Brewer Bytes With the Bruery
An Interview With Patrick Rue, CEO / Founder
Posted on 5/23/2013 by Chops
Lawyer or brewer... Lawyer or brewer... This was the conundrum that gave birth to The Bruery out of Placentia, California. CEO and Founder Patrick Rue caught the homebrewing bug as a welcome distraction during law school and began to hone his new passion. Brewing beer eventually overtook learning law and The Bruery opened its doors in 2008. Today, The Bruery is well known around the craft beer community for their delicious Belgian inspired brews and experimental concoctions. BrewChief recently caught up with Patrick, who was more than happy to offer up some Brewer Bytes.

What inspired you to get into brewing?

I had a friend in college who homebrewed, and I thought if I ever were to take up a hobby, it would be homebrewing. In my first year of law school, my wife encouraged me to get a hobby to reduce stress, and I became an obsessed homebrewer.

Do you have a fond memory about building your brewery?

I remember bringing my wife and dog through the brewery construction site on weekends, dreaming about how great it was going to be. Those sort of feelings of ambition and fear don't happen all that often in life.

Do you have a not-so-fond memory about building your brewery?

Dealing with bureaucrats who I felt didn't understand the process of brewing and who added significant cost and delay in constructing the brewery. I'm over it now, though.

How do you feel about your overall success today?

I couldn't be more happy about how things have happened. I get to do what I love, and other people really enjoy what we make.

Where do you see your brewery in the future?

I see us continuing what we're currently doing-- creating new beers and pursuing constant improvement. I want to continue to improve and grow incrementally, but not to the point where the beers we make will have to change to grow the business.

What do you feel sets you apart from other brewers?

A fellow homebrewer once told me that he homebrews because he can make beers that a production brewery could never make. A production brewery can only get so creative, or use ingredients that cost so much. I agreed that most breweries wouldn't take this approach, but I was challenged to create a brewery where there were no limits on what we choose to brew, as long as it's delicious. This has brought me down the path of barrel aging around 50% of production, using ingredients that provide a spectrum of flavor that are not typically used in beer, of not filtering or using finings, and doing things in an inefficient way that produces great beer. It takes a lot of patience, skill, money and a tolerance to uncertainty to do what we do.

What is your favorite beer or style to brew?

I like to brew things I haven't brewed before. Not exactly a good answer to your question, sorry!

What is the most challenging beer for you to brew?

Our brewers hate brewing Smoking Wood (yet they love drinking it). The combination of 30% rye, a ton of roasted malt, smoked malt, and high gravity make it have the consistency of glue, so lautering is slow and difficult.

What was your worst brewing experience?

The first batch of Black Tuesday ended up being a huge mess, and for a few minutes I really evaluated whether I should be a brewer. In retrospect, it wasn't that big of a deal. Click Here for more info.

What was your best or most rewarding brewing experience?

I love brewing collaborations. I shouldn't say brewing, but being a part of them. I get to go to a brewery and see how they brew, and vice versa. It's a great learning opportunity and friends are made in the process.

What is something surprising you learned about brewing?

I thought I knew a lot about brewing as a homebrewer, but the more I learn, the less I know. I would have thought after five years of doing this I'd know everything!

What are your favorite beers outside of your own?

I have many favorites, depends on my mood and the weather. Again, sorry, not a great answer to your question!

What are your favorite breweries outside of your own?

I'm rooting for the new generation of brewers who are bringing a lot of excitement to the industry and do so with quality and innovation as the most important goals. I'm always excited to try Societe, Perennial, Westbrook, Half Acre, Hill Farmstead, Lawson's Finest, Evil Twin, Stillwater, Funky Buddha, and many more that I can't think of off the top of my head for these reasons.

What breweries do you respect the most?

I respect breweries that have a good idea of who they are and while they continue to evolve, they know why they started a brewery in the first place and continue along that path. There are too many to list, but two good examples would be Stone and Cantillon, sort of on opposite ends of the spectrum but for the same reasons. Stone continues to get larger yet better at what they do and branching out a big, but they are still the same company with the same ethic. Cantillon has grown very slowly over the last 113 years of production and has been able to be innovative and extremely traditional at the same time.

What are your favorite beer styles?

I'm a fan of so many styles, really depends on what I feel like. I tend to gravitate towards hoppy beers, Belgian styles, and wood aged beers.

Where is your favorite place to enjoy a cold pint?

I have great memories of drinking Deschutes beers in Sunriver, Oregon, with the Deschutes River as the background many years ago on family vacations. That's my "zen" drinking spot.

How do you feel about beer reviewing and its impact on the industry?

Reviewing is great. It shows our customers care so much about beer that they want to tell others about their experiences. It has a positive impact on a brewery if people love the beer, and a negative impact if the beer isn't so good. Luckily, most people seem to enjoy our beer so it has had a positive impact for us.

What would you say to a beer snob who is hating on your brews?

I try not to say anything. Everyone isn't going to like my beers equally, and I can accept that.

What would you say to a beer novice who is trying your brews?

Enjoy!

What advice would you give to a new home brewer?

Your first batch probably won't be good... but you'll get better. Don't give up. Sanitation, fermentation temperature control and yeast pitching rates are the most important attributes to brewing great beer, so focus your attention there. Don't delve into all grain brewing until you've reached the skill level to where your beer tastes how you want it to taste.

What advice would you give to a new craft beer fan?

You have a world of beer waiting for you, enjoy the ride! You aren't going to like every beer you try, and that could be because the beer isn't good, or because you don't like the style, or perhaps because you're not ready for the style. In any case, don't feel bad if you don't like something that everyone else seems to love. Drink in moderation. As a person who has gained a considerable amount of weight from drinking delicious beer, make sure you take up exercise and generally eat responsibly. I'll now step off the pedestal.

What is the best thing about being part of the beer industry?

Meeting people with a shared sense of adventure, creativity and entrepreneurship. It's a unique and fun industry.

If you could change one thing about the beer industry, what would it be?

I'd want breweries to have the same ability that wineries have in shipping wine directly to customers in reciprocal states. For small breweries who are focusing on low yield, time consuming beers, it makes a lot of sense for our customers to be able to receive beer in this way, and logically there's little difference between our beer being shipped via FedEx across the country and the hundreds of wineries within California shipping wine the same way.

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Patrick Rue, CEO / Founder of The Bruery
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