O'Hara's Irish Stout | Carlow Brewing Company

very good
950 Ratings
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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Ratings: 950 |  Reviews: 491
Photo of Contagion
3.67/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

It is black, like a dark coffee. Light barely passes through the beer, and when it does there is a crimson tint to it. A thick tan head forms when the beer is poured. It fades slowly to a film on the top of the beer. There is some lacing on the side of the glass.

The smell is a rich blend of a dark roasted coffee with cream. There is a touch of a chocolate undertone to it. The scent reminded me of a Starbuck's Frapuccino. The scent was so inviting I could hardly wait to taste it. When I took my first sip, I was kind of disappointed. It didn't live up to the smell. The taste was a dry mixture of roasted coffee and chocolate malts. There is a mild bitterness to the finish. As the beer warms closer to room temperature the flavors open up even more.

In contrast to what the label claims, this is a medium bodied beer. There is barely any creaminess to it that is normally associated with stouts.

When I took my first smell of this beer, I was greeted with such a phenomenal scent that I was sure this was going to be one of the best stouts I've had in a long, long time. However, the taste did not match the scent and I was disappointed. There is a good taste to it, but it just didn't live up to the smell. With a 4.3% ABV, I could see sitting with friends and drinking this in an evening at the pub.

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Photo of nem2006
4.21/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I had this on draft at Maggie Miley's in Normal, IL. If you are ever in the area, check it out. A great Irish pub.

Dark color, almost black, creamy head that holds very well and leaves nice lacing on the glass.

The nose is roasted. Nothing that really distinguishes itself.

The taste really is the thing that gets me. Even though it is hailed as a Dry stout I found it very creamy, almost milky and somewhat sweet. There are hints of coffee and a little caramel in there. The finish is smooth for this medium to full-bodied beer. Very tasty and I prefer this over Guinness. If I see this on tap anywhere, I will be sure to snag a pint.

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Photo of jujubeast6000
3.56/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed 4/19/09 (Bottle):

Pours a very dark colored body, nearly pitch black. Big creamy head, very lasting. Aroma of sweet malty notes. English smelling. Chocolate taste, smoky almost ashy taste. Some bitterness, lots of malt. Creamy body. Damn tasty! A little bitter as it warms up.

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Photo of albern
3.98/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is a very tasty stout but it is not quite as dry as say a Guinness or a Beamish, in fact there are some sweet malty notes to be found in the stout. The beer pours a deep dark mahogany color almost impenetrable to light. The head is very thick, tan, creamy, very inviting. The beer laces well and has good head retention. The nose on the beer is better as it settles. A first, I was getting a rather pungent earthy and musty whiff, but this segued nicely into just a roasted, coffee, butterscotch aroma with maybe a touch of molasses.

The taste is surprisingly complex, and it gets more so as it settles in. For starters there is definitely your typical roasted dark malts, some charcoal like ashiness present, but there is a nice underlying hop bitterness, and some toffee-ish malts that make this a fine complementary type of melange. The beer is creamy, and medium bodied, and not at all watery. This is a bit more beefed up than say a Guinness and it has more burnt and roasted notes present. There is a touch of chalky floral to the beer, that isn't detracting from the experience mind you. The aftertaste is a bit lingering, especially for a low 4.3 ABV beer. The mouthfeel is a bit oily, a bit bittering and mouth puckering, especially for a stout. This is an interesting stout, worth seeking out, for nothing less than its complexity. This is a real change up from a Guinness, and not entirely an in the box Irish Dry Stout style of beer. L'chaim.

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Photo of TheycallmeTim
4.68/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On-tap (may have been nitro, not sure) at Franklin Park in Brooklyn. Poured into American shaker pint.

A--Nice slow waterfall of sedimentary rising as the head forms and the pint settles--deep coffee colored foam turns hot chocolate and finally creme colored at the top, as it mellows to about a finger of dense, dense cream. Body is nearly pitch black except for the bottom, which is ruby.

S--Roasted and toffee notes, with some smoke and charcoal back there. Smells rich, with a faint coffee bitterness bubbling into the nose, too.

T--Holy cow--pitch perfect for the style. Complex but still in the vein of a straightforward session stout. Smoky again, with definite dark roasted coffee flavors in there. Almost a liquid smoke molasses thing going on, which just sort of nips in at the middle, followed by a charcoal nudge and a final pronounced bitter finish. You taste this one after you're done tasting it, for sure--my mouth was happily puckered with the roastiness and, I think, actual hops (some UK or Irish variety? can't tell but the taste is definitely in the finish, in the form of more bitter and a lovely wet earthiness, which is outta sight for an IDS).

