Oxbow Public Market’s Newest Gem.
From the outside looking in, Alex Tweet’s career was going great. He had a good job in Human Resources in San Diego, was well respected in the field, and the future looked bright. Problem was, he hated going to work.
“I couldn’t stand working indoors in an office,” he said.
What really held Tweet’s interest was beer – everything about it. He knew when he was seventeen that he wanted to run a small brewery. “It wasn’t even a real thing then,” he said. Stone Brewing started bottling beer about the time Tweet could drink legally. Tasting Stone’s beers, discovering that beer could taste like that instead of the way so much of it did, made him want follow that path all the more.
A friend told Tweet about a beer-making contest that Ballast Point Brewing was throwing to celebrate the company’s anniversary, and encouraged Tweet to enter. The winning beer would be brewed at Ballast’s production brewery and released as a Holiday beer that year. It sounded like fun, but as much as Tweet loved beer, he had never actually made it. He didn’t expect much from the contest, but decided to give it a shot and entered three beers. After all, what could he lose?
Nothing, it turned out. Tweet won first, second and third place in the contest.
Ballast hadn’t counted on just one person winning, and decided to award Tweet only the first place prize. His beer became so popular with Ballast fans, that at the end of the promised Holiday run, the brewery made it a regular offering. Tweet also got a job offer. Unfortunately, it was for $12 an hour, an 80% pay cut. But it was work that Tweet wanted, and he decided to go for it. Human Resources now in the rear view mirror, Tweet was a beer maker.
Ballast didn’t have a lot of money when he joined them, but was growing, and Tweet grew with them. After two years, he left to open Modern Times in San Diego. Friends thought he was crazy to leave his good thing at Ballast. Undeterred, Tweet made the move. “Modern Times was insanely successful,” he said, and he learned a lot from them.
Tweet spent evenings at a neighborhood bar and restaurant in San Diego. The owner, Barry Braden, had cashed out of the tech world after a successful run of nineteen years and opened the place in 2011. “I loved Barry’s beer program,” said Tweet. “Every detail of his beer was exactly what I would have done. Barry had twelve beers on tap, all of them good.”
The two became friends and talked about working together. Braden is very strong in sales and marketing, and Tweet is an excellent beer maker. “We both have track records of success,” said Tweet. Braden convinced his friend that they should move to the Bay Area and start a brewery. He sold his business in 2013, they made the move, and Fieldwork Brewing was born. The partners opened their third location in the Oxbow Public Market late last year. Locals and visitors have consistently filled the seats there ever since.
Tweet considers himself to be a conventional brewer. He says beer making comes down to, “process and quality. You have to be creative and unafraid to try new things.” Freshness is key. “At the end of the day, how fresh do you like your beer?” With most breweries, a beer is four to six weeks old before it reaches the consumers’ lips. Tweet’s goal is that a batch be made, and consumed, within seven to ten days.
Fieldwork doesn’t serve the same beers over and over again. “Beer is like music,” said Tweet. “You hear a song you like and play it fifty times, then you’re tired of it.” Asked what kinds of beers he makes, Tweet answers, “The kind you accidently drink three of. I like to make beers you can smell from the other end of the bar. The first pint should smell so good that you keep bringing it to your nose.”
Not all their beers are big, hoppy beers though. “We make a German style, salty beer, using petit verdot grapes,” said Braden. The blend is subtle, “an intersection between beer and wine, not in your face.”
The owners of Fieldwork think that the character of the beer makers is as important as the beer itself. “People usually don’t know who makes their beer, and that’s important,” said Tweet. Fieldwork offered their employees company paid health insurance six months after they opened. They invest in education. They trust and count on their employees for their success. ”
Before visiting Fieldwork, Braden says to “Leave behind your preconceived notions about beer. Ours are beers with a lot of art, love, and creativity.”
610 1st Street, Napa | (707) 266-1582 | fieldworkbrewing.com
Visit Fieldwork Brewing in the Oxbow Public Market from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.