Carlow Brewing Company - O'Hara's Leann Folláin
- ABV: 6.0%
- Bottle Size: 12-oz
- Int’l Bittering Units (IBUs): 45
- Serving Temperature: 43-48° F
- Suggested Glassware: Tulip or Pint Glass
Launched in 2009, Leann Folláin is O'Hara's big brother to their original Irish Stout and won Gold at the inaugural Dublin Craft Beer Cup in 2013, among other awards. Richly-flavored and full-bodied for the style, this brew is considerably bigger at 6% ABV than most other traditional Irish-style dry stouts which generally weigh in around 4 to 4.5% or so. "Leann" translates in Gaelic to ale or beer, and "folláin" means wholesome, and it's an apt description. We're very excited to bring this world-class brew to you this month. Pouring jet black with a creamy tan cap of foam, this dry stout offers up an intriguing and complex aroma. Look for notes of dark chocolate and cocoa powder, mocha coffee, deep caramel tones, roasted grain, and wisps of vanilla. We also picked up touches of herbal, spicy hops and a hint of licorice. The aromas predict the flavor well, as roasty notes of dark chocolate and coffee abound, along with just a ton of additional, complex facets including deep-down caramel, toasted bread, spicy and earthy hops, molasses, and flashes of dried fruits. There's a touch of residual sweetness here, but the overall effect is dry, as the roasty malts and 45 IBUs of hop bitterness counterbalance nicely. For food pairings, the brewery recommends dark meats such as venison or beef, as well as blue cheeses. 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 seven 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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