Welcome to Miami Creek!

Miami Creek Farm (est 2011) was created as a result of the conviction and dedication of parents who knew the importance of locally grown food, hands on work, and making time to spend with family and friends.  While those ideals were not founded on this farm, they have been carried here by the fundamentals that were instilled in me at a young age and shared with my wife.

The local food revolution is in full swing and gathers momentum by the day.  We are excited to be a part of that revolution.  We have tended dairy goats, chickens, and rabbits, while planting annual and perennial gardens.  We now turn the page and will also soon join the craft beer revolution,… but with a twist.

Our microbrewery will produce small batch artisan beer and cider made from locally produced (on Miami Creek Farm) or locally sourced products from clean producers when possible.  Our products will be truly seasonal and limited in availability.  Our focus, as always, is quality and not quantity.

We are currently working on building out our microbrewery facilities and operation.  Our goal is to be operational by the end of 2015.  Orchards have been planted and plantings will resume this spring.  We expect a larger hop yield from our hop yard this year and we plan to expand our hop, orchard, and berry plantings threefold.

To keep up to date on our progress, follow us on twitter @MiamiCreek or like us on Facebook:  facebook.com/miamicreekbrewingcompany   Also, please sign up for the newsletter.  We’ll keep you up-to-date on the happenings here on our 21 acre slice of heaven!

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Miami Creek Brewing Company to attend 2016 Kansas City Brewfest

Kansas City – MO, January 20th:  Miami Creek Brewing Company, a newcomer to the KC craft beer scene, announced that they will be making their first public appearance at the 2016 KC Brewfest on February 27th at Union Station.  While they have held private and invitational tastings in the past, this will be their first appearance where the public will be able to sample some of their artisanal products.

For VIP attendees, plan to sample a barley wine that was fermented on blackberries grown on their farm.  For everyone else, try a honey pale ale brewed with local honey, a coffee stout made with 100% Kona coffee (which is roasted on their farm), and a lemon saison brewed with lemon thyme that was also grown on their property.

Miami Creek Brewing Company began building their facilities in November, 2014.  Today, the brewery is complete, fully licensed, and located on a 21 acre farm just south of Drexel, Missouri.  Their focus is producing beer which includes locally grown ingredients from their farm and from the Kansas City region.  They are growing a wide variety of fruits, herbs, and hops which they hope will add a flare to the Kansas City craft beer scene.  Cider and light mead offerings will be available in the future.

Visit Miami Creek Brewing Company online at miamicreek.com or on facebook

Visit the Kansas City Brew Festival online at kansascitybrewfest.com

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Fall apple planting

This past fall we added 50 apple trees to our orchard.  They are in the ground, hopefully developing their root system and will go crazy when warmer temperatures hit this spring.  Here are the details about the varieties we added for hard cider production.

Harrison Apple

This apple is/was known to be a great single-apple cider variety.  Many times when cider is mixed, it takes a variety of apples (sharps, bittersharps, dessert, etc) to make a great blend of juice that will ferment out to a great cider.  In this case, the Harrison covers all of those bases.  These apples were grown before and after the American Revolutionary war.

The Harrison apple was thought to be extinct but it was re-discovered in an old cider mill in 1976 (and about to be cut down to expand the residents garden)!  In 1989, the Harrison apple was announced as “redisovered” and has become generally available to the public.  30 of these trees are planted on our property and will be used in our cider production.

Read more about the Harrison Apple here:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harrison_Cider_Apple

Roxbury Russet

This apple is believed to be the oldest apple cultivar bred here in the United States.  This apple was first grown in Roxybury, MA by a man who died from falling off his ladder (while picking apples).

This apple was also propagated by Thomas Jefferson who planted these trees in his south orchard at Monticello (more than likely to produce cider).

Read more about the Roxbury Russet here:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harrison_Cider_Apple

 

 

 

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Pumpkin Ale

I know, I know… pumpkin ale is probably a little overplayed, but some of us just can’t get enough of the stuff.  Plus, there may be an opportunity to improve on what some pumpkin beer lacks…  quality local pumpkins!

fairytale3I recently had the opportunity to do some testing on some pumpkins that were secured from a local pumpkin patch.  Little did my wife know, she managed to purchase a few of the best varieties for quality of flesh, color, and sugar content.  All of which were heirloom varieties.

These test pumpkins were oven roasted, sauted, and made into pumpkin pie, pumpkin butter, pumpkin pancakes, and pumpkin soup.  It may seem a little overkill, but I wanted to see how the pumpkin flavor (not just the spices) would come through in different recipes.

