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Local Libations: Manzanita Brewery – Witch’s Hair

2011 October 28

By Brianna Bain

San Diego, CA – Halloween and San Diego Beer Week are just around the corner. So in the spirit of both I have decided to review a San Diego local Pumpkin brew – local and Halloween/Fall centric to hit all the marks on our always local, always seasonal Relay, passing the spicy blend of last week’s Celebes Dream – Spiced Rum Cocktail. In my research for a California pumpkin ale I did run across the most popular “America’s Original Pumpkin Ale,” from Buffalo Bills Brewery but it just didn’t blow my whistle, if you know what I mean. I was in search of something different… something Witchy…

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Recently, I visited a local bar and supper club in my neighborhood, the Rivera Supper Club -  a DIY steak house with a central public grill and a rock’n retro bar called the Turquoise Room. It was there that I came across a delicious local beer on tap from Manzanita Brewery. I naturally inquired if they had a tasting room and found they had more than I expected. Located directly off their unassuming business park facilities in Santee, CA, I stopped in for a tasting and found the most pleasant surprise.

Pumpkin Ale was all I was really looking for but, what I got was a welcome home greeting and a Cheer’s-esque feeling atmosphere – where everyone did know your name, and a flow of good tasting brew that never failed to impress my senses. I went for the 5 dollar taster and did my due diligence to fully examine what this brewery had to offer. There was something for everyone I’d say. Light, dark , malty, sweet, strong, and hoppy. There wasn’t a beer I didn’t like. Honest! My favorite was a toss up between the Rustic Horizon and the Gillespie. But what I came for was their local Pumpkin Ale and Pumpkin Ale they had.While not on tap I was able to buy a bottle and take it home to enjoy in front of the fire on a cool Autumn eve.

What I loved first about Manzanita’s Pumpkin Ale was its name: Witch’s Hair. Second was its taste, a thick witchy brew you might imagine in a black iron caldron with floating eyeballs and slithery serpents. It’s not like any other Pumpkin Ale I’ve tried. It’s Pumpkin without being that annoying Pumpkin Ale we all know – clear, watery, spiced and unexciting. Witch’s Hair is special and it takes a certain beer lover to appreciate it. If you are a light beer fan you will most likely not appreciate this dense brew. It is very reminiscent of the pumpkin pie filling we all know and love. It is unique, not too sweet, not over spiced, it’s creamy, thick and mild. I brought my bottle to a party to share; the reviews were mixed, just as I  had expected. I’m a versatile beer lover who can usually find something to like about any beer I drink. I enjoyed Witch’s Hair. It’s a holiday drink for sure – something you ritualistically  drink to lure the Halloween spirits and give your taste buds a reminder of what else there is out there.

While a great Local Libation  – no doubt, this seasonal brew could also serve as an excellent kitchen companion, which we love here at RecipeRelay! I can imagine this beer in recipes such as pumpkin bratwurst stew or a Fall roast with root veggies. Either way you enjoy this tasty San Diego Local brew it is a treat that takes you away to relish the details of the cool Autumn glow of the season.

Hope this Fall season get’s you out and tasting some new and interesting brews!

If you are in the San Diego area be sure to drop by the Manzanita Brewery – have a taster, buy a pint, or fill a growler!

- Brianna