Once Upon A Brew Pub – Wildcard Brewing

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

Whiskeytown Wheat

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

Sundial Stout

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.

Wildcard Brewing
9565 Crossroad Dr.
Redding, CA. 96003
(530) 722-9239

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.

Don Williams
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 enjoys visiting brew pubs in various parts of the country. He and his wife live in Kalispell, Montana.
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7 Responses

  1. Avatar name says:

    Thank you for the detailed review. Good to have a local brewery back in town. They should do well as long as the beer is good.

    • don williams don williams says:

      Give the place a try I don't think you will be disappointed. They have released a porter, although I have not tried it yet the word is it's excellent.

      • Avatar Victor Hnyp says:

        Don,

        I could not agree with you more on your assesment of Wildcard's beers. The Jeff and his wife are amazing people, and I know that they will thrive in Redding. Three "Cheers" for what you call the latest (and I call the ONLY!) brewery in Redding. The small nits you had to pick with their beers will definitely be worked out – I have no doubt of this!

        • don williams don williams says:

          Victor

          Thank you, there are always small or in the case of my beer large nits to pick. That's how we improve and everyone does have different tastes.

          na dravje

  2. Avatar Richard says:

    Wishing Jeff and Jenny Much success!…..I can appreciate this venture being a former home brewer with found memories of Sierra Nevada. I remember Sierra's small, old facility in Chico….it's all about the "Quality"…..quality and price….. if you brew it….and put your Passion into it….they will come…..if the prices are right and the quality is there….they will return…..

    All the best!

    Regards

    Richard

  3. Avatar Hal Johnson says:

    I've only been to Wildcard four times, but I love the place. Some folks will focus on the negatives, I suppose. It's off the beaten path. The decor is rather spartan. There is no music, nor food (except for their well-received "Food Truck Fridays"), and they could use more seating. But to me, it all adds to the charm of the place. Jeff and Jenny offer a great product, they have a cool customer base already, and heck, I prefer to stand when I drink their great porter anyway. Gobs of luck to you both, Jeff and Jenny.

    • don williams don williams says:

      Hal

      I did stop by to try their porter and I thought it was great. If you want BYOF (bring your own food) When I spoke to them it sounded like they would have no problem with that. And I also wish them all the luck and look forward to Wildcards next offering.