The Fielder Field of Dreams : can a taproom bring people together ?
By Shawna Graves
The Fielder family likes to learn and explore on their vacations . So when Tim , the youngest of two sons , approached parents Lisa and Guy about his desire to leave corporate America and become a professional brewer , he had their full support . So much so , that family vacations began to look more like scouting expeditions , as they visited brewpubs in England , taprooms on the west coast , and all their favorite breweries in the state of Texas . They were paying close attention to what they loved about the industry so they could develop their own dream brewery .
Lisa and Guy both grew up in Pecos , but it ’ s the mountains of Big Bend that capture their hearts . “ The Davis Mountains are home ,” Lisa says .
Lisa , the PR arm of the business and chief of fun designs , went to college at Sul Ross State University for part of her academic career . She later transferred in pursuit of her master ’ s in architecture . But she was lucky to come of age during a golden era in the Big Bend . Her sister married and moved to a ranch near Balmorhea , creating another permanent link . Lisa recalls exploring the area when it was sparsely populated and hardly visited , even less so than now . The Davis Mountains ’ most recognizable destinations , the springs at what is now Balmorhea State Park , and the facilities at what is now Davis Mountains State Park , were at that time still private property . Lisa fondly recalls coming and going to those places with a sense of ease . “ We felt as if at all belonged to us ,” she says .
Her bond with the Big Bend is largely through nature . She grew up taking a microscopic view of the world around her , looking at bugs and plants . When she was a child , and her father was recovering from a heart attack , part of his therapy was to walk . The two would walk together at night looking at stars and the grandeur of West Texas night skies was programmed into her soul . Later , she joined the Tierra Grande Master Naturalist class of 2018 , sopping up the science lessons about this region with relish . She continues to be active with the Dark Skies Team , a group of night sky aficionados seeking to elevate night sky love in Alpine .
Lisa is keenly observant . “ People want to be outside ,” she says . “ If nature is beautiful , then it ’ s even better . And if you can learn something , that ’ s an even bigger bonus .”
That observation is driving her approach to the taproom build . She gets carried away dreaming up design ideas that reflect her love of the region in all its naturalist wonder . She brought in a team of creatives to help bring the vision to life .
Native landscaping by local botanist Michael Eason will dominate the property . As a master naturalist , Lisa is looking forward to showcasing the plants that define the Chihuahuan Desert and has been inspired by visits to botanic gardens that make the landscape an educational experience .
Big Bend sculptor Harry Weekly ’ s found object figurines feature wildly creative critter caricatures from the deserts of Big Bend . Not one to sell his work or do commissions anymore , Harry has instead built his own outdoor gallery on his property outside of Alpine and allows limited visitation . When Lisa discovered him , she knew he had to be a part of the taproom . Now his somewhat elusive sculptures will be featured in the Harry Weekly children ’ s garden , a part of the taproom ’ s outdoor design dedicated to whimsy in the Big Bend . It will allow more accessibility to the works of one of this region ’ s unique and most entertaining sculptors .
These are just a few of many details that reinforce a sense of place , a concept dear to the Fielders . And even though they have lived in several cities across the state , they keep coming back to the Big Bend .
After the two Fielder sons fledged off to college , Lisa looked for ways to combat the empty nest syndrome . She was drawn to the nonprofit sector and founded College Forward , a program to champion lowincome kids through college . The nonprofit grew from its initial 26 participants to helping over 450,000 young people across 17 states when Lisa retired in 2016 .
She was not expecting to go into the brewing business post-retirement , but when son Tim brought up the idea , she and Guy wanted to do everything they could to support it .
Tim , a 35-year-old with a PhD in computer science and an analytical mind , is currently an adjunct professor at Sul Ross State University . He had been working in the corporate world but longed for something different . His parents ’ willingness to partner with him on the
The Fielders ’ love of brew hopping began with their first family visit to the Princess Louise pub in London in 2010 .
taproom brought Tim to live in Alpine permanently , because , in addition to his family roots in the area , Alpine seemed ripe for its own microbrewery .
In 2007 , while Tim was living in Austin , he discovered the world of craft brewing . His older friends loved the local brew pubs , and Tim discovered that , while he was still too young to buy alcohol , there was no age limit to buy the supplies to make homebrew . He circumvented the age barrier to partaking in adult beverages and got an early start learning the craft . “ I couldn ’ t legally buy it or possess it , but I could make it ,” he says . He became a student of the recipe books at the local homebrew store , and over the years perfected an Irish red ale that became a favorite among friends . He continued to brew using recipe books until branching out in 2019 , when he began experimenting more .
Construction on the taproom starts this fall . That means Tim has plenty of time on his hands to prepare . He stays busy making small batches of homebrew to serve at local events .
Brewing small batches presents challenges in Alpine . The ingredients aren ’ t always available for his roster of recipes . Marrying his love of computer science to the craft brew world , Tim uses software to help fill in the gaps . He enters the ingredients he has into the software , and it suggests quantities to fill out the recipe according to desired outcomes in sweetness , alcohol content , color , and flavor . He says the process of brewing is much like the process of cooking a meal , but the taste test is delayed by several weeks with brewing , as the beer ferments . The software is one more tool to help guide the blind taste test .
Continued on page 18 .
14 Big Bend Real Estate Guide • August 2022