UPDATED: July 28, 2017 – The popular and innovative beers of Fieldwork Brewing are coming to Monterey with the opening of a satellite tap room at the Uptown Plaza on Munras Ave. next to the Trader Joe’s parking lot. It will be the fourth of up to six satellite tap rooms permitted under the Berkeley brewery’s small brewery license. “We rolled out Sacramento first,” explains Fieldwork Co-founder and owner Barry Braden, “then Napa second. San Mateo just opened and now Monterey should open, cross my fingers, somewhere around July 28th.” Braden later updated his target opening date to August 10.
Braden has long been eager to open Fieldwork in Monterey. “When we looked at where we want our beer served, Monterey’s a great spot for us. It’s a really sophisticated and engaged community. They care about “local” and “craft” and support businesses that do that. Besides, I really like to spend time in Monterey. I was down there last week just walking the dogs down the trail all the way through Pacific Grove. It’s just gorgeous,” he says.
It’s been quite a journey to Monterey for the two-year-old brewery. The story starts six years ago in San Diego, where Barry Braden first met Alex Tweet. Tweet had just joined San Diego’s Ballast Point Brewing and Braden was running an organic restaurant known for its extensive beer selection. While at Ballast Point, Tweet helped develop Grapefruit Sculpin IPA, a huge critical and commercial hit for the brewery.
As the friendship continued, Braden pitched the idea of forming a brewpub together with Tweet as brewmaster. It didn’t take much arm-twisting to convince Tweet it was time to go solo and Fieldwork Brewing was born. Both had ties to Northern California, and they finally settled in an old cabinet factory in West Berkeley.
They quickly distinguished themselves in the crowded Northern California brewing scene using novel ingredient such as fruits, sea salt, and even toasted coconut. Tweet has characterized his beers as both “whimsical” and “meant to be fun”.
Fieldwork’s rotating tap list tends to be heavily weighted towards hoppy IPAs, but for those who claim they like beer but not bitter IPAs, Fieldwork challenges those preferences. For example, Fieldwork’s “In Bloom” IPA has plenty of melon and citrus hop flavors without the bitterness and resin found in typical West Coast IPAs. Tweet achieves this by adding more hops later during the brewing process than traditionally done, which extracts flavor compounds from the hops with less bitterness. As Tweet explains “hoppiness doesn’t always mean bitterness.”
Another Fieldwork beer, Coconut Milk Double IPA sounds like some horrible home brewing experiment, but somehow, 100 pounds of toasted coconut, lactose sugar, and citra hops come together to create a fresh, breezy tropical vibe. Lagers, Saisons, Pale Ales and Stouts will also be on the tap list, each with their own unique Fieldwork twist.
What you won’t find at Fieldwork are TV’s. Explaining this decision, Tweet says: “We wanted to create a vibe of families and friends getting together. That doesn’t happen when you’re around a bunch of screens.”
Braden prides himself on creating a European beer garden atmosphere that’s family friendly. The Monterey site features two refurbished shipping containers, giving the place a hip, urban vibe. “There aren’t too many places where you can take the family and just hang out. There’s this sigh of relief I hear from parents: “I have some place to take my kids! I think that’s really good.”