For years my neighbors in the little community of Pinar de la Venta – located eight kilometers west of Guadalajara – have enjoyed a series of events called Jazz in the Woods: good music, good company, good food and drink, all organized by a friend named Michael Boudey, who was born in France.
When I recently came upon an ad for a new enterprise called Beer in the Woods, I immediately suspected Boudey must be behind it and gave him a call.
“Hello, vieille branche,” what is Beer in the Woods?”
“Mon cher ami, if you want to find out what we are, come and visit our bodega. It’s just down the hill from where you live,” replied Boudey.
I always thought a bodega was a warehouse, but this was something else: a cheery place with a bar and a huge screen showing video clips of local jazz bands.
“Welcome to Beer in the Woods,” said Boudey, as he greeted me along with his partner, Francisco “Paco” Aureliano.
“We make beer here but we are not a commercial brewery,” Boudey told me. “Every 15 or 20 days we create a new brew and we never repeat ourselves. So we have made 70 different beers since the beginning of this year. Because we are a lab, not a commercial brewery, we never make the same beer twice. A commercial brewer is focused on volume, but we focus on creating a recipe, which means, of course, that we keep very detailed records of every new brew we create.”
I finally understood that my friends design craft beers for restaurants, bars and hotels, tailored to their menus and their clients.
“The owner of that restaurant or bar attends one of our workshops,” explained Boudey. “He learns by doing. He literally sweats and pees the beer that he thinks is perfect for his customers, the one that he chooses: his beer. We accompany him in every step of this process. There’s a story behind that beer he chooses: we design it, but he participates every step of the way. That beer tells his story; it expresses his gusto.”