The old The Woods was a small taproom located in SODO, tucked away in a nice little nook within a rather large warehouse complex that stretches for about two blocks across. It was a quaint little space with a few tables inside and out, and could comfortably fit about 50 people, maybe. It was a perfect hangout for small groups of friends, though that didn’t stop large groups from successfully packing themselves in.
The rather larger cranny next door was a warehouse that the team was using to build a new taproom, one that would accommodate a kitchen, a game room, a larger patio, and dining. They seemed to be working on that taproom for weeks, and I always had the impression that they had a long way to go before they were ready to open to the public. But lo and behold, this new taproom was a passion project for them, and they worked hard to get that place up and running, and after six months, it got there.
The Woods is located right around the corner from the office where I work(ed), practically on the same property, so over other Friday (and sometimes Thursday [Tuesdays typically too (They’re unfortunately closed on Mondays)]) to hang out after work and wait for traffic to die down. One particular Wednesday I decided to head over to et a better idea of their new space. Was it going to be a newer bar? Is it going to be a proper restaurant? What’s the idea? What’s the plan? So I somehow managed to invite everyone I work with and took two precious minutes out of our day to walk over and check the place out. As it turned out, they had already opened their new taproom – kind of.
I walked over to get in line to wait ten minutes to grab a pint of my favorite IPA. When I tried to hand over my credit card, the bartender waved me off. “It’s on us brother,” and then walked away. I thought it was a joke, or maybe he was being especially nice to me. Though I didn’t understand why. I would consider myself an ok customer, but I’m not their best customer. But I took the three pints, took them back to my table, sat them down, and discovered that I had stupidly forgotten to order a drink for our new girl in the office. So my coworker and her got up to get back into line. (They didn’t pay for their drinks either.) That’s when I looked at the stack of stapled papers that I had grabbed from the bar along with my drinks.
As it turned out, I had accidentally walked into their VIP/Media preview night. They had an open bar, and there was a food truck right outside that I learned hours later were handing out free food. A taste of things to come, for the food truck was from Bread and Circus, who will be handling their kitchen in the near future (as of this writing, the kitchen is still in the works.) I got a chance to try out their sandwich and their burger, both of which remain true to the Northwest standard, which is fresh, local food, that’s full of flavor but doesn’t weigh you down.
At some point, Joel VandenBrink, the owner and founder, jumped on the bar to deliver a toast, thanking and congratulating everyone for their hard work and dedication to making the new taproom a reality. “This is the tasting room we’ve been dreaming of,” he said. He delivered his toast with a cool swagger to him, speaking lowly and slowly, yet there seemed to be a hint of humility, a certain shyness to his delivery.
The new The Woods is certainly a marvel to be seen. It is more than doubled in size to 2,800 square feet with a separate dining area that can also be used for private parties, and there is a game area, complete with a pool table, foosball, and shuffleboard. The bar itself is awe-inspiring. It’s meticulous in its design. The first thing I noticed about it is it’s symmetry, approaching the bar was almost like approaching an alter to pay respects.
Speaking of design, everything in the new taproom has an extremely unique design that’s unlike anything seen in any other bar. That’s not an accident. Everything in the new taproom is custom made, from the tables, the lamps hanging from the ceiling, the bar, and even the shuffleboard. The steel all came from Bloch Steel, a nearby company. The team at Two Beers Brewing carried all the steel and all the wood over to the new taproom and created everything by hand. There were many long days, I would assume. To commemorate their hard work, they created a new beer to honor them: “Blood Sweat and Beer.” I like to think I’m being funny when I tell people that it’s not actually made with sweat and blood, though I’m not sure their laughs are one hundred percent authentic. Perhaps they’re humoring me, but I do appreciate the courtesy giggles.
“Literally, twenty four hours ago we didn’t have power, or even a door,” Joel later said. “I’m in awe of this. We just wanted to create a space for people to come hang out after a hard day at work, to just be comfortable, wait for traffic to die down, and have a pint or two.”
Ah yes, I understand that sentiment perfectly.