Monday, July 18, 2011

Carlow Brewing Co: O'Hara's Irish Stout

Hello all! I realize it has been nearly a month since my last post and that is far too long. I am now back home from Europe and as settled as I'll be for the next three months. I am still drinking lots of different beers and even recently attended a beer festival in Greenwood (Beervana) near Green Lake & Seattle. Represented at this event were nearly 30 local and regional breweries. I had a great time to say the least.

Today I am reviewing O'Hara's Irish Stout brewed by Carlow Brewing Company. I picked it up at a great bottle shop in Milan, Italy. I can't tell you what compelled me to purchase this particular bottle, perhaps the fact that I was craving something dark and roasty and figured a nice Irish Dry Stout would do the trick. And let me tell you, it was exactly what I was looking for.

If you've ever had a pint of Guinness then you've had an Irish Dry Stout. The two most popular commercial examples are Guinness and Murphy's. Typically an Irish Dry Stout will be on the lower end of the alcohol scale (O'Hara's is 4.30% and Guinness is only 4.20%) ranging from 4 - 6.00%. The body of the beer is typically light and carbonation is typically low. Most Irish Stouts will be served on nitrous (that's what makes Guinness so creamy and allows that thick creamy head to survive to the very last sip) where as most other beers are served on standard CO2. Irish Stouts (and most stouts in general) are served at higher temperatures, around 45 - 50°F (7 - 10°C). Alright then, how about we move onto the tasting notes?

Name: O'Hara's Irish Stout
Category/Style: Irish Stout
ABV: 4.30%
IBU: Unknown
OG: Unknown
FG: Unknown
Malt Type(s): Unknown
Hop Type(s): Fuggles
Yeast Type: Unknown
Special Additives: Unknown
Bottled: Unknown
Bottle Size: 330 mL
Location Purchased: A Tutta Birra, Milan, Italy

The Pour: Dark brown, slight red/orange hues at the sides. The head is thick and cream colored and retention is excellent. Lovely lacing on the sides of the glass.

The Nose: Sweet malt. Toasty, roasty, charred notes. Has that nice malty coffee characteristic. A bit of a caramely toffee, a bit of wet earth and moss, and some hops in the aroma.

The Taste: Nice low to medium carbonation and velvety mouthfeel. Flavors are roast, dark coffee, toffee, and nice light hop bitterness. Creamy chocolate notes and the lightest hint of smoke. Medium bodied. Lingering hop/roasty bitterness. Overall very nicely balanced Irish Stout. Given the chance I would definitely purchase another bottle.

The Verdict: Excellent. Defines an Irish Stout. Flavors are spot on: roasty, toasty, coffee, toffee, chocolate, earth, moss, hop bitterness, and a slight hint of smoke. How could you want more? Add in a creamy, velvety mouthfeel and you've got yourself one delicious dark brew. If you want an authentic Irish Stout, something more flavorful and complex than a Guinness or Murphy's, buy a bottle of O'Hara's and you won't be disappointed :]

Thanks for reading!