The citizens of the town of Carlow in Ireland's Barrow Valley malt region have been brewing beer since the 1800s, but it took a craft brewery to get them back into practice.
Founded in 1996, O'Hara's experienced growth similar to most American craft brews. While only a modest presence in Ireland for the first years of its existence, O'Hara's built its footprint through lots of do-it-yourself promotion, word of mouth and exports. The Carlow's roster delves deeper into traditional Irish styles and remind folks that the palates of the nation's brewers were far broader than blackened pints would have you believe.
Their Irish stout is creamy and rich in espresso flavor, but not nearly as bitter as many the dry stouts Ireland produces. Its pitch toward the sweeter side is even more apparent in the brewery's Leann Follain, which tastes like dark chocolate or mocha and produces a coffee-colored head that provides fair warning of its richness. The brewery also produces an Irish red, a pale ale and a wheat beer among its regular offerings, but its recent introduction of Double IPA, Helles lager and barrel-aged seasonals make its beers just as at home in a brewpub an ocean away as they'd be in the snug of a century-old Irish pub.