Brews Brothers producer on how the new Netflix comedy is like The League's drunk brother
Exec producer Jeff Schaffer explains how the craft brewery industry is "a world that needs to be taken down a peg."
Netflix is inviting you to belly up to the bar — from your living room, at a safe social distance — for what it hopes will be a buzzy comedy. Somewhat literally. The eight-episode Brews Brothers centers on two estranged brothers who uncomfortably reconnect and team up to try to save a flailing craft brewery in not-so-scenic Van Nuys, Calif.
Brews Brothers executive producer Jeff Schaffer — whose showrunning credits include The League, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Dave — says he was immediately intrigued by the idea that spilled from his brother/fellow Brews executive producer Greg Schaffer (That 70s Show). "Not just because the jackass, arrogant older brother was clearly an homage to me," he deadpans. "He said, 'Look, no one's done a show in this craft brewery world.' And he was right. It's a world that needs to be taken down a peg. I mean, this bubble has just been growing, and now everybody and their dumb uncle is telling you that their IPA is too hoppy or they can taste apricot notes in their stout. Everyone has become a beer expert, and that's completely unnecessary."
Exploring this pint-based universe made sense to Schaffer, who previously crafted a fantasy-football dudescape with FX comedy The League. Think of this perhaps as The League's drunk brother. "I was like, 'Oh, well this is sort of a logical progression from The League because what's the one thing in the world that's more popular than football? Beer!" he says. "And even if you don't like beer or have never had beer, everyone's got a family and nobody gets to pick their family. They follow you around like a bad credit score, and that's who you've got to deal with. So it seemed like a very fun world and a very interesting dynamic for the two of us — and I will say that Greg has brilliantly worked through some of his issues with me. So that's been very fun."
What kind of artisanal conflicts will these two polar-opposite brothers find themselves in whilst running Rodman's Brewery? "The younger one, Will [Alan Aisenberg], just wants this brewery to be the perfect hang," Schaffer says. "He's super-social and just wants everyone to have a good time. The older brother, Adam [Mike Castle], does not care about other human beings at all. He doesn't even want the brewery to be successful. He just wants to make the perfect beer. If it were up to him, there would be no tables. There would be one thinking chair where people can meditate on his craft. So he's the opposite of welcoming. These two both know so much about beer and so little about how to properly run a brewery — or even interact with people in a normal way."
Rodman's will suffer severe growing pains as the siblings try to turn heads and a profit. "What's the most important thing about a business? Location, location, location," says Schaffer. "They don't even have the first location. They are stuck between an auto body shop and a high-end sex toy dispensary — like Med Men of sex toys in Van Nuys. They will have horrible ideas for how to promote the place, but what you're going to see episode to episode is the struggle of this little brother-run craft brewery to try to become viable and then successful. Think about it [like] Silicon Valley, following the arc of the company… if everybody had 100 less IQ points."
And how should inebriated should people be when they sit down to put down a few Brews? "When we were making the show, we thought it would be wish fulfillment for people, because who wouldn't want to own a brewery?" says Schaffer. "But in these strange times, it's wish fulfillment just to watch people go to a brewery. So we want everybody who's isolated to drink alone together while watching, and turn it into a very social drinking game."
Brews Brothers, which also stars Carmen Flood and Marques Ray, premieres April 10, and the sibling rivalry can be sampled right here: