In the dogs days of summer, things are really heating up when it comes to the Sacramento craft beer scene.
The second California Craft Beer Summit is less than month away. Berkeley’s Fieldwork Brewing, arguably one of the great emerging breweries in the entire country, has hired its staff and is days from opening the hotly anticipated midtown taproom at 1805 Capitol Ave.
When I recently spoke by phone with Fieldwork’s founder, Barry Braden, the first thing he asked me was, “How hot is it today?” It’s August. It’s Sacramento. It’s either hot … or ridiculous. As I write this, the forecast for Saturday is 100 degrees, which Braden calls “good beer-drinking weather.”
If all goes well, Fieldwork’s rustic/casual taproom, featuring a zinc bar and redwood walls, will be up and running and dialed in when the summit begins Sept. 8.
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Expect the narrow space next to Zocalo to be bulging at the seams by then, as a who’s who of California brewing converges on Sacramento for what promises to be a party with a multitude of hands-on educational experiences and tastings. Or is it the other way around?
The summit has something for everyone – from the emerging beer connoisseur to the serious craft beer professional. The summit is the place where you can gain great new beer knowledge, mingle with like-minded folks and rub elbows with some of the most important pioneers, trailblazers and hot new talents in the industry. Among the many events at the summit, I will be moderating a panel on the Northeast IPA phenomenon. Think you hate IPAs? Or you’ve moved on to other styles? The NE IPA will stop you in your tracks.
As for Fieldwork-Midtown, scores of beer fans have been pining for that to happen since we first told you the news in February. What’s so exciting? Fieldwork simply has the magic touch. The beers are outstanding. The range and creativity know no bounds. They’re exciting and relentless. And yep, their suds pair nicely with triple-digit dog days or fog-shrouded summers in the East Bay.
Braden told me Fieldwork has hired 12 people for the taproom.
“We’ve got some great folks. We had hundreds of applications. We hated to say no to people,” said Braden, noting that the brewery puts a premium on staff training. Employees not only have to know the beers, they must understand Fieldwork’s vision and sense of purpose.
“You have to be inviting and enthusiastic and professional and courteous. We put a high premium on that,” Braden said when I asked what kind of folks are a good fit at Fieldwork. “We can bring people to the place we need them as far as beer knowledge.”
There’s more: Fieldwork and Pangaea Bier Cafe are hooking up for a post-summit beer dinner Sept. 12. This could be epic. Tickets are $75 and should sell out faster than you can say Brown Paper Tickets. The event was not listed by press time, but it should be there by the time you read this.
Rubicon adds to West Sac scene
Quick! How many craft breweries are there in West Sacramento? If you said three – Bike Dog, Yolo, Jackrabbit – you’re probably like 99 percent of folks who overlook Rubicon’s 14,000-square-foot production brewery. Easy mistake to make. Since it opened three years ago, the place has been all business – until now.
Rubicon, whose midtown pub is one of the iconic craft beer locales in town, just launched a tasting room in West Sac. In contrast to upstart Fieldwork, venerable Rubicon is starting out slowly, with limited hours (Monday-Friday 3-7 p.m.) and just four beers on tap, along with bottles for sale.
West Sacramento’s three tasting rooms already have robust, loyal followings. It will be interesting to see how Rubicon fits in. The production brewery is at 885 Stillwater Road, Suite 100.
Thai spot offers tasty deals on beer
Out walking the dogs in midtown – and dodging the droves of “Pokémon Go” gamers on a recent evening – I stumbled upon one of the best craft beer deals in the city at Coconut On T (1110 T St., Sacramento). When was the last time you visited a Thai restaurant that had 10 tap handles, many of them featuring local craft beer? Put me down for never.
The beers on tap, which rotate regularly, include Auburn Alehouse, Track 7, Two Rivers Cider and others, along with bigger regional/national names like Ballast Point and Lagunitas. Pints are regularly $5, and are $3 during happy hour, daily from 4:30-7 p.m. Coconut’s midtown location, 2502 J St., has six beers on tap with the same prices.
Not only is that a steal, but Thai food, with its complex melding of flavors, gives you an array of dishes that are sweet, salty, sour, spicy and sometimes bitter. Just think of the beer-pairing possibilities!