Piney River Brewing Company

Posts Tagged ‘Brian Durham’

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



Missouri’s Craft Brewers Oppose Big Beer Bill in Missouri Legislature

In The Beer on May 1, 2016 at 10:03 am

Members of the Missouri Small Brewers Guild have fought against “big beer” successfully throughout the spring legislative session only to see Anheuser Busch-In Bev (ABI) successfully amend their legislation to a wine-related bill on Thursday afternoon.
Originally proposed as SB 919, ABI sought legislation allowing them to lease coolers to convenience stores and grocery stores across the state. Missouri Brewers Guild members testified and spoke out against SB 919, and the bill passed the Senate after much debate and with only one vote.

With just two weeks remaining on the legislative calendar and SB 919 not scheduled to be heard on the House floor, ABI made a last-ditch effort by putting an amendment with the same legislation on SB 994 which passed in the House. With the new amendments, the bill is slated to go back to the Senate for debate and a vote.

“SB 919 and the cooler amendment on SB 994 are bad for Missouri’s craft brewers and the 4,300 people that we employee across our state,” Jeff Schrag, Missouri Small Brewers Guild president and owner of Mother’s Brewing Company in Springfield, MO said.

Schrag explained that in Missouri’s three-tier distribution system a company like ABI has never been allowed to provide refrigeration to retailers. “This is a move to erode the three-tier system in our state,” Schrag said.

“Allowing ABI to lease coolers creates an unlevel playing field, and pushes us out of the market,” Schrag said. “When was the last time you saw Pepsi products in a Coca-Cola cooler?”
Representative Keith English, I-Florrisant, spoke against the amendment and is a supporter of Missouri’s craft beer industry.

“The reason why Anheuser Busch-In Bev had this bill is because they are losing market share, and the only way they can get back in is to buy these coolers,” English said. “This is a horrible bill. It is not for any small business; the only reason why we had this is so that the big business here in downtown St. Louis can get a little more of their market share.”

“Ironically, the original sponsor of this cooler legislation and many people that have voted for this legislation are heavily supported by ABI in their upcoming election and re-election bids,” Brian Durham, Missouri Small Brewers Guild member and owner, head brewer and co-founder of Piney River Brewing Company in Bucyrus, MO, said.

Durham asserts that he has placed all of his available capital in growing a small business in rural Missouri, and he doesn’t have the funding to purchase coolers to lease to retailers. Piney River Brewing just completed a $1.3 million expansion in South Central Missouri. 

“Missouri’s craft breweries are rapidly growing small businesses in our state. Collectively, we employ more Missourians than ABI,” Durham said. “If our legislators vote in favor of SB 994 they are voting against Missouri’s entrepreneurs, against Missouri’s small business leaders.” 

ABI coolers are allowed in retail locations in some states such as Colorado and Wisconsin, but Schrag has heard personally from the brewers’ guilds in those states that the ABI coolers are a detriment to craft beer growth in the states where they are allowed.

“This is truly a case of ‘David and Goliath’ in Missouri,” Schrag said. “Since January Missouri’s independent craft brewery owners and brewers have been fighting against a giant, multinational behemoth with dozens of paid lobbyists and slick public relations campaigns to retailers and legislators.”

Shrag and members of the guild are hopeful that with two weeks left in the legislative session SB 994 and the cooler amendment will not find its way back to the Senate floor.

“We are asking all of Missouri’s craft breweries and anyone that enjoys partaking of Missouri craft beer to contact their Senator and tell them to vote ‘no’ on SB 994,” Schrag said. “This bill is bad for Missouri craft beer.”

How We Celebrated 5 Years on the Piney River Farm

In Beer Events on March 22, 2016 at 9:13 pm

Five years.

Five years?!


In February, during our grand opening weekend for the new brewery, I told people that five years ago, if you would have told me that there would be a new 12,000 square foot barn on our farm with a new brewhouse, new cold storage, new canning line, etc., I would have laughed and said, “You’ve obviously been drinking.”

