I was born in Reading, Pennsylvania in 1959, the only son of childhood sweethearts. My mother was a nurse and Dad was a navigator in the Penna. Air National Guard. We lived in the nearby suburb of Shillington, a cozy, close-knit community of 6,000. My folks divorced when I was young and Mom remarried a mechanic when I was five. He eventually became an alcoholic and made my life somewhat miserable until he left when my mom became fatally ill with cancer. Mom passed away when I was 22, a victim of breast cancer at 42. I then spent three years in an Army Band, stationed in NYC. After my honorable discharge, I spent a few years managing records stores while attending college simultaneously. I later moved to Durham, NC to be a record buyer and then worked for a chain of video stores.

After divorcing my first wife, I moved to San Jose, CA with a good friend who was moving there for law school. That was 1985. The next decade was spent managing a video store, a comic book store and working as a law clerk with my free time spent with a large, close-knit group of friends. During that time was also when I first became interested in craft beer, writing a book on beer in 1992.

Then I met Sarah and it was love at first sight. We were married in 1996 and moved to Oakland so she could attend law school at Boalt Hall, Berkeley’s law school. I took a job as the beer buyer for the California chain Beverages & more, a job I held for almost five years. Our son Porter, was born in 2001 and I became the General Manager at the beer magazine Celebrator Beer News. After Sarah went back to work after her maternity leave, Porter spent his days at the Celebrator offices until we moved to Marin County in 2003, when he started preschool. Our daughter Alice was born in the summer of 2004. When Porter was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder in the fall of 2004, I made the decision to quit working full-time and stay home to raise Porter and Alice. I’m still doing some freelance writing to keep myself busy and talking to adults. Now that the kids are in school, I've increased the amount of freelance jobs I can on. I also recently took over a long-standing beer column in the Oakland Tribune, San Jose Mercury News and other newspapers, though it's been renamed "Brooks On Beer."

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Jay Brooks
September 2007
Shillington, PA
Cotati, CA, US
I am:
Male and Taken
Freelance Beer Writer
Brookston Beer Bulletin