It’s Black Friday and my wife and I had a major decision to make. Go Christmas shopping or visit Redding’s newest microbrewery, Wildcard Brewing? Needless and happily to say, we both would rather lift a glass or two with friends than fight the crowds shopping. What a great decision.
The place was packed and we were able to visit and share a pint with friends that we don’t see often. The pilot brewery is located at this facility but the beers are actually brewed at Santa Cruz Ale Works. Both my wife and I had a chance to speak with the owner Jeff Hansen, who with his wife Jenny, are the proud owners.
The taproom was divided into three sections. The bar was facing the door with pub tables and chairs in one area. There was a larger room to the left and a smaller one to the right. Not a lot of atmosphere, but a nice place to enjoy some decent craft beer. Luckily I was able to talk them into a sampler tray.
Suicide Jack Cream Ale
Clean crisp aroma low in both malt and hops. Neither hops nor the malt dominate. The color was yellow straw color. Low bodied, clean, crisp, smooth and refreshing, although I noticed something just a little off in the flavor. Perhaps a bit of aging is all it needs. Brewed with California grown barley and certified organic hops form Lake County, this is a great introduction beer to someone new to craft beers. This offering pretty much nails the guidelines for this style.
4.5 % ABV, IBU’s 20
A very mild aroma with a slight malt sweetness with low hop with just a touch of clove and banana. Instead of the typical wheat yeast, Jeff used his house ale strain but fermented at a slightly elevated temperature. This created an interesting complexity. The body was moderate with a smooth, enlivening and complex flavor mouthfeel. I am sure I will have another Whiskeytown Wheat and enjoy it as much as I did this sample.
5.3% ABV, IBU’s 20
Liars Dice IPA
An assertive hop aroma with citrus and grapefruit notes with little to no malt. Medium light body with a satisfying up front hop bitterness. This balances well with the malt although the bitterness does linger, and is a bit astringent. This beer will improve with age.
ABV 6.5%, IBU’s 50
Double Down Imperial Red
Both hops and malt were prominent in the aroma with grapefruit and citrus notes. Reddish color. Full bodied, malty with a noticeable but not overpowering alcohol warmth. The moderately aggressive hop bitterness balanced well with the malt, and unlike Liars Dice IPA, did not linger and there was no astringency. In my humble opinion this is Wildcards best offering. This opinion was shared by my home brewing drinking partners. I will definitely have another Double Down Imperial Red.
ABV 7.5 %, IBU’s 40
A gratifyingly moderately strong roasted malt aroma with low hop notes. Dark in color with ruby highlights. Medium bodied with a pleasing roasted malt bitterness, with hints of chocolate and coffee. Although there was low hop in the aroma there was some hop bitterness in the flavor. Overall this was a decent quaffable American stout.
6.2 % ABV, IBU’s 35
It’s wonderful and exciting to finally have a microbrewery in Redding again. It’s great that they incorporated a couple of our local names in their beer. It helps give a northern California flair. I look forward to Wildcard’s future offerings and hope they are very successful in their venture. I’m sure they will only improve with experience. I have been to a lot of more established breweries in my travels that did not have beers as good as the ones I enjoyed at Wildcard. I shall return.
9565 Crossroad Dr.
Redding, CA. 96003
Don Williams has been a home brewer since 2002. He is a recognized BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) judge, and has taught brewing classes. Don’s job requires extensive travel, and he enjoys visiting brew pubs in various parts of the country. He and his wife live in Cottonwood, CA.