And here we are, five years later with all of those things and celebrating our 5th Aleiversary to boot.

For the first time at an Aleiversary, Brian and I did not spend a crazy portion of the day working—i.e. parking cars, changing out trash, etc. Instead, we were able to divvy up employees to cover all the non-stop tasks, and we jumped in every once in awhile to pour a few beers, make change, give an employee a break, etc. We were able to spend some time with some of our retail and distributor partners, and best of all, we were able to talk to many of you!IMG_0119IMG_0118

IMG_0123Also for the first time, we were open on Friday and Sunday of the Aleiversary Weekend, too. Friday we spent most of the day into the evening in the tap room. There were some people that came out at those times because they wanted a four-pack of Mule Team or they wanted to drink some of the small batch beers, but they didn’t want to face the Aleiversary crowd. (If you came out on Sunday and hoped to see us…sorry…we were recovering from the Aleiversary after party with our staff.)

IMG_0126IMG_0124Saturday started out with brilliant sun and a light wind that got colder as the sun disappeared behind clouds. Several folks camped out in the lawn using the deck as a windbreak, and everyone else pretty much piled into the tap room where they somehow still found room for dancing to Casey Lynne and the Dealbreakers and Deep Fried Squirrel.

Aleiversary 2The 2016 Mule Team IPA and the Seventh Trumpet Imperial Stout were enjoyed by many as part of the Aleiversary festivities. Cases of Mule Team four-packs found their way out the door. Paw Paw French Saison came back again this year, with plenty to go around (instead of one little keg). Aux Arcs (French, pronounced “Ozarks”) a dry-hopped French saison made its debut, and more than one person claimed it to be a new favorite. All of those beers are small batches, but they will be available for awhile in the tap room, and they will make their way into the retail market in very limited numbers of kegs. Hopefully, you’ll get your chance to try them, too.

IMG_0127Twisted Mike’s Food Truck and Mike and Julie’s Smoked Meats stayed busy with their food fare. Did you try the fries from Twisted Mike’s? I think they were called “crack fries”, and they were craaazy good. Can we get a show of hands from those than enjoyed Mike and Julie’s nearly famous nachos? Yes, that was quite a few of you. Suffice it to say, in Brewcyrus, we like our beer with potatoes.


We are still pinching ourselves that five years are in the books here on the Piney River Farm. We wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for all of you, the great beer drinking folks that have supported us in so many ways over the past 5 years.

You know who you are.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Who knows what we’ll be saying and writing about for the next five?


Valentine’s is for Beer Lovers

In Beer Events, Uncategorized on January 20, 2016 at 10:23 pm

We’re so excited!  We’ve been invited to do another Valentine’s beer dinner.

Join us at one of the newest places in the area to grab a beer–Just a Taste in St. James–on February 13th at 5:30 p.m.  There will be five courses paired with specific Piney River beers.  And there will be an opening beer for a total of 6 beers plus dinner.

Brian and Joleen will be there to raise a glass with you and tell you the stories behind the beer and the brewery.  There may even be some people present that can tell stories on Joleen and Brian, too!

Join us!  RSVP at

Bier Dinner flyer 2

A Grand Opening & You’re Invited

In Beer Events on January 7, 2016 at 11:14 pm

piney river farm with signPiney River Brewing is planning a grand opening weekend for their new brewing facility on February 5, 6, and 7, 2016. The weekend event will begin with ribbon cutting at 2 p.m. that Friday on the Piney River Farm in Bucyrus.

Piney River Brewing recently completed the largest expansion in the history of the brewery. The expansion includes a 12,000 square foot barn located near the current “BARn” production facility and tap room.

The new building houses a custom built 15-barrel three-vessel brew house from Criveller Company of Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada; four 60-barrel fermentation vessels and two 60-barrel bright beer tanks from Paul Mueller Company in Springfield, MO and a Series Three eight-head automatic canner from Wild Goose Canning in Boulder, CO.

