In Milwaukee Record‘s “Meet A Brewer” series, we aim to introduce you to some of the professionals behind the scenes who are responsible for making some of your favorite local beers. The recurring series continues with Enlightened Brewing Company brewer and Bay View brewery vet Tyler Killips.

Milwaukee Record: Why don’t we start with you personal brewing background. When did you start in the industry?

Tyler Killips: I started bartending at District 14, which is no longer there. It’s Egg & Flour now. I started there just one day a week, then I eventually quit my other job and quickly became the bar manager there. I left D14 to go to brewing school at the World Brewing Academy, which is a partnership between the Siebel Institute in Chicago and Doemens Academy in Munich. That was in 2017. Right after getting out of brewing school, I got hired at 1840. I was the first employee there and helped with the build-out. I was there for about four years, then came here about three years ago. I’ve worked for a lot of Bay View breweries.

MR: What was your favorite beer you’ve ever made, and why? It could be a home brew, a collaboration, or something in the regular rotation here at Enlightened or from your time at 1840.

TK: Two come to mind. One is Moral Luck, the first lager we’ve ever done at Enlightened. Tommy [Vandervort] and James [Larson] have been really cool with letting me run with it. We started a lager program about a year ago and we’ve done three different lagers so far. Moral Luck is our German pilsner. Then when I was at 1840, we did a collaboration with Lumpia City. I believe it was a kettle sour with lychee and calamansi limes, which were some flavor profiles I knew nothing about. It was really neat working with the ladies at Lumpia City because the beer was in honor of Alexa’s grandmother who lived in the Philippines. It was fun to get to know them on a personal level, and I like working in collabs with non-beer businesses. The level of creativity is a bit more expansive.

MR: What’s your favorite non-beer beverage?

TK: I would say coffee probably. In the past few years, I’ve gotten really into trying out local roasters and I’ve really upped my coffee setup at home. That’s something I enjoy exploring.

MR: Do you have a favorite local roaster?

TK: Hawthorne is definitely my number one, but I also really like Valentine and Brain Helmet, which I think is an offshoot of a guy that runs Pilcrow that’s only available online.

MR: Back to beer, what’s the first beer you can remember having?

TK: I remember the first time I ever tried beer, I was at my uncle’s house for a Packer game or something and I was drinking a Coke and reached for the wrong can. It was a Miller High Life, I think, and I remember it being the most vile thing I’ve ever tasted. And now I love Miller High Life.

MR: Excluding places where you’ve worked or are working, what’s your favorite Wisconsin brewery?

TK: It’s funny…I read the first article in this series and I 100 percent agree with Sam’s answer for this. New Glarus is, I think, one of the most all-around solid breweries in the country. Dan and Deb Carey are people I really respect on a professional level. Their Pilsner is phenomenal. I love that they’re employee-owned. And I believe it’s a top 2o-selling craft brewery, and it’s still only available in Wisconsin. I think that’s pretty incredible.

MR: What are some go-to domestic or macros you find yourself grabbing most often?

TK: High Life is a big go-to for me. I also really like Narragansett. It was a big brewery in the ‘70s, but they’ve recently revitalized the brand sort of like Schlitz did. It’s just an American lager. It’s actually the beer they drank in JAWS.

MR: If we opened your fridge right now, what sort of beer would we find?

TK: There’s definitely some High Life, some Moral Luck, and one beer I’ve really been drinking a lot lately is Weihenstephaner Vitus, which is a Weizen Bach from a brewery in Germany that’s the oldest continually running brewery in the world.

MR: Are there any misconceptions about brewing or the brewing industry in general that you’d like to clear up?

TK: Many breweries promote their IPAs as having exorbitantly high hopping rates, five-plus pounds per barrel. There have been studies that suggest there is a saturation point at which there is no perceivable difference in flavor or aroma when hopping at such high rates. It becomes a waste of money and hops and it’s purely for marketing purposes. More is not always better.

Another thing is, you know how people say that if you do what you love, you never work a day in your life? That’s bullshit. Brewing is hard work. You’re brewing on a schedule and things have to get out. It can be a grind. There are a lot of cool fringe benefits to this industry, but it’s still hard work. It’s hard on your body and it can be hard on your mental health. People might think brewers are just having a great time and drinking beer every day—we do to a certain extent—and the access to beer is unparalleled, but that can be dangerous after a while.

MR: Do you have any non-brewing hobbies?

TK: Last summer I got into growing tomatoes. So that was a big thing. I’ve also dabbled a bit on bonsai. I’ve killed everything that I’ve tried to do, but it’s kind of a relaxing hobby to just clip little parts of trees off.

MR: What type of music do you listen to? Any favorite musical artists?

TK: If I had to pick one based on some of the best concerts I’ve ever been to, I’d say St. Paul And The Broken Bones. Their live performances are amazing. I’m also a big Tedeschi Trucks fan and Marcus King.

MR: And what are a few of your favorite movies, shows, or video games?

TK: My fiancée and I are big into Vanderpump Rules. It’s kind of my guilty pleasure show. Otherwise, I love Broad City and I’m watching Cheers right now. I also have to mention Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm. Seinfeld is my absolute favorite show. I’m quoting it constantly and I try to use Seinfeld references as beer names once in a while, but that’s kind of Third Space’s thing and I don’t want to step on any toes.

MR: Any favorite Milwaukee-area bars that you frequent?

TK: If I’m hanging out in Bay View, I really like Blackbird and Clementine’s. But I live closer to West Allis, so our regular spot is Station No. 6. I think they have a really good mix of macro beers, good craft beers, and great cocktails and wine. There’s something for everybody.

MR: Are there any long-term goals you have in regard to beer or things Enlightened is working on that you’re especially excited about?

TK: We got picked up at American Family Field, so that’s really cool for us. Bright Idea, one of our pale ales, will be there.

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About The Author

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Co-Founder and Editor

Before co-founding Milwaukee Record, Tyler Maas wrote for virtually every Milwaukee publication (except Wassup! Magazine). He lives in Bay View and enjoys both stuff and things.