Piney River Brewing Company

Posts Tagged ‘Joleen 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



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

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!

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.