In my testing, I narrowed the selection down to two pumpkin varieties… both originally French varieties.  The Runner up is the Cinderella pumpkin.  A somewhat segmented pumpkin with a bright orange skin, this pumpkin revealed a medium orange flesh and a great flavor when oven roasted.  The caramalization of the flesh in the oven added some depth to the flavor.

fairytale1My first pick is the Fairytale pumpkin.  This pumpkin has a deep green skin which turns beige when the internal sugars develop (it gets ripe).  The outer skin is very tough which makes it difficult to cut but also difficult for some pests to wreak havoc in the garden.  Once cut, the true magic of this pumpkin is revealed.fairytale2

Inside the Fairytale pumpkin is a deep orange flesh that rivals the color of any pumpkin.  It is the richest looking pumpkin that I’ve seen.  A small seed cavity is surrounded by flesh that in places is three inches thick.  I sliced this pumpkin like a melon at the segments and roasted it in the oven for what seemed like 2-3 hours… skin side down.  This one pumpkin yielded just over 10 pounds of deliciousness!

In flavor and appearance, the Fairytale pumpkin was the clear winner and yielded a fantastic pumpkin pie for the Thanksgiving table.  Unfortunately, pumpkin beer starts hitting the shelves in mid-September.  With the Fairytale pumpkin not ripening until mid to late October in the Kansas City area, it could be Christmas time before this ale can be available.  This could pose a problem with an oversaturated pumpkin beer market, but getting the right ingredients in our products is important to us, and we think the wait will be worth it!

Our new pumpkin ale is in the fermenter.  Some highlights include:

  • Locally sourced, fresh, oven roasted, and soon-to-be-grown-here, Fairytale pumpkin
  • A proprietary blend of fresh spices that include cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, mace, and clove
  • 8.4%, 38 IBU, and a Belgian yeast strain that will add some spicy flavors and aroma
  • Bottle/keg conditioned and unfiltered

Cheers everyone!

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Kona Coffee

2015-10-20_005859584_43377_iOSMany of you know Chrissy and I recently took a trip to Kona, Hawaii.  During our stay we had the pleasure to get personal tours of two different coffee farms.  I set these tours up ahead of time hoping for some personal time with each owner and that is exactly what we got.  I wanted to track down a coffee bean that fits Miami Creek Brewing Company’s ideal.  While the coffee beans are not local, they are grown here in the U.S. and are, in my opinion, a superior coffee bean in all aspects.

Everyone who drinks coffee has heard of Kona Coffee and if you’ve had the opportunity to taste 100% pure Kona (not a Kona blend), you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Our first stop was to Lions Gate Farms where a lovely older woman welcomed us into her home.  She mentioned that her daughter, Suzanne, ran the farm and offered for us to self-tour their property.  Among the hundreds of coffee trees, we found orange, banana, and macadamia nut trees.  A pick of a ripe coffee cherry, revealed a sweet and tart flavor that was amazing.  It’s really a shame that this part of the coffee is turned into compost!  After touring this farm, we headed to Suzanne’s property (the daughter/farm manager).  Her property is also considered part of Lion Gate Farms.

IMG_0641Passing a sign reading “No Spray – Mahalo”, up a dirt road, and through a gate revealed a beautiful island property and a smiling friendly farmer that welcomed us onto her property.  Suzanne showed us the coffee mill that is used to pulp (remove the outside skin) the coffee cherry.  The bean is then water bathed and de-husked.  The beans are then laid out on a rooftop which is protected with a sliding cover to protect the drying bean from the rain.  Afterwards, we made our way to her office where we talked about the importance of supporting small businesses.  It was nice to know that our thoughts and ideals aligned perfectly.

 

2015-10-20_014429559_9B63A_iOSA little more on the roof system:  Based on a Japanese design, the roof, on rollers, can be pulled over the drying beans when rain threatens.  The action is smooth enough that one person can move the roof by themselves!

After the beans are dried, they are sorted based on size, roasted, and sold from their online store.

Suzanne’s property was equally impressive with the variety of edibles growing on it including an “ice cream bean” that when ripe has the flavor of vanilla ice cream!

