A few days ago I bought myself a six pack of O’Connor Brewing Co. “Norfolk Canyon” Pale Ale. First of all I’d like to premise this post by thanking the good people at O’Connor for doing something great for the culture and people of Norfolk, God knows we needed it. But now to the beer.
I’ve had many different beers by the O’Conner Brewing Company and have only been disappointed once, and it was by no fault on the brewers. I tried their golden ale once thinking that maybe it could redeem my thought on them, but alas, golden ales still haven’t made my “good beers” list. The other beers I’ve had by O’Conner are the Red Nun red ale and the Great Dismal black IPA.
The Norfolk Canyon pale ale is a good reminder that you cannot judge a book by it’s cover. Most people assume that a pale ale would be somewhat docile in taste, given it’s name. But O’Connor is a medium bodied beer with a surprisingly bold, hoppy taste that leaves a delightfully lingering after taste. It’s not on par with a say, a good IPA, as far as it’s boldness goes, but those people who enjoy a good, hoppy beer won’t be disappointed. You can definitely taste the malt upon first sip and a few seconds later you are hit with the hops, a good one-two punch as far as beer goes.
Pale ale gets it’s name not from it’s flavor, but from it’s color. By classification, pale ale is a beer that uses pale malts, and the more of these malts you use the lighter the color becomes. Pale ale is one of the predominant styles of beer and the name goes back all the way to 1703. Another common name for pale ale is “Bitter” which originates from the 1700s as well and was used by patrons of the drink to help them differentiate between the different styles of beer. As far as pale ale’s go there are many different “sub categories” of pale ale, which include Amber Ale, American Pale Ale, Blonde, and India Pale Ale (IPA). O’Connor would be considered an American Pale Ale, but could also be considered an American Strong Ale since it has a 5.5% ABV, which is usually the floor for such beers, but is still able to be considered in this group of ale.
Another thing that I like about the O’Conner brewing company is that they post the IBU value of their beers on the packaging. IBU stands for International Bitterness Units and is a system for measuring how bitter a beer tastes (how hoppy it is). Putting this value on the packing makes it easy for consumers to get an idea in their head as to the taste of the beer before they buy it, which is helpful for those who are looking to try something new but don’t want to end up with something they won’t like. For instance, I’ve come to learn that I typically like a beer that has an IBU of about 30 or above, so if I see that O’Conner ( or any other brewer that posts the IBU value of the beer on the packaging) came out with a beer with an IBU of say, 16 (such is their golden ale) then I would be safe to say that such a beer might not be the best choice for me given my preferences for taste.
As an American Pale Ale, Norfolk Canyon should be enjoyed between 45-54 degrees in a regular, non chilled, pint glass (as pictured above). At the end of they day I would give the O’Conner Norfolk Canyon Pale ale an 8 out of 10. Definitely a great beer that I would recommend to others.