Woody's Brewing Co.
By Jon Lewis
Photo by Tim McBroome
Andrew Wlodarczyk is proud of his Polish heritage, but he also knows his surname (pronounced Wud-R-Zick) can be a mouthful. So, when it came time to name his business, he settled on Woody’s.
That happens to be the nickname he was tagged with early in life, but it has a friendly ring to it, and it keeps with the friendly vibe that surrounds Woody’s Brewing Co., the brewpub that has called downtown Redding home for more than a year.
Andrew, 30, is front and center in the business, but a couple of other Wlodarczyks play big parts in the operation. Uncle Pat, a Reno resident who started brewing beer 32 years ago, is the brewmaster for Woody’s; Andrew’s father, Scott, who has had a long career in beer and wine distribution, serves as the sales and marketing director.
It’s a triple threat, Andrew says. “I have a brewer who is scientific and creative, a marketer who is business savvy and me, who loves to do the research.”
Growing up with a dad in the beer business had Andrew thinking about running a microbrewery when he was just 16 or 17. He correctly identified it as a growing industry and even asked his dad about it, “but the timing wasn’t right … but I knew this was something I wanted to do,” Andrew says.
Andrew’s interest in craft beer continued to, ahem, brew, and the heat was turned up a few years later when Uncle Pat passed down his original brew kettle for Andrew to experiment with. That’s about when he began to realize that his uncle had become an expert home brewer and that his dad (who has long been active with the Shasta Society of Brewers and used to make beer with brewing pioneer Pete Slosberg of Pete’s Wicked Ale fame) was no slouch, either.
Then he discovered that both dad and uncle shared his dream of starting a microbrewery.
Dreams are one thing; the realities of business and the marketplace are another. There’s a reason three microbreweries have opened and closed in the Redding area in the past dozen years. Andrew knew he needed a solid footing if his dream was going to become a viable business.
A degree in business management from Chico State University gave Andrew a foundation, and then there was another year hammering out a business plan. A lot of people told him it would take twice as long as he planned, and, Andrew says with a grin, they were right, but on Jan. 1, 2015, Woody’s Brewing Company opened its doors in the former Tapas Downtown building on Oregon Street.
Fine-tuning that business plan also included deciding what style of beer to serve, while keeping in mind that a fair amount of Woody’s customers are somewhat new to the craft beer world. Pat says he has a passion for traditional German and English ales and lagers while Andrew notes that the North State’s hot summers have created a lot of light beer fans.
Woody’s settled on a hoppy double IPA (India Pale Ale) called Berserker; popular amber ale called Teacher’s Pet; a light wheat ale called Woody’s Wheat I; a brown ale called Nutty Woody; and a refreshing style called Apricot Wheat.
All five styles, and frequent seasonal offerings, were brewed at Lassen Ale Works in Susanville while progress—fitfully at times—continued on the planning, engineering, permitting and installation of Woody’s on-site 10-barrel (20 keg) brewery. The Wlodarczyks also whip up special “buzz tap” batches of more unique beers in a small one-barrel system.
When everything is in place, including the four serving tanks that allow Woody’s to bypass kegs and pour the freshest beer possible, the brewpub will routinely offer 16 styles on tap. Look for a dunkelweizen (dark wheat), a schwarzbier (dark lager), a pilsner, a West Coast-style session IPA, a pale ale, a hard cider and a black barleywine. “And I’m still fighting for more,” Pat says.
“Right now we’re really trying to show the drinkability of our beer,” Andrew says. “We’ll always keep our easier-to-drink beers on tap. We know our market.”
Another consideration, Scott says, was the need to pair beer styles with offerings from the menu. On the restaurant side of the ledger, Woody’s aims for comfort food staples like burgers, fish & chips and the now-famous tots as well as a rotating slate of specials that allow head chef George Mellor to spread his creative wings a bit.
The partners started off envisioning an establishment that focused on craft beer while offering customers something to eat “and it turned into a food place that serves beer,” Scott says.
Karen McLeod, a waitress with 33 years of experience who has been at Woody’s since the start, says her customers appreciate the Wlodarczyk’s attention to detail and the relaxed family-friendly feel of the place. Most telling, she says, are the number of diners who respond to word-of-mouth advertising and quickly become repeat customers.
Neil Petersen spends his days behind the bar, filling 64-ounce growlers, serving up pints and pouring sampler flights. “It’s been a blast,” he says. “I’m super excited to begin brewing. I think a brewpub helps revitalize downtown.”
Woody’s Brewing Company • 1257 Oregon St., Redding
(530) 768-1034 • www.woodysbrewing.biz
Hours: 11am to 10pm Tuesday-Thursday,
11am to 11pm Friday-Saturday, 11am to 9pm Sunday