ran inside the hall all day on Saturday.  I managed to snap a photo of the screen showing our category.

The winning entries ran inside the hall all day on Saturday. I managed to snap a photo of the screen showing our category.

Our first Piney River toast with our Gold medal winning Old Tom Porter.

Our first Piney River toast with our Gold medal winning Old Tom Porter.

We ended Saturday at the GABF with celebratory beers at Star Bar. It seemed like a good place to round out one of the most amazing days of our lives. On the ride home, I studied the corn fields, hoping to see another old tom. Old Tom didn’t need to make a second appearance. One was all we needed.


Craft Beer for Your Next Float Trip

In The Beer on July 25, 2013 at 4:56 pm


It was just about 3 years ago that one of our friends asked, “Are you insane?” when she heard we were starting a brewery in a barn on our farm.

We said, “No, we’re not insane, we’re having the time of our lives!”

And it’s true, this industry is a fun one. There’s great camaraderie among the folks that make beer and sell beer. It’s very rewarding to pour your heart and soul into a vision of crafting high quality beer that celebrates the Ozarks and to people snapping up your products as soon as they hit the shelves. (Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!)

But it has been a little insane lately.

Piney River products seem to be selling better than ever in the areas where we distribute our beer. Plus, we introduced a new beer this spring…Float Trip Ale. We added two new fermentation vessels to help us better manage the demand for Piney River beer, but we probably should have added four…or six…and more brewers…especially since we introduced Float Trip Ale.

We can our beer because we wanted to provide a beer in the Ozarks that could be enjoyed in those great places that make the Ozarks…the Ozarks. Even better is a canned craft beer that’s named after something that we all would rather be doing.

People have been sending us photos all summer of their Float Trip Ale in their tube, their canoe, their kayak. It’s awesome. I like to say that Float Trip Ale is what you drink when you’re on a float trip or would rather be on a float trip.

The first pallet of Float Trip Ale didn’t even end up on a float trip. It ended up on the Katy Trail for the big Pedaler’s Jamboree on Memorial Day weekend. Turns out that bicyclists love craft beer, AND they need beer that’s portable in nature, too.

Our friends at Dawt Mill in Ozark County have Float Trip Ale in their General Store and they have it on draft at The Gravel Bar. There’s so much Float Trip Ale goin’ on float trips at Dawt Mill that some people think Float Trip Ale is Dawt Mill’s house beer.

We have found as a small craft brewery in the Ozarks that many people that try our beer are new to the craft beer scene. They want to drink local beer, but they can’t jump in with an IPA or stout. That’s okay because we didn’t start out drinking IPA or stout either.

We have found that with our Black Walnut Wheat a full-flavored but easy drinking beer will win wanna-be craft beer drinkers over every time. Why not make something else that’s easy drinking…the kind of beer you would want to drink all day while floating down the river?

And Float Trip Ale was born.

A float trip is the quintessential Ozark experience. A canoe, kayak, raft or tube and a pristine spring-fed Missouri stream creates a lasting memory of our wild and beautiful outdoors. Our hand-crafted blonde ale is the perfect accompaniment to your day on the river or to simply bring back float trip memories.

Stay tuned…the Float Trip Ale story isn’t over. There’s something about Float Trip Ale that makes it distinctly different from the other beers we’ve canned.





Tap Room Tweaks

In The BARn on September 6, 2012 at 10:09 pm

Many of you were at the BARn last weekend. A lot of you were not here, but it was nearly standing room only. And there were so many empty kegs at the end of the day that we wondered what we would serve in the upcoming week.

Even now, I am thinking of this person and that person that came in…and many of you stayed awhile, too. On a fluke, and since it was Labor Day weekend, Brian and I got some brats and grilled them to give away to those that came in, too.


We had two new beers–Honey Basil Ale and Sweet Potato Ale on tap. We didn’t really announce the new beers many hours before the tap room opening, and we definitely didn’t announce anything about the brats until the tap room was almost open on Saturday. In fact, at 2:15 when Brian, Debra, Lucas and I were chilling on the porch, I think I may have uttered something like, “It may be a slow day today.”


We had visitors from Salem, Lebanon, Licking, Cabool, Plato, Mountain Grove, Houston, West Plains, St. Louis, Fort Leonard Wood and everywhere in between. For many people, it was a first visit. For at least as many more it was the second or the third time or more that you visited. Thank you to all of you!

