Carlow Brewing Company - O’Hara’s Irish Stout
Int’l Bittering Units (IBUs):36
Serving Temperature:48-55° F
Suggested Glassware:Tulip or Pint Glass
Made with five different locally sourced Irish malts, O’Hara’s Irish Stout has been impressing lovers of this style and has been pulling in competition medals for decades, including Double Gold and the Championship Trophy at the 2000 International Brewing Industry Awards. Pouring an extremely dark hue with garnet highlights and a persistent cap of light brown foam which laces the glass as we drink, this stout looks great as it presents its engaging aroma. Look for notes of toasted bread, coffee, and hay, capped by overtones of herbal, woody, earthy, and tea-like Fuggle hops. Roasted coffee notes come through prominently on the palate, bolstered by deeply toasted bread, hints of caramel and toffee, and flashes of red and dried dark fruits. Woody and earthy notes offer additional layers of intrigue as this glides smoothly across the palate to finish nicely dry, as expected in this style of stout. For pairing options, oysters and other shellfish make surprisingly good companions, as does smoked salmon. Grilled and roasted meats are an obvious choice, as well. Prosciutto and other charcuterie meats with an array of aged cheeses are a great call, too. Sláinte!
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 practically defines what Irish Dry 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 2013, they opened their own craft beer pub called Brewery Corner a few miles to the west in the city of Kilkenny. They currently brew about a dozen core beers plus an array of additional seasonal and draft-only beers, along with a variety of collaborations and limited editions. For more info, visit www.carlowbrewing.com.
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