O'Hara's Irish Stout | Carlow Brewing Company

very good
487 Reviews
O'Hara's Irish StoutO'Hara's Irish Stout

Brewed by:
Carlow Brewing Company

Style: Irish Dry Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.30%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
The flagship of the O’Hara’s brand, this uniquely Irish stout brings one back to how Irish stouts used to taste. First brewed in 1999, it has since been awarded prestigious honours for its quality and authenticity.

O’Hara’s Irish Stout has a robust roast flavour complemented by a full-bodied and smooth mouth feel. The generous addition of Fuggle hops lends a tart bitterness to the dry espresso-like finish. This sessionable stout beer is filled with rich complex coffee aroma mingled with light liquorice notes. The combination of traditional stout hops with an extra pinch of roast barley allows us to stay true to Irish tradition, recreating a taste so often yearned for by stout drinkers.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 12-27-2001

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Reviews: 487 | Ratings: 938
Photo of bewley
3.38/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bit of a story about this one. My wife and I were in Ireland two years ago and I had read that this stout had won all of these awards, was a fine example of its style, etc, so I had to make Carlow one of our stops on the way to Dublin from Cork. We arrived too late for the brewery tour, but we hit a few of the pubs in Carlow to see if we could find some O'Hara's, but it couldn't be found. Apparently, Guinness has a major hold on pubs surrounding Dublin. They (Guinness) put the kids through school, buy the pubkeepers cars, replace the lines free of charge, put the mum in the retirement home, BUT--God forbid, you sell a competitor's brew and yer cut off, get yer daughter outta Trinity an we'll be by to pick up the Fiat in the mornin . . .

So, to make a long story longer, we didn't get to try this stout in Carlow, or even Ireland for that matter, but in CT where a friend runs a wine shop. Now (a year later) they sell it in MA.

12 oz bottle: Label states: "best before December 05"

It's now called "Irish" stout wereas before it was called "Celtic" stout

Pours dark brown/black with a two finger tan head.

Nose is roasted malt, barley and black tea.

Creamy mouthfeel. This is very dry with good carbonation, but weak in taste overall. When I tried this over a year ago I remember it tasting much better. I think they must have changed the recipe. No wonder they don't drink this in Carlow. I'm not impressed.

Blah, I'll use it to make a lamb stew!

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Photo of JISurfer
3.78/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is easily the brewery's best offering. Ofcourse, I would expect an Irish Brewery to do well with the Irish Stout. It had a beautifully made dark color with a big nice head too it. The head was pretty stout, so it lasted a very long time. The taste and smell were similar, but the taste had more in the area of bitter sweet chocolates. Also had a little bit of a hop to it, but nothing to really get in the malt's way. All in all a good beer to enjoy on warm night. Quite resfreshing as well.

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Photo of tjd25
3.55/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thick and foamy head, with a long retention. Big bubbles, a bit like whipped milk. The body is intensely black. Very pleasing smell: red/black fruits, blackberries, a deep wooden character with chocolate notes. The taste reminds me strongly of dark chocolate, with a round cocoa character and a harsh bitterness that ends with notes of wood and hints of straw. Roasted and almost burnt malts abound. The mouthfeel is a bit milky, but this aspect is a kind of overwhelmed by the deep and lasting chocolate bitterness that circles the mouth. I felt like this beer was a bit too intense. I started eating some chocolate cookies, and the beer gets more drinkable now. Still, I'm a little disappointed.

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Photo of Sigmund
4.28/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

(500 ml bottle, bought in Denmark). Colour is black (= very dark brown), very good and creamy tan head, leaves a nice lacing. Lovely roasted coffee-like aroma with notes of unrefined cane sugar. Flavour is all roast barley with coffee notes, not particularly complex but still very good. Dry aftertaste. An excellent alternative to GBM (Guinness/Beamish/Murphy’s).

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Photo of cbl2
3.06/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3


Dark dark brown almost black with extremely thick tan head.


Can't smell anything. Even after warming, and halfway through the beer it's as if no odors are emerging.


Smooth, slightly bitter with hints of chocolate. Good, not great, and not really worth a second look.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.52/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle: Poured a dark black colored beer with an average bubbly head with standard retention. Aroma is really great with a nice mix between roastiness and coffee. Taste is OK with some nice touch of roasted malts and coffee. The aftertaste is dry without too much of the watery feeling you get with Guinness. Overall, a good stout but nothing too much out of the ordinary.

