Welcome to our first of the brewer interview series that I am introducing to the blog. This is going to be a new section to the blog that will include interviews with head brewers, assistant brewers, beer scientists, home brewers, fellow beer bloggers, and other craft beer industry workers. This has long been a segment and series I wanted to introduce to the blog, but finally got off the ground. If you are a brewer or industry worker and would be interested in doing an interview, contact us through the CONTACT PAGE (link here or see above in the menu).
Our very first interviewee for the segment is Tyler Budwash of Pilger Ruh Brewing. Tyler is a great guy, I’ve gotten to know him through helping out with Tattered Flag’s canning line where Pilger Ruh has done a few collaborations, as well as several brewfests, Ffej of July, and discussing Civil War battlefields with him; as well as the Central PA Whalerz.
Our interviews will follow a pretty simplistic and easy formula for everyone we interview. Topics will be introduced in bold and underline, questions will be asked in bold, and answers will be in regular font. TBT stands for The Beer Thrillers. The interviewee’s name will be initialized in his answers. (Example: TB = Tyler Budwash).
Starting off with the simple, softball, questions:
TBT: What is your name and do you currently work for a brewery?
TB: My name is Tyler Budwash, I currently work for the Social Security Administration, but will also be working at my brewery when we open.
TBT: What is your brewing background?
TB: I got into homebrewing in early 2012 (Mr Beer Kit). At the time I wasn’t aware that alot of extract beer is kind of gross the way it is so I had some okay beers but quite a few misses before I got into all grain brewing in 2013 or so. I then stopped brewing all together in late 2014 as I was preparing to have my first child and didn’t get back into it until 2017. Both Conyngham Brewing and Rotunda let me come in and collab on some beers for my fest (Schuylkill County Brew Fest) and I haven’t looked back since.
TBT: What are your interests in and out of the industry?
TB: Pro Wrestling, history, weight lifting, Carolina Panther Football, coordinating events.
TBT: How did you get into beer? What were your ‘starting beer’ days like? What were the first craft breweries you tasted / visited?
TB: My starting beers were Miller Lite, Yuengling Lager, Budweiser, and Hurricanes. Some of the first “craft beers” I got into at the time were Sam Adams, Magic Hat, and Saranac..I always got variety packs to try as many different beers as I could. This was pre – Untappd days so I wasn’t even getting any check-ins/badges! As far as actual breweries that I first visited…it’d have to be ABC in Harrisburg, Troegs, and a brew pub in Myrtle Beach that’s now closed called Liberty. ABC and Troegs definitely got me more into the scene. I ended up going to a ton of beer fests just to see what else was out there. I had no idea there were as many PA breweries as there were and this was back in 2013.
TBT: How did you get into brewing?
TB: The love of beer, beer fests, and starting my own festival all gave me the itch.
TBT: What is / will be your full job at Pilger Ruh Brewing?
TB: We didn’t give ourselves any fancy titles yet, but I’ll be Co-Owner/Brewmaster? I’ll basically be running the day to day activities (brew/personnel scheduling, event coordinating, ordering etc) while our other Co-Owner Tony Deppen is more of the big picture. My brother Conlan Budwash will take the Head Brewer position and he’s also a minority owner.
TBT: What do you like to brew? What styles do you like most?
TB: I like brewing stouts, whether it’s going to be heavily adjuncted or straight up. I also like brewing Pilsners, they’re not an easy beer to brew so I enjoyed the challenge.I’m going to sound just like every other beer boi out there right now but I enjoy my hazy IPAs and fruited sours, but again my palate had come full circle and I’m enjoying alot of Pilsners, hefeweizens, and kolsches as of late.
TBT: Who are some of your favorite current brewers and breweries? What do you like about them, why do you like them, etc?
TB: This is a loaded question. Favorite brewers? My favorite brewers are the friends I’ve made over the last couple years, so it’d be Dave Morrow (Chatty Monks), Justin Hoak (Tattered Flag), Derek Wolf (Wolf Brewing), Brad Moyer( Liquid Noise), and Eric Stubbs (Rotunda). I’ve been picking their brains for years now and they’ve all been nothing but great to me and Pilger Ruh. Favorite breweries… I’ll do it like this. Locally I really like Tattered Flag (great beer and chicken sammiches), The Millworks (I love the not so over the top styles and of course their chicken sammiches), Hidden River (awesome beer and ambiance) , and South County (they knock everything out of the park and I miss the Gelato line beer shares). Outside of this general area I really like The Veil, Urban South Htx, Dancing Gnome, Cinderlands, Cushwa.
TBT: What styles do you think you do best? What are some of your hardest styles to nail down?
TB: I’ll have to go back to stouts as the styles I do best, along with sours, and Pilsners. Believe it or not IPAs were very hard for me to nail at first (oxygen and shit). Luckily that’s no longer an issue.
TBT: What do you think are defining qualities of a good beer?
