A visit to Piney River Brewing Company in Bucyrus, Missouri, is just what you’d hope for. The refurbished BARn in which the beer is crafted sits on an 80-acre farm at the end of a rolling gravel road, tucked serenely between the Ozark Mountains and Little Piney Creek. Joleen and Brian Durham, the founders and owners, might be pouring a beer behind the bar, giving a group tour, or brewing another batch of their original Float Trip Ale.
It’s all very low key, very authentic — very Ozarks.
“We wanted to make a beer in the Ozarks that was about the Ozarks. We wanted each sip to be a taste of the Ozarks,” said Joleen. “We use limestone-filtered Ozark spring water from our own well, which I think sets our beer apart and gives it a great flavor.”
Beer experts seem to agree. Piney River has won multiple honors for multiple beers from the World Beer Cup, the U.S. Open Beer Championship, the Great American Beer Festival, and more. But perhaps their favorite accolades come from the folks who have helped turn the “hobby gone wild” into a destination brewery.
“We get a lot of visitors from St. Louis and Columbia. This is where they come to play, and then they hear out about us and stop in,” said Joleen. “I’m proud that we can bring people to our rural area and community.”
The Durhams named the brewery after the Big Piney River, which flows through Texas County, where Bucyrus is located. Joleen and Brian love getting outdoors and spending time on the water, whether kayaking, fishing, hunting, or bicycling. The beer names, likewise, resonate with the area’s natural setting: Bronzeback Pale Ale, Black Walnut Wheat, Current Situation, Crankbait Cream Ale, McKinney Eddy Amber Ale. In all, they make seven year-round and several limited-release beers.
A consideration of the outdoors extends beyond taste and aesthetic, however. Piney River was the first microbrewery in the state of Missouri to can beer at the brewery.
“We decided we had to make a beer that you could take out into the Ozarks. Bottles just aren’t practical, and aren’t allowed in some places,” said Joleen. “Offering a tasty craft beer in a can is also a great way to set ourselves apart.”
Piney River Brewing Company currently produces about 2,500 barrels annually, with most of it going out for distribution in Missouri and Arkansas. You can find it at craft beer markets and big-box liquor stores, but we recommend you visit the BARn and taproom in person — it’s open every weekend.
“Eight years into this amazing adventure, Brian and I are very proud to bring people from all over the world to our farm in the Ozarks to enjoy a pint,” Joleen said. “And we look forward to growing our brand to be one that is sought out when beer lovers come to the Ozarks.”
When you head over to Piney River Brewing Company, be sure to set aside time to visit these nearby outdoor gems.
Echo Bluff State Park features a spectacular cliff that towers over Sinking Creek and has a lovely, modern lodge with guest rooms, cabins, indoor and outdoor dining, and more. There are hiking and mountain biking trails, as well as floating, swimming, fishing, and camping. Drive time to Piney River: 60 minutes.
Montauk State Park lies at the headwaters of the Current River and is well known as one of Missouri’s top rainbow trout hatcheries. Come to fish, hike, or bike, or to tour the historic gristmill, built in 1896. Visitors wanting to spend the night can camp or rent a cabin or motel room. Drive time to Piney River: 40 minutes.
Author: Brad Kovach is the editor/publisher of Terrain Magazine.
Featured image: Joleen and Brian Durham, founders of Piney River Brewing Co.