Fieldwork Brewing Co.: A juggernaut built on fresh beer If Fieldwork Brewing Co.’s founders went with their first idea, the brewery might have debuted as a sours-only beer producer in Paso Robles (San Luis Obispo County). Fortunately for Bay Area beer drinkers, the two co-owners — businessman Barry Braden and brewer Alex Tweet — scrapped the original plan to try something different. The first Fieldwork taproom opened in West Berkeley in early 2015; Braden and Tweet quickly added taprooms in Napa and Sacramento, and earlier this month opened a massive beer garden in San Mateo. “It’s unique to have this many satellite locations open in this amount of time,” says Bart Watson, Chief Economist for the Brewers Association. A huge portion of their business model is service-based. For Braden, the decision to set up shop in Northern California was rooted in coming home to his family in the East Bay; for Tweet, a brewer who trained at Ballast Point in San Diego and helped launch Southern California craft juggernaut Modern Times, it was about getting out of that increasingly congested beer scene. “If you took our ingredients, our recipes, our process, our labor and put it into most other breweries, the only term you would hear is that it’s not ‘commercially viable,’” says Tweet. Noting that he doesn’t think Fieldwork’s rate of growth is “normal,” Braden says the company’s unique model — quickly setting up taprooms and beer gardens, and also having those be the only place to buy packaged 16-ounce cans of fresh beer — is what makes it profitable, even though their beer can cost upwards of $125 a barrel to produce. According to the Brewers Association, that figure is on the high end of the standard production cost range. Let the consumers come fill up their growlers and drink beer that was kegged two days ago, which you can’t do if you buy beer in the stores. Up to 15 taps pour new, one-off and seasonally recurring brews, with no stringent limit to the compendium of styles offered. Recent releases, for example, include classic farmhouses, IPAs and pilsners, but also avant-garde experiments like Father of the Wolf, a peaty Russian imperial stout aged in Scotch barrels with Celtic sea salt and — seriously — leather. Financially, it means a constant flow of beer fans returning multiple times per week to find out what’s new.