This expansion is the third expansion since the company opened its doors in March 2011 as a nanobrewery, brewing 10 gallons of beer at a time.  The brewery was also the first microbrewery in the state of Missouri to can beer on site in November 2011 with an MC100 two-head Wild Goose canning machine.

The new brew house and cellar will give Piney River the capacity to brew up to 10,000 barrels of beer, with plenty of room for additional growth.  In 2015, Piney River produced just over 2,000 barrels of beer.

“Everyone that regularly visits the BARn has watched the construction progress at our brewery over the past year,” Brian Durham, head brewer and owner, said. “We are excited to have a weekend to celebrate with our friends, family and everyone that loves Piney River beer.”

The ribbon cutting is open to the public at 2 p.m. on Friday, February 5th. Joleen and Brian Durham will give tours of the new brewing facility all weekend long at the top of every hour beginning at 3 p.m. on Friday until 8 p.m. that night. Tours will be available from 2 to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 12 to 4 p.m. on Sunday. There is no charge for a tour of the brewery.

In addition to the opportunity to tour the brewery throughout the weekend, Mike and Julie’s Smoked Meats will be available for purchase on Friday and Saturday.

“None of this growth would have been possible without the great support from our local community, the craft beer lovers throughout Missouri and Arkansas that have been drinking our beer for the past four years, and our distribution partners,” Durham said. “We hope that everyone that is able will join us during the grand opening weekend. We are proud to share this beautiful addition on our farm with them.”

Currently the brewery is distributed in most of Missouri and in Arkansas. 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; NH Scheppers in Jefferson City and Columbia; and Summit Distributing in Saint Louis. Glidewell Distributing in Fort Smith distributes Piney River beer throughout the state of Arkansas.image


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.

Brewcyrus Does Portland, A CBC 2015 Recap

In Beer Events on April 20, 2015 at 10:13 pm

“This is insane,” the cab driver said to Brian and I.

He was talking about the 11,000+ people in attendance at the Craft Brewer’s Conference in Portland last week.

“We aren’t able to handle groups like this,” the cab driver said. “We had a big coffee convention here, but those people didn’t go out to big events every night and need rides everywhere.”  (Which leads me to believe that the coffee folks just don’t have nearly as much fun as the beer folks.)

This was our 5th time to attend a Craft Brewer’s Conference, our first time to visit Portland, and the first time we were able to take our brewers—Amber and Lucas—to the conference, too. I’m sure we can all do much more damage to the Portland experience in the future, but while we were there we went hard and jammed as much fun as we could into the hours our feet were on Oregon soil.


Left Bucyrus about 4:15 a.m. (CST) on Tuesday morning. Our plane landed in Portland about 2 p.m. (PST), and we were at Breakside Brewery drinking their GABF Gold Medal winning IPA and Pale Ale within two hours. Special thanks to the staff at Breakside for showing us around and for incredible hospitality.

A barrel full of tasty pours at Breakside.

A barrel full of tasty pours at Breakside.

And if it isn’t a small world—while at Breakside, we met Breakside brewmaster Ben Edmunds, and he asked, “Piney River? Do you make a porter?”

Of course we make a porter. Our Old Tom Porter had been part of the “Best of Craft Beer Awards” held in Oregon in January (where we bagged a gold award for our Masked Bandit IPA), and Ben was one of the judges. He liked the porter enough that he snagged the extra can of Old Tom Porter to take home and enjoy.

Checking out the barrel room at Breakside.

Breakside brewer, Nao, showing us the barrel room at Breakside.

We went from the brewery to the circus-themed opening ceremony where we started catching up with our craft beer friends and family while noshing on piles of oysters and Voodoo Donuts, all paired with Oregon-brewed craft beer. And that was followed by a fun little party in our hotel hosted by Lagunitas Brewing. No naps needed, it was an hour or two into Wednesday morning before we closed our eyes.  Time change and jet lag?  Take that!

