The story of Woods Beer began with an averted disaster. Founder Jim Woods's brewing career was nearly shattered — literally — before beer saved the day.
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 added 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 used 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. Woods is a proud member of California’s inspiring community of makers, chefs, artists, and business owners, and takes its inspiration from brewing history, local ingredients, and the Bay’s unique creative spirit. Woods beers reflect their home, and so do Woods bars. Woods Beer is available at five locations around the Bay, each one a unique reflection of its neighborhood. Stop by to join us on our next adventure!