10/10/20: R. Shea Brewing's Twitchy on Pumpkin Pie Spice Coffee Beans and Habanero

4:33 PM

This is a beer that I found the day I heard about it. A month or so ago, I saw a bottleshop I follow on social media post about it. Intrigued, I resolved to pick it up if I ever happened upon it in the wild. Later that day, I found it in a totally different bottleshop while I was heading home from work. And now here we are.

The beer is R. Shea's Twitchy. I see on the brewery's website that they add another word to the name, but it's not a super good word (and one that I think we should work to de-normalize) so I won't be including it here. Nor is that word anywhere on my can. I figured I should address that early on in the post. 

Anyway, this might just be the biggest (ABV-wise) beer I drink this season. If it's not, it up there. Let's get to it.

R. Shea's based in Akron, OH. It was founded by Ron Shea, who has an extensive background in biology and chemistry. Ron's been brewing on some level for over nineteen years. He's the backbone of the brewery and its brewing process (which employs pressurized fermentation, forgoing the need of that extra step for carbonation). I'm super impressed with R. Shea's "Our Story" page, Ron's voice, and commitment to his brewery.

Today's beer is one of a handful of Twitchy variants Ron and company have crafted. The base Twitchy's an imperial stout and, as you can tell by the beer's full name, this version has some interesting adjuncts: a bite of habanero and Pumpkin Pie spice whole bean coffee (from Pearl Coffee Company). And that ABV I mentioned earlier? 9.25%. You can see the full description of the stout over on its official page.

On Twitchy's nose, I find: a hearty malt base (Ron likes to make malty beers [not sweet, but flavorful]), coffee, a touch of pumpkin pie spice (allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove), and a kick of heat from the habanero. I was expecting some booziness but I'm finding milk chocolate instead. Everything here checks out. I like it. Purrl, at two whiffs, does not.

The malt is strong in the stout's flavoring, playing deftly against the coffee, spice, and habanero. This is a decadent beer, one perfect for an overcast autumnal evening. The heat from the pepper helps it from being too rich, adding a certain levity to the whole affair. Again, I was expecting booziness but I'm left wanting. There's deep and roasty malt (all chocolate and char and coffee, adding depth to the coffee beans) and heat kicking around in the finish. That heat, not overpowering by any means, sticks with you for a good bit.

This feels like a stout. Big, strong, robust, and decidedly creamy while being deceptively crushable. Maybe that pressurized fermentation had something to do with those last parts.

Right now, sitting on my porch, watching the leaves fall from the fiery orange maple across the street while listening to the crickets and final few cicadas of the season, I'm remembering carving pumpkins for halloween as a kid. 

My family would always post up at the table in our kitchen. My folks would spread a tablecloth over it (the kind that was plastic on one side and felt-like on the other, plastic side up) and supervise the gore. We'd remove the pumpkin guts with an old soup ladle. They'd carefully instruct us as we took to carving our creations (once we were old enough to do it ourselves, that is). We roasted the seeds from the pumpkins a few times, salting them to perfection.

R. Shea's Twitchy on Pumpkin Pie Spice Coffee Beans and Habanero is good. I'm worried that that high ABV'll creep up on me (because I'm still not tasting it and have yet to feel it), but, regardless, I'm giving the stout a score just a nudge higher than that ABV: 9.5/10. This is exceptional, especially if you like a bit of heat with your beer.

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