Tyler King started brewing professionally at age 18 at BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse in West Covina. He later joined Patrick Rue, a fellow member of the Brewcommune homebrew club, in opening The Bruery. King now works as the Placentia brewery’s Senior Director of Brewing Operations. He shared several craft beer insights on September 26 at 38 Degrees Ultimate Flight Night.
At what point did you know that you would work with beer for a living?
I was 17 years old. I was a senior in high school. My art teacher made root beer in the classroom, and he made it in a Mr. Beer kit. I knew you could make beer instead of root beer, so I went home, I got bored and asked my parents if I could buy a homebrew it. My mom bought it for me and I started making beer. As soon as I made my first beer, I knew that’s what I wanted to do.
What was the first beer, and how did it turn out?
My first beer was an American light lager. At the time, it tasted good, for what a 17-year-old thought tasted good. I kept a bottle for about three years. I opened it up and it was still pretty tasty. By my standards, it wasn’t bad, it was flawed, but it wasn’t soured. It didn’t have any off flavors, it just wasn’t American light lager.
Where did you start professionally brewing beer?
I just turned 18 years old and I started at BJ’s restaurant and brewery in West Covina. I went to college, and my parents told me I had to get a job, and the best way to learn about something is to do it, so I got a job at a brewery.
How did you catch on at The Bruery?
That’s a long story, I guess. I wanted to enter some homebrew competitions. I met a homebrew club that was shipping beer for free. I met the homebrew club, entered my beer, that beer ended up winning Best of Show, and third place. I had to enter under two different names, my brother and my dad, because I wasn’t 21. That won, and I ended up meeting Patrick Rue, because he was the Vice President of that homebrew club. Him and I met them. A few years went by, I still brewed at West Covina, and Patrick wanted to open up a brewery. He was going around to all the local breweries asking people for advice and doing the beer nerd thing. Him and I started talking more and more and he asked me a few questions: “What should I do about this?” He and I became friends, from him wanting to open a brewery, and me being a professional brewer. At one point, I’m pretty sure I told him, “You can’t do this by yourself. You need to hire someone.” He wanted to do everything. He wanted to own it, brew, sell, package. He was going to do everything. One day at lunch, he was like, “Do you want to come to The Bruery and work there?” Yeah. It was three months before I graduated from college. In those three months, he and I kept in touch and talked about the future of The Bruery. I graduated college. The next day, we literally built The Bruery from the ground up.
What does a beer have to be for you to brew it at The Bruery?