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Photo of cypressbob
4/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml bottle

Pours with a dirty cream head, whispy and thinish, much less than any widget enhanced cannned, bottled or draught stout

Smell, dark roasted malt, little hop flavour, dry and a coffee bitterness

Taste is dry and bitter, full of dark chocolate and cocoa, dry coffee, smooth bitterness

All in all, a really good stout, the best by far from carlow and probably the only beer from them that i'd buy again

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Photo of necoadam
3.47/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours out a very, very dark brown color. Oh ok, it poured out a black color. Nice dose of roasted aromas here. Roasted malts and coffee come to mind. Very nice. Same goes with the taste. Nice roasted flavors in this stout. It's not sweet one bit either. It's almost like bitter cocoa. Aftertaste was mostly roasted flavors combined with some smokiness towards the very end. Very nicely done.

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Photo of CBFanWish
3.43/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark brown in colour with a thick frothy tan head. Chocolate aroma. Roasted Barley. The taste was of roasted barlley leaving a nice sweet chocolate taste.

I liked this beer. It didn't wow me like many stouts do, but it had a nice comfortalbe feel to it. I would drink it again, but I would have to be sure they're out of the better stouts. Better than Guinness, I'll tell you what.

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Photo of Southernbrew
3.72/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Very dark, some crimson, small head. Strong roasted smell, pretty nice. Also strong coffee with slight sweetness. Moderate mouthfeel with strong roasted coffee taste. Nice hops balance, just crisp enough. Very smooth aftertaste. Definitely a stout worth trying but not the best ever.

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Photo of Shiloh
3.06/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I find this Irish stout very thin.
On arrival the colour was almost coal black with a nice tan crown of about 1 finger. There is a little glass cling over time with a full island lace.
The aroma is a little disturbing in a worty like fashion.
Taste starts to a light coffee sensation accompanied by mild nuttiness as well, then progresses to a dark chocolate to end.
The body at best is a medium/light and the carbonation is average.
I expected more...

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Photo of Sammy
3.74/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Beatiful dark brown pour. Easy light drink, bit much on water, particularly with lower alcohol. A bit of bite -molasses and hoppy. Liked: Only mildly roasty, only bit of the coffee, and hint of chocolates and nutty. Clear freshness dating. Very good stout.

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Photo of murphyl
3.03/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured dark brown, with a decent volume of khaki-colored head. No lace on the glass to speak of, though my bottle seemed a little on the flat side - the head lasted for all of fifteen seconds, and there were very few bubbles when I swirled the glass for smell (see below). Oddly, all the back labels on the bottles were on upside down. (Apparently this isn't the only problem with Carlow's bottling process.)

Lots of roasted aroma, but not much beyond that. The nose seemed rather one-dimensional - not even any alcohol smell to balance out the roasted malt. I felt like I'd stuck my nose in a roasting kiln.

Flavor? What flavor? Again with the roasted notes, and a touch of coffee. Mouthfeel was creamy at first, but this beer has no finish to speak of - once you got past the first two swallows, the beer seemed quite thin, and even the ubiquitous roasted flavor dissipated within ten seconds. The beer I sampled also had a noticeably metallic overtone - I don't know if this was due to the bottle or some other problem with the brewing.

Overall, a mediocre stout - given the choice between this and "that other Irish stout," I'd take the stuff from St. James' Gate.

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Photo of TerryW
2.62/5  rDev -32.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Dark walnut coloured beer with a great looking tan coloured head that stayed and stayed and stayed. Great lacing. A very handsome beer.

Lots of things happening in the nose of this beer. Roasted and wet (?) smoke smell. Must be some manner of roasted malt. I'm afraid I didn't find the smell entirely enjoyable. The smokiness or burnt smell is unusual and a bit off-putting somehow.

Coffee and roasted malt flavours, but really a bit thin and watery on the palate. Lingering dry bitterness. Hops become more distinct as the beer warms.

Looks great, but after that really didn't work for me.

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Photo of IrishRedRock
4.11/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This is my last bottle of beer that I brought home from Ireland. It's been in the fridge since October and it's high time I drank it. Pours a beautiful deep brown, nearly black, with a nice light tan head that retains perfectly all the way towards the bottom. No Guinness cascading effect here, but just as pretty a picture.

Very burnt aroma with a heaping of dark dark chocolate and milder coffee. Flavor is not as complex as I had hoped, but still has some more things going on than that more popular (though still good) global Irish stout. Flavor is rather nutty, with a nice toasted grain flavor coming through to balance the strong chocolate overtones. Has a slightly sweet finish. Mouthfeel is exceptionally smooth, though a bit on the thin side. Could use a bit more body. Nonetheless, a great Irish stout, one that I wish I could have found on draught whilst I was in Ireland.

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Photo of GeoffRizzo
3.94/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pitch black hue, with a thin, off-white head that diminishes as the beer settles in. One word sums up the aroma - roast. Roasted malts, dark roasted coffee, a pleasant nose. Up front, a dark coffee bean flavoring, roasted malts, and borderline medium in the body. Some nutty flavoring and a decent amount of carbonation. Not as dry as expected, and in no way complex in the flavoring department; however, a pretty decent stout.

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Photo of findlayfan
3.53/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Light colored, modest head.

No real distictive smell.

Dark mahagony body with no bubbles.

Fairly dry--and thin--with a touch of bitterness in the aftertaste.

Overall, a reasonably drinkable stout - nothing special, but O.K. (and at my neighborhood outlet, a good value amongst Irish stouts).

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Photo of Naerhu
2.99/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Ingredients: Hops, malt and starch. (why starch?)
Appearance: Small tan head resting on a jet black body.
Aroma: Smells lightly of roasted malt.
Taste: Exceedingly dry with a forward yet light hop bitterness, minimal dried fruit.
Drinkability: A decent beer but nothing I would get excited about, as a matter of fact I had difficultly describing it due to this beer's reserved manner.

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Photo of mrpivo
4.55/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I've been noticing this brewers products for some time now. I'm impressed by the simple elegance of their labels. At times less is more impressive. The label in no way reflected the wonderful beer inside the bottle.

The appearance was typical of other stouts. Extremely black with a rich tan colored dense head. Some of the head lingered through the entire glass, creating a delicate lace as it was drank.

The aroma and taste was that of roasted coffee and chocolate which I found very enjoyable. Not overly bitter. Quite tasty. The body was also typical of other bottled Irish stouts. I'd have to call it medium. Alcohol was normal (4.5%), allowing me to enjoy more than one. Carbonation was slightly higher than say Guinness, but not completely out of style. It actually added to the overall impression of the beer.

I would definitely recommend this stout. and I plan on purchasing more n the future.

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Photo of flaminghomer
3.75/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

i picked this beer up at kroger last night. i am drinking it six months past the "best before end" date.

the look of this beer is very exciting. it's black with a very thick tan head.

first taste is very, very, roasty. with an aftertaste to match. to much roasted malt taste. surprise, surprise! by the third or forth drink things tend to mellow out and it is a very smooth mild stout. hmmm... some sort of magic trick.

this is a very good stout. just don't spend too much on it. there's nothing too exciting in it.

notes: did a trained monkey put on the labels?

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Photo of rastaman
3.3/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A pretty decent stout, dry and bitter, roasty and burnt, tastes very Irish. I fact, it tastes similar to the mainstream Irish Stouts, but with a touch more body, and less of that crappy creamyness, decent. A better alternative to Guinness, and it doesn't have the crappy nitro creamyness of Guinness.

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Photo of byrd
3.55/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Nice fluffy head that dissipates to a light tan rocky top that’s sticky and creates webs down the sides of the glass. The aroma is malty with slight roasty nature and a little hops. Color is black. Only a slight reddish hue could be seen through this brew even when help up to a bright light. Medium body with a nice smooth mouthfeel. Not an overly complex brew with a fairly roasted malt character and some chocolate and coffee notes. Very little hops here. Finishes dry and roasty with a few more hints of chocolate towards the end. Roasted flavor was again apparent in the aftertaste.

I saw that O’hara’s got good reviews in All About Beer Magazine, so when I saw this one in the store, I thought I’d give it a shot. Although this is certainly a good brew that is quite drinkable, it didn’t quite make me jump out of my seat with a smile. I won’t avoid this one in the future, but I’m not running to stock the fridge with it either.

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Photo of SeanChouffe
3.57/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured an opaque black with a hint of red, a nice tan head and a decent clingy lace. The head subdued quite quickly, but maintained a fine layer. The aroma was roasted, malty, and of caramel with a background a presence of fruit. The Flavor starts slightly sweet and roasted, but finishes dry and with a lasting bite. The mouth feel is smooth and effervescent, but a little thin, and dry. Admittedly, I am not a huge fan of this style, but I prefer a more dynamic brew that possesses a little more texture and body.

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Photo of dmarch
3.83/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A damn good stout, but not as good as I remember it. Black as night with a long lasting head. Aroma is chocolately with some coffee notes. Taste is sweet and chocolately with a dry coffee finish. The finish seems a bit thin. It's still a good find for stout fans though.

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Photo of maxpower
2.68/5  rDev -30.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Jet black in color, small creamy light tan head, aroma of dark roasted coffee and malts. Medium body, thin and watery mouthfeel. Cofffee and chocolate flavors, with a decent burnt bitterness in the finish, some what watery, not all that great, I don't want another one.

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O'Hara's Irish Stout from Carlow Brewing Company
3.88 out of 5 based on 938 ratings.
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