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Menu Please: Dining and Drinks at Woody’s Brewing Company

The Brewers’ Journal Volume 34, published in 1909, said this about Shasta County beer: Kennett, Shasta County, Cal., is said to be the location of a new brewery to be erected by Portland, Ore., capitalists. We don’t know if this brewery paid off for the investors, but we do know it’s now underwater.

Earlier, the “Report of the State Agricultural Society, 1907-8” stated there was one brewery in Shasta County.  However, it should be noted that the same report also states “The climate is pleasant, not extremely hot in summer nor cold in winter” and “Irrigation is unnecessary for most crops… as the rainy season covers the entire growing season,”  so it is possible that the person charged with researching Shasta County’s report may have spent a large amount of time inside that brewery and gotten his information from the denizens thereof.

Fast forward 100+ years, we find the state of breweries in Northern California to be wildly popular and growing. Femme de Joie recalls a few false starts – the Redding Brewing Company, Kennett-Diamond, North Star – but a glance in the craft beer section of local stores shows many more success stories. Wildcard Brewing Company, Fall River Brewing Taphouse,  Etna Brewing Company, Dunsmuir Brewery Works, Lost Coast Brewery, and the Big Enchilada, the Capo di tutti capi of Northern California breweries – Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in Chico.

Add to that list Woody’s Brewing Company, which opened in early 2015 in the old Tapas location. While not strictly “downtown” – it’s a few blocks away from the old mall location (M. de Joie has a large amount of snark for the “Promenade” name) – Woody’s has certainly contributed to increased business and patronage in Redding’s downtown area.

M. de Joie and Amico del Signore visited when Woody’s first opened. They liked the beer but they weren’t certain they liked it enough to endure the noise factor. During busy times in the evening we had to shout at each other across a table to be heard, which didn’t help lower the noise and didn’t make for a pleasant evening out. However, lunchtimes are relatively peaceful, especially since sound baffles have been installed on the ceiling.

The menu is primarily food that goes with beer- burgers, large appetizers, lots of cheese. Service is friendly and knowledgeable, though it can be slow when Woody’s is busy.

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Smoked onion rings with honey-mustard dip, $6.99

The first few bites of these onion rings were delicious – a light smoky edge, crisp coating, piquant honey-mustard dipping sauce. As the rings cooled, though, they began to release superabundant amounts of oil.

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Squeeze one of the rings and the oil oozed out. The onion inside the batter began to lose its character and fuse to the flabby coating. After a beer or two, you might not notice so much, but it was impossible to deny the puddles gathering in the paper liner of the basket.

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The Woody Burger with house-made veggie patty plus side salad, $10.99

You can’t help but notice the giant hamburger bun on any of the burgers, and the burger looks small in comparison. But in fact the veggie burger was of a generous portion to match – it did fall apart like virtually every other veggie burger and was a bit on the goopy side, but had a pleasant nutty taste. Side salad was fresh and crisp. It made for a filling lunch.

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Cobb salad, $11.99

Cobb salad is one of those items that always looks good on the menu but often is a bit of a disappointment with skimpy amounts of indifferent toppings, but Woody’s version delivered – lots of flavorful blue cheese, avocados, bacon, grilled chicken and plenty of fresh greens underneath. All mixed together (as inevitably happens with a Cobb), the salad was pungently creamy with crisp bites.

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Fish and chips, $13.99

M. de Joie has to say this was the strangest looking fish and chips she’s ever been served. It looked rather like bread sticks than fish. Looks aren’t everything, though – this was not like bread sticks at all. It wasn’t particularly like fried fish, either. The interior was fish, to be sure; it was moist and tender and fully cooked. The exterior was flabby, soft, and without any seasoning whatsoever, so the effect was that of a warm, damp paper towel cuddling the hot fish wrapped inside it. There was a cup of sprightly cole slaw alongside as well as a portion of what the menu said was Remoulade sauce. It was unlike any Remoulade sauce Femme de Joie has ever tasted, oddly bitter and sour at the same time. Perhaps there was a tot of beer added to it; if so, she feels that was a grave mistake. There were also some of Woody’s fabled house-made tots (short for Tater Tots) which had a nice crunch but not a lot of personality – possibly because Woody’s encourages ordering them with a load of toppings.

M. de Joie liked the salads and burgers at Woody’s but felt they definitely need to work on their deep-frying (and deep-fried anything goes with beer).  Woody’s is a definite plus to downtown Redding. With a more casual ambiance than wine bars, non-franchise feel, attracting mixed crowds of hipsters, ladies who lunch, business and government employees, they seem to be filling (and perhaps helping to create) a niche market.  At least one other local brewery is slated to open a pub downtown so time will reveal whether the craft beer movement has legs in Redding. In the meantime, check out Woody’s.

Woody’s Brewing Company,1257 Oregon Street, Redding, CA 96001. 530-765-1034. Open Tuesday through Thursday, 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM, Friday and Saturday 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM, Sunday 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM. Closed Monday. Cards and cash; no checks. Beer (of course) and wine. Street parking. Vegetarian and vegan options. Website at www.woodysbrewing.biz or follow them on Facebook.

Femme de Joie

Femme de Joie's first culinary masterpiece was at age 4, when she made the perfect fried bologna sandwich on white bread. Since then she has dined on horse Bourguignon in France, stir-fried eel in London, and mystery meat in her college cafeteria, but firmly draws the line at eating rattlesnake, peppermint and Hamburger Helper. She lives in Shasta County at her country estate, Butterscotch Acres West. She is nearly always hungry. Visit MenuPlease for more or send her an email at femmedejoiefood@yahoo.com.

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