Like many people in the St. Louis area, John and members of his family had found a little convenience store near St. Louis where they could sometimes find Piney River beer. They wanted more.
John had also heard about Piney River through the Missouri wholesale distributor network. He let us know that he would like a seat at the table when we began talking to distributors in the St. Louis area. I’m pretty sure that we had no clue when that conversation would ever take place.
St. Louis? That’s a huge market. St. Louis? They have lots of great craft beer there already. St. Louis? How could we ever possibly meet the demand?
Fast forward to spring 2014. We began looking at ways to meet our current distribution needs. There were lots of thing we knew: We need a new brewhouse. We need a bigger place to brew beer. And if we had a bigger place to brew beer and a bigger brewhouse, we would also need all the other stuff…bigger cellar, bigger cooler, bigger canning line. And If we had all of that, what would that mean for the Piney River brand?
Earlier this year, we picked that conversation with John back up. It was a beautiful Friday in April at the BARn. John, Brian Dix and Ryan Carolan stood on the new concrete waiting for the construction of a bigger barn. They tried our beers. They listened to our story of brewing beer on the kitchen stove and hauling old hay out of a barn loft to winning a World Beer Cup.
About a month later, we visited Summit’s offices and warehouse in St. Louis. We met more of the Summit management team. John and Kim Barrow gave us a tour of the warehouse (Wow!), and we talked some more about how the Piney River brand could fit into the Summit portfolio.
Later this summer, a contract between Piney River and Summit was executed. More importantly, John and members of his team came back to the BARn in August. At Piney River, we believe in sharing beer while enjoying nature, and that’s exactly what we did.
For as long as we’ve been brewing beer in Missouri, we’ve had the craft beer lovers in St. Louis and Kansas City asking for our beer in their bars and restaurants and on their store shelves. For the first time in about five years, we have finally reached the point where we are able to brew enough beer to begin to meet the demand a large metropolitan area places on a brewery. With every batch of beer on our new system, we are able to quadruple the amount of beer we turn out.
Why St. Louis?
We love the Cardinals. We love the Missouri Botanical Gardens. And City Museum. And Ted Drewes.
Seriously, the reality is that we are only 2.5 hours from St. Louis, so that’s a little easier to work around with our first foray into a major metro area. Brian and I still try to be at and do as many events as possible. We love the opportunity to share a beer with the people that enjoy our beer.
With this brewery expansion and the ability to provide lots more beer to the good people in the Ozarks, we have hired our first salesperson. Yay for Rick Lange, and the ground he’s helping us cover! Rick will also help us in the St. Louis market.
We are working diligently to fill the orders our current distributors—Grellner Sales, Heart of America Beverage, NH Scheppers Distributing, Bluff City Beer Co., and Glidewell Distributing have placed with us. We hope to help all of them grow the Piney River brand in their respective markets. And we’re excited to add Summit Distributing to the Piney River family of distributors.
So, the cat’s out of the bag. Piney River will be available in St. Louis city, St. Louis County, St. Charles county and Lincoln county. You’ll find Piney River in cans and on draft in bars and restaurants and on shelves. And if you don’t see it, ask for it.
A huge thanks to John Hummel for his efforts to bring Piney River to St. Louis. We are really looking forward to working with the entire Summit Distributing team. This is really happening! The first week of November, Summit Distributing is will spread a little bit of the Piney River Farm all over St. Louis.