I'm going to be completely honest here: I hadf absolutely no idea that O'Haras made such good beer. I had their Curim wheat beer a long time ago, and I'm pretty sure I thought it was 'meh', while their Irish Stout was tasty but uninspiring. As such, I was never captivated by the range, and held off on exploring it for quite some time, despite being very widely available and quite affordable. Now, I realise I've been missing out.
First up is the most acclaimed of the beers, an extra stout with 6.0% ABV and a great Irish name. O’Hara’s Leann Folláin pours pitch black with a nice big foamy tan head, just like my kind of stout. Roasted coffee and smoke are the first notes I pick up on the aroma, and I can't help but think how Irish it smells. Underneath is a warm and smooth layer of caramel, with chocolate and syrup elements dotted here and there too. Bitter notes are offered by the hops and coffee smells. The taste is beautiful, with a bitter coffee opening and potent hop presence falling away to chocolate and dark fruit, while the finish has a sweetness not unlike the Porterhouse Oyster Stout. Brilliant beer, and thoroughly enjoyable. This will definitely be a regular in the cupboard.
Next is a dry-hopped IPA that I chose over their Irish Red, because to be perfectly honest, I don't really get excited about Irish Reds - the only one that really got me going is the bottled Rebel Red. Anyway, O'Hara's Irish Pale Ale pours a gorgeous crystal clear golden-amber colour, allowing you to enjoy the activity of the sparkling bubbles inside. A small white foam caps it off, and I have to say it looks lovely in it's proper glass. On the aroma, I couldn't help but think someone had squeezed a bit of lemon juice in to my beer - very noticeable juicy citrus flavours hit first, with a nice oily hop aroma that gives off those American peel and pine notes. There are small hints of spice, maybe clove, while the whole thing sits atop a nice layer of bread or biscuit malt. Smells delicious! The taste is great too, with juicy citrus fruit opening with a more prominent peel element this time, followed by a hot pepper and herbal spiciness. The finish warms into a bubblegum-like flavour, while the the bitterness from the start and middle stays around long enough to round the beer out. The body's light without being wimpy, and the whole thing is nicely hop-forward. Great tasting sessionable IPA, one I didn't expect to enjoy this much.