Throughout my self-isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve had a limitless amount of time to read books, do schoolwork and finish household chores. However, instead of doing literally any of those activities, I’ve mainly just lounged around and taken this newfound time to myself to sample different kinds of local, domestic and international beers. Luckily my adventures in brew tasting have run in tandem with the series premiere of “Brews Brothers” on Netflix. My scraggly, quarantine-induced whiskers were feeling just a tad more fashionable as this new comedy series dives into the misadventures surrounding two anal retentive brewmaster siblings.
Wilhelm Rodman (Alan Aisenberg, “Orange is The New Black”) is the owner and founder of Rodman’s Brewing Company in Van Nuys, Los Angeles. He has a passion for brewing despite the fact that his business is slowly tanking. In order to keep his brewery alive, he needs to win over the satisfaction of a local keg distributor. Much to his surprise, Wilhelm finds his adopted brother Adam “Oxy” Rodman (Mike Castle, “Clipped”) at his doorstep offering to help save the brewery. We quickly learn of the brother’s long history of dispute when Wilhelm punches Adam right in the face as soon as he sees him. Wilhelm explains to his employees that he and his brother had a falling out years ago when he intentionally sabotaged Adam’s brew during a competition in order to win. “Oxy is short for oxidation,” he explains to his crew. “Oxidation destroys beer … and Adam destroys everything.”
Wilhelm allows his brother to join the team, though begrudgingly, given the fact that Adam is an unhealthy craft beer fanatic to the point of banning customers for wanting to order “something like a Bud Light.” He reveals to his brother that he traveled to Los Angeles after being exiled from Portland following a public rant during a beer expo about the overrated nature of IPAs. There’s a brief cutaway gag to a scene of Adam screaming “IPAs are what people drink when they’re all out of good ideas!” after having laced the expo goers’ drinks with hallucinogenic hops.
The gags in “Brews Brothers” come often, and with mixed effectiveness. Some land very well with the stooge-like nature of Wilhelm’s brewery handyman Chuy (Marques Ray, “Our Footloose Remake”), who is confused when he discovers that different ways of making beer exist. Other characters like Adam come across as comedically valuable, but their actual purpose in helping to save the brewery remains unclear. At times, it seems like Adam is actively seeking to put his brother out of business through his petty alehouse antics. At the end of the first episode, as the alcohol distributor becomes ecstatic at the taste of one of the Rodman’s newest craft brews, Adam reveals that he purposefully urinated in the drink to get back at Wilhelm. When the distributor asks for 20 kegs of the same beer, Wilhelm and Adam are left at a crossroads, confused as to how they will possibly replicate the taste given that it’s a) human piss and b) their only hope.
“Brews Brothers” is a web series meant for a small audience of millennials who probably enjoy making their own microbrews at home. The series comes from the minds of very capable and experienced comedic writers such as producer Jeff Schaffer, creator of the “Seinfeld” Festivus pole. While some of the comedy can be quite cringey or even outright disgusting, it’s fun to see how Netflix producers venture into new storylines that border on both the niche and the absurd.