I’m currently writing this from Grand Rivers, KY. As many of you know, the brewery is my “all the time part time” project and far from my full time job. My full time job is more like a part time, however. I work for Koontz Associates, which is an operation started by my dad and his long time colleague Carl Koontz. We do “Smoke Schools”. Smoke School is a quick and easy certification class for air pollution inspectors and industrial personnel for evaluating their visible emissions from their work facilities. EPA Method #9 requires the individual to get re certified every 6 months, so, every 6 months we go do the smoke schools that Carl and Dad set into action over 20 years ago. Carl hired me to take his spot on the road with my pops and continue the course of action. We do all of our schools in the spring and again in the fall in 30 different locations in 16 different states. So when the travel season starts up, we are on the move! 2 weeks on the road, a few days home, and then again a few more times. It truly makes things interesting and gives me a huge appreciation for what all I have at home. This trip is especially unpleasant because as things warm up down home, we have to travel north over the course of 2 weeks. its been nothing but snow, wind, and cold. I’m headed home tomorrow after our Smoke School in Calvert City KY. Been on the road 15 days and the brewery is very behind schedule! For the past 4 years, I’ve been planning my fall and spring homebrews around my travel schedule. Since it takes a beer 2 to 3 weeks to ferment, the schedule works perfect! After all this time, planning, and lots of dwelling on ideas, it all seemed perfect that I could brew my beers, and balance my operation around my travel schedule. Well, yes that’s all fine and dandy but the thing is…I launched BriarScratch Brewery into the local market with a BANG 7 days before I was scheduled to depart from the holler. In the 35 days my beer has been available in local establishments, I have been home a total of 11. I had what I thought was enough beer ready to package upon returning home last trip (March 10th-15th) but some things in life don’t always work as planned, especially when rushed. Let me say this, if there’s one thing you shouldn’t rush, that is BEER. 5 barrels of Creekbank Blonde went into the 5 barrel brite tank. The most beer I’ve carbonated and packaged at once. We had a release party set for Friday the 13th at Painturos Restaurant. The beer was rushed and didn’t have enough time to settle or fully absorb CO2. Regardless I thought it still tasted good and we got plenty of Creekbank flowing at all of our accounts around town. As for Cottontown Brown, something had gone wrong. The beer was thin, and tart. I have had this same tart flavor coming through on several beers including the winter seasonal Night Rambler. Its not a bad tart, just not right. So now, I only have one mediocre beer representing the brand on the market and one batch I had to dump. Not a good way to depart the brewery for the next 2 weeks! So, hopefully I corrected the culprit of off flavors and I was able to at least get 3 batches brewed before leaving on the 15th.. One of those brew days was a double batch day and ended up taking me 16 hours total. That concrete floor really puts the hurtin’ on me after about 8 hours! So tomorrow when I return home on a beautiful Springtime afternoon, I will be anxious to head staright down to the brewery and check on my vessels of mystery. If another batch is sour it will take a lot out of me. Especially since one of those beers is a spring seasonal collaboration with a good friend and Cottontown neighbor, Roaddog Red! Luckily I have Jessica and Eddie doing the leg work for me when I’m away, cleaning kegs, keeping things in order, and running local deliveries.
If all goes well I will be kegging a few small kegs of sour brown and doing some experimental flavors with it, cleaning the fire out of the brite tank and boiling all of my hoses and parts that come in contact with the beer. Transferring and packaging a new and hopefully delicious Cottontown Brown and getting it out to our spots mid week. Then following up with Roaddog Red and Creekbank Blonde. I received 2 new additional fermenters last week and now have 50% more capacity to brew. So with all that I have 6 brew days scheduled, one of those being Spring Weeds, the dandelion ale feremented with yeast cultured from a briar at the brewery! I could go on and on about everything but I’m going to stop there. I especially want to write about my visit to Scratch Brewing Company this afternoon in Southern Illinois but that’s worthy of its own post.
Thanks for reading and most importantly thanks for helping make this dream a reality! There will be some great things coming up very soon in the local area so stay tuned!