Piney River Brewing Company of Bucyrus claimed a 2022 World Beer Cup bronze award for Missouri Waltz with Cherries in the Fruited Wood and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer category at the awards ceremony held on May 5 at the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minneapolis, Minn.
The World Beer Cup is a global beer competition that evaluates beers from around the world and recognizes the most outstanding brewers and their beers. Awards were given in 103 beer-style categories, and this bronze award is the second World Beer Cup award for the brewery and the only World Beer Cup award given to a Missouri brewery in 2022.
Missouri Waltz with Cherries is a mixed fermentation-style beer made in wooden tanks made of Missouri white oak and commonly referred to as a foeder (the Dutch word for large oak tank for beer fermentation). The base beer for Missouri Waltz ferments in the foeder for several months. While in the foeder, it becomes inoculated with brettanomyces, pediococcus and lactobacillus “good bacteria,” which create the “sour” characteristics of the ale. The award-winning Missouri Waltz was aged on tart cherries for several months before it was packaged.
Joleen and Brian Durham, owners of Piney River Brewing, began their mixed fermentation or sour beer program in 2016 when they moved the main brewing operation to a larger, new barn on the property. The original barn built in the 1940s became the production area for sour beers with the addition of two foeders handmade by Foeder Crafters of America in St. Louis and several French oak wine barrels.
“This side of our brewing operation is a very small part of our beer production and sales,” said head brewer Brian Durham. “However, lambic beer styles are something that Joleen and I have appreciated for many years, and we have enjoyed working with this style.”
Durham called the mixed fermentation beers a “labor of love” because they take a long time to reach the point where the can be packaged and sold. The majority of the beer is sold at the BARn, the public tasting room located on the Durhams’ 160-acre farm.
Missouri Waltz with Cherries was one of 125 entries in the Fruited Wood and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer category at this year’s World Beer Cup with a brewery in California winning silver and a brewery in Denmark winning gold.
“We are completely blown away to win this World Beer Cup,” Brian Durham said. “This award is a huge honor for our brewery and brewing team because it’s international recognition that world class beers are being made on our farm in the Ozarks.”
World Beer Cup winners were selected by an international panel of 226 beer judges from 28 countries. Widely regarded as the “Olympics of Beer,” the 2022 World Beer Cup was the largest competition to date with 10,542 entries from 2,493 breweries in 57 countries.
“It’s especially sweet to win an award for what we consider to be fairly complex beer style and a style that we are not known for,” Brian Durham said.
Missouri Waltz with Cherries was first released by the brewery in the summer of 2021 to celebrate the brewery’s tenth anniversary. It is currently available on draft at the BARn in Bucyrus and at the Piney River Taproom in Waynesville.
“We called our base foeder beer ‘Missouri Waltz’ as a way to pay homage to our state and to the Missouri white oak that is grown and harvested in the Ozarks to make our foeders,” said Joleen Durham said.
Over the years, Missouri Waltz variants have also included blackberries, raspberries, blueberries and peaches.
“This cherry variant of Missouri Waltz is the first time we have bottled a mixed culture beer for competition,” Brian Durham said. “It is a slow process, but we plan to make bottles of Missouri Waltz and other sour beers available to the public later this year, and they can be enjoyed on tap whenever they are available at our farm.”
Brian Durham noted that a small amount of the award-winning batch of Missouri Waltz with Cherries is currently available, and more is already on the production schedule.
In addition to the Durhams, the Piney River Brewing production team includes brewers Brandon Lee and Bryan Spence. Lee and Spence handle day-to-day brewing, cellaring and packaging operations for the brewery. When needed, Lisa Jordan also aids in the brewery production.
“We have a small brewing team, but each of our brewery team members are a key reason that Piney River is able to bring home an award like this,” Brian Durham said. “The dedication our team shows in every step of the process – from keeping the brewery and the tanks clean to tasting and carefully handling the beers – is crucial to making world class beer.”
The Durhams founded the brewery in 2010 with a 10-gallon brewing system in the restored 1940’s-era barn where the taproom and mixed fermentation brewing are located. The main production brewing is done today in a modern 12,000 square foot barn with a 15-barrel brewhouse. The brewery has distribution in Missouri across the South, Central and Kansas City area and in Arkansas.
Presented by the Brewers Association, the World Beer Cup has been held biennially since 1996, to celebrate the art and science of brewing by recognizing outstanding achievement. For additional information, visit the Piney River Brewing website and World Beer Cup website.
After the 2022 World Beer Cup at CBC Minneapolis, the competition is moving from biennially to an annual competition to raise the stakes with a more frequent competition to celebrate international brewing excellence.