Irish Beer All Year with O’Hara’s Brewery
With the number of breweries opening around us every day, it’s easy to believe that the craft beer movement is unique to the United States, but while we definitely have the most growth and expansion happening, other countries have been, and continue to have success in brewing great beer with quality ingredients. Take for example the family-owned Irish brewery O’Hara’s, also known as Carlow Brewing Company.
Based in County Carlow, Ireland, O’Hara’s mixes traditional Irish brewing practices with inspired craft beer creations to give us a brewery that’s both old and new, traditional and innovative. Founded in 1996, O’Hara’s took two years to completely restore the 19th century “Goods Store” they chose to be their brewpub as well as collect the required licenses, materials, and of course brewing equipment, officially launching their first beer in 1998.
The first beers produced by the fledgling brewery were their current year-round offerings of Irish Red and Curim Gold Celtic Wheat. The next year, O’Hara’s launched their current best-seller in the form of their ubiquitous Irish Stout. From there the brewery continued to brew traditional Irish beers like their Irish Red and Pale Ale while adding in seasonal beers and brews with higher hop content to meet the growing trend of hop-forward beers.
This lead O’Hara’s to start their craft-focused lineup of beers centered around the IPA style including their 51st State IPA, Freebird White IPA, HopSession IPA, and Notorious Red IPA. This also spawned their Hop Adventure series of beers as a seasonal offering, with each unique beer focused on one specific type of hop.
The brewery expanded their production capacity in 2005 and moved to an even larger brewery just a few years later in 2009. In 2011 the brewery added a significantly expanded kegging system to better distribute their award-winning beers.
Much like some of their American brewing brethren, O’Hara’s received a license to distill in 2012, adding even more history and innovation to their lineup.
Today O’Hara’s Irish lineup of beers are available thanks to distributors that understand that a craft beer doesn’t have to be American to be great. With the help of Vecenie’s Distributing in Millvale we’re able to enjoy these fine Irish beers not only for the now passed St. Paddy’s Day, but all year long.
While not all of O’Hara’s Irish Ales are available this side of the pond, knowing their lineup and what they have to offer is never a bad thing. One beer that’s always available to us is their tried and true O’Hara’s Irish Stout. This nitrogenated flagship beer comes in at 4.3% ABV and is uniquely Irish while staying true to the taste one would expect with a modern craft beer. First brewed in 1999, Irish Stout features a robust flavor that’s accentuated by complex coffee and licorice notes in both the aroma and flavor. The combination of traditional hops with modern Fuggle hops give this beer a slightly more hop-forward flavor while not stepping outside of the flavor profile one would expect with an Irish Stout.
O’Hara’s Irish Stout uses no less than five varieties of wheat and malt to craft the flavor, aroma, and mouthfeel of this award-winning beer. This, paired with a secret recipe of hop varieties and additions leaves you with a beer that’s traditional enough to evoke memories while exciting enough to warrant a spot on your favorite beer list all year long.
One of the two original beers brewed more than seventeen years ago, O’Hara’s Irish Red Ale is a malty, complex example of a traditional Irish Red Ale that stands out from a category that can sometimes be less than impressive. This 4.3% ABV beer features a low bitterness level that allows the bready maltiness to show through beautifully. While often overused, O’Hara’s Irish Red Ale is the definition of smooth and balanced, allowing the beer to be somewhat sweet and bready while staying far away from being cloying or sugary.
Originally known as Moling’s Red Ale when first brewed, this is one beer that has stood the test of time and will be around for years to come.
While Ireland isn’t typically known for pale ales, O’Hara’s Irish Pale Ale will leave you wondering just why that is. This 5.2% ABV beer follows suit with traditional European IPAs while adding a generous amount of dry hopping that is more in-line with American pale ales. Best described as refreshing and zesty, the bitterness in this IPA (Irish Pale Ale) is balanced yet bright enough to bring out the fruit and floral notes hiding just below the surface.
With the success of their Irish Stout, O’Hara’s brought on another Irish style stout with their Leann Folláin. Gaelic for “wholesome stout,” this intense beer is a full-bodied Irish stout that features flavors of dark chocolate, vanilla, and balanced bitterness.
With a balance between sweetness and bitterness, you get a bite of hop bitterness on the finish after a pleasant flavor of chocolate and vanilla. Think of the 6% ABV Leann Folláin as the big brother to O’Hara’s Irish Stout.
Sticking with the traditional names for beers, O’Hara’s Curim Gold Celtic Wheat is named for the old Celtic word for beer, “Curmi/Cuirim.” Diverging from the traditional wheat beer style, Curim features a higher hop rate than typical wheat ales, which means the result is a beer with a slightly tart finish that helps to balance the fruity ester flavors of peach, banana and plum.
Curim Gold comes in at 4.3% ABV and thanks to its higher alpha-acid content hops, gives you a wheat beer that has more than meets the eye.
Look for O’Hara’s Irish Ales on draft and in bottles both at your favorite craft beer bars as well as your local distributor or bottle shop. With so many different breweries in the world, it can be tough to know which ones are truly independent and family-owned and which ones are not. Thankfully O’Hara’s Irish Brewery has been independent and family-owned since opening more than 17 years ago, and continues that tradition today.