When Redwood City resident and beer enthusiast Jason Simpson decided to open a brewery, he was determined to do it in his city despite a lack of available space and an unforgiving real estate market.
“It would’ve been cheaper to go to the East Bay or north or south of here, but it was critical for us to stay in Redwood City, it’s where our families are,” he said.
Simpson and his partners — Mike Hedlund, Chris Merlo and brewer Tommy Domingo — opened Ghostwood Brewery in September at 965 Brewster Ave., a space previously occupied by Backyard Coffee.
“We used to go to Backyard Coffee a lot. They lost their lease and we heard about it on social media and jumped on it,” Simpson said. “We wanted to make sure if they’re gone it’ll be replaced by something people are still proud of that’s part of Redwood City.”
Simpson described the place as a “community brewery” and the name “Ghostwood” pays homage to all the trees that were chopped down back when Redwood City was a logging town.
The taproom features a rotating menu of six beers that are all brewed at a separate facility just minutes away.
So far, a beer that Simpson described as a milkshake IPA is their most popular. The latest batch was made with peaches from Country Rhodes Farm in Visalia and Madagascar vanilla beans.
“People who think IPAs are too hoppy and bitter gravitate to it,” Simpson said.
Also on tap is an unfiltered West Coast IPA, a breakfast stout made with Highnote coffee, a Woodside-based company, and a pink IPA made with dragonfruit. Proceeds from that beer were donated to support breast cancer awareness and Simpson said the business will increasingly give back to local organizations and causes.
Ghostwood’s beers are always evolving. The milkshake IPA, for example, might be a little stronger in terms of alcohol content or perhaps made with a different fruit the next time it’s brewed.
“We haven’t made a beer yet that’s like ‘frame it, this beer is done,’” Simpson said. “That’s what’s awesome about this industry is everyone is trying to get to something perfect that they’ll never get to, and that makes it fun for the consumer too, that things are always changing.”
The four co-founders have all known each other for some time, and met through beer.
“One day we were chatting over beer and bemoaning the beer we were drinking and we said one thing we can do to change this is have our own brewery and brew our own beer,” Simpson said. “We opened this brewery to make beers we want and we’re hoping others agree.”
Simpson, who also works in the tech industry, said he originally got hooked on Belgium beer to the point that he’d travel to that country to sample beers from the source. And before craft breweries become a phenomenon, he’d have specialty beers shipped to him from around the world.
“That’s what it was like drinking craft beer 10 to 15 years ago,” he said. “Now every town has a craft brewery and they’re all neighborhood establishments.”
Ghostwood is housed in a 3,000-square-foot building, but is currently only using half of that space. Simpson said the taproom will likely double in size within the next year.
The taproom is open daily and outside food is allowed.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 102