TB: Your water. Does it match your description?
TBT: What do you think are defining qualities of a good brewer?
TB: Being able to adapt, never think you know everything because you never stop learning.
TBT: Same vein as the last two – what do you think are defining qualities of a good brewery?
TB: Good beer, ambiance, and friendliness.
Pilger Ruh Brewing Specific:
TBT: Tell us about Pilger Ruh. What is Pilger Ruh Brewing? How did it form? Who all is involved? What are the plans for the brewery/etc?
TB: Pilger Ruh started when myself and 4 others wanted to start a homebrew club. At that point we were going by Keyhop Homebrew Club. One thing led to another and we found ourselves on festivals around the state.Right now, as I said earlier it’s myself, Tony Deppen, and my brother Conlan as the three owners/brewers. We have 2 others (Matt and Alex) who have been helping us along the way.Plans for the brewery, well we are going to open on a 5 barrel system in a 2400 square foot building in Pottsville PA. We’ll have 12-15 rotating taps from Milkshake IPAs to Dark Milds. We will be focusing on the popular hype beers but will have something for everyone.
TBT: Where do you foresee Pilger Ruh Brewing in 5, 10, 15 years from now?
TB: I hope to see ourselves growing with production, and paying off all our debts ASAP as possible. Buying a canning line. My personal goal would be to open a second location, where we’d get a bigger system.
COVID-19 and Beer Industry Specific:
TBT: How has COVID-19 impacted Pilger Ruh Brewing? Impacted your brewing and impacted your current work?
TB: I’ve been working from home since mid March. I actually get less work done with the brewery than I do when I’m at my office. It impacted the brewery by the cancelling of all the beer festivals, closing on our loan, but at the same time it bought us time as I wouldn’t want to open during this pandemic.
TBT: How do you think COVID-19 has impacted the beer industry as a whole? Specifically the craft beer market, and even more so in PA?
TB: It shows that people care about their local breweries and that you better have a crowler machine or canning line. I guess now you have to have your permit to sell food.
TBT: What do you think will be the big trends in the foreseeable future?
TB: People reverting back to easy drinking beers and doing everything you do to sours to some classic styles (blondes, hefes, wits).
TBT: What are some trends you think have benefited the craft beer industry?
TB: Seltzers, low cals, all around light beers. I feel fruited sours and IPAs bring people in, but there’s only so many you can drink. I can drink PBR all day.
TBT: What are some things, aspects, or trends of the craft beer industry you don’t like, or think has been a negative on the craft beer market?
TB: Oh God, well you’re in some of the same beer groups as me so you can see whatever negatives there are. I think as a brewery you always got to put your customers first, never think you’re above them or anyone. There’s lots of people making good beer, it doesn’t mean you have to be a douchebag about it.
TBT: Is there such a thing as the “craft beer bubble” and if so, do you feel like it’s going to burst – soon, in the future, or is currently happening?
TB: Are we seeing the bubble burst right now? Look how many breweries in the last year or so that closed because they got too big too quick, got locked into a distributor contract, or there was no market for their beer. One thing I want to absolutely avoid is distribution. If we ever did distro our beer we will do it ourselves. Too big or too small may be an issue going forward. However, I do think there could be a brewery in every other town and everyone could be successful. You have to pick the right location and know your market.
TBT: What are some ultimate goals you have for Pilger Ruh Brewing, for your own brewing, etc?
TB: I want to help build a community around us in Schuylkill County. We owe alot of breweries collabs, but I want to bring non beer people into the scene and get them involved. I want to show my area that a brewery like us can succeed. I want us to be able to give back to the community, make it better for others, and leave the area better than we found it.
TBT: What do you foresee being the big changes happening to the craft beer market in 5, 10, 15 years?
TB: More breweries getting bought out by the big guys and competing for shelf space while we sell all of our beer from our taproom. More seltzers and easy drinkers, fruited sours/hazy IPAs will still be here.
For articles on or about Pilger Ruh Brewing here on The Beer Thrillers, you can check out:
- Beer Review: Social Distancing (Abomination Brewing, Pilger Ruh Brewing, and Tattered Flag)
- Beer Review: Should Have Put Him In Custardy (Tattered Flag and Pilger Ruh Brewing)
- Beer Review: Abbra Collabra 6 Way Banana Split Milkshake IPA (Tattered Flag, Pilger Ruh Brewing, Rotunda Brewing Company, Collusion Tap Works, Snitz Creek Brewing, Abomination Brewing, Wolf Brewing Company)
This article has impeccable timing on its release, as today is Tyler Budwash’s birthday. So make sure you give him a big Happy Birthday.
Make sure to check out our growing Brewer Interview series. A. Parys is currently wrapping up his interview with a beer scientist from Cape May Brewing Company, so be sure to check that out. If you would like to be interviewed or know of someone who would like to be or would make for a good interview, be sure to either comment here or contact us using our CONTACT PAGE.