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Good Beer Hunting

May 12, 2018

This week’s guest is a fascinating one for me. I first came to know Alex Tweet, one of the founders of Fieldwork in Berkeley, California, during his run-in with Shaun Hill of Hill Farmstead over the use of the word Vermont to describe one of Fieldwork’s farmhouse-style beers. The argument that followed between the two resulted in a Sightlines story on GBH, not so much because there was a disagreement, but because it brought up really interesting thoughts about what constitutes an appellation in beer making, especially in the U.S. We’re used to thinking of Belgian beers being from Belgium, but could Vermont have a similarly important and respected origin in the future of American craft beer? Should it? To that end, so much about what makes Fieldwork interesting is the anachronistic qualities of its brand and voice, much of it coming through Alex himself. Fieldwork makes old-world styles of farmhouse-inspired, yeast-driven beers, but they also make New England IPAs and Pastry Stouts. The vibe is rustic and simple, but the business plan is ambitious and newly sprawling with a system of taprooms scattered around the Bay Area, taking advantage of California’s generous licensing for craft brewers. And, of course, there’s Alex himself, a somewhat anxious, energetic, always-thinking kind of guy wrestling with duality as many brewers do, between what he likes and what he sells, and his place in the world, trying to decide if he cares too much, or too little about a variety of aspects of brewery ownership. I admire his candor and his interest in talking it all out, which is what’s made this podcast so rewarding. And I’m glad I get to share it with you all. Listen in.