M--Super creamy and rich without being milky or full. Furthest thing from watery draft stout (ahem, cough, Guiness, cough cough) you can get.

D--Really a winner--this beer seems almost made for happy hour, although a night at the pub with some fine music and food would be twice as nice. Kicks the arse off other stouts from the Emerald Isle, Seems fresh despite the plane ride. Dunno what the bottle tastes like, but if you're feeling like a stout when you're out and this is on tap, give it a whirl. At 4.3 you could actually take a few rides without head injury or blood.

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Photo of tronester
4.17/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours an almost pitch black with a medium tan head. Smell is of coffee, oak, and some ripe fruit. Taste is quite dry, coffee and chocolate up front, a hint of malt in the middle, and a nice earthy bitterness in the finish. Mouthfeel a tiny bit watery, and high carbonation, but nothing too bad. Super drinkable beer, with its full flavor yet low alcohol you could drink these all night. Probably the best Dry Stout I have had, highly recommended.

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Photo of MillRat
4.63/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Actually two reviews here, see below for bottled beer comments.

Served in an O'Hara's pint glass at the Bull & Castle, Dublin. Black brew with glints of ruby if you hold it to the light. Cocoa-brown head that persists. Aromas of sweet malt and chocolate and roasted grain dominate. A creamy but not sweet body with roasted flavors ranging from dark caramel to chocolate to coffee to charcoal, all quite well balanced with a bit of hop bitterness making a cameo appearance in the aftertaste. After a pint of this you wonder why you thought Guinness draught was in any way special. This should be in the BJCP list as the exemplar of Irish stout. I should get my pint refilled, too. Outside of the Imperial range, this is the most complex and flavorful stout I've had, and unlike the Impys, this does not weary the taste buds or overtax the liver. This is worthy of a quest.

Bottled notes: Poured from a 50 cl bottle that rode back from Ireland in checked baggage on Aer Lingus. Appearance is a constant, but the full range of roasted flavors is less apparent, focusing more on a dark-roast coffee note. For that I'd drop the taste and drinkability ratings by a point each.

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Photo of jasonjlewis
4.18/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a nice 1 1/2 finger head with great lacing and a nice dark brown color.

Smell is of burnt malts and coffee with some fruity undertones such as plum.

T+M: Super creamy mouthfeel. Nice diacetly buterscotch notes go well with this beer. Taste of burnt malts with a nice thick malt back bone.

This is a great Irish Stout. This should be the example of the style and not Guinness.

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

I've found this and their Irish Red in stores around here. This is a very nice stout. It's a very dark brown, almost black, color with a small tan head. Coffee and roasted malt aroma. Nice bitter espresso taste. Dry on the palate. Good beer to drink, will look for it again.

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Photo of numinorian
2.47/5  rDev -36.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

A Almost opaque in color, with a tan, fairly thick head, and sticky lace.

S This beer gives you charred grain smell with about nothing else

T Sweet cereal, with a somewhat dry roasted malt

MF is full thick and oily

Drinkability is harsh. Thick and hard with a charred dryness.

Overall this beer is fairly solid in the style but unimaginative. Getting through it was not as much as fun as I had hoped it would be.

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Photo of GodOfBeer
4.05/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep brown(black) with a off-white creamy head, leaves no lacing on the glass...

Smells roasty, dark malts, some coffee, toffee, very nice.

Tastes of roasted dark malts, coffee, toffee, has a nice hoppy bitterness, very well balanced.

Very creamy mouthfeel, the nitrogen I guess. Very drinkable stout, much better than Guinness.

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

Appearance- Black body, tan head, decent lacing.

Smell- strong roasty aromas, some caramel and toffee, dry grain aromas

Taste- Sweet malt, lots of dry grain, slight roastiness, mild flavors of cocoa, and light hop-bitterness.

Mouthfeel- Medium body with good carbonation.

Drinkability- A little too dry for my taste. Not my favorite stout. To be honest, this beer has sort of turned me off of Irish stouts for the time being. There's nothing that stands out as wrong with the brew, but there's nothing too impressive either. The flavors are a little too subtle as far as stouts go.

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Photo of Stimack
3.81/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Had this one left over from St. Pattys day so I thought it would make a great start to the weekend. This brew poured to a very dark brown, maybe even black color with a thick pillowy tan head that had great retention and left nice lacing. The aroma, very inciting though I really had to put my nose into this one, chocolate, roasted malts, slight lactic sourness and coffee come to mind. The flavor is nice, roasted malt, bitterness adds to the chocolate feel and the finish is dry with a slight sour taste. The bitterness of this one is a little surprising but it does well. While this brew for me is light in its feel, but all of the Irish Stouts seem to be, it is a nice and a step ahead of the Beamish and Murphy's and seems to be way ahead of Guinness. Overall this is a great brew, one I would get during the St. Patty's timeframe.

