Carlow Brewing Company - O’Hara’s Irish Pale Ale
- ABV: 5.2%
- Int’l Bittering Units (IBUs): 50
- Serving Temperature: 43-48° F
- Suggested Glassware: Pint Glass or Mug
Another good looking brew from Carlow, O’Hara’s Irish Pale Ale presents a beaming golden-copper hue topped by a head of foam which drops lace as it recedes. As we expect for the style, hops dominate the aroma. Brewed with a combination of Irish malts and European and American hop varieties including Amarillo and Cascade, and dry-hopped for good measure, this brew was actually a bit of a chameleon to us, offering slightly different aromas over time. Look for prominent floral and citrus notes, with secondary leafy-herbal, pine, and spice characteristics. Flavorwise, it’s no surprise the hop profile continues to dominate, ushering in a distinctly juicy, fruity character with citric and herbal notes, all softened nicely with a luscious floral quality. A fairly robust backbone of pale and caramel malts is present, offering plenty of structure and a bit of residual sweetness that is easily countered by the firm hop bitterness. Pair this brew with a bright dish of teriyaki chicken breast with rice pilaf, or grilled spicy shrimp skewers with lemon. Cheers!
So what do you think of when you hear the words “Irish beer?” St. Patrick’s Day, and inevitably, Guinness come to mind. Maybe Harp Lager too. Not exactly beers of the craft brewing movement, being owned by a massive conglomerate. We’re not knocking the beers—Guinness defines what Dry Irish Stout is. For many of us, it was the first good beer we’d ever tried, informing us that there are options other than bland fizzy lager. And Harp ain’t a bad brew either. But these are the big boys of the country.
Lucky for the citizenry of Ireland, the Irish mega breweries pump out much better beers than the big boys that we have domestically. But what’s the craft brew scene like in Ireland? Relatively young—some would say just getting started as it claws its way out from the shadows of the ubiquitous megabrands. At the forefront of Ireland’s craft brewing movement is the Carlow Brewing Company. Independent and family owned, it was founded in Carlow by the O’Hara family in 1996, building on a keen interest in the craft of brewing and a desire to revive a tradition once common in every town and village in Ireland, but lost since the end of the 1800s.
Carlow Brewing Company, home of the O’Hara’s brand of craft beers, is situated in the historical hop and malt growing region of Ireland, the “Barrow Valley”, evidenced by the many malt houses dotted throughout the county landscape. The brewery was originally housed in the “Goods Store,” a 19th century stone building which once served as the local provisions sale point for the town’s traders. Brewery founder, Seamus O’Hara, aimed to revive not only the small brewery culture but also the qualities found in Irish beers from that era and beyond. As Seamus puts it, “at Carlow Brewing Company we have gone back to basics and brew our beers as they used to be brewed—with natural ingredients and no artificial additives. We believe this leads to a superior quality product, with robust body, taste, flavor and aroma. Compare these characteristics with any of the mainstream brands and you will taste the difference.”
Despite an expansion in 2005, the brewery reached the limits of their original facility and moved operations to a new purpose-built brewhouse in nearby Bagenalstown in 2009. In 2012 they began distilling whiskey, the first batch of which will be available soon. The next year, they opened their own craft beer pub called Brewery Corner a few miles to the west in the city of Kilkenny. They currently brew seven core beers plus additional draft-only beers and a variety of limited editions. For more info, visit www.carlowbrewing.com .
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