So here we are sampling an Irish beer which isn't Guinness. I've actually had O'hara's Irish Red a few times on draught during my trip to Dublin a few years ago as it made a nice change to the black stuff, but I'm curious to see how it holds out in it's own right. Compared to Guinness this is a very new brewery having been founded in 1996 in the Irish town of Carlow. The brewery has a decent range including two stouts which I'll try to get my hands on as soon as possible, a couple of IPA's and a lager so they have something to please most palates.
O'hara's Irish Red comes in a nice enough 330ml red labelled bottle which tells us that this is a traditional ale with 'a traditional hop flavour' that 'balances the sweet malt caramel taste.' I'm starting to remember why I liked this beer in Dublin as I usually enjoy a nice malty beer and who doesn't like caramel? The 4.3% alcohol content isn't exactly an outstanding offer but it's enough to get you going. The beer pours a very dark red with a disappointing head that turns to lacing in the blink of the eye, so that's not a very good start.
The aroma is reasonably pleasant, but also quite weak. There's some malts in there and some toffee/caramel making for quite a sweet smell, however it's so faint you really have to get your nose pretty close to pick up anything at all. I'm starting to think that my memories of O'hara's Irish Red are probably better than the reality back in England, but I'm hoping the taste will be more like what I remember. The texture of the beer is about medium bodied, so like everything else so far it's all just a bit middly.
The taste very much matches the smell. It's pleasant, it's malty, and sure enough there's a nice caramel and toffee finish. There's some bitter notes in there too, but in all honesty all of the tastes are just notes rather than anything that really hits you. I guess you could say that means it's all blended together quite well, but in reality it just all feels a bit mild, a bit safe, and almost a bit watered down. I'm going to give O'hara's Irish Red 6.5 out of 10. It's a perfectly pleasant drink, but it's a bit boring.