Name: O’Hara’s Irish Red
Brewery: Carlow Brewing Company
Country of Origin: Ireland
City & State: County Carlow, Ireland
Style: Irish Red Ale
Alcohol Content (ABV): 4.3%
First Brewed: 1998
A deep rich red color with light sparkle and a firm white head. The sweet caramel and roasted flavors make it the perfect accompaniment for meat dishes such as roast pork or Irish stew.
I see this beer all the time at Total Wine & More, but I never buy it. I am not a huge fan of this style, but from what I have been reading, this is one of the best red ales available. It has to be good… it’s an Irish red ale from Ireland. If it’s not good, then I will have to order a Guinness when I visit.
We were going to review an IPA today, but since St. Patrick’s Day is this weekend, I wanted to make sure we had time to review this bottle. Oh, and we got another trade in the mail today. I actually got one yesterday AND today. Yesterday included Mad Elf, a beer on the list, and several beers from the east I had never heard of. Today we got two bottles of Goose Island Bourbon County Stout, which is also on the list. I asked for two bottles because I love the beer, and want to toss one in the cellar for a few years.
The beer trading stuff is an addiction… we are new to it, but I can see why people enjoy it. I love it when the UPS man knocks on the door! Anyway, let’s get to the O’Hara’s. That is a really low ABV, and while that scares me, I have faith in the flavor. Speaking of a low ABV, I heard William, beer manager at Total Wine in Scottsdale, talking about low ABV beers being a new trend in craft beer. I haven’t seen much of that, but I hope he’s wrong. I like stronger beers… the higher the ABV the better!
In the Glass: This looks like a traditional red ale. It had a nice thick white head to start, but that quickly became a thin layer of foam on top of the beer. I wonder how big of a difference the temperature makes on this beer. With such a low ABV, I wouldn’t think it would get better as it heats up. Maybe. I will let it warm up a bit before I finish it. The beer doesn’t have much lace to speak of. This makes me think of George Killian’s Irish Red. I hope it’s better than that!
Nose: I will warn you, my nose has been stopped up for the last few days. I thought I was getting sick, but I think I am just suffering from allergies. I never had allergies until I moved to Arizona, where I was told allergies didn’t exist. Oh well, I can still smell and taste, and that is all that matters. This smells like an Irish red. I haven’t had a Killian’s in a while, but I remember that smelling better than this. Surely not… let’s see what the O’Hara’s tastes like.
Flavor: There is a lot more flavor here than in a bottle of Killian’s, but the flavor is consistent with the red ale style. Like I said, we are drinking this ice cold… so I am going to let it sit before I take a second or third drink, but I am not impressed with the initial flavor profile here. I AM impressed with the finish and the aftertaste. But we will get to that in a moment.
Mouthfeel: There are a lot of bubbles up front, and as you swallow, the beer really mellows out. It has a nice smooth finish, and leaves a lingering sugary sweet aftertaste. It almost tastes like burnt sugars with a hint of caramel. In regards to the mouthfeel, this is boring and way too carbonated for my liking.
Aftertaste: This is my favorite part of the beer. As soon as you swallow, the aftertaste becomes somewhat drying with a nice sugary sweet finish. Not barleywine sweet, but a nice dark caramel flavor. It lingers, but dries out as you continue to swallow. I would never expect a beer that has such a low ABV to have such a powerful finish.
I am glad that we could drink an Irish beer this week, but I wouldn’t order this one again. If this was on draft and I was sitting in a pub in Ireland… maybe. But only because it is a true Irish beer and I would be drinking this IN Ireland. Jeremy and Petulia were recently in Ireland. I wonder if they had any of this while they were there.
O’Hara’s Irish Red – The bottle says: “NA”
Ok, so this isn’t exactly why we planned it… but today we are drinking an Irish red. And I’m going to say that we planned it that way to get ready for St. Patrick’s Day. I’m a huge fan of holidays, as you may or may not know, and St. Paddy’s Day is no exception. I’ve had a few St. Paddy’s Days where I have headed to a bar to celebrate, only to get there kind of late and end up having to fight just to get a drink at the bar. And… I’ve never had green beer! I better be able to get some green beer this year. Oh, and this year I am going to see Flogging Molly on St. Paddy’s Day with some friends. Surely there will be green beer there. But at least I can drink some Irish beer now to prepare.
The beer we are having today definitely has the red color you hear about in “Irish red”. It’s a very dark reddish brown. Speaking of Irish reds, one of the first beers I really got into drinking was Killian’s. It’s not really one of my favorite beers now, but it was definitely one of my first steps into one day being as into craft beer as I am now. Anyway, back to today’s beer! It doesn’t have a lot of head now, but had a bit when it was first poured out. On top of being a very dark red, it also looks somewhat thick. Not super thick, but a little. And I took a sniff of this beer, but I am getting literally no nose from it. It doesn’t smell like anything. It doesn’t even smell like beer! It barely has just a faint wet smell. Let’s hope there’s more taste than smell there.
This beer has an interesting taste. Sometimes I really just can’t think of how to describe the way the beers we try taste. This one tastes kind of bitter, but not hops bitter. It definitely has a darker taste than most Irish reds that I’ve tried. I can’t even decide if I like it or not! It almost tastes like a brown, only more bitter. That’s honestly the best way I can think of to describe it. And – I have a hard time discerning sometimes if I want to give beers a rating of 2 or 3. I tend to get stuck giving 3s, but honestly – this one doesn’t impress me that much. Probably wouldn’t buy it again, so a 2 it is.