Other Brother olive oil first caught our attention with their aesthetic: their 250mL Shorty tin of Growers Blend is a little smaller than a can of beer, easy to grip, and by far the cutest olive oil packaging we’ve come across, thanks to the sign-painting-inspired design. It’s more than just looks, though. The passion for good food exuded by the two founders Evan Loewy and Ben Herrmann can be tasted in every drop. They quit jobs at Nike and Google and returned to Loewy’s family orchard in Carmel Valley, CA, where they grew up as childhood friends, to build something for themselves. The two are so inseparable that they simply describe their relationship as brothers, hence the company’s name.
“We loved our olive oil, we loved our family and being home. We both felt it was time to do something honest and fulfilling, for ourselves,” Loewy tells CH. In Carmel Valley and Templeton, CA, they grow Frantoio, Leccino, Pendolino, Maurino and Arbequina trees for extra virgin olive oil plus a few Kalamata to make brine for canning; the trees are raised organically, without pesticides.
Refreshingly, there are only a few Other Brother offerings to choose from. “All fresh olive oil should be slightly peppery. This is due to the polyphenols, or antioxidants, found in olive oil. If your olive oil isn’t slightly peppery it’s most likely old and oxidized, it should never smell like peanuts; this means it’s gone rancid,” says Loewy. “With that being said, the difference between our Robust and Smooth is mostly harvest time. The Robust is an earlier harvest. It means we pick the fruit slightly ‘green,’ meaning the fruit is going to be very peppery, grassy and have a kick at the end. This is a typical Tuscan style oil. Our Smooth is more balanced; it’s a later harvest. The fruit is more ripe and has a buttery, fruity, nutty flavor with a slight peppery finish.” He recommends using both for finishing, from topping cheese like burrata to drizzling on fish—or just for dipping. Their Spanish-style Growers blend—which Loewy designed the tin’s vintage look himself—is the most mild of the bunch, smooth and buttery. (He challenged us to pour a little bit onto vanilla ice cream).
Interestingly, Other Brother has garnered a few creative fans in the local SF community: Nana Joes uses the oil in their different granolas; ethical market Bi-Rite (“One of our role-models,” says Loewy) tapped Other Brother to create a robust blend for their Public brand; and unusually, bartender Ty Caudle at Hog & Rocks mixes Dolin Blanc vermouth and Gran Classico with Other Brother olive oil-“washed” gin for a savory cocktail called “The Arbequina.”
Other Brother is currently prepping for this year’s harvest; the olives are almost ready to be picked and the two “brothers” will be counting on their extended families and friends to help out in the hand picking and milling, per tradition. Keep an eye on their social media feeds to see how your next bottle gets made. Other Brother products are available at their online store, where prices start at $8.
Images courtesy of Other Brother