Opening Reception at CBC 2015

Darth Vader on Bagpipes, Opening Reception at CBC 2015

Fire hoops at the Opening Reception, CBC 2015.

Fire hoops at the Opening Reception, CBC 2015.

We ran into David, Kathy, Keith and Alex from Bluff City Beer and Logan and Rodney from Grellner Sales.  It's one big happy craft beer family!

We ran into David, Kathy, Keith and Alex from Bluff City Beer and Logan and Rodney from Grellner Sales. It’s one big happy craft beer family!

On the bazillion square foot trade show floor at the conference we all fought off ADD trying to keep track of where we had been, who we talked to, where we wanted to go, who we needed to talk to all while being distracted by things we had never seen. Shortly after the trade show opened, we were all aware that our new Wild Goose Canning Machine was part of their floor display. How exciting is that?

Wild Goose Canning!  Piney River Brewing!  We CAN! Part 2...coming soon!

Wild Goose Canning! Piney River Brewing! We CAN! Part 2…coming soon!


There were educational seminars every day on very exciting beer topics like “Yeast Management”, “Dry Hopping” and “Operating in Confined Spaces” that Lucas, Amber and Brian went to. Making high quality beer is numero uno at Piney River, but I attended classes that helped me stay in the know on the marketing and selling of craft beer in classes like “DIY Kick Ass Beer Festivals”.

We went to sweet parties at night hosted by Lagunitas, Oskar Blues and industry suppliers. We had the most fun on Thursday night at “We Can Jam” a canned craft beer party at the Wonder Ballroom hosted by Wild Goose, Crown and others supplying the canned craft beer industry. The event featured canned craft beer, music by Scott Pemberton Trio and The Supersuckers, and a photo booth.

Hey!  It's our West Coast craft beer family--Mike & Linda Hess and brewer, Frank.  We first met Mike & Linda in San Francisco at CBC 2015, and last CBC we both won World Beer Cup Gold Awards in Denver at CBC 2014.

Hey! It’s our West Coast craft beer family–Mike & Linda Hess and brewer, Frank Butler, from Mike Hess Brewing in San Diego. We first met Mike & Linda in San Francisco at CBC 2011.  Last CBC we both won World Beer Cup Gold Awards in Denver at CBC 2014.

This is called: How Many Brewers Can We Fit in a Photo Booth?

This is called: How Many Brewers Can We Fit in a Photo Booth?

The Supersuckers at Wonder Ballroom

The Supersuckers at Wonder Ballroom

A little Piney River fun in the We Can Jam photo booth.

A little Piney River fun in the We Can Jam photo booth.

(It was in the photo booth we determined that Brian lost his CBC badge. Have you seen The Hangover…everybody is having fun that they can’t remember the next morning, so they look at the photos. That was us. On Friday morning, when Brian couldn’t find his conference badge, we had to look back through photos from the night before. Brian was last seen wearing his badge in the We Can Jam photo booth. He must have accidentally removed it when he took off the feather boa he was posing with.)

It was at We Can Jam that we with the help of the Wild Goose employees dreamed up the idea of the best canning machine install ever—Canapalooza at Piney River Farm. We decided that it would take the entire Wild Goose crew to help install our new machine…and a bonfire…and beer…and Lucas delivering firewood…and beer…and a float trip…and beer…and music…and beer….all in the beautiful Ozark hills of Brewcyrus. No word on when the bus from Boulder will arrive….

We did not put our politics aside while in Oregon. Everyone from Piney River stopped at the Brewer’s Association booth and sent an emails to US Representative Jason Smith and US Senators Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt asking them to co-sponsor the Small BREW Act because excise tax reform for small breweries is an important thing to all of us craft brewers and it will help create jobs and provide funds to reinvest back into our local breweries. And I stepped up into a board role for Missouri Small Brewer’s Guild.

The Brewer’s Association puts on an excellent conference every year. Not only is it fun, but it’s an opportunity for breweries of all sizes to come together and network and learn together. The commitment to high quality craft beer is unwavering, and the industry suppliers know that we want the tools to help us achieve that. We can see a lot of those tools first hand. We also were able to take part in a full slate of classes with excellent guest lecturers. Brewing is not always glamorous or high paying, but it is awesome to be able to connect with others in the industry in this way once a year.

Before 12 a.m., we were on the Friday night red-eye flight out of Portland.  Saw the sun come up in Detroit.  Found ourselves back in Bucyrus by 1:30.  Three time zones stops in 9 hours.  #howweroll

Next year’s conference is in Philadelphia. Brian and I are going back to the scene of the crime—that’s where we first met in September 1992 at small liberal arts college on the Main Line. And that’s when the next World Beer Cup Awards will be held, too.  We imagine that it may just be another good time.

Craft Beer…It’s Something We Can All Agree On

In The Beer on March 30, 2015 at 10:21 pm

We don’t claim to be particularly political at Piney River.  But we do believe in speaking up about things that are important to us to our elected officials. As we’ve learned over the past four years, craft beer crosses all political lines, and we can all come together to share a beer.

And that’s how this came to be.

Brian shows off the new construction project to US Representative Jason Smith (MO-8).

Brian shows off the new construction project to US Representative Jason Smith (MO-8).

We were very honored to host our Congressman for Missouri’s 8th District at Piney River today.  Representative Jason Smith and his aides Eric Harmon and Tammy Corrigan picked a beautiful day in the Ozarks for a look around their local craft brewery–and it was a first for Representative Smith in his district!

We shared the Piney River story…from home brewing to professionally brewing 10 gallons at a time to adding brewers and other staff members in our rural Missouri small business!

Brewer Amber Powell got her chance to speak up about being a female brewer in a male-dominated industry.  Go Amber!

Brewer Amber Powell got her chance to speak up about being a female brewer in a male-dominated industry. Go Amber!

And here's everyone that was on hand today at the BARn with Representative Smith--Jonathan Bates; Ian Dreisel; Amber Powell and Brian and Joleen.

And here’s everyone that was on hand today at the BARn with Representative Smith–Jonathan Bates; Ian Dreisel; Amber Powell and Brian and Joleen.

Representative Smith was genuinely interested in the entire process from brewing to packaging to shipping beer to distributors. We were able to tell him about the great support we receive locally and the way that support allows us to give back to our local community.  Plus, our BARn is a place that brings people from all over to Bucyrus, MO to spend money and to create great memories that make them want to come back and bring friends with them.  We talked about small business issues such as financing and employees.

Brian shows off some canned beer ready to be shipped to Representative Smith.

Brian shows off some canned beer ready to be shipped to Representative Smith.

We had the opportunity to thank Rep. Smith for the support he’s already given for lowering federal excise taxes for small brewers, and we asked him to consider co-sponsoring a bill that we’ve worked with the Brewer’s Association to support, HR 232, the Small Brewer Reinvestment and Expanding Workforce Act.

There are over 3,000 small brewers in the US today.  Craft beer recently took a double digit market share.  Great things are happening with craft beer in the US, and today we had the opportunity to share our personal story with a member of Congress.  What a privilege!

Just like we’ve told you, we also told Representative Smith that we are in this business because we are doing something we love and celebrating and sharing the Ozarks, which we also love.  Representative Smith grew up just one county away near the headwaters of the Current River.  He understands the love we have for this area, too.

And I’ve said it before, so I’ll say it again…at the end of the day, beer is bipartisan.  Let’s raise a pint to working together to grow craft beer in the US!

4th Aleiversary—The Best One Yet

In Beer Events on March 17, 2015 at 9:33 pm

Yes, we had some anxiety about the 4th Aleiversary.

