Wildcard Brewing Company in Redding
● By Patrick John
By Patrick John
JEFF HANSEN HAS THE TASK of helping create recipes for some of the North State’s favorite brews. As co-founder and brewmaster of Redding’s Wildcard Brewing Company, he and wife Jenny have also discovered the recipe for business success.
The pair met at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and their shared love of microbrews, plus the fact they ended up working crazy opposite hours, spurred a life change to pursue brewing. After moving to the U.K. so Jeff could study brewing science, then a two-year stint working for a brewery in Washington state, the couple returned in 2012
to the friends and family where Jeff had grown
up. A West Valley High School graduate from Cottonwood, it made sense to set sights on Redding, a beer-loving area that at the time had no real brew pubs or production breweries.
Using their life savings, plus money cobbled from friends and family, Jeff and Jenny opened their first Wildcard tap room on Crossroads Drive in East Redding in November 2012. The facility is also their production site. Their first batch was a mere 20 gallons of Shot in the Dark oatmeal porter, and they opened the doors with four beers on tap. A year later, and growing strong, they gained the trust of the bank, and were able to secure a small business loan to add brewing equipment and employees, plus develop plans to expand.
Fast forward to New Year’s Eve 2015. Wildcard Brewing Company’s Tied House opened at 1321 Butte St. in downtown Redding. The Tied House features 10 beers on tap with a rotating lineup. The goal is to always have something for each beer lover’s palate, whether a local favorite or something new. Using their state-of-the-art Italian-made brewing system, Wildcard created 52 different beers and produced more than 4,000 kegs in 2017. They also were named the Downtown Redding Business of the Year in 2017 and were one of just 14 U.S. businesses invited to make a presentation to Congress at the 2017 Small Business Development Center reception in the nation’s Capitol.
The microbrew landscape has changed since Wildcard opened, and they now share the local brew pub microcosm with several other brewing companies, including Woody’s, Final Draft and Fall River. Not only are they thrilled for other successful brew pubs, but the Hansens regularly visit to socialize and sample other local beers.
In addition, the pair have a huge sense of appreciation and thanks for the local community that fueled their success. Wildcard hosts numerous fundraisers each year, including each spring’s “Pints for a Purpose” event. Every Thursday for a month, guest bartenders work their magic on bringing in the crowds, with proceeds donated to the bartender’s favorite charity.
So, what’s next for Wildcard Brewing Company? The Hansens will continue to balance their family life(daughter Blaire and son Lance, 7 and 4 years old) with their dream, and continue to grow the Wildcard name. What started as a two-person brewing operation has expanded to 10 employees. That employment number will climb again after Wildcard opens a third location this spring in the Bay Area city of Albany. Ideas are also churning about additional tap rooms in the region. For now, see you for a pint at the Tied House! •