The head brewer and co-owner of Fieldwork Brewing Co., the celebrated craft operation that started in Berkeley and has opened taprooms around the Bay Area, faces a felony assault charge related to an alleged road rage incident, records show.
Alex Tweet, a 37-year-old Berkeley resident, was arrested by Albany police, who said he beat up a man in September on San Pablo Avenue after a near-collision. He was charged in January by Alameda County prosecutors and has pleaded not guilty.
If Tweet is convicted, it’s possible that Fieldwork’s ability to serve alcohol could be impacted. Tweet is listed as an officer on all five of the company’s liquor licenses — for taprooms in Berkeley, Napa, Monterey, San Mateo and Sacramento — and the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, known as ABC, has the authority to suspend or revoke licenses held by convicted felons.
Tweet denied the charges, saying that “it’s going to be a complete nonissue after next week,” referring to an April 5 pretrial hearing in Alameda County Superior Court. When asked whether he was confident about the outcome of the case, he said, “extremely.” He would not comment further.
Since its original Berkeley taproom opened in 2015, Fieldwork has swiftly risen to be one of California beer’s greatest success stories. A partnership between Tweet and Barry Braden — the former the brewer, the latter the businessman — the brewery is known for its ever-changing lineup of beers, which are regarded as some of the Bay Area’s best.
In just three years, Fieldwork has opened four additional taprooms — including a 10,000-square-foot beer garden in San Mateo — and expanded its production from 2,700 barrels in 2015 to an estimated 18,000 to 20,000 this year.
According to a court report by Albany Police Officer Carlos Ordaz, Tweet was driving in Albany on Sept. 14, just a few blocks from the Fieldwork brewery, when he nearly collided with a car at a stoplight.
Afterward, the report states, Tweet tailed the car, and when the driver of the other car pulled over, he pulled alongside it and got out. A verbal argument ensued, according to the report, and Tweet allegedly beat the passenger, who was the driver’s brother. The passenger told police Tweet pushed him to the ground, put him in a headlock and hit him on the face “approximately five to 10 times.”
The victim’s injuries reportedly required two stitches on his right ear and two stitches on his lip.
On March 1, Tweet pleaded not guilty to the charge of assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury. In addition, he faces a special allegation of causing great bodily injury, and has denied it. If convicted of the charge and the special enhancement, he faces up to seven years in state prison.
ABC reviews all liquor license issues on a case-by-case basis, said agency spokesman John Carr. In the past, he said, the department has tended to revoke or suspend licenses when the license holder is convicted of a crime of moral turpitude, which has included theft, fraud, arson, burglary and other crimes.
“Obviously, each investigation is unique and has a unique set of facts, and we have to make a determination on each case based on those facts,” Carr said.
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