San Diego Brewed is sponsored by Bottlecraft.

Bottlecraft is a retail shop and tasting room in Little Italy showcasing local, domestic and international craft beers. They offer hundreds of beers for your enjoyment in their onsite tasting room or to-go, as well as daily beer flights, events, glassware, merchandise, and gifts. Open Noon-10pm seven days a week. 2161 India Street, San Diego, CA 92101.

Manzanita Brewing Company Witches Hair Pumpkin AleLast year, just a few short months into Manzanita Brewing Company’s existence they brewed a pumpkin beer. It wasn’t bottled and was sold only as growler fills and on draft in the tasting room (and a few select accounts). Last year Garry Pittman at Manzanita told me that the first keg they tapped was dry within 7 hours, I picked up a growler at the time and was impressed, in fact it might have been my favorite pumpkin beer out of all those I tasted last year. With all that in mind I jumped at the chance to try it again this year.

Now it’s called Witches Hair Pumpkin Ale and is being bottled in 22oz bottles for the first time this year but unfortunately I wasn’t nearly as impressed with it as I was last year and I’m left with a question: how old was the beer I drank? After I bought it I noticed in the small print on the label that it says “2010 Edition.” Unless that was a typo I’m left to believe that this beer is about a year old. Witches Hair is a fairly big beer, the label lists it at 8.8% ABV, and many higher alcohol beers will age ok for a year or two, but in my opinion this one didn’t.

The smell didn’t give anything away about how the beer might taste, pumpkin pie spices were abundant just like I expected. But upon first taste things weren’t so good. The carbonation was extremely low, not entirely flat but close to it. This lack of carbonation caused the beer to feel extremely thick, syrupy and cloyingly sweet. It seemed more boozy than I remember it, which could be another effect of the low carbonation, but I would have expected the alcohol flavors to mellow with age, not increase.

I’m hoping this was just a bad bottle, maybe it didn’t get properly carbonated or sealed? I’ll certainly be looking for a 2011 bottle to try the beer fresh again as it was one of my favorite pumpkin beers from last year.

There are some people out there that might like this beer, but I’m not one of them. If you’re a fun of pumpkin beers it’s worth a shot. I on the other hand will be out looking for a bottle of the 2011 edition.