Let me take you back a little bit…when Brian and I started renovating the barn we had the idea that we would build this big bar and a deck off the upstairs.

We thought we might operate a little tap room on the weekends, maybe once a month. We really didn’t think that people would want to drive two miles down a gravel road located in the middle of nowhere to drink beer and look at cows and turkeys and listen to Indie rock and folk music and the birds and the wind blowing through the trees. Boy were we wrong!

You came! And you keep coming back! And you bring your friends! And you bring your family members! Thank you!

We are so honored and humbled to have a place to share with others. Our BARn, our farm out here in the Ozarks is our little piece of heaven that we have the opportunity to share with you and your friends and family for five hours each weekend.

And we’re still trying to figure out how to run a tap room.

In fact, earlier this year at the Craft Brewer’s Conference, I led a panel discussion with some great packaging breweries in attendance–Lucky Bucket Brewing, Sun King Brewing, Odell’s Brewing and Marble Brewery–talking about running a tap room in addition to the packaging side. Talk about a collection of great minds! They shared their wisdom to a packed room of several hundred people in the industry. Turns out that I’m not the only packaging brewery out there that’s trying to figure out running a tap room.

All of the panelists in my tap room discussion, like Brian and I, had a dream to make beer that ended up in bars, restaurants and refrigerators in our local areas. We all quickly learned that our craft beer fans wanted to come to the source to meet us, to drink our beer, to fill growlers. We’re all trying to figure out how to accommodate everyone–from our distributors and the bars and restaurants that serve our beer to the people that come to visit us personally in the tap room. And we appreciate your patience and understanding as we do this.

So we’re making a few tweaks in the tap room at Piney River Brewing as we start the autumn season.

We’ve lowered the price on our pints and 4 oz. pours of Black Walnut Wheat. There was a time when Black Walnut Wheat was a “special” beer that we brewed. We still really believe in the special nature of this beer, and it’s our number one selling beer to our distributors and in tap room. However, we’re lowering the price of the Black Walnut Wheat from here on out. Cheers!

We’re changing the way we handle growlers–our half gallon glass containers that allow you to take fresh draft beer “to go”. Growlers are “to go” only, not to be consumed in the brewery or on the brewery grounds. Likewise, pitchers of beer will no longer be available. In order for Piney River Brewing to have the tap room we have, we must have our beer available in bars and restaurants across the Ozarks. We don’t sell our Piney Pints for less than they are in retail stores, so we’re not going to sell our draft beer for less than it is in area bars and restaurants. We appreciate your understanding that if you’re going to drink beer at the BARn, we’ll gladly pour you a perfect imperial pint in one of our great tap room 22 oz. glasses or you can drink lots of 4 oz. pours. You’ll always get a fresh glass, a great view and smile with every pint or pour we serve to you.

Don’t forget that at Piney River we are happy to fill growlers from other breweries, too! We know that’s not always something that’s available in many brewery tap rooms. And if you have one of those cheap, metal growler caps, we’ll even trade your cap for one of our special poly seal caps to keep all that great draft beer freshness bottled up inside.

Just like our recently introduced Honey Basil Ale and our Sweet Potato Ale, Brian and I are taking the time to play and to create to provide new things for you, our tap room friends.

A 4 oz. pour of Honey Basil Ale.

We’ve got a Chocolate Pumpkin Ale in the works and few more ideas that we’ve dreamed up, too. We can’t wait to brew them and to share them with you…in the BARn.

We promise we’ll add another bathroom..right there where it says “bathroom in planning”. In addition to the cherry wood floor that’s already milled and ready to go down upstairs, we have a few other really special plans for the tap room. And we’re going to get some more tables and chairs, too–for the indoors and the outdoors! It’s obvious that whenever we think we’ve got “enough”, we’re wrong.

Our plan is to continue to stay open on Saturdays from 2 to 7 through the fall and winter, too. We will be open during the Saturdays around Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. Yes, we heard you loud and clear last year…you want to bring your family and friends to visit the local brewery when they come to visit you!

And…as much as possible, we plan to offer tours on Saturdays, too. When Brian and I are working, we will give them–probably two each Saturday. If we aren’t there, we will try to make arrangements for someone else to give a tour. And tours are free, just like the samples that we pour up each weekend.

Thank you again our craft beer loving friends for your support of your local brewery! We are having so much fun with you, and we appreciate your patience as we grow, too.

See you soon in Brewcyrus!