We brought back a few pounds of green Kona beans from Suzanne.  We’ll be roasting and cupping these beans very soon.  We are extremely excited to bring these beans to our Coal Train Stout along with other brews that need roasted coffee as an ingredient.  Please visit their website to learn more about Lions Gate Farms and their coffee!  https://www.coffeeofkona.com/kona-coffee/

 

IMG_0648The following day we made our way to Lyman Kona Coffee Farms to meet Dr. Hans Eckert, the owner/operator of the Lyman estate.  We were greeted again with smiles and a feeling of meeting a long lost friend.  We sat with Hans and his bed and breakfast guests in a large gazebo.  We enjoyed some coffee while discussing our brewery and his coffee while overlooking his farm and the ocean.  I have yet to meet a person so incredibly passionate about coffee and the process used to brew the perfect cup.

All of the structures on this property were hand built by Hans and his love for the farm and property shines through!

2015-10-20 10.54.20The property boasts abundant flowers, several fruit and spice trees, and roughly 3200 coffee trees.  Hans spent roughly 4 hours with us discussing all aspects of the coffee business and the economic impact it has to the Kona region.  From planting, maintaining, and organically fighting pests, we talked about his roasting techniques, how the beans are graded, and the multiple awards that he has won with his coffee.

We brought back a few pounds of green coffee beans from Lyman Kona Coffee Farms as well.  We’ll also be roasting and cupping these beans soon.  Please visit their website to learn more about Hans and Lyman Kona Coffee Farms: http://www.lymankonacoffee.com/about-us.html

It was a pleasure to meet both Hans and Suzanne and establish a relationship with them and their businesses.  Rarely and unfortunately do we get an opportunity to meet face-to-face with the hard workers that are behind the products and foods we purchase.  This aspect is very important to me as Miami Creek Brewing Company establishes itself as a new business and starts to earn a reputation.  We will be working with both farms to help supply our Kona coffee needs.  In fact, Hans and Suzanne will be the first to get a bottle or two of our Coal Train Stout as a small token of our appreciation for the hard work that they put into their Kona Coffee.  Not only does their hard work shine in the coffee beans they produce, it’ll shine through in the beer that we produce for you!

Aloha and Cheers!

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Walnut Syrup

A great resource that many of us in the mid-west don’t take advantage of is the black walnut tree.  It can be tapped as a source of syrup, the leaves can be harvested as a bittering agent, the very young walnuts can be harvested for pickling or Nocino, and of course you have a strongly flavored nut that is produced from the tree.

From the brewery aspect, the black walnut tree offers a lot of potential.  Obviously, the sap can be fermented, but also the leaves can be added along with hop additions to add unique bittering experience to the beer.  Have you ever peeled the husk of a green walnut?  You’ll notice a unique odor that bursts that I’d explain as an earthy eucalyptus aroma, but lacking the clear-your-sinuses menthol.  If you’ve never had a chance to sample a nocino, be sure to check out Wood Hat Spirits’ black walnut liqueur.

Let’s talk about walnut syrup.  It’s difficult to find in the stores and a lot of the ones that you can find are boiled bark that is then mixed with sugar.  Real walnut syrup is harvested a lot like maple syrup is from our northern friends.  Trees are tapped and sap is collected when days begin a thaw and nights are still cold.  This fluctuation in temperature causes the tree to act like a hydraulic pump… pulling water from the ground in the day, then pushing it back down at night.  This movement of water can bring .25 – .5 gallons of sap, per tree, to your collector in one day.  This season runs from late January to really mid March… with a 2-3 week spike in the middle.  I can’t tell you when exactly, we all know how the weather is around here!  Anyway… this sap is boiled down and evaporated.  Yield is roughly 1 cup of super sweet syrup to 1 gallon of sap.

This syrup is highly fermentable just like maple syrup is.  Taste wise, it is very close with the exception of an earthy flavor that accompanies the walnut syrup, and its flavor compliments many styles of beer.  There just hasn’t been a lot of experimentation with it… until now!

Cheers!

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Wild hops discovered!

What a surprise!  Mowing grass in a neglected part of our property when I looked up and noticed something that looked a lot like hop cones… and quite a distance from the rhizomes I planted this spring.  I looked further up the small walnut tree and the entire top was covered in large hop cones.

I immediately shut down the tractor and ran over to the tree.  Plucked a cone from a thick and healthy vine… the cone about the size of the end of my thumb.  This cone was ripe… lupulin abound and a wonderful aroma.  Excitement is too mellow of a word for what I was feeling.  If there is one, there is more right?

Glancing immediately to my left where I did some early spring cleaning this year… I noticed more cones.  These plants bigger than the last.  I walked this tree line and found the jackpot.  Several vines… some climbing trees, some working their way across the ground.  All of them loaded with cones.  These are old plants and have apparently been growing here wild for several years.

Wild hops are not uncommon.  Native species grow which Native Americans used for medicinal purposes.  Some of these open pollinated varieties hybridized with English and Dutch varieties and produced a fine hop called ‘cluster’.  This is an old world variety used for both bittering and aroma, however it’s use has given way to more recent varieties including those that are patented and not “open source”.

Thinking they were most likely a cluster variety, I plucked a handful of cones and headed home to make some hop tea.  The bitterness in these cones is a lot higher than I expected.  The aroma is floral, spicy, with notes of pine.  This is a great hop and I can’t express how fortunate I feel to have stumbled across these plants which apparently have been here a great deal of time.  Our property was once used as an orchard, but that predates many of the varieties on the market today.   We may be looking at some different type of hybrid… I’m just unsure at this point.

These plants, have survived a terrible 2-year drought (and possibly several others) without any irrigation whatsoever.  The leaves and cones are solid… no sign of bugs.  They are resilient, self-reliant and have outperformed all the other plants around them.  They have adapted to the Missouri climate and they are thriving even in a year that has been rough for other hop growers in the area (including myself)!

I’ll be contacting a lab in Michigan to run a full round of testing on some samples this week.  These tests will help determine aroma and flavor profiles, as well as a measure of bitterness.  We may be able to more closely identify the variety, but if they are truly unique, we’ll utilize them just the same!  These tests will help us prepare some special recipes with a true local flavor.  It honestly feels like these plants were put here for us to discover… a ‘divine’ contribution!

More later when we get our test results back… until then we have some 5 gallon buckets to fill and some hops to dry!

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More progress

Many of you may know that we’ve passed our Missouri/FDA inspection for our commercial kitchen.  This is an exciting step towards getting our brewery opened.  Next up is our federal permit, which we are waiting patiently for.  In the meantime, we’ll continue to design and plan our brewhouse and select the equipment we’ll need in order to produce great products.

The commercial kitchen inspection also gives us the green light to produce many of the products that will go into our beer and cider as well as being able to roast our coffee on a commercial/wholesale scale.  There was always the question “can I buy this in a store?” and soon you may be able to.

We are also investigating new models of coffee roasters that could handle larger batches and therefore allowing us to roast more beans.

On the green side of things, our waste water transfer pump has arrived and works wonderfully.  All of our waste water from the brewhouse is saved in a catchment tank.  Since we only use environmentally friendly soap and sanitizing solutions, we are able to use this water to irrigate our gardens and orchard!  Thanks to the Department of Natural Resources for allowing us to reuse our water in an environmentally friendly manner!

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Another day in the books

Another full day at the office and 3 hours working on the ceiling framing in the brew house.  The best part about calling it a day is the reward that awaits in the kegs… but after a pint of one of our test batches, it almost knocks me out!

Started the conversation with Missouri Department of Natural Resources.  Apparently our brewery waste water needs to be handled appropriately… and I totally agree.  I sure don’t want to waste it though.  Inspector suggested a 1000 gallon waste tank that is pumped out on a regular basis.  I’d rather opt to find an environmentally friendly cleaner for our equipment and use the spent water to irrigate… but we have to follow the law to get this ball rolling.  If we can’t accomplish it the first time around, it’ll be revisited down the road.

I’m extremely excited that my tree supplier is carrying the Newton Pippin apple.  This apple was made famous by Thomas Jefferson who grew them in his orchard in Monticello… and guess what he did with it!  He made cider.  This apple was one of the first apples exported to the UK.  The Newton Pippin is a fantastic cider and dessert apple and I’m looking forward to sharing this classic.

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Progress as promised!

The work continues at a hectic pace.  We are in the middle of our design and layout for the brewery/cidery.  Probably at an OCD level, but we are engineering some pretty cool tools that will help us be more efficient at bottling and producing a quality product repetitively.

We were visited by the State Inspector Friday and got our to do list from him.  It went much better than we anticipated.  The building has a bit of work to be done, but it’s going to be something we can accomplish in 2015.

Currently, I am installing a ceiling in the brewhouse.  Not a big sheet rock fan, but it gets us the biggest bang for the buck.  We’ll blow several inches of insulation up top to help with our heating and cooling costs.  Surprisingly we were told that the wood stove could stay!  I love the idea of being able to use some of the downed wood here on the farm to help keep us warm in the winter.  It’ll be more important than ever to keep those fermenting beverages at a mild temperature so the yeast can thrive and do their work!

Design continues on a pneumatic bottle capper and washing station.  We are reviewing water reports and designing a water filtration stuff to take out all the “extras” provided by the water department.

More later… been a long day!

Will R.

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