Just like the 3rd Aleiversary, we planned to be overwhelmed.



Two food trucks?




Beer trailer with six taps outside?


ID bracelets and beer tickets?

Had those to.

We even had a brand spanking new deck addition–built just in time.

Everyone knows that the sun always shines on the Aleiversary, so even though we began watching the weather religiously a month in advance, sunshine seemed pretty likely (insert fingers and toes crossed).

On February 13th the construction on our building ground to a halt with snow, cold, snow that melted into ice to be topped by more snow that melted into ice to be topped by more snow that melted into ice. Finally, the weather warmed up on March 7th and the great melt and dry-out began. Only six days to the 4th Aleiversary (insert nervous mud discussions here).

Due to construction, our parking lot was cut down (to a mud pit) the week before the Aleiversary. The week of the Aleiversary, the rebuild of the parking lot began. A couple dozen loads of chat later, hours upon hours of work by Holland Excavating, some additional gravel laid on Walnut Grove Drive by our township, and with some gravel spreading help from Brian in the skid steer, we were ready for the for the 4th Aleiversary.

Of course, it rained up until the morning before the Aleiversary. The yard around the brewery was muddy, but the field (aka additional parking) drained well. A little well-placed gravel, some caution tape and we were ready to go.



Smokey Folk from Springfield and Joshin the Giants from Joplin provided handcrafted tunes that were enjoyed by all ages all day long.

Smokey Folk

Smokey Folk

Joshin the Giants

Joshin the Giants

Emma, Lucas and Ian served in the taproom. Pete and Amber served at the beer tent. Tessa and Jonathan sold beer tickets outside. Jamie and Brian handled parking.

Pete and Amber at the beer trailer with the head root beer maker.

Pete and Amber at the beer trailer with the head root beer maker.

Ian and Emma behind the bar in the tap room.

Ian and Emma behind the bar in the tap room.

Ian and Lucas behind the bar in the tap room.

Ian and Lucas behind the bar in the tap room.

Jonathan and Tessa took care of beer tickets for almost every customer that came through the Aleiversary.

Jonathan and Tessa took care of beer tickets for almost every customer that came through the Aleiversary.

I tried to do everything else as needed (no photos of that).

I cannot say enough about our staff and the work they do to help put the Aleiversary on. In addition to helping get everything ready for the day, they arrive early the day of the event and work their butts off until every customer goes home. There is no time for breaks, eating the great food served or even sipping a beer. They put their heads down and poured beer and tried to keep customers happy for seven hours straight. And they did a fabulous job with helping make another wonderful Piney River experience at the 4th Aleiversary.

Asking 21-year olds to wear a wristband and to purchase beer tickets made for a very smooth day for patrons and for our staff. Nobody had to wait very long for a pint at all.

The 2015 Mule Team IPA was delicious and smooth. Several people were proud to take home a four-pack or more.

Both decks and the tap room were filled.



Even the muddy yard became a place to sit and enjoy a beer with family and friends.


Both food trucks had a steady line of customers all day long, but the waits were very reasonable.  Mike and Julie’s Smoked Meats and Aviary on the Fly both received rave reviews and even sold out of some food items. We appreciate everyone supporting our local food vendors, too.


At some point about mid-day a customer said to me, “The parking lot is full.”

I thought, “The parking lot????”

“You mean the field?” I asked.


cars at aleiversary

Indeed the field was nearly full of cars, and all day long only one truck needed some assistance in getting out.

One of our neighbors noted to his wife that at about 12 p.m. when cars were pouring down ZZ Highway, it “was like we live in the city”.

And we appreciate our neighbors sharing this little piece of heaven with the hordes of folks that want to celebrate Piney River in the Ozarks. Thank you!

We believe 850 or so people came out and participated in this particular Piney River experience.

