Season 2, Episode 10: There are only two kinds of people in this world: those that drink beer on St. Patrick’s Day, and those who drink REAL authentic Irish beer on St. Patty’s Day! Consider us one of the latter, as we featured some amazing beers direct from Ireland from the Carlow Brewing Company at Cheers Bar’s St. Patty’s Day extravaganza in Las Vegas, Nevada. From Irish Ale, Irish Pale Ale, Irish Stout, and Irish Leann Follain, there was certainly an O’Hara Irish craft beer for all tastes.

We really wanted to go grass roots for this show with some outstanding Irish beer, not the commercialized trite beers many may consider “Irish”. Weeks ago, we started doing research for some great tasting Irish beer brewed in Ireland and Carlow Brewing really stepped up to the table strongly. Carlow Brewing is an independent Irish Brewery founded by the O’Hara family in 1996 and built on a keen interest of reviving a tradition once common in the craft brewing towns and villages of Ireland. As a result, they sent us a package of some interesting beers to showcase on the show. With the shipment arriving almost 3 days before the show, the hardest part we found was the wait to actually taste them, and for us, St. Patty’s Day and Christmas came at the same time!

The Show started off with the O’Hara’s Irish Red, a traditional light hopped craft brew with a sweet malty caramel taste and a 4.3% alcohol level – an extremely great tasting sessionable beer.  Earning a 94 rating by Draft Magazine, the Irish Red is brewed using only natural ingredients and would make a great addition paired with barbecue and roasted foods, as well as an addition to flavorful cheeses. We saw a deep ruby color in the pour with great retention on the head. Fruity and aromatic, the sweet malt taste gave way to a distinctive roast finish. This seemed to be the big winner for the night as we got a 100% positive feedback rating from the patrons in attendance at Cheers Bar.

cheerstpattysdayMoving on, we went to the O’Hara’s Irish Pale Ale, a well-balanced 5.2% alcohol craft beer, dry hopped for extra aroma with Amarillo and Cascade hops. With a rich golden color and white head that lingered, the bitterness was full, lasting, and balanced nicely by almost a citrus-like aroma burst. The beer proved to have just the right mouth-feel that would make any IPA drinker take notice. And when John the owner of the bar likes it, you know you have a winner – a grand prize winner at that as this beer took home the “Best Beer” Award at the “2010 Irish Brewers” Event.

You can’t have a St. Patty’s Day event without a Stout, so our next beer featured was the O’Hara’s Irish Stout, a Silver Media award winner at the World Beer Championships, voted the number one beer at the 2008 Milan Beer Festival, and a beer that received the Championship trophy and double Gold Medal winner at the Millennium International Brewing Industry Awards. It didn’t take long for us to find out we were drinking a truely world-class craft beer, and for a stout, it was hard to believe the alcohol level came in at just 4.3%, making this a rare sessionable stout beer! Not everyone has the palate for a stout, but we detected a robust roast flavor with a dry espresso finish. The beer poured a deep black color with a thick tan head with fantastic retention, especially for a stout. If you’re a Guinness drinker, you’ll absolutely love this beer! Pair it with just about any type of seafood or cured meat for a great taste combination. (and it went well with the corn beef and cabbage served up at the bar after the show!)

We closed it all out with the show special, the O’Hara’s Leann Follain, a “wholesome stout” comprised of chocolate and coffee flavors at just 6% alcohol. In other words, it took the previous Irish Stout to the next level and was absolutely delicious. Not surprisingly, it didn’t take long for us to run out of this full malt stout. With a spicy aroma and a robust bitterness, the beer poured a deep black color with a dark tan head and left a distinctive smokey aftertaste that lingered in the mouth. This is another sessionable craft beer that will stand up to any stout, and the awards this beer has won proves it, from being highly recommended at such venues as The 2009 World Beer Awards, The 2009 International Beer Challenge”, and the 2009 Dublin SHOP Expo. If you can find the Leann Follain – or any of the line of O’Hara’s beers – at your local beer store, our advice is to jump on it!

The windup was that we were extremely impressed with the line of O’Hara beers that we tasted. From the Vegas locals to the folks who traveled all the way from California and Texas, the bar was a-buzz on all the authentic Irish beer they were tasting – and had never heard of or tasted before. All of us at the show would like to thank the Carlow Brewing Company for their generosity in providing the beer for us to sample during the event. If you’d like to find out where you can purchase O’Hara beers, just send an email to Carlow Brewing.

As they say in Ireland, “Erin go Bragh” – or as they say at the “I Love Beer” Show, “Viva O’Hara“! So, take out your cellphones, and text BEER to 69302 to stay informed on all the happenings over at the “I Love Beer” show and we’ll continue to bring you outstanding beer selections such as the line of O’Hara craft beers.