Despite all the TV shows that feature people hanging out in bars and/or getting boozed up, very rarely have there been series where beer was the actual focus, especially when it comes to scripted shows. Thankfully, Netflix's Brews Brothers is here to fill that void and it doesn't care about spilling all over the place while doing so. Hailing from Greg and Jeff Schaffer (The League), Brews Brothers centers on two estranged brothers reconnecting and trying to run a brewery together, which involved a lot of non-drunken on-set drinking for stars Alan Aisenberg and Mike Castle.
In Brews Brothers, Alan Aisenberg portrays the brewery's front-of-house figurehead Wilhelm, with Mike Castle playing the showily erudite older brother Adam, whose passion for well-crafted beer far outweighs his passion for other human beings. CinemaBlend spoke with both Aisenberg and Castle ahead of Brews Brothers' premiere on Netflix, where they shared the pains of drinking fake beer and more. Check out some of the interview highlights below (and when you're done here, head over to read what we learned from the Schaffer brothers.)
How Brews Brothers Compares To Cheers
When it comes to TV shows set in bars, the golden standard will always be Cheers, with the far more ribald It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia taking a reasonably close second. Brews Brothers definitely slots more into the latter's R-rated ballpark, as it's one of Netflix's raunchiest comedies yet. Still, I had to ask Alan Aisenberg and Mike Castle how their new show compares to the forever iconic Cheers, and they had some amusing answers.
ALAN: 100% less Ted Danson, I would say.
MIKE: I would also say it's like the scary, futuristic version of that show, where everyone knows your name, but it's a bad thing.
Indeed, the Rodman brothers' names become known in the Van Nuys area due to the brewery's quality brews themselves. But that's only part of it, since they also get recognized for tons of other less-than-wholesome reasons, such as befriending a gang of culture-clashing bikers, or Adam's long-winded speeches about being a qualified Cicerone. (There's a joke to be made about being always being glad when they came, but Adam's edging habits make that one into more of a sticky situation.) James Earl and Mike Mitchell's Matt and Jack sort of both count as Brews Brothers' version of George Wendt's Norm from Cheers, in that they both do little in life besides drink for free.
Maybe if Brews Brothers gets a second season, Jeff Schaffer can use his Curb Your Enthusiasm influence to sway Ted Danson to make a cameo. Though it likely wouldn't involve him getting behind the bar, since The Good Place already made that happen.
On Brews Brothers Making Jokes About Bud Light & Other Beers
For a show about a pair of beer-makers aiming to brew top quality drinks (that may or may not sometimes have pee and pubic hair in them), it's expected for other beer companies to get referenced, and Brews Brothers doesn't disappoint in that respect. Mainstream beer brands such as Amstel, Stella, and Bud Light get brought up in somewhat less-than-savory ways, usually with Adam's snobbiness guiding the barbed name-drops. When I asked the co-stars about taking shots at non-elitist beers, here's how Mike Castle put it.
I think that, like, it's not even coming from us. It is coming from the idea of these types of characters. It's the exact kind of pretentiousness I have always heard from all of my beer-loving friends who are all just like so ready to shit on any of these beers. I would always respond to it by going like, 'If they're even going to go out of their way to shit on Bud Light or whatever, it must be bad.' Just because they're going out of their way to do it or whatever. So I would always kind of join the bullies when they would make fun of one of these beers. So it's fun now to be the bully and to shit on these beers. But it's also like, you know, there are types of drinking. You know, if you're drinking and you want to get pumped up, and you're gonna drink like a 30-pack of Coors, that's a whole different sensibility than someone who is like, 'I want to taste the minutiae of a beer, and I want to look at it and disassemble it in my taste buds.' So to me, for someone who is looking to break down the thing that they're sipping, it would just be insane to drink Bud Light.
