Rob Lightner and Chris Coomber are long-time friends who have lived and raised their families in the Bay Area, and they bonded over brewing beer at home. Unlike most of what’s happening in the current craft beer zeitgeist, their hearts hearkened back to regional icons like Anchor and Sierra Nevada, and the classic styles they knew when they were younger.
Rob and Chris were attracted to the nuts and bolts of beer-making — the hard work of brewing and perfecting these classic styles. So when they say “Beer is Labor,” they’re referring to the industriousness of brewing, the history of manual labor, and the reason they picked Richmond as their home. That attitude helped them fall in love with the Richmond port where so much industry, both historical and contemporary, surrounds their operation. And their name, East Brother, is an homage to the small island that sits in the bay, and serves as an inspiration both physically and metaphorically.
They’re inspired by the history here as much as by the opportunity to help bring a city back to its former glory, with persistence, hard work, and entrepreneurial spirit. Richmond was the port that built San Francisco. From its earliest industrial days of the Santa Fe Railroad and Standard Oil, to the midcentury boom with Pullman, Ford and Kaiser, Richmond was a bustling, prosperous city. And although the passage of time has brought transformation to the city, we’re now seeing the return of small manufacturing and technology, lending optimism to the city’s business prospects.
When they say “classic styles” they mean beers that anyone would recognize. Some will be very true-to-style versions of historical recipes, while others may be more Americanized for a contemporary palate. But they aim to make them feel approachable and familiar, even when trying something new. That’s why they use simple names like “Red Lager” and “Oatmeal Stout” — it helps you know what to expect!
As brewers, they want to offer a tangible link between the old and new. Their taproom, right up the road from the port, is a way for folks from the new economy to experience a place surrounded by the vestiges of the old. It’s a bustling little place full of friends, family, and dogs, putting the indoor/outdoor space to great use with games, food trucks, and of course, a direct view of the beer-making process itself – located just beyond that mountain of cans they’re becoming known for in the Bay Area. Stop by and check it out!