MateVeza IPA, Dark Lager, Morpho
Dolores Park has a new, strangely delicious neighbor. I don’t know if you’ve noticed MateVeza’s organic brews scattered among the city’s favorite places to pick up a six-pack (they’re all over Whole Foods, BevMo, and Rainbow Grocery), but now you can find it bottled and on tap at their new brewpub on 18th and Church, Cervecería de MateVeza.
The mastermind behind the yerba mate/beer hybrid, Jim Woods, showed me around the restaurant and brewery, which just opened its doors to thirsty park-dwellers about two weeks ago, on Saturday, April 7th. Along with three types of MateVeza original beers and other locals on draft (like Magnolia and Moonlight), they offer more than 100 bottled brews from around the world – perfect for some boozy sunbathing in Dolores only a stone’s throw away. It’s quite a variety – they even have a specialty Italian beer that runs for $18 per 12 oz. bottle. Crazy, right?
The idea for the caffeinated creation came as a twist of fate – Woods, a mate enthusiast, coincidentally followed a sip of the grassy beverage with a sip of beer and the rest was history. He developed MateVeza’s flagship suds, the pale ale, and began crafting at an organic brewery in Chico to bring the Bay Area a taste of the first mate beer ever created – made with local ingredients (except for the yerba mate, which is from Argentina.) Now that people are starting to notice Woods’ unique creation, they’ve expanded production to a partner brewery in Mendocino, to supplement the harvest from their 20-gallon, copper brewing kettles on site (which is a rare and uber-authentic brewing method, apparently).
They’ve got a hop-forward IPA (it backs off on the bitterness because the mate provides an earthy bite), a black lager (that’s lighter in taste than most dark brews, and the most mate-heavy of the three), and an experimental cerveza called Morpho (which is brewed with mate, bay leaf, and hibiscus. It’s hop-free and unexpectedly fruity.) If you’re not a fan of yerba mate, you'll like Morpho best, as the earthy flavor is very subtle.
To stick with yerba mate’s Argentinean roots, the Cervecería also serves freshly baked empanadas (both meaty and vegetarian) crafted by El Porteño, SF’s well-loved, traveling empanadaria. They source all their ingredients locally, of course, and MateVeza is working on offering vegan and gluten-free versions of the flaky pockets of goodness in the future.
The Cervecería was welcomed with lots of neighborhood support, although it’s located on a pretty “contentious corner,” as Woods put it (alcohol in such close proximity to the park makes some city dwellers nervous). But the city saw passion for what they do and for their product, and things look like they’re off to a creatively mouth-watering start. So stop by the brewpub and order a humita empanada and a mate-infused IPA or three. Mmm.
Photos by Emily Turner