Monday, March 17, 2014

St Patrick's Day Pick : Leann Follain Extra Stout (O'Hara's, Carlow Brewing, Ireland)

Not even the sleepy Emerald Isle can escape the sweeping burgeoning beer-tsunami that is the craft beer movement. Over half of the 37 breweries (at last count) on the island have been set-up since 2009, and there has been a surge in public interest in independent craft beers, even as the recession closes many pubs, re-inforcing my suspicion that EVERYTHING in Ireland has improved since I was banished from it's shores (!) Long before the current boom, Seamus O'Hara and his brother Eamonn founded Carlow Brewing way back in 1996 as a family-owned brewery located in the heart of Ireland's malt-growing Barrow Valley region (based in Bagenalstown, Co. Carlow). Originally 75% of the beer they produced was consumed in the US and while America is still their biggest market, encouragingly 50% is now sold in there homeland of Ireland. From humble beginnings O'Hara's has grown to become Ireland's largest independent craft brewery, selling to 20 countries, producing over 2 million liters of beer annually and expanding it's workforce to a massive 15. "Leann Follain" (Gaelic for "wholesome stout" - and no, I don't speak the language but I am working on my English) is my favorite of the beers we carry by them. It's a full-bodied extra stout, roasty with flavors of dark chocolate, biscuity with a sweet hint of vanilla and mocha and a pleasant maltiness. Although in appearance it presents itself as a typical Irish stout with an opaque blackness and tan head it's definitely not typical in that it has a juicy finish as opposed to the dryness we are more used to for the style. The ABV is also a wee bit more substantial at 6%, and overall it's a luxurious and refreshing, satisfying stout that you will enjoy immensely especially given it's ridiculously low price of $6.99 for a 4pk of 11.2oz bottles! Also available - O'Hara's Irish Red, Stout (Irish Stout) and Pale Ale.

More information:
Carlow Brewing Company
Murine Bheag Business Park
Royal Oak Road, Bagnelstown
Co. Carlow, Ireland

Ratings : Beer Advocate : 89 (Very Good) Rate Beer : Overall 92, Style 90 UNTAPPD : 3.70/5
My Rating : B and 3.5 on UNTAPPD

The brewery also operates a pub called "Brewery Corner" in Kilkenny (20km from the brewery) that exclusively serves Irish craft beer with 13 beers currently on tap.