Woods is more than beer.

We’re a crew of creative brewers, adventurous drinkers, unique Bay Area bars, and a proud part of California’s inspiring community of makers, chefs, artists, and business owners.

Our beers and bars are explorations close to home: welcoming but unexpected, made to share, and deeply rooted here. We’re fueled by where—and who—we are. Beer brings us together, at the bar and in the brewery. At Woods, were as proud of our brews as of the folks who make it. Meet the team!

 
 

Jim Woods

Founder & CEO

A thirsty sixteen year old with a summer off from school and a pocket full of lifeguarding money, Jim picked up homebrewing after seeing a small ad for Berkeley’s Oak Barrel Winecraft in the back of the Yellow Pages.

Armed with advice from Oak Barrel legend Homer Smith, a starter “American Ale” recipe, and a car seat piled with large paper bags of magical syrups, pellets, and powders, Jim headed home to brew.

The plan seemed simple: boil the beer and transfer it into a fermenter before his parent’s came home from work. Reality interrupted. Or rather, Jim’s mom did — home from work early, she arrived just as Jim was adding hops to a dangerously full kettle, and witnessed an epic boil-over. The pungent aroma of hops flooded the neighborhood; beer flooded the garage. Mom helped clean up, and promised not to tell Jim’s dad.

Jim’s brewing career was off to a good, if nervous, start — until batch number two. This time, Jim’s dad discovered the bubbling brew, and was far less lenient than mom. He grabbed a baseball bat, and threatened to smash the carboy — and young Jim’s brewing dreams. Thinking fast, Jim offered dad a taste of his first American Ale. Won over, dad let his son proceed, for a hefty paternal excise tax: a sample of every beer he made.

For Jim, a taste of that first batch of beer was just as revelatory. With one sip, a passion blossomed, and soon after, so did a business. In 2003, by now an experienced homebrewer, Jim decided to experiment with marrying the flavors of his favorite California IPAs with the natural buzz of yerba mate, a South American tea he drank to fuel his late-night brewing — er, studying — sessions. That union became MateVeza — the first mate-infused beer of its kind in the world — and its commercial success enabled Jim and his good friend and partner, Matt Coelho, to open Woods Beer’s original brewpub, a small cafe on the corner of San Francisco’s Dolores Park, in 2012.

Today, MateVeza is joined by hundreds more adventurous brews, made and served at a growing network of pubs and brewing outposts, and Jim is happy to be at the helm, forging new adventures through the foamy seas.

 

Matt Coelho

Founder

“Oh, so that’s what beer tastes like!” A Jersey Boy raised on barbecue and Yuengling, Matt was no stranger to beer. But this was something different. With that fateful sip of Chimay Blue, Matt set sail to unknown beery seas on a journey that would change his life — until a second sip shifted his course again...

With his friend and roommate Bryant Goulding, Matt explored San Francisco’s nascent network of craft beer hubs and turned their Russian Hill apartment into a bubbling home-brew lab, with late-night recipe experiments fueled by Bob Dylan, Za Pizza, and six-packs of Anchor Liberty. Little did he know, a fellow San Franciscan was concocting his own strange new brews just a few blocks away. This, of course, was Jim Woods. Their friendship began amid the aisles of City Beer Store, and was sealed smuggling beer-festival leftovers in the trunk of Jim’s Chrysler.

It was clear that Matt, Jim, and Bryant were not long for the 9-to-5 lifestyle. Bryant soon left his job to work in beer sales before opening his own brewery, Rhinegeist, in Cincinnati. Jim turned a home-brewed yerba mate IPA into Woods Beer Co. And Matt moved to the other side of his favorite bars, serving beer at the Blackhorse, Church Key, and City Beer Store. When Jim asked Matt to help him open Woods Beer’s first bar, the choice was clear, and Matt’s beer-world adventure became a full-fledged career.

Meanwhile, shifting winds were blowing through Matt’s life of food and drink. Wine had long been part of Matt’s upbringing — dinners at his grandparents, immigrants from Portugal, revolved around a cold bottle of vinho verde. And one day, after wandering into Terroir for a nightcap, wine would become more than just a family tradition. Like that fateful sip of Belgian beer years earlier, a taste of natural wine sparked a brand new adventure. Today, Matt helps produce an annual natural wine fair called Brumaire, with his friends Bradford Taylor (Ordinaire), Josh Eubank (Percy Selections) and Quinn Kimsey-White (Psychic Wines).

But beery waters run deep. Matt is still involved with Woods Beer Co., and excited to be a part of a company that values curiosity, adventure, and experimentation in the pursuit of a good time.

 

Sam Bennett

Head Brewer

City-born, mountain-bred, schooled in the classics and sparked by creativity, Bennett’s brewing story is one of worlds colliding, of study and serendipity — of books and butterflies.

Born outside Chicago, Bennett soon lit out for the Rockies, enrolling in Colorado State where he found a new home rippled in hiking trails and awash in beer. Far from the flat-topped land of Hamms, Colorado had a booming craft scene, and the school sourced local kegs for parties and events. Bennet was hooked. A thesis on public policy sat beer-stained and ignored as he spent his senior year home-brewing with a gifted from his encouraging mom.

Beers were brewed (passable, not perfect), a thesis was finished (ditto), and Bennett graduated, knowing he wanted to make something, but not sure what. Food? Culinary school and restaurant life seemed like too much time on his feet smoking cigarettes. He’d rather have a beer. Brewing school it was: the venerable Siebel Institute, back home in Chicago, where the city’s Midwestern pragmatism made an industrial education out of his home-brew hobby. Desks replaced kettles, equations replaced experimentation, books out-crowded beer glasses.

 And so on graduating, Bennett tucked away his calculator, laced up his hiking boots, and skipped town once more for wilder lands. He interned at Oxbow, a farmhouse brewery in the Maine woods, whose owner hoarded vintage Orval, gave Bennett his first taste of gose, and abhorred styles. It was perfect. His recipes went feral, inspired by the scents and flavors of the farm.

His next brewing job, now back in Colorado at Rock Bottom, hammered home the classics he was taught in school, and Bennett learned to temper his freewheeling, forest-inspired brews with the clean, crisp balance of GABF winners. 

Tending his kettles, mountains out the window, all was well, until a certain blue butterfly flitted its wings and new winds began to blow.

At a local vegan restaurant, Bennett tasted an unknown beer called Morpho, and couldn’t forget it. He scribbled the name into his phone (next to a note to check out the ABBA cover band who was playing), and tracked the beer to GABF, where he hovered around the Woods booth two years in a row. He eventually met Jim, who invited him to join the team.

Here, Bennett brews with his traditional roots replanted in fertile ground, inspired by the Bay, and excited to explore.