Piney River Brewing receives its gold medal Saturday at the 2013 Great American Beer Festival awards ceremony in Denver. From left: Lucas Clem, brewer; Charlie Papazian, president of the Brewer’s Association; and owners Brian and Joleen Durham. Not pictured: Amber Powell, brewer. 

Piney River Brewing Co. of Bucyrus claimed a gold medal Saturday at the 2013 Great American Beer Festival competition. Presented by the Brewers Association, the event is the largest national beer competition that recognizes the most outstanding beers produced in the United States.

The top three winners in the competition’s 84 beer-style categories were announced at an awards ceremony at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, Colo.

“Everyone at Piney River is overwhelmed and honored to bring home a gold medal from our small brewery here in the Ozarks,” Brian Durham, head brewer and co-founder at Piney River Brewing, said.

Piney River Brewing was recognized in the “brown porter” beer-style category for its Old Tom Porter, a traditional English-style ale that features roasted malts that have chocolate and coffee flavors with a balanced hop profile. The brewery recommends pairing Old Tom Porter with beef or grilled meats and homemade vanilla ice cream.

Durham developed the recipe for Old Tom Porter shortly after opening the Ozark brewery in 2011.

“We wanted to have a dark, full-bodied beer to go with other ales that we had in our tap room lineup,” Durham said.

The beer’s name gives homage to the “old tom” American wild turkey, which is native to the Ozarks.

“It’s not uncommon to hear a tom turkey’s gobble reverberating off the bluffs and hills around our farm and the brewery,” Durham said, explaining that his brewery staff and customers regularly watch wild turkeys foraging for spent grains in the manure the brewery cows spread around the farm.

“The old tom can be very elusive, and we wanted to honor the great wild turkey heritage we have in the Ozarks with our porter,” Durham said.

The brewery specializes in craft beers that celebrate the Ozarks by highlighting the region’s limestone filtered water in their beers and packaging their craft brew in 16-ounce pint cans that are “portable in nature.”

“Since we opened our doors in March 2011, our goal has always been to brew high quality craft beers that celebrate the Ozarks,” Durham said.

Piney River Brewing is 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. The seven-barrel brewhouse and related packaging equipment went into full-time use in the fall of 2011. The brewery has distribution throughout central and southwest Missouri and Arkansas.

“This year was the first time Piney River has entered any brews in a national competition,” Durham explained. “We are beyond excited to bring home this win to our little brewery and to shine the spotlight on the rural Ozarks with this gold medal.”

Durham applauded the efforts of his two brewers, Lucas Clem and Amber Powell. “We could not have done this without them,” Durham said.

The 2013 competition winners were selected by an international panel of 201 expert judges from the record number of 4,809 entries received from 745 U.S. breweries.

“The Great American Beer Festival brings together the most stellar brewers from around the country,” said Chris Swersey, competition director. “Taking home a medal at this premier beer competition is truly a symbol of brewing excellence.”

For more GABF competition information, including the 2013 winners list and photos, visit Additional information about Piney River Brewing can be found at

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