“We always thought it would be far fetched for anybody to drive two miles down a gravel road to visit a brewery,” says Joleen Durham, co-owner of Piney River Brewery. “But we were really wrong.”
You might say Brian and Joleen Durham used to be weekend warriors when it came to brewing beer.
“We were home brewers,” says Joleen. “One of the things we've always enjoyed is going to local micro breweries, trying the beer, enjoying the flavor of the place.”
In 2011, this couple that lives in rural Texas County near Bucyrus decided to take a chance and share their brew with others.
“We thought ‘why don't we see if there's an interest in a brewery in the Ozarks?’” says Joleen.
They started churning out just 10 gallons a time, turned a decades old barn on their property into a brew house and tap room, and Piney River Brewery was born.
Little did they know the buzz their brew would bring.
“We were brewing, brewing, brewing,” says Joleen. “We would put a little thing on Facebook and say we're open on Saturday for four hours and think we have enough beer for two weekends. And low and behold people would show up and wipe us out. So we'd have to close for a few weeks while we brewed and brewed and brewed.”
Now, just a few years later, they ship kegs and cans across the Ozarks and welcome guests from all over the Midwest to the barn on Saturday afternoons.
Each beer they brew celebrates an aspect of life in the Ozarks. Like the black walnut wheat, the Missouri mule, or the old tom porter which just won a gold medal at a nationwide beer festival.
“We live here,” says Brian. “We have this product that we hope portrays part of what people are and what people do here in the Ozarks. It's just an extension of us, but it's not moonshine. It's not moonshine.”
But it is a growing operation with roots firmly planted in brew-cyrus, Missouri.
“This will always be here, this is who we are,” says Brian. “But growth does funny things. You never know what will happen in the future.”
Piney River Brewing is truly local because nearly all of the wood used for the barn refurbishment came from Raymondville, Mo.
One neighbor even made the wooden taps and another hand carved an ornate decoration to adorn a door in the barn.
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