By Kathy Chouteau
The people of Pennsylvania have spoken and it’s clear they want more beer. Responding to a widespread call from Pennsylvanians about the availability of its craft beer, Richmond’s East Brother Beer Company is expanding its distribution to the 13th colony.
In its expansion, East Brother has teamed up with Shangy’s, the first craft-only distributor in the U.S. and the largest specialty beer wholesaler in Pennsylvania. The brewery’s portfolio of key classics, coupled with its small production, seasonal releases, are now available in state licensed liquor stores throughout Eastern Pennsylvania.
As Bay Area beer enthusiasts can appreciate, some of East Brother’s stand-outs include a Red Lager, Oatmeal Stout, Red IPA, Gold IPA and the award-winning Bohemian Pilsner, which earned silver at the 33rd Great American Beer Festival and gold at the 2019 California Craft Brewer’s Cup. The independent, rapidly growing brewery was launched by co-founders Rob Lightner and Chris Coomber in 2016.
“When we started looking at potential new markets, we first looked at where there was a demand for our beer; it didn’t take long for us to realize that our Pennsylvania friends were among the most vocal when inquiring about finding our beers. ‘When are you coming to the East Coast?’ was the frequently asked question,” said Lightner. “It also feels very fitting that we’ve landed in the birthplace of classic American lager brewing.”
Two years ago, East Brother launched a seasonal Lager Series consisting of smaller production beers. This lineup often finds the brewery flexing its creative brewing muscles, while also collaborating with Bay Area maltsters and hops growers to reprise age-old recipes like its Pre-Prohibition Lager. As part of its seasonal Freighter Series featuring big and bold ales, East Brother crafts a Russian Imperial Stout.
According to East Brother, the demand for classic craft lager is growing from California to Pennsylvania, with a Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine 2020 reader’s poll finding it rivaling New England IPA in popularity. In Pennsylvania, craft lager isn’t just a growing trend; it’s a time-honored tradition since the introduction of lagers to Philadelphia almost 200 years ago, where a future tradition was born.