Nearly 5,000 San Leandrans showed up in the first week of the soft opening of Fieldwork Brewing Co.of his town’s newest tavern, drawn by the brand’s reputation for excellent beers and airy, comfortable taprooms. Despite the success, this will be Fieldwork’s last opening for a while unless something changes. The brand has reached its location limit as currently set by the state without building a new production facility behind a future dining hall.
“San Leandro was our biggest opening yet,” said Fieldwork co-founder Barry Braden. “We believe in meeting customers where they are, bringing them a community-centric space with great beer, but it will be as big as it gets without some kind of change.”
Assembly Bill 2307 would make that change. The bill would increase the number of satellite locations a brewery could have from six to eight. Currently, only two of these locations can be an “authentic dining establishment”, which means having a full restaurant kitchen and the ability to serve wine and beer from other brands. AB 2307, authored by Assemblyman Marc Berman (D-Menlo Park), raises that cap to four.
There are twice as many craft breweries in California right now than there were eight years ago when the existing cap expansion law was drafted. At the time, a cap of six slots might have seemed like a limit that very few people could reach. But now the industry is scrambling to meet customer demand for great beer and family gathering spaces and the legal limit is holding back craft beer. Fieldwork’s various locations serve 25,000 customers per week.
“We like this model that focuses on direct-to-consumer sales because we can keep everything in-house,” Braden said. “That way we make the beer our customers want, not the beer a distributor wants to sell. This allows us to be more creative and respond to customer demand on site.
Craft breweries are inherently local businesses and collectively they inject billions of dollars into the state’s economy. The fieldwork alone employs more than 200 Californians. The brewery’s tap rooms function as community gathering places for adults with children, and often dogs. Many taprooms are the hub around which their neighborhoods revolve. AB 2307 simply grants breweries the right to continue delivering for their communities. He walked out of the legislature with bipartisan support and is awaiting a signature on the governor’s desk.
Craft brewing is an industry that continues to grow – expanding opportunities for taproom locations will help brewers whose businesses are still just a snap away.
“It’s for breweries that haven’t even started yet,” Braden said. “It’s for brewers who put pen to paper, plan and wonder if it’s something they can make a living out of.”
This piece was composed by the California Craft Brewers Association, which is a 501(c)6 nonprofit trade association representing the craft and specialty brewing industry in California. Established in 1989, the CCBA is the oldest state trade association representing craft brewers.