Rob and Laina McFerren opened Wolf Creek Restaurant and Brewing Company (WCRB) in 1997 and there are currently three locations you can visit: 1) Santa Clarita, CA – The original Wolf Creek; 2) Valencia, CA – Location of The Tasting Room at Wolf Creek Brewery, and 3) Calabasas, CA – Wolf Creek’s newest location. Rob McFerren is the master brewer. In 2008, local businessman Darren Utley approached the McFerren’s about forming a new partnership, with the goal of growing the Wolf Creek concept. After discovering they shared common values and business philosophies, the three of them formed WCRB with the goal of opening additional restaurants. My wife and I recently visited the Santa Clarita location, stopping for lunch and beer on our way to northern California. The restaurant and brewery were casual, friendly, and relaxing. As we sat down, we couldn’t help but notice that the back of the bar area was lined with numerous ceramic mugs that had been individually decorated. Our server informed us that regular patrons decorate their own personal mugs to use while drinking beer.
When we visited there were six Wolf Creek beers being offered, with a seventh beer coming on-line within the hour. The beers were 1) Golden Eagle American Golden Ale – Multi-award winning blonde ale and winner of the Silver Medal at the L.A. County Fair; 2) Dogtown Dunkelweizen – a Bavarian dark wheat beer made with German Hallertau hops; 3) Little Red Ryeding Hood – Wolf Creek’s West-style Red Ale brewed with Rye Malt, Cascade hops, and dry-hopped with Falconer’s 7C’s; 4) Surfin’ Monks – Winner of a Bronze Medal at the L.A. County Fair, this So-Cal Belgian-style Triple Ale is brewed with Belgian candi syrup, dried sweet orange peel, cumin, Falconer’s Flight American hops, and Belgian yeast; 5) Desperado India Pale Ale (IPA) – an American style IPA brewed with Cascade, Amarillo, Chinook, Centennial, and Columbus hops; 6) Midnight Howl Black IPA – Made with Columbus and Simcoe hops, this beer is a blend of IPA and stout; and 7) Hopdazed Imperial IPA – Brewed with Chinook, Amarillo, and Centennial hops, Wolf Creek’s Hopdazed is a West Coast-style Imperial IPA that’s brewed with an extreme amount of malt and balanced by an extreme amount of hops for big citrus hop flavor and lots of bitterness. Here are my tasting notes.
Golden Eagle American Golden Ale (4.5% ABV / 25 IBUs): Golden Eagle pours a hazy orange-gold color with white foam head and tiny bubbles. The beer leaves a nice lace down the side of the glass. Golden Eagle has a sweet malt aroma with a slight floral and citrus peel bouquet from using Cascade hops. The beer is light-bodied with mild carbonation on the palate. Golden Eagle has a mild sweet malt and straw/hay flavor with subtly integrated hops bitterness at the finish (from Northern Brewer hops). This is a straight-forward, easy drinking, and tasty session beer that demonstrates skill and care in brewing.
Dogtown Dunkelweizen Bavarian Dark Wheat (6.3% ABV / 16 IBUs): Dogtown pours a hazy coffee-brown color with tan foam head. The beer has a sweet roasted malt and caramel aroma. Dogtown is medium-bodied with mild carbonation on the palate. Dogtown tastes of sweet caramel, followed by hints of banana and dark chocolate. The beer has a sweet finish with mild hops bitterness. This is a very good beer with a complex, integrated array of flavors.
Little Red Ryeding Hood (6.4% ABV / 41 IBUs): This West-style Red Ale, brewed with rye malt, pours a clear amber-red color with a tan foam head. Little Red Ryeding Hood has an aroma rye and malt with a floral, tropical fruit, and citrus zest bouquet. The beer is medium-bodied with a delightful mild, prickly sensation of carbonation on the palate. Little Red provides rich rye and malt flavors up front followed by caramel and toffee in the middle. The beer has a nice peppery spice finish with medium hop bitterness. I’d travel over the river and through the woods to enjoy this wonderfully assertive and delicious brew!
Surfin’ Monks So-Cal Belgian-style Triple Ale (9.0% ABV / 50 IBUs): This beer pours a hazy amber-gold color with white foam head of tiny bubbles. Surfin’ Monks has a sweet malt aroma with an orange peel and cumin bouquet. The beer is medium-bodied with mild but active carbonation on the palate. Surfin’ Monk has a sweet malt and candied caramel up front flavor that you can tell was brewed with Belgian yeast. The initial flavor is followed by orange peel zest and then finishes with earthy cumin. I was expecting and hoping for a more assertive finish to include a little peppery spice and more noticeable hops bitterness. Overall I thought that Surfin’ Monks was a very good Belgian-style Triple that starts great but finishes with a little less religion than I had hoped.
Desperado IPA (6.8% ABV / 70 IBUs): Desperado pours a hazy gold color with white foam. Desperado has a malty aroma with floral, pine resin, and grapefruit bouquet. The beer is medium-bodied with mild carbonation. Upon tasting, Desperado has an assertive flavor of hops bitterness that is followed with strong malt bread and earthy hay. The beer has a mildly dry finish with lingering mild bitterness. This is a delicious IPA whose flavor profile is more like an east coast IPA.
Midnight Howl Black IPA (8.5% ABV / 67 IBUs): Midnight Howl pours a very dark brown color with thick tan foam consisting of tiny bubbles. The beer left a nice lace. Dark roasted malt, char and coffee aromas were assertive with a floral and citrus bouquet. Midnight Howl is medium-bodied with low carbonation. The beer provides flavors of sweet caramel and toffee malt, coffee, dark chocolate, and cocoa. Midnight Howl has a crisp, dry finish with distinctive hops bitterness and lingering dark chocolate. This is a good beer that is deceptively easy to drink. After a few, you may howl at the moon too.
Hopdazed Imperial IPA (9.5% ABV / 100 IBUs): Fortunately for me Hopdazed came on-line in time to taste and enjoy. Hopdazed pours a copper color with off-white foam of tiny bubbles. The beer left a nice lace. Hopdazed has a malt aroma with floral and citrus hops bouquet. The beer is medium-bodied with mild carbonation on the palate. Hopdazed has an assertive up-front taste of hops bitterness followed by sweet caramel and bread malt and hints of banana. The beer has a dry and spicy finish. The alcohol is well-integrated. Hopdazed is delicious and easy to drink!
Overall I had a wonderful time at Wolf Creek Restaurant and Brewery in Santa Clarita and I definitely recommend stopping at this beer oasis if you are ever in the region. Bottled beers are not available but you can get a growler filled.
I want to thank assistant brewer Ben for providing insights into the beers served. I also want to thank my lovely wife for supporting our visit and acting as the designated driver as we left.