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Photo of MrIncognito
3.71/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 11.2oz bottle

A - Black brew that reveals red hues in the light. Big 2-finger sticky off-white head that is serious gorgeous. The head sticks around for about 3 minutes but leaves clinging lace all over the glass as it fades. One of the prettier heads I've seen.

S - Not extremely aromtic. I was worried I was going to suck some of the beer into my nose trying to smell this one. Roasted malts with some dark fruits in the background lending some sweetness. A bit of coffee and chocolate lingers.

T&M - Incredibly smooth and not as thick as expected. Minimal carbonation. First taste is a nice smooth dark-roasted malts, not burnt. Behind the malts come some coffee notes with even perhaps a little honey. There is definitely some sweetness there. I am getting a strange taste that I'm not terribly thrilled with. Kind of an odd copper-metallic taste. Perhaps they brew this in copper kettles? It's not bad, I'm just not a huge fan of this flavor. Seems to domininate the taste after swallowed

D - Very drinkable and tasty. At 4.3% I could drink this all night.

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Photo of Richardberg
4.25/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: poured from a bottle into a pint glass. Dark brown with a small to medium tan foam.

S: roasted malts, coffee, caramel, hint of nutmeg

T: just like it smells, with a slight hops bitterness for balance

M: creamy and smooth, just what the Irish stouts excel at

D: more than the sum of its parts. Like someone took Guinness and tweaked it so it was slightly better in every way, with a dramatic overall result. The perfect session beer.

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

As an Irish stout goes, this is my favorite. No question.

On tap in temple bar district in dublin, the color was unbelievably dark. like a black hole, no light escapes. Held up to the sun through a pint glass only the faintest shimmer could be seen. I knew i was in for an interesting beer.

The smell was good. Roasted hops prevailed with a coffee and spicy notes. I thought paprika, but couldnt put my finger on it.

The taste was equal to the smell. Full flavoured. Full bodied. Delicious. Smooth. Ahhh, glory. This was my last, and best stout of my Ireland trip.

The drinkability was good but strong flavours tended to slow the consumption a bit. Not a bad thing though with a drink like this. Not at all watery or metallic (slight at another famous stout).

I will try it out of a bottle in the future to see if it lives up the the glory that was fresh from the tap.

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Photo of ironarrow42
4.68/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a deep auburn-black with coppery-amber highlight. The pale beige head falls to a thin layer slowly, leaving some lace on the glass. Somewhat subtle aroma of dark malt with some roast and a fruity note.

Medium-light body with a smooth texture and very fine carbonation tingle. The flavours start out mildly with some dry, dark malt, a light fruity note, and a minerally edge, then a big roasty character explodes on the palate, evolving into bitter roast coffee. Some tangy notes play at the sides of the tongue into the finish, which lingers nicely.

Plenty of flavour in this one and it's also very drinkable, and at 4.3% ABV would make an excellent session beer. Leaves some lovey "Irish lace" on the glass, too! I think this would pair nicely with oysters and mussels, and also with fine chocolates.

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Photo of glid02
4.1/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Picked this up for St. Patrick's Day at Tower on Piedmont in Atlanta.

Pours a very dark brown with a one-finger tan head. The head sticks around for a while before dissipating into a thin layer on top leaving solid lacing.

Smells of creamy roasted malt with hints of coffee.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Lightly roasted malt flavors with mild coffee flavors that carry through until the dry and bitter ending.

Mouthfeel is very good. It's got a smooth thickness with solid carbonation that makes this go down smoothly.

Drinkability is great. I will have no problem finishing this one and can drink plenty more, especially with the 4.3% ABV.

Overall this is one of my favorite Irish Dry Stouts, definitely one of the more flavorful beers in the style, and well worth a shot.

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Photo of selecter70
4.83/5  rDev +24.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This has been referred to as the "Guinness-Killer" recently, & I could'nt agree more! This simply is my favorite stout out there (thank you Publick House!) & I can imagine Diageo plotting to curb it's distribution in order to prevent it from harming their mega-sales. It seems that you used to be able to get a Beamish or Murphy's more regularly around town, and I loved that...especially when you had the choice (after all, place serve several brands of IPAs &c...why not stouts?). Nevertheless, this stout came with a beautiful, rich black-brown body & dense, firm tan head of 1& 1/2 fingers. Nice lace held throughout and retained the flavor & body well. The aroma is spot-on stout, all roasted malts & bready-nut goodness. Hints of coffee & chocolate round out the flavor with good roasted grain & malt with full bitter mixed with creamy sweet & a rich, dry finish. Full but wholly drinkable...must get more....& so should you

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Photo of leif86
4.35/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Black body (as one would expect) with some dark brown glow around the fringes of my Duvel. The head is light tan in color and just over a finger's width but leaves good lacing.

