Entrepreneur Couple Brew Up A New Business They Love

Susan Riley
Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise, Okla.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) James and Suze Pinney share a love for craft beers. The couple is now sharing that passion at their new Brewery called “Scissortail Brewing Company.” 


A 25-year dream came to fruition in January this year when James and Suze Pinney opened the Scissortail Brewing Company on the corner at 623 E. Don Tyler Ave. in Dewey.

Before liquor laws went into effect in 2018 that allowed craft breweries to sell strong, cold beer, James envisioned that he would go into distribution or some other business model. But a taproom filled with people was what he wanted all along.

“I just had a passion for brewing beer, I really love it, always have,” James said. “Even on my worst day, I’d rather be doing this than anything else.”

Eleven beers on tap, including lagers, pale ales, amber ales, IPAs and stouts, are each James’ recipe with their own taste, unique name and background story.

In James’ humble opinion, beer is far more complex than wine with all the varieties of grains and barley grown in different climates and regions with malts that can be roasted, toasted or smoked. That’s not including hops flowers, all the strains of yeast available and water profiles that are different all around the world.

The Pinneys have been together 16 years and married for 13. They met as volunteer fire fighters in Okesa.

“Just like all couples, we met fighting a fire. Isn’t that how everybody meets,” James said.

The happenstance doesn’t stop there. They were born in the same hospital in Tulsa. Before they met, Suze lived in a house that once belonged to James’ aunt in Skiatook, where she met James’ other aunt. They both moved to Okesa around the same time, and both are part Creek.

About a decade ago, before Suze was exposed to anything outside of mass-produced, low-point beer, James began guiding her through all kinds of craft beers. She discovered that she loves dunkels, a dark German lager, and insisted he make it at Scissortail. Of course, he obliged.

“When I first tasted it, I said that is absolutely it,” she said. “He took something very abstract from what I had said and narrowed it down and created a beer that was exactly what I was wanting.”

A lot of other people love it too, so Suze said it will remain on the menu. They named their dunkel “Dead Broke.” Though they want a horse that is dead broke, but they don’t want their last business venture to make them dead broke. They describe it as a “deep copper colored lager with a softer rich maltiness and a hint of caramel, chocolate and bread crust.”

The Pinneys know what it is like to run a business having owned a lawn care business prior to their craft beer venture. This is the third business James has owned; being an entrepreneur runs in his blood. His father had an aviation radio shop, then an aircraft sales company and even his grandfather had a TV repair shop.

“I knew this business would be a successful,” Suze said of her brew master husband. “I didn’t have any doubts of what he’s capable of doing.”

The Pinneys make a great team which works well because, for now at least, they are a two-person show with great help from their friends. While James is amazingly attentive to details, Suze has a lot of bookkeeping experience. Both are good at remodeling, which was helpful five years ago when they transformed their red brick building built in 1912 into a German-inspired, warm and inviting space.

It had many functions over the years including concrete company, recreation center, city library, auction house, archery range, laundry mat and floral shop. Though a fire had destroyed much of the interior including an old tin ceiling between the first and second floors, Suze said it still had so much personality and they loved the brick exterior. Most of the work they did themselves — the rustic wood floor, the wooden bar top, bricklaying and ceiling installation. They were able to salvage some of the original wood and incorporate it into the bar.

Today, the cozy atmosphere is conducive to conversation as well as contemplation. There is no loud music; there are no blaring televisions. Some bring their families, old friends come to reunite, others sit outside where a food truck is often parked on the weekends.

“We definitely enjoy the people coming in,” Suze said. “We want to keep it where people can visit. For now, it’s new enough that people want to come in and just experience being here.”

James loves philosophy and shares some of his favorite quotes written on a blackboard overhead that stretches across an entire wall. Often it provokes a conversation when people notice and decide they have to read them all.

This is simply phase one in Pinneys’ plans for Scissortail. They are working towards canned beers to go and eventually will need to hire employees to help them. As they grow their business, James said he can relate to the quip on the wall by Mark Twain: “A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.”

“I’d say we’re carrying that cat by its tail now,” James said. “We’re definitely learning.”
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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