Monday, March 16, 2009

O'Hara's Irish Red (2009 original review)

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
Chad9976 (569) - Albany, USA - FEB 27, 2010
I’ve never been a big fan of Irish Reds because they’re inherently bland, mild beers. I didn’t think it was even possible to make a beer in this style that was genuinely flavorful until I tried O’Hara’s Irish Red.


The beer pours a little rough, which is fine because it produces a large layer of beige, foamy head which lasts throughout the drink and leaves plenty of lacing on the glass. The body has a beautiful, crystal-clear, shade of perfect red. The aroma is sweet with indication of malts and hops.


Whenever a beer of an otherwise mild style is bustling with taste it’s very impressive to me. That’s how I felt as soon as I took my first sip of O’Hara’s Irish Red. A distinct sweet flavor of caramel is noticeable. Additionally, a hop bitterness makes itself known giving the beer a quality similar to a pale ale (but then again an Irish Red is just a form of that style anyway).

Overall, the taste is exactly as the label describes: “A full bodied Irish red with a traditional hop flavor to balance a sweet malt finish.” If only all beers were marketed so honestly.


Although this beer has a bit more discernable carbonation to its composition, it is not difficult to drink. With a sweet taste that isn’t too strong and a body that’s more tepid than most, O’Hara’s is a fairly smooth brew.


Beers brewed in the “Irish Red” style are usually intended to be session brews, there’s nothing “imperial” about beers of this type. O’Hara’s definitely would make a case for that as it’s only 4.3% ABV and less filling than most beers of the style.


I was very discouraged by Smithwick’s, but I’m glad I tried O’Hara’s Irish Red because it made me a believer in the style.

Grade: 8/10

NOTE: see my 2017 re-review to BJCP specs here: