Gillespie Brown Ale
Twisted Manzanita Ales

Gillespie Brown AleGillespie Brown Ale
Write a Review
Beer Geek Stats: | Print Shelf Talker
Brown Ale - American
3.61 | pDev: 15.79%
Twisted Manzanita Ales
California, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Gillespie Brown AleGillespie Brown Ale
Notes: Gold Medal - 2012 San Diego International Beer Festival: American-Style Brown Ale
Reviews: 24 | Ratings: 66 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Tone
Tone from Missouri

4.24/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a clear, brown color. 1/3 inch head of an off-tan color. Good retention and great lacing. Smells of strong alcohol, sweet malt, hops, hint of roasted malt, wood, hint of liquor, and a hint of pine. Fits the style of an American Brown Ale. Mouth feel is smooth and clean, with an average carbonation level. Tastes of strong alcohol, strong sweet malt, slight wood, hops, hint of liquor, hint of pine, and a hint of roasted malt. Overall, good appearance, distinct aroma and body, and great blend.

Feb 13, 2016
Photo of zeff80
zeff80 from Missouri

3.83/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle. Poured a clear, brown color with a small, khaki colored head of foam. Aromas of caramel, toffee and bread crust with a touch of piney hops. Sweet caramel and toffee taste with a touch of nuttiness & mild bitterness.

Jan 19, 2016
Photo of Suds
Suds from Missouri

2.96/5  rDev -18%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

From a 12 ounce can, the beer is intensely dark brown. Intensely roasted...almost burnt...with a boozy background. Full and bitter...spicy, with a scorched character. Malt is underneath, but this really is more of a high alcohol, highly roasted brown ale. Forgettable.

Dec 13, 2015
Photo of anon
anon from California

2.89/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 2.25 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Picked this one up as it seemed intriguing and tasty as the billing states a brown ale that is rich, toasty with chocolate maltiness. Listed as 8.3% ABV on the bottle.

Pours a deep dark brown, almost black, with virtually no head and lacing that is almost non-existent. No dates at all on the bottle so I've no idea how fresh this is, but its local so I figured it would be. Or this this just how it is? Very light carbonation. Almost flat. Unnapealing.

Smell is very caramel-forward with light malt notes, but I really can't pick up much else, and I tried.

Taste is also very caramel-forward. Malty and a little hop bitterness as well. Slightly toasty and bitter on the tongue in the tail end that lingers. Real sweet. Drinks really well, though, despite the ABV.

Not bad as a brown ale, really, but this brew was very unnapealing and very unbalanced in my opinion. Could be that this was far past the freshness date, which is always a shame.

Aug 09, 2015
Photo of tone77
tone77 from Pennsylvania

3.45/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Another beer courtesy of the founding father of the canquest, woodychandler. Poured from a 12 oz. can. Has a very dark brown, damn near black color, with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is sweet, some chocolate. Taste is sweet and sugary up front, alcohol, some chocolate and light coffee notes. Feels medium/light in the mouth and overall a pretty good beer.

Jul 17, 2015
Photo of woodychandler
woodychandler from Pennsylvania

4.69/5  rDev +29.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I am in the midst of reducing my backlog and in so doing, getting The CANQuest (tm) back up to speed. Twisted Manzanita recently began distributing their CANs to Philly, but somehow, this one was not among them. Instead, this CAN was a timely score at a Total Wine & More in Virginia during a recent visit on my part to DC.

From the CAN: "Rich - Toasted - Chocolate Malt"; "Gillespie Field is an East County landmark and, here at the brewery, we get to enjoy a perfect view of their air shows each summer. When we salute those high-flying daredevils we raise a glass of this brazen blend of chocolate, caramel and wheat malts. Though the cocoa-inspired concoction has a distinct sweetness, Gillespie Brown gets its wings from its substantial hop bite. We trust the lush, long finish of this full-bodied beverage will lift your spirits as it does ours."

I CANducted a Crack! and inverted Glug, producing two fingers of dense, rocky, light-brown head with good retention. Color was Dark Brown to Very Dark Brown (SRM = > 27, < 34) with NE-quality clarity and garnet highlights. Nose had a definite chocolate malt presence along with a minty hoppiness, giving it a Thin Mint smell. Mouthfeel was full and creamy, more like a dollop than a draught. The taste was initially very chocolaty, quite sweet, with just a hint of smokiness. Warming, the hops began to assert themselves, creating a mintiness that hearkened to mint chocolate chip ice cream. The finish was only semi-sweet, however, with the mintiness of the hops giving it a cool, refreshing quality to offset the sweetness that had been so prevalent throughout. I CAN hardly believe that it weighs in at 8.3% ABV, which makes it a dangerous brew. I ran through the CANtents of that CAN in no time!

Jul 07, 2015
Photo of Fatehunter
Fatehunter from Oregon

3.36/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a thin tan head on a brown body.
The aroma is chocolate milk, toast and nuts.
The taste is creamy and nutty. There's an underlying current of citrus though. Interesting.
It's fine all around.

May 01, 2015
Photo of doktorhops
doktorhops from Australia

3.3/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Today’s fancy (and heavy ABV’d brew at 8.3%) American Brown Ale carries the distinction of a Gold Medal at the 2012 San Diego International Beer Festival for an American-Style Brown Ale, it’s none other than *drumroll* Twisted Manzanita Gillespie Brown!!! *cue cheesy gameshow music* In any case I am looking forward to trying a big bad [the good ‘bad’] American Brown as it is a style I’ve not had a great deal of dabbling in (the disappointingly dry and bland Brooklyn Brown Ale being the only other US made American Brown Ale).

Poured from a 355ml can into a nonic pint.

A: Nice seal brown hazy body with a tan cappuccino foam 2cm head that fragments well with lacing around the edge of the glass... looks sticky, which usually means sugary too, as long as it isn’t boring as Brooklyn’s Brown I’ll be a happy man. 8/10.

S: HUUUUUGE CARAMEL BASE! So huge I had to write in ALL-CAPS! beneath all this sugar-laden caramel are some earthy/nutty notes and the teensiest-tiniest hint of milk chocolate. Others have suggested heady booze notes but I’m not finding that at all. Time to get my Insulin ready for the tasting part. 8/10.

T: Oh right... there’s the booze... more straight Vodka spirit than anything else, but it is noticeable with a slight burn and the feel of it hitting my blood stream. Apart from that the caramel malt less flavourful than expected but the nutty note is there along with some roasted malt. Finish is slightly astringent with that ethanol burn. You get the feeling that if they could pull back on the ABV there is a decent brew to be found in there. 6/10.

M: Medium bodied with a light but fizzy carbonation. The alcoholic astringency is distracting the mouthfeel somewhat though. 6/10.

D: This is one of those “gee I’m glad I tried it but I won’t be getting it again” type of beers, good-not-great, but it’s that shot of Vodka taste that really drags it down, and if you want to get an idea of what I mean take your favourite brew, pour a shot of Vodka in it and tell me what you think... yeah I thought so. I did however like the amped up caramel-ness of Gillespie Brown... damn this would have been nice at 5% ABV. 6/10.

Food match: What goes with caramel-flavoured Vodka? Kotlety with stolichny salad and a borscht soup starter, mmm... vkusnyy!

Apr 23, 2015
Photo of ArsenicDrone
ArsenicDrone from Arizona

3.83/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a can into a pint glass, after cleaning off an uncommonly large amount of dirt around the mouth. The can's very colorful, but looks a bit like it's from a new small brewery. Not quite sure what to expect.

A: Normal brown ale color. Small head, but decent lacing.

S: Not much there. A little boozy. Faint dark malt.

T: Warm and boozy. A bit raisiny, chocolatey and slightly hoppy. Mostly boozy, but it all melds together quite well. The can talks up the hops, but for me they are pleasantly unintrusive. The after-effect on the tongue is much more tingly than bitter. Maybe a hint of oak.

M: Smooth, medium body, small bubbles. Encourages drinking more.

Basically, this is Palo Santo Marron Lite, which works for me. Not as thick, woody, or fruity as Palo Santo, but the nice warm booze plays the same role. About a drink and a half worth of alcohol, as opposed to Palo Santo's two and a half, so easier to have if you don't want to start a real buzz. As an expression of what's possible for smell and taste, Palo Santo sets the bar too high for this to reach. As something to drink, this can be enjoyed in more situations. Not particularly expensive, either. I'll be happy to have this again.

Mar 30, 2015
Photo of ordybill
ordybill from Georgia

4.26/5  rDev +18%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12OZ can into a pint glass.
Aroma- has a thick malty aroma
Appearance- Danny near black with a small light brown head.
Taste- more like a porter, really malty and flavorful
Palate- heavy bodied brew with a slick feel has light carbonation.
Overall- I really like this. It's more of a porter than a brown ale. So what it's awesome.

Feb 08, 2015
Photo of micromaniac129
micromaniac129 from Pennsylvania

3.75/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Smells more like a porter then a brown. Lots of roasted notes on the nose.
Pours a ruby auburn brown with a long lasting thick and sticky head.
Taste is like that of a porter.. Guite roasted some coffee and chocolate notes, light hops.
Drinks very sweet too.
Flows thick and velvetty over the palate.
Leans too far to the porter side. I mixed it with some fresh Kona Castaway IPA to make a brown IPA. I love brown IPA's.

Aug 03, 2014
Photo of ALBuff
ALBuff from Hawaii

2.42/5  rDev -33%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

This is a conundrum. While certainly unique and not what I come to expect from a brown, sometimes different isn't always good. There's a lot going on in this beer... coffee, malt, roasted nuts, sweet breadfruit, and an extra bitter hoppy bite... perhaps too much to be either properly balanced or interesting.

Jan 28, 2013
Photo of BucannonXC5
BucannonXC5 from California

3.65/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The new Manzanita Brewing Company on July 15, 2012. Draft into pint glass. Black color with light shades of brown. About two fingers when I got it. Frothy thick white lacing with great retention all the way around.

Smelled dark chocolate malts. Also toffee, hints of coffee beans and roasty malts.

Tasted similar to the smell, but just a tad bit stronger. Got bourbon, dark chocolate, coffee, roasty nuts, fudge and toffee. Reminded me slightly of a Russian Imperial Stout.

Full body. Creamy texture. Average carbonation. Smooth, but bitter long finish.

A decent beer overall and one that I’d have again. Surprised it’s taken me this long to try it.

Jul 16, 2012
Photo of mactrail
mactrail from Washington

3.75/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

One of the hoppier browns. No wonder it is so flavorful, now that I see the ABV. Very dark in the pint glass with plenty of carbonation. While it's a murky bunch of tastes vying for attention, it's certainly full of flavors. Winey and sharp with lots of malt. Roasted flavors with some caramel and dark toffee.

Another dimension from the usual smooth and innocuous Brown Ales. Maybe it should be called an Imperial Brown. In any case, it's a big rustic mouthful.

On tap at Cueva in San Diego.

Mar 31, 2012
Photo of BeerAdvocate
BeerAdvocate from Massachusetts

2.96/5  rDev -18%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Review from BeerAdvocate Magazine Issue #51 (April 2011):

A big Brown, weighing in at 8 percent. Hazed chestnut brown color, head and lacing is nothing less than spectacular. Malty, estery nose with caramel, brown bread, overripe fruit and malt husk. Full-ish body. Boozy—the alcohol really does want to be noticed here. Malt sweetness clashes with a thick underlying husky tone. Hops are there to balance with some bitterness but not much else. Alcoholic and malt forward, but the double whammy of hop bitterness and husky tones drag it down.

Jun 29, 2011
Photo of emmasdad
emmasdad from Colorado

4.14/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I picked up a bomber of this one while on vacation in San Diego. Poured from the bomber a clean reddish-brown color with a very minimal amount of tan head. Aromas of milk chocolate, toasted malts and nuts. On the palate, this one is medium bodied and nicely done, with flavors of milk chocolate, roasted nuts and toasted malt.

May 28, 2011
Photo of beerman33
beerman33 from California

4.27/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz bomber purchased from Henry's - $5.99

A - Dark amber with tan head

S - Nutty malt

T - Toasted malt with a bit of bitterness from well complimented hop - nutty, some chocolate, booze

M - Smooth, good carbonation

D - Little on the boozy end, but for the ABV, I thought very drinkable

My first Manzanita brew and i thought it was very good, thougj I like bourbon/booze taste so be warned this is a big brown!

May 07, 2011
Photo of d4114
d4114 from California

4.25/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A- Clear dark brown with off white to tan head

S- Malty, sweet and roasty

T- I really liked the taste of this one; it's roasty, bitter and creamy; all there beers I have tried have had a sorta earthiness to them not really a bad thing I guess.

M- Medium bodied; very smooth and creamy; good carbonation.

D- Easy to drink and really good tasting; Really enjoyed it.

Mar 10, 2011
Photo of NickMunford
NickMunford from Wyoming

3.1/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a bomber into a standard pint glass. $6.49 from South Bay Liquor.

A: Pours a hazy dark brown / dark garnet red color with a small head. Little retention & little lacing.

S: Smells of dark roasted malts and caramel.

T: Heavy on the roasted malt with a good hops backer. Has a little booziness, but not much.

M: Initially it has a nice thick mouthfeel. Unfortunately, it leaves an aftertaste that reminds me of a bile-like bitterness.

D: It goes down a little rough, and the aftertaste wouldn't encourage me to have another.

It's a shame, this is the first brew I've tried from this new S.D. brewery. My first impressions, appearance, smell, taste were good, but then after a few sips, and paying attention to what was going on in my mouth, it fell short for me.

That still doesn't discourage. I look forward to trying the rest of their offerings.

Mar 05, 2011
Photo of broken22
broken22 from California

3.77/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I love that I get to review another up an coming San Diego brewery. I say another because there is another new brewer getting ready to come online. Manzanita Brewing Company just popped up on the scene not to long ago. I had my first taste in July of last year. I remember the first time I had it on draft... So finding this in a 22oz bottle I was so happy. This is a good sign that they are doing good.

So Lets review this thing. Pop and pour you get a nice burnt caramel color pouring out. The head that initially formed was gone pretty quick. Taking a big whiff and this thing smells pretty good. The flavor of this beer is good, not as good as on draft, but good. The initial taste kind of catches you off guard. Don't expect a normal brown. This beers sweet and subtle bitterness is very original.

I really like this brown. I'm not a big brown drinker, because I find them to be bland, so it has to be special for me to like it. This is one of those beers. I love the bold character this beer has. If you see a bottle pick one up and help get a new brewery on their feet. Found a 22oz of this selling for $7.99, good to see such a micro brew giving us this beer for a fare price.

Feb 11, 2011
Photo of badboyrsl84
badboyrsl84 from California

3.63/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Look - cocola/ Carmel colored. Frothy head that's short standing.

Smell- smells little of sweet malt and some grain.

Taste- alcohol brown sugar tons of malt. A solid amount of carbonation.

Over-my favorite of the Manzanita brews and the most potent at 8% abv

Feb 08, 2011
Photo of srandycarter
srandycarter from California

3.85/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Very dark cola brown, off white small head, leaves to ring fast. Not much cling lace.

S - Light cocoa maybe brown sugar.

T - Malty front with bittering back. Alcohol not well hidden. Chalky finish.

M - Good carb, balance, coating.

D - For the ABV, pretty drinkable.

Oct 03, 2010
Photo of SDHoffers
SDHoffers from California

4.08/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Of the 5 samples I tried from the brand spanking new brewery I liked the brown the most. This would be the perfect example of an imperial brown ale. I had quite a few people asking me to put this back on tap and I will during Oktoberfest at Hoffer's in La Mesa. The appearance of the beer is dark brown with very little transparency. The smell is not up front and I would have to say that the nose really doesn't hit you until after your first sip. Sometimes exhaling deeply through the nose after tasting really yields the actual smell of the beer for me. Taste was great! Just a little boozy taste set this beer apart from the other browns out there. Surprisingly, the 8.1% is pretty drinkable. I am stoked these guys have stepped with some of the big boys in San Diego.

Sep 13, 2010
Photo of womencantsail
womencantsail from California

3.23/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

On-tap at Manzanita Brewing Company

A: The pour is a dark brown color with a thin off-white head.

S: The nose is sort of light, but there are toasted malt and toffee. There is an interesting fruitiness as well.

T: A semi-sweet flavor with toasted malts, bread, nuts, and toffee. A hint of bitter chocolate that goes along with a fairly bitter flavor overall and a bit of a burnt quality.

M: The body is medium with a smooth carbonation.

D: This is a sort of strange brown ale and differs from the style of their beers a fair amount--most of which are fairly unoffensive and aim to please a large number of palates. Just a bit too much unnecessary bitterness to this beer.

Sep 13, 2010
Gillespie Brown Ale from Twisted Manzanita Ales
Beer rating: 83 out of 100 with 66 ratings