Piney River Brewing Company

Posts Tagged ‘Missouri Mule India Pale Ale’

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.

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.

IMG_1359

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.

IMG_1387

Crafting a Better IPA

In The Beer on December 29, 2012 at 11:05 pm

We love India Pale Ale.

A fermentation vessel full of Missouri Mule India Pale Ale

A fermentation vessel full of Missouri Mule India Pale Ale

When we envisioned a craft brewery in the Ozarks, we knew that India Pale Ale, commonly referred to as IPA, would have to be part of our beer line up. In those first few months operating as a nanobrewery, we knew that IPA would have to be one of those beers that was packaged for distribution at the beginning.

India Pale Ale gets its name from the time in history when the British colonized India. The Brits would travel to India by ship, around the horn of Africa—a really long journey. Hops are a natural preservative, and the British found that by adding additional hops to their barrels of pale ale, the beer would be preserved to make the lengthy trip to India. Thus the name “India pale ale”.

I’m positive that the IPAs we drink today aren’t anything close to what they were drinking on those ships from England to India, but the name has persisted. India Pale Ale is known for its intense hop forward flavor, and there are many different types of IPA being produced by America’s craft breweries.

Back when we were a nanobrewery, our 10-gallon batches of IPA were well loved by our customers with a palate for IPA. Our IPA was made in what we would call a Midwestern style—strong malt backbone to stand up to a lot of hops. The result was a 7% ABV beer with some kick—Missouri Mule India Pale Ale.

Then, we got into brewing for production, and our IPA changed. There is tweaking that has to take place any time you change the size of the brew you are making; you can’t just take the same ingredients and increase the amount according to the size of beer being brewed. Plus, IPA is a “bigger” beer for us…it takes longer to produce.

A pallet of Missouri Mule IPA ready to be shipped to a distributor.

A pallet of Missouri Mule IPA ready to be shipped to a distributor.

To save some time, we didn’t dry hop the first batch or two of IPA that left the brewery. Dry hopping adds hop aroma to beer after it’s done fermenting. Brian and I, who should probably be referred to as “Quality” and “Control” were not happy with IPA leaving the brewery without the dry hopping. We felt like a critical element—the wonderful aroma of hops—was being left out of a beer that we loved. So, we commenced with dry hopping again.

The malt backbone I referred to earlier is the grain that we use, and in our IPA, we had some roasted grains that provided color as well as flavor—a balance between the hops and the malt. Quality and Control were pleased with the balance between the hops and the malt when the IPA was leaving the brewery, but we were hearing reports of “malty” and “malt-forward” IPA in cans from our consumers. What the heck was going on?

Remember how I mentioned that the British added more hops to preserve the beer? Hops do act as a natural preservative and the more hops, the more flavor. However, the first thing to go in a beer is the hop profile. The older a beer is, the less hoppy a beer is. And, if that beer is kept at room temperature, the flavor of the hops disappears even faster.

At the brewery, fresh, canned IPA goes into our cooler. We know, storing beer cold is the best way to go. However, we also know that when our beer leaves our brewery, we have no control over it. In distribution, the beer is oftentimes stored at room temperature. Many retailers store craft beer on a shelf in their store that is not refrigerated. When beer is not kept cold, the hops begin to break.

Quality and Control began conducting experiments with our beer and with other IPAs. We would put the IPAs in warm places and see what they tasted like after one week, two weeks, three weeks or more. We took other IPAs that we knew were considered to be great representatives of the style, and we set them out, too. During that time, it would not have been hard to walk into the BARn and find Quality and Control hovering over six or eight glasses of IPA…studying, tasting, taking notes.

Here’s what we can say about IPA–every day an IPA sits on a warm shelf or in a warm store room, the hop aroma and flavor becomes less pronounced. That malty flavor some of our customers were finding in our canned IPA came from the fact that the beer had not been kept cold since it was sent out the brewery door. Please don’t misunderstand—this is representative of many IPAs in the market, not just Missouri Mule.

Quality and Control began tweaking our IPA some more.

And we can honestly say, the past few times Missouri Mule IPA has left our brewery, we have been very proud of the final product with a strong feeling that the IPA would stand up to warm shelves for a greater amount of time.

Missouri Mule on the canning line.

Missouri Mule on the canning line.

Apparently, our consumers think it’s better, too. More and more orders for IPA are coming in from our distributors, and we’re receiving positive feedback from our hop lovers out there.

So, if you’ve tried our IPA in the past, but thought it was too malty, we hope you’ll give it another try. And, if you like to buy packaged IPA from a retailer, encourage them to keep your IPA in their cold section to better preserve the hops.

That’s our little IPA story. We hope you enjoyed it and learned something, too!

Cheers!

Cheers!