O’Connor “Punkelweisse” Pumpkin Dunkelweisse (2013)

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O’Connor “Punkelweisse” Pumpkin Dunkelweisse is 6.5% ABV.

I poured all of a 12 oz  bottle into a Belgian ale glass.

Appearance: This got a hard pour, which made about a finger of light tan head. The head was thin, and didn’t hang on for long, eventually dissipating to almost nothing. The color is a murky and mostly opaque dark red/amber. This looks like it has mild carbonation.

Smell: The aroma on this starts out with sour notes, some soft wheat, and some fruity esters. There is some sourish vegetal fruit to it, and some not too potent spicing. I get maybe a little cinnamon, and nothing else so easily discernible. There is a little toast to the malt that has some some warmth, but this is otherwise on the fruity and sour side.

Taste: At the front I get some sour vegetal squash and some fruity esters. The soft wheat is also present, along with some banana notes and some clove. As for spicing, this doesn’t have a strong spice profile, at least compared to the fruit and sour notes up front. There’s maybe some cinnamon and nutmeg, but nothing so clear. I get some darker malt with a little bit of toast, in an otherwise pretty bright beer. The pumpkin is noticeable, but not much to speak of. This finishes to let the bright fruit and sour notes fade into some dull and almost medicinal spicing. An aftertaste of slightly sour and acidic fruit carries on.

Feel: This offering is medium bodied, with light carbonation. It has some sour notes and some dark and mildly toasty malt. So there is some variety to the parts of the feel. The aftertaste is fairly subdued for how strong the banana and sourish fruit are in this one. Alright feel.

Drinkability: The sour notes and the dark malt really grab hold of the palate to start. The soft wheat is nice to balance this out some, though the fruit tones keep this from being a really smooth beer. It doesn’t have an alcohol bite, which is nice. So I say it is decent here.

Overall: I do like the different flavors in this. I think a dunkelweisse or a dark wheat ale is not my favorite style for a pumpkin ale. This doesn’t have  a lot of the nice roasty malt or the clear pumpkin that I like. I had this beer last year on tap during the first year it was made. This year it hit bottles, interestingly, the same year a quite similar beer was produced for the first time by Urban Chestnut. Urban Chestnut’s Count Orlok is a black pumpkin ale that also has has some banana, clove, and fruity esters in a pumpkin ale. I think Urban Chestnut’s is more successful in that the flavors are deeper and more interesting, and also make for an all around smoother beer. Even so, this one by O’Connor isn’t bad. It just isn’t a top notch pumpkin beer for me.

Overall Rating: **1/2

DSC03634About O’Connor and this offering: Kevin O’Connor opened O’Connor brewing in Norfolk, Virginia in 2010. Having previously worked at St. George Brewing in Hampton, he eventually spent some time working for a beer distributor and thinking about his own brewery for Norfolk. O’Connor was then well received in Norfolk with their first offerings, some of which were named after the common marking buoys folks in a port town know so well. These first beers were their “Green Can” golden ale, “Red Nun” red ale, and “Norfolk Canyon” pale ale. I visited O’Connor a few years ago, not too terribly long after they first opened up, and I had a great experience. I spoke with Brian Mandeville, brewer and production manager, who was very generous to let us sample the beer even though the business wasn’t planning on being open for tastings. I very much enjoyed their “Red Nun”, as well as their “Great Dismal” Black IPA, named after the Great Dismal Swamp that borders that area in Virginia and goes into North Carolina.

O’Connor makes their pumpkin offering by using a traditional recipe for a German Dunkelweisse dark wheataAle, which they incorporate both pumpkin and spices into. Now offered on tap and in bottles, they work to keep it available from August til October.

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