By Tanya Henry
When Heineken acquired a 50 percent stake in Petaluma-based Lagunitas Brewing Company, a collective shudder was felt throughout the craft beer industry. Local beer lovers are watching the brand closely, wary that the beloved 23-year-old brewery might lose some of its small-town artisanal appeal now that the world’s third-largest beermaker owns a substantial share of the company.
BeerCraft, a bottle shop and taproom, offers an antidote to the notion of all things “Big Beer.” Both retailer and monthly beer club, the outpost focuses exclusively on American-made craft beer and takes its mission of educating customers about the many and varied options available to them very seriously. If all goes according to plan, brothers J.T. and Matt Fenn will bring their distinctive Rohnert Park-based retail and in-store-pickup craft beer club concept to 7388B Redwood Blvd. in downtown Novato this summer.
J.T. and Matt Fenn grew up in Southern Marin and attended Tam High School. After working in high tech and sales, the siblings eventually returned to Northern California, and four years ago opened their beer club/retail storefront. Initially BeerCraft was a bottle shop where customers could buy beer to go. After a couple of years the store evolved into a taproom, and today it has an inventory of almost 300 beers at any given time and up to 10 different brews on tap.
“We really focus on seasonal, limited edition and “out of market” (meaning not available through local distributors) beer,” explains J.T., who says that carefully curating the store’s offerings is what makes them really unique.
Another feature of BeerCraft that sets them apart from other retailers is their beer club. Members can pay a monthly fee, and the owners will select up to four 22-ounce bottles of specialty crafted brews that members can then pick up in-store. Most of their 200-plus members are local and have the advantage of being able to stop by and taste samples. If a member receives a style or flavor that he or she doesn’t like, BeerCraft will swap it out for a different brew.
When BeerCraft opens its doors in its new 1600 square-foot space (it will replace an antique store), it is likely that the selection (from throughout the U.S.) will have been well-tested and hand-picked by a couple of guys who clearly know their craft.
Learn more at beercraft.com.