Two new North Bay craft-beer-focused restaurants are taking a page from Old World beer-garden culture to create New World family-friendly environments.

Fieldwork Brewing Company opened three brewpubs and taprooms in West Berkeley, midtown Sacramento and at Napa’s Oxbow Public Market over a two-year period. And this month it will launch two new locations in San Mateo and Monterey — all within a 120-mile radius of its Berkeley-based brewery and taproom at 1160 Sixth St.

Like Brewsters Beer Garden & Restaurant in Petaluma, which opened in late 2016, the new locations are featuring food and a destination feel, with activities and entertainment.

“Napa and the entire North Bay is a craft-focused region where locals appreciate fine food, wine and beer,” said Fieldwork partner Barry Braden. “There is a solid, built-in affinity here for good beer, and the Oxbow Public Market is an excellent locale for us. Last October we opened this cornerstone of our direct business strategy, and acceptance has been amazing, evidenced by lines out front. What’s even more exciting are the plans the city of Napa has for this side of the river to attract tourists as well as locals.”

Braden said more cities want spaces that create a sense of neighborhood by establishing family-style centers serving as social gathering places. Fieldwork’s planning model includes walkable, bikeable areas with easy on-off access to public transportation — places with a very “European feel.”

“We want to transfer this experience in ways that people find to be valuable when selecting our sites, especially among those in our target age group, between 25 and 45, who are looking for places to enjoy,” Braden said.

“We have produced more than 200 unique beers since our initial opening. Our objective is to have people come in and find something new on the menu. We carry all styles, from hoppy beers such as the most popular signature IPAs and double IPAs, to craft beers, lagers, pale ales, sours, stouts, etc.,” Braden said.

Founded by Braden and Alex Tweet, Fieldwork Brewing Company began in February 2015. The craft beer–focused model they embraced matches the ambiance and amenities found in classic European beer gardens, creating a family-, dog- and kid-friendly place where people can appreciate fine craft beer in casual indoor–outdoor settings.

Designed to be Fieldwork’s largest outdoor facility, the new San Mateo location at Bay Meadows, 3030 S. Delaware St., includes a 4,500-square-foot European-style beer garden with 20 tap lines, a bocce court, communal fire pits, table board games, toys for youngsters and a food menu featuring snacks, sandwiches and more.

Looking ahead, Braden said they have a real estate agent who continues to look for other locations. A list of possibilities has been prepared that includes Marin County as a desirable site. There are no plans to expand until after 2018. Meanwhile, the company’s focus is on providing logistical support to its five locations.


In Sonoma County, Brewsters Beer Garden & Restaurant in Petaluma, at 229 Water St. N., opened in November 2016 with a 6,000-square-foot patio and bandstand offering live entertainment Thursday to Friday, 5 to 8 p.m., and Saturday to Sunday, from 3 to 6 p.m. Brewsters currently has 80 employees.

Lead partner Mike Goebel, along with General Manager Ben Hetzel and classically trained executive chef Chris Beerman, formerly of the Bouchard Restaurant in San Francisco, created this beer garden based on the things they saw and loved in Europe.

“We’re barbecue-focused and offer a range of menu items sure to please, not just pretzels, schnitzel and wurst,” Goebel said. “I have several bars in San Francisco, but there is not enough open space there to do what we did in Petaluma. The beer-garden model appeals to a broad range of customers, from singles and couples with children to seniors. More people today are seeking a friendly place for lunch or dinner where they can be part of the growing craft-beer phenomena.”

Like Fieldwork’s new locations, Brewsters added what Goebel calls “some cool and awesome amenities,” including a huge fire pit, dedicated kids playground, many trees, bocce court and an outdoor dining area shielded from the sun using custom-made shade sails — all framed by open exposed brick and stone walls. Gas heaters, available for chilly nights, are permanently fixed in the concrete patio.

“Everything we do supports local craft-beer producers in a 30- to 40-mile radius in the North Bay,” Goebel said. “We’re not a brewery, but we carry 34 beers on tap, along with two white and two red wines, cider and soft drinks, such as our classic root beer on draft, which makes a great float when combined with homemade ice cream we obtain from a nearby supplier.”