As the official “field attendant” for every car that came down the drive last Saturday, Brian had the opportunity to personally greet most folks that joined us. As I wound my way up and down and in and out of the brewery and the grounds, I kept running into friends, family and fans. We were honored to host staff members from three of our distributors, too. I hope we had a chance to say hello, shake a hand, share a smile or laugh with you.

The Aleiversary is not about selling a bunch of beer a the BARn one day a year. The Aleiversary is about celebrating craft beer in the Ozarks with you. Two people that some thought were a little (or a lot!) crazy had a dream about making beer in a barn on farm just up the hill from the Piney River.

We dreamed of making beer that celebrated our home, a great place in the US—the Ozarks. We dreamed of making beer that could be canned for consumption in the beautiful and secluded places of the Ozarks. Four years later, all those dreams and much more have come true.

From Brian and I and our whole Piney River Crew, THANK YOU for four phenomenal, unforgettable, mind-blowing years!

Cheers to you!  From All of Us--Jamie, Emma, Brian, Joleen, Pete, Amber, Tessa, Jonathan & Ian (Lucas, not shown)

Cheers to you! From All of Us–Jamie, Emma, Brian, Joleen, Pete, Amber, Tessa, Jonathan & Ian (Lucas, not shown)

The Behind the Scenes Peek at Our First World Beer Cup Win

In The Beer on April 15, 2014 at 9:36 pm

I need to preface this blog post by saying that I feel like anything I write here is going to seem much less dramatic than Piney River’s first big win at the Great American Beer Festival.  Even in those moments after we won Gold at GABF last October, I remember thinking, “There will never be another moment like this one.”  There’s only one first time.

Shortly after the 2013 Great American Beer Festival, we were contacted to participate in the largest beer competition in the world–the World Beer Cup.  Also put on by the Brewer’s Association, the World Beer Cup is an international stage for the winning beers.  Gold, silver and bronze “cup” awards are given based on blind taste judging from a panel of judges–mostly from around the world.  A World Beer Cup is held for two years because the competition is only held every other year,  and this year, the World Beer Cup was scheduled to be held in Denver on Friday night following the Craft Brewer’s Conference.

Again, we entered the maximum number of beers–this time it was four styles.  In February, Brian and I sat at the dining room table with four packs of freshly canned beer around us.  We made our selections and sent our beers to Denver about a month ahead of the competition.

I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that Brian and I had more than one conversation about the possible “huge year” that we could have with a GABF gold followed by a World Beer Cup win.  Was it possible?

We arrived in Denver last Monday evening.  We attended our first Craft Brewer’s Conference (CBC) in San Francisco in 2011.  Over the past four years, we’ve watched the conference more than double in size.  The trade show floor has grown too large to leisurely walk through.  But the quality of the programs and the access to industry tools and information is unparallelled.  Although we get up early and stay up way too late every night, Brian and I really enjoy taking a vacation from our day jobs to attend the CBC.

Most importantly, we get to be with “our people“.  The longer we are in the industry, the more people we know.  Sometimes we only see these people once a year, so it’s sort of like a mini-family reunion–with lots of beer!

cbc 2014 denvercbc 2014 mile highcbc 2014 stringdusters

Some highlights of the week–Great meal and craft beer at Euclid Hall.  CBC opening reception at Mile High Stadium.  Canarchy at Star BarThe Infamous Stringdusters in concert at the Ogden Theatre hosted by Oskar Blues Brewery.  Interesting seminars on everything from dissolved oxygen in your beer (yes, this is something we do worry about) to forecasting sales of seasonal beers.  We even got to see Andy  featured on the trade show hall floor in the You Tube I made of our labeling machine in action labeling cold, wet cans coming off our Wild Goose canning line.

Friday night and the World Beer Cup Gala rolled around really quickly.  This time there were no dreams of winning gold while sleeping the night before.  No “signs” on the trip to Denver.  Again, we found ourselves sitting amongst a bunch of folks from California.  Charlie Papazian had his tuxedo on.  The lights dimmed.  The awards ceremony began.

cbc 2014 wbc gala 2cbc 2014 wbc gala 1

Four-thousand seven hundred fifty-four beers from 1,403 breweries representing 58 countries were included in the competition.  (This was a 21 percent increase over the 2012 World Beer Cup.)  Stiff competition.