Brews Brothers is filled to the top of the pint glass with Adam's frothy descriptions of various beers' notes and smells, and he even went off on wine at one point for being an inferior form of alcohol since it's only made from one fruit. But for all that the Netflix comedy pokes fun at the beer brands that are forbidden from being sold inside Rodman's, several of them actually pop up during the eight episodes in Season 1, most pointedly during the beer festival episode. Alan Aisenberg spoke to that point below:
What can I say? Our show represents both sides. There are people who drink for the social aspects of it, and I think that's the Wilhelm types; and then there's the Adam types who really want to enjoy it. So, yes, we do shit on those companies, but I think they don't look that bad. I mean, I think a lot of them are also involved with the show and are happy about it.
Like just about every show Jeff Schaffer has worked on, from The League to Seinfeld to Curb Your Enthusiasm, Brews Brothers is just as quick to gamely take its main characters down as it is on everything those characters make fun of. And co-stars like Carmen Flood excel at dishing out verbal body slams on both brothers. I wonder what they'd think about other fictional beers like Duff, but maybe life is too short to have those thoughts.
How Brews Brothers' Stars Handled All The Fake Beer
Obviously, a show about beer bar and brewery is going to feature a lot of characters pounding drinks down throughout entire episodes, and the characters in Brews Brothers definitely don't like to sip anything slowly. For those wondering, just about every cast member was drinking nonalcoholic beer throughout the filming of Season 1. We'll get to Mike Castle's thoughts on all that in a sec, but the first thing that got mentioned on that front was Alan Aisenberg making the most untimely medical discovery ahead of the show's production.
MIKE: Well, it's different for both of us. Alan was diagnosed with celiac like right before we started filming. Which also means that he can't even have fake beer. Like because fake beer still, you know, has carbohydrates or whatever the fuck you can't have. [Laughs.]
ALAN: You really listen to me, buddy.
MIKE: But like, I always felt bad for him because his was...wasn't it like food coloring? It was just like water and then coloring.
ALAN: It kept changing, I think. Yeah, by the end we got into seltzer and food coloring, which ended up being a blessing because you guys were drinking like O'Doul's and chugging it. I remember there was one day when Carmen Flood had to chug seven or eight beers over a couple takes and was not doing so hot towards the end of it.
To anyone who has ever had the most basic form of nonalcoholic beer, the thought of having to drink it for hours on end for work might sound like a very honed-in nightmare, so Alan Aisenberg had at least one silver lining to learning of his celiac disease diagnosis when he did. (How awful that would have been for him to learn about it after a week or more of filming.) For the record, Mike Castle also said that co-star Flula Borg, who plays the impossible-to-restrain Truffle, also opted for a substitute for the fake beers.
Mike Castle did not appreciate the problems that came with putting down so much of the nonalcoholic beer, while Alan Aisenberg did appreciate the fact that the show's location allowed the fake potables to be presented as if they were the real deal.
MIKE: Fake beer has all of the problems of real beer and then none of the good things of it. Like, I was burping and was so embarrassingly gassy after just drinking one, and it would be like, 'Oh man, all day. I'm not getting any of the fun out of this though.'
ALAN: It did have the benefit of [us shooting] on location out of a formerly functioning brewery in L.A. When we were pulling beer, it was real beers coming out of the tops. Granted, it doesn't have any alcohol in it, but it just made everything feel more realistic. We could serve a beer and know that the person could drink it and you wouldn't have to cut because they went from a fake beer to something that was drinkable.
The fact that the Brews Brothers crew was able to create such a large variety of nonalcoholic beers was quite impressive. That said, I have no idea if it was merely an issue of coloring, or if there was a different preparation process. But after chugging enough of it, Mike Castle started having faux feelings that he actually was getting a little tipsy.
You know, you can almost get when you have like a placebo. That was kind of happening a lot, where I would drink a couple fake beers, and then I'd be like, 'I'm loose. I'm having a good time.' [Laughs.]
Here's hoping if Season 2 gets ordered at Netflix, that someone behind the scenes comes up with ways to make have better tasting drinks standing in for the beers on tap. And that they have slightly less phallic names to them.