Piney River Brewing U.S. Open Beer Championship winners Low Water Bridge IPA and Sideways. Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO

Texas County’s Piney River Brewing won gold medals for Low Water Bridge IPA and Sideways at the 2022 U.S. Open Beer Championship, an international competition. 

The event included over 9,000 beers in 150 different beer style categories. The contest is open to professional brewers and award winning beers from home brewers. U.S. Open judges hail from England, Canada and the U.S., and judging is completed annually in Oxford, Ohio. This year’s winners were announced on July 11. 

Low Water Bridge won the top prize in the Light IPA/Session IPA category. This is the first time this beer was entered in the competition. 

Low Water Bridge is an India pale ale (IPA) that is light in body and in color. This IPA is also called “New England-style” because it is hazy and has a juice-like flavors from multiple hop additions of citra and mosaic hops. True to its style, Low Water Bridge has a soft mouth feel, forward citrus hop flavors and aroma without hop bitterness. The beer has a low percentage of alcohol for easy-drinking enjoyment. 

The IPA is available year-round at the brewery, and it’s also part of the “Taste the Ozarks IPA Sampler,” a mixed 12-pack carton of IPAs the brewery started packaging for distribution this year. 

Piney River Brewing has now earned 18 medals at U.S. Open Beer Championships.

Sideways, also a first-time entrant in the competition, won a gold medal in the “Red Wine Barrel-Aged Beer” category. Sideways is a mixed fermentation beer – a dark ale fermented with sachromyces, brettanomyces and pediococcus in a French oak barrel that first held Banshee Pinot Noir, a red wine. This type of beer is commonly referred to as a “sour ale.” 

Sideways is a small batch project that has been in development for a few years. It is Piney River’s second mixed fermentation beer to receive honors. Missouri Waltz with Cherries won a bronze World Beer Cup award earlier this year. 

Sideways is not currently available to the public, but it will be released at the brewery later this year. 

“Low Water Bridge and Sideways are two very distinctly different beer styles,” said Brian Durham, co-owner and co-founder of Piney River Brewing. “It’s extremely gratifying to receive top honors for both beers.” 

Brandon Lee and Bryan Spence work with Durham to execute the beer recipes and packaging operations at the brewery. Durham said their daily work is crucial to making beers that bring honors in competition. 

“Piney River would not be recognized at this level if our brewers were not doing the right things every day to brew and package great beers,” Durham said. 

Piney River began entering the U.S. Open Beer Championship in 2015, and has now earned 18 medals from the competition. 

“I can’t say enough how Joleen and I are very pleased to bring recognition to our farm brewery and to Texas County and our community,” Durham said. “Piney River is not a well-known brewery, but we are making world class beers on our farm in rural America. It’s something that we’re proud to do.” 

Piney River Brewing is located on the Durhams’ 160-acre farm in South Central Missouri, operating out of a restored barn built in the 1940s and a larger production “barn.” Brian and Joleen Durham founded the brewery in 2010 with a 10-gallon brewing system. In 2021, Piney River Brewing produced 2,121 barrels of beer. 

Piney River Brewing operates a tasting room on the farm that is open to the public every weekend. The brewery has distribution in Missouri and Arkansas. 

A complete list of U.S. Open Beer Championship winners can be found online at www.usopenbeer.com. Additional information about Piney River Brewing is available at www.pineyriverbrewing.com. 

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