Bur Oak Brewing Company is just to the left of the middle of nowhere. Despite that, it’s surprisingly easy to find. Take the 133 South exit off Interstate 70, turn right onto the outer road and turn left onto Trade Center Drive. It’s the second nondescript gray building among several nondescript gray buildings off to the left of the road. The door opens into a room designed to make you think you’re in the wrong place, but turn right, go through another door and you’re in the cozy bar, all wood and amber lighting.
The actual brewery is right behind the bar and that is where home brewing clubs and fans of artisanal beer gathered on February 20, 2016 for the MO Home Brew Mashup sponsored by Bur Oak Brewing. Clubs from across the state – including The Wort from Columbia and the MU Fermentation Science Club from MU’s Columbia campus – competed to brew a good Belgian Ale. Teams had a set variety of ingredients to choose from and had to complete their brewing within a few hours. I love to drink good beer but know nothing about brewing. Here is what I learned about brewing contests:
- Brewers like to talk about their work with anyone who’s interested. They want to share their craft.
- Brewing attracts a friendly crowd – not trying to out-do each other with beer knowledge but to compare notes and share experiences. So if you’re flashing back to the 80’s wine scene where every party was “Mean Girls” paired with a pinot noir, relax. This is a beer event. It’s louder, happier and foam mustaches are chic.
- People get up close and personal, peeking into boiling mash and chatting with the brewers.
- Brewers take beer breaks instead of coffee breaks during the boil.
- Brewers smell the hops in the packets before they add them to the brew. I don’t know if that’s a requirement, but they all did it.
- Boiling hops fill a brewery with a warm, toasty scent. It’s a nostalgic smell, like turkey roasting, bread rising or your grandpa’s pipe tobacco.
- Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup go great with IPAs (thanks, The Big Cheese Mizzou Food Truck!)
- Brewing is very physical: stooping, stirring, hovering, measuring, lifting, pouring, scooping and lots of standing around sipping beer.
- There is such a thing as Brewer’s butt. Like Plumber’s butt, only it’s not under your sink so it’s not as in-your-face.
- Nothing boiled over and nothing blew up, which was mildly disappointing.
So who won? I don’t know! These brews will be sampled and a winner picked at the Missouri Beer Festival on Saturday, April 23rd 2016. Happily, the festival is in Columbia, at the Columbia Expo Center. The Missouri Beer Festival runs from 1-5 PM and costs as little as $25 if you buy tickets in advance. Your favorite local brewers will be there. Your favorite beer lovers will be there, too. You should come!
Bur Oak Brewing Company has a couple of Columbia Tap Takeovers scheduled in March:
- 3/16/16 McGinty’s Pub, Old 63 South
- 3/17/16 Ye Olde Lady & Pint, Conley Road (I haven’t been here yet; if you have, tell us about it in the comments!)
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I am a craft brew lover because I need intense flavor in my beer. I want beer I can chew! My home base is Columbia, Missouri, home to the Mizzou Tigers, several excellent small breweries and countless home brewers. I am also a student in Northwestern University’s Social Media Marketing Specialization administered online through Coursera. Feel free to reach out to me at Twitter @bocomobeer.