How Fieldwork Made a Strategic Distribution Switch

Since Fieldwork Brewing Company opened in February 2015 in Berkeley, California, it has already added six more taprooms in Northern California.

Barry Braden, owner and co-founder of Fieldwork, has no plans to slow down territorial growth. Instead of adding in-house distribution logistics through hiring, the Berkeley, California brewery announced its partnership with Mussetter Distributing for the territories of Sacramento and the surrounding Capital Region in Northern California. Mussetter also works with Miller Brewing, Corona, Heineken and Sam Adams.

Braden was strategic in his partnership with Mussetter.

“We’ve always kept our number of accounts pretty tight,” he said.

“This is the first distribution relationship we’ve entered into, so instead of buying more trucks and paying more for insurance and all that, it just made more sense for us to partner with Mussetter in Sacramento.”

This partnership comes as a result of Fieldwork opening a taproom in Sacramento two and a half years ago.

“It’s been a really popular market for ideas, and we have some very good draft partners in the Sacramento region,” Braden added, “so we’re just trying to expand that a bit.”

The deal with Mussetter will help Fieldwork penetrate the suburbs of Sacramento. “Mussetter Distributing will maintain and broaden the brand across the Sacramento Valley,” according to a press release.

All of Fieldwork’s beer is sold in Northern California (plus Oregon on a limited basis), and Braden doesn’t plan on that changing.

“We have about 620 bar and restaurant accounts but most of the emphasis and effort on our side is to continue to open and add retail direct-to-consumer taproom locations,” he said.

Economically, Braden said it’s better for small breweries to establish their brands by selling directly to consumers rather than trying to fight over shelf space.

“We prefer to have the direct conversation with the consumers and guests that are visiting our taprooms, and it helps us to make sure that we’ve serving the freshest beer possible,” he said.

“It doesn’t have to go through a long distribution chain to actually reach that customer, and we just think it’s the smartest thing for a small brewery like us to set ourselves apart from what is an ever increasingly crowded market.”

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