Twisted Manzanita “Witch’s Hair” Pumpkin Ale is 8.8% ABV.
I poured some of a 22 oz bottle into a Belgian ale glass.
Appearance: A careful pour with a splash at the end put up about a finger of light tan/grey head, which slowly dissapeared to just a light dollop on top of the beer. The color is a very deep red/orange, with some cloudiness. Really rich looking color. This looks to have mild to moderate carbonation.
Smell: Up front I get strong warm spicing with prominent clove, as well as what seems to be some cinnamon and nutmeg. Really nice spice profile. There is also some strong roasty pumpkin with some vegetal qualities, some light brown sugar and some caramel, as well as a slight sourness. The pumpkin really does have that roasty quality, almost like some beers I know that use butternut squash instead of pumpkin. The spice gives this a kind of woody aroma, which is perfectly inviting. Very nice aroma.
Taste: This tastes quite similar to how it smells, with really nice spicing of clove and some of the other pumpkin pie spices- cinnamon adn nutmeg. This does a little more of a sour tinge to it than I was expecting, and a bit more booze. Even so it bursts with flavor. The pumpkin is on the roasty side, with some vegetal components. And this beer almost tastes like it has pumpkin seeds that were used as part of it. Really interesting. On top of the strong spiciness is a great amount of sweetness, as from brown sugar. This hangs out more towards the still-sweet finish, leading to an aftertaste with the spice gaining clearer focus. Really enjoyable flavors here.
Feel: This has a medium plus body, with moderate carbonation. It has a bit of a boozy bite, and a bit of intensity with the strong sweetness and the strong spice of clove. So a real waking up of the palate.
Drinkability: This is not your incredibly drinkable pumpkin beer. This is your drink it with a hearty turkey dinner, something you could enjoy with some fall food. The intense spice, sweetness, and boozy bite are great, but hold it back a bit here.
Overall: I say this beer is nice. I love the warmth of the spices and the roasty character of the pumpkin. The spice profile is powerful. It reminds me of a more clove-heavy and perhaps more complex spice profile than Weyerbacher’s Imperial Pumpkin, which has just a great spice profile. So great marks there. The heavy sweetness is not ideal for my palate, but is not detracting too much for this beer. This is a great one to try.
Overall Rating: ***1/2
About Twisted Manzanita and their offering: Twisted Manzanita Ales and Spirits is located in San Diego, California. They opened in 2010, and like Dogfish Head, also have a distillery component to their operations.
This beer sits at 8.8%, and is made from real pumpkins and a spice blend of cinnamon, clove, ginger, and nutmeg. They also note than brown sugar and vanilla are used in the brewing process, making this beer one of their “fan favorites”.