I’ve always teased Brian about being an immediate gratification kind of guy, and that’s exactly what we got on Friday night.  American-style wheat beer was the first category.  Bronze and silver were announced and popped up on the large screens in the ballroom.  “And the gold goes to…”

“Float” was all that Chris Swersey was able to say before Brian was whooping and jumping up out of his chair beside me.

Things were moving in slow motion for me.  I remember hearing Brian start getting rowdy, but I sat and watched our name fill the screen.

There it was “Float Trip Ale” in large print with “Gold” right next to it.

High fives.  Hugs.  And then we were standing next to Paul Gatza getting ready to walk on stage for a photo with Charlie Papazian.  AGAIN!

world beer cup award by hess

As we left the stage, there were arrows pointing us back behind some curtain where our actual award engraved with our name was given to us.  Andy Sparhawk, the craft beer coordinator at the Brewer’s Association, came running over to us, eyes as big as saucers.  Andy was the one that asked back in October last year, “What will you do if you win?”, referring to the possibility of a GABF award.

Andy, Brian, and I had an “Oh my god, how is this possible?!” moment together.  More high fives and yelling.  This is the stuff dreams are made of !

This time, Brian had the shakes.  He went to get us celebratory beers, and he couldn’t hold the glasses still.  As we weaved our way through the crowd to get back into the ballroom, our friends from The Public House Brewery in Rolla were on a back row with high fives and hugs.

Hey Brian--It's a World Beer Cup GOLD!

Hey Brian–It’s a World Beer Cup GOLD!

When we got back to our seats, one of the ladies from the California group, said, “You freaked us out.”  Then she wanted to know exactly who we were.

That was the only award for Piney River that night.  But as we know, one is all you need.

Two hundred twenty-six breweries went home with one award that night.  Twenty-six breweries won two awards, and one brewery won three.  Twenty-eight percent of the awards went to breweries outside the US.  We saw World Beer Cup awards go to breweries from all over Europe, and also to breweries in Asia, Australia, South and Central America.

We were there to witness our friends from Mike Hess Brewing in San Diego as they received their first major award–a World Cup Gold for Rye beer.  Mike Hess Brewery started out as a nanobrewery, and we first met the Hess family in 2011 at the San Francisco CBC.  Mike Hess recently put in a larger brewhouse and canning line.  I got to yell, “Gold, baby!”  Brian ran up and high fived the whole crew on their way to the stage.  After the ceremony we all went to the top of the hotel and celebrated with a bottle of champagne.

Cloud 9--it's somewhere near the top of the Hyatt Regency in Denver

Cloud 9? It’s somewhere near the top of the Hyatt Regency in Denver.

The Hess crew celebrating GOLD!

The Hess crew celebrating GOLD!

Once again, we are fortunate to receive a huge honor for an extremely Ozark-centric beer.  Float Trip.  A “float trip” is a quintessential Ozark experience.  We’ve made a world class beer that celebrates something that we all love to do in the Ozarks.  Even better–this beer is a great beer to drink when you’re on a float trip!

Yeah, it’s still insane here at Piney River, but the time of our lives just keeps getting better and better.

cbc 2014 wbc award

Piney River Brewing received their gold award at the 2014 World Beer Cup held in Denver on Friday night.  Shown here, left to right:  Brian Durham, head brewer and co-founder; Joleen Durham, co-founder, and Charlie Papazian, president of the Brewer’s Association.

Piney River Brewing received their gold award at the 2014 World Beer Cup held in Denver.  Shown here, left to right: Brian Durham, head brewer and co-founder; Joleen Durham, co-founder, and Charlie Papazian, president of the Brewer’s Association.