S: Burnt grain with an aroma of alcohol that is warming but not overwhelming.

T: A definite fruity sweetness that I wasn't expecting but quite enjoy coupled with subtle coffee and chocolate notes. Finishes a bit dry and little earthy.

M: Maybe a tad on the thin side but overall it's right on.

D: Quite lovely! If you let it warm it's vastly more drinkable, I get a metallic taste with this beer too cold of a temperature - this becomes sweet instead when it warms up.

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Photo of tjkurz
4.06/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this at Stone Bank Inn on tap served in imperial pint glass. Black with thick and creamy tan head - this head held peaks if you whisked it with a utensil - I gotta say that I have never really seen - you could eat this beer with a spoon. After that the smell and taste are good for this style roasty but mild - dry finish - not very carbed, easy drinking lower alcohol at 4.3.

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Photo of jkendrick
3.65/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

A: Dark brown with amber light showing through on the edges. The off-white to brown head is not too thick and recedes quickly leaving lots of lacing.

S: Lots of roasted malt though the aroma is mild overall. There is some coffee that smells sort of like burnt Starbucks (is that redundant?).

MF: It's medium-bodied at best despite the label's claims of "full bodied." Speaking of which, it has a soda watery type carbonation, not at all the "luxuriously smooth" of the label.

T: There is some bitterness but the roasted malt keep it in check. There is definitely some coffee going on and, as the aroma suggests, it is slightly burnt tasting perhaps accounting for the bitterness.

Overall: My first O'Hara's having grown up on Guinness, Beamish and Murphy's. I have to say that they could get the mouthfeel under control (I'd imagine this is less of an issue on tap), it would be hands-down my favorite Irish Stout.

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Photo of schellsbeer
4.13/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A Huge thanks to KeefD for throwing a bottle my way. Thanks again Keith.

A - Very Black. Light...what light. No light comes through this stout. Excellent. Nice 1" tan head that doesn't want to leave.

S - Roasted Malts. Dark bitter burnt chocolate. Fresh smelling. This stuff seems to have just been made. Very nice. Quality ingredients went into making this.

T - First mouthful is crutial. Here goes... Coats the mouth with thickness. Burnt Malts. Excellent. Bitter. Wonderful. One of the best dry Irish Stouts I have had the priviledge to have. Reminds me of that "other" irish extra stout but seems to be a little more something there. I love Murphy's and I really like O'Hara's but taste very different. More flavor that Murphy's but not as creamy. Overall, very good stout.

M - Creamy but not as much as Murphy's Irish Stout. Coats the mouth with bitter flavor. Excellent.

D - Very high. Low ABV which I love. I could drink many of these without thinking much about it. Nice....very nice.

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Photo of number1bum
3.8/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep, dark brown color that's pretty much opaque with a creamy two plus fingers of tan head. Retention is quite good, with a solid lace and some stick here and there on the sides.

Smells of roasted malt with a bit of coffee, and also some nice chocolaty sweetness. There is some grain in the nose, as well, and it's not super-robust, but it is nice.

Taste has a good amount of roasted malt in it with just a bit of burnt grain and coffee flavor, as well. There is some cocoa powder flavor, as well; the nose seemed more chocolaty, but this is dry cocoa instead. There's just a bit too much of a husky, griany bite to this, but still it's quite flavorful. It's smooth with a pretty nice creaminess to it, with a light-medium body. It's dry in the finish with a bit of roasted malt and grain left on the palate.

This is just a solid brew, very easy drinking and tasty. I certainly would not turn one down.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
4.2/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Excellent low alcohol, traditional Irish Stout. Hallelujah! An alternative to Guiness that actually tastes of something real. Pours very dark brown, almost black. Smells roasty and creamy and a bit grainy. Not too heavy, but substantially heavier aroma than Guiness and a lot roastier. Tastes quite balanced between the roasty elements and the creaminess. There is also a light ashiness throughout that I find to be pleasant. Very dry and creamy, a bit of lingering bitterness make this quite satisfying. Very nice, and glad to get this in Black Booty.

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O'Hara's Irish Stout from Carlow Brewing Company
3.88 out of 5 based on 950 ratings.
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