Food & drink

Craft Beer: Tall tales and velvet in a glass

O'Hara's Irish Red Nitro
Paul McConville

IF you are American or have lived there, then the notion of 'going down to the liquor store to buy a few tall boys' won't seem like an alien concept.

For many of us, the US vernacular in many areas of life can be puzzling. When it comes to beer, a 'tall boy' is a large can.

There's much debate about exactly how tall a tall boy must be, but it has something to do with fluid ounces and that's just not something we're going to get into now - or probably ever.

The tall boy can came into my head when I clocked a fellow supermarket shopper scanning a few Guinness Surger cans recently.

If you're not up to speed with this, don't worry I'm not going to get into too much depth, except to say that you need to fork out for a piece of equipment then buy specially designed lofty cans of Guinness in order to replicate the experience of a freshly pulled pint in a pub.

Of course, the distinctive look of Guinness comes from the use of nitrogen (again, no science lesson coming up) but many microbrewers have also been climbing onto the nitro train and it's not just stout that's getting the treatment.

One of Ireland's oldest independent brewers is O'Hara's of Carlow. Their foray into nitro has taken them to creating an Irish Red Nitro ale, which is basically velvet in a glass. This was initially released as a draught-only brew a few years ago, but is now available in modