For all the tourons out there who left Wyoming disappointed, a brewery in Casper has developed a fluffy cow that won’t break your bones when you take a selfie with it.
Fluffy Cow Hazy IPA was developed by Gruner Brothers Brewing in Casper with a nod to Wyoming’s famous national parks and its state mammal, the bison.
After its release in early April, Fluffy Cow caused a stampede among beer drinkers. Distributed all over Wyoming, South Dakota and part of Montana, it’s a wild new brew with a requisite to roam – it won’t stay on the liquor store shelves.
Bars and restaurants can’t keep these frothy suds in their colorful cans in check either, according to brewer Ben Gruner, a partner in Gruner Brothers Brewing Co.
“It’s been well-received,” Gruner said. “Really well, crazy in fact.”
Fluffy Cow Explosion
The Casper brewery, operated by Gruner and his brother Daron, is producing 2,000 gallons of Fluffy Cow about every three weeks. Sonya Gruner, Ben’s wife, handles marketing for the business.
A 2,000-gallon batch of beer requires 1,900 to 2,400 pounds of malt barley, depending on the targeted alcohol content, yeast to consume the sugar in the malt and produce alcohol, water and 50 to 200 pounds of hops.
India pale ale was developed by the British in the early 1800s to support an army in India soaking through their khakis in the equatorial heat. Extra hops helped preserve the beer.
Hazy India pale ales are known as a new generation of IPA developed since the American craft beer revolution started in the 1980s.
“Hazy IPA is slightly different than conventional IPA,” Gruner said. “It’s not clear like regular beers, it’s hazy. It’s not bitter like other IPA’s. It produces orange and tangerine notes with a little bit of vanilla at the end.”
Now You Can Touch The Fluffy Cow
The idea for Fluffy Cow came from the Gruner brother’s niece who worked as a bicycle tour guide in northwest Wyoming.
“We saw signs that said, ‘don’t touch the fluffy cows,’ and thought it would be funny to have a beer called Fluffy Cow,” he said.
The company sources most of its hops from Yakima Valley, Washington, and Idaho’s Treasure Valley. The malt barley that determines the alcohol content (Fluffy Cow is 6.7%) of the company’s 24 offerings is grown mostly on Wyoming farms and is bought through a Wisconsin company, Briess Malt.
Gruner said an effort is underway to grow hops in central Wyoming, but the farms are not yet in production.
Home (Brew) Away From Home
The Gruner brothers were both home brewers for more than 25 years before they opened the business in the old Casper Petroleum Club building in 2018.
“We would make beer in the warehouse of our other business and give it away to our friends and employees,” Gruner said. “After we decided that Casper should have a craft brewery, it took us about two years to remodel and get the business up and running.”
Gruner said the craft beer industry continues to evolve in a competitive sector.
“The market has really exploded with different beverage options,” he said. “There hasn’t been a time in American history where beer drinkers have as many options as they do right now.”
For Wyoming, By Wyoming People
The Gruner brothers are both lifelong Wyoming residents and they believe it’s important to support Wyoming businesses. They intend to expand their business into all the states that border Wyoming.
“Wyoming residents should understand that drinking Wyoming beers really has an effect on them,” Gruner said. “Wyoming imports 200 times more products than it produces. If that money stayed here, it would be invested in all kinds of other things.
“Craft beer is more expensive than regular beer, but you have to think about the cost of not buying it here. It might be your job.”
Gruner Brothers beers are available in 12-ounce cans, and 5- and 15-gallon kegs. The business also has a taproom where food is served, and it hosts weddings and other events.
John Thompson can be reached at: John@CowboyStateDaily.com