Erich Christian came from a merchant family from the mountainous region of Tydal near Norway’s border with Sweden. When he was seven years old, his father died and he moved with his mother to Trondheim. She ran an extensive trading business, in which her son took part at an early age. After secondary school, he went to study in England, France and Germany. In 1850 he bought Sukkerhuset, the sugar refinery at Leütenhaven, where he started the brewery in 1856. Erich Christian flourished as a businessman, and as well as brewing he started enterprises in insurance, banking and spirits.
He was one of the wealthiest men in the city and a member of the city council for more than thirty years. He was appointed Consul General of Denmark and was Chairman of the Board for Trøndelag Teater. Erich Christian was a generous man, and is remembered as one of the first employers in Trondheim to pay sick pay. Employees were treated well and he became an honorary member of the labour union Trondhjems Arbeiderforening. To mothers giving birth in the city, he bestowed the foundation Erich Christians Stiftelse.