Okay, so maybe Napa Valley is not beer country yet. But over the past couple of years a number of brewing operations and brew houses have sprung up in the Valley and become instant go-to destinations. We previously wrote about one of our favorite beer spots,
Carneros Brewing Company, which is in Sonoma County close to the Napa/Sonoma border. (Beer? In Wine Country?). Last night we finally made it to Napa’s newest spot for craft beer, Fieldwork Brewing Company, which is located downtown Napa in the Oxbow Public Market. The space that houses Fieldwork was once occupied by Hudson Greens & Goods, a market that specializes in organic fruits and vegetables. When Hudson moved its location within Oxbow, it opened up a space that sat empty for quite a while. We locals started to wonder what was going on inside that mysterious walled-off corner of Oxbow and if the space would remain empty indefinitely.
A little over a month ago, Fieldwork Brewing Company had its big grand opening, revealing a beautiful long bar and seating area that fits perfectly in the corner.
Although new to Napa, Fieldwork is not a new brewery; they have two other locations, one in Sacramento and the other in their hometown of Berkeley, California. Somehow we have managed to miss Fieldwork on our many trips to Berkeley for football and basketball games, but we will surely remedy that this upcoming basketball season.
As we mentioned, Fieldwork has been open in Napa for about six weeks. You might wonder why it took us until last night to sit down and taste their beer. The answer is simple: it has been so instantly popular that we haven’t been able to get a seat at the bar in weeks. Yesterday, we decided that if we wanted to taste some beer at Fieldwork we would need a plan. Strategically, we decided that the best time to go would be between lunch and dinner. When we first arrived, all of the seats at the main bar were taken, but there were three seats by the window on the right side of the bar. We gratefully took them and ordered some beer. One of us ordered the Hoppy Pilsner, one of us the Fog Ripper sour ale, and the third of us (guess who!) decided that a six-beer sampler was the most appropriate way to get to get properly introduced to Fieldwork.
As our beers were arriving we were still eyeing the bar, hoping that we could switch from our window seats, but everyone at the bar looked like they were settling in for the long haul. We set our beers down on the ledge and admired the range of color between them.
Almost as soon as we set the beers down, a table opened up behind the bar; although not as cool as the bar itself, it gave us more space to spread out a bit. We delicately moved the sampler and the two individual beers to a table and sat down to start our tasting. To complement the beer, we each ordered a taco from C-Casa, a favorite restaurant at the other end of the Oxbow Public Market.
When ordering beer, we tend to go mostly with IPA or, when we’re really trying to branch out, a double IPA. When sampling, though, we push ourselves to try new things. At Fieldwork, there was quite a bit to choose from.
Since we almost always drink ale, we decided to start with a non-ale and opted for the Outdoor Hoppy Pilsner as beer #1 in the sampler, followed by the Fog Ripper Tropical Sour Ale, Field Trial Blonde Ale, Watershed Extra Pale Ale, Corner Shop IPA, and, to finish, Hannah in the Wild Brett Biere De Garde.
We won’t do a beer-by-beer tasting review, but we will share some of our reactions. The Outdoor Hoppy Pilsner was, indeed, hoppy, and it seemed like an ale-lover’s pilsner. Of the remaining beers, our favorites were the Watershed Extra Pale Ale and the Biere de Garde, a type of ale that we have not had before. The color was lovely and both the aroma and flavor were sophisticated and smooth.
We hope to get back to Fieldwork soon and, next time, to sit at the main bar. Our new strategy is to get there when they open so we can be first in line.
John & Irene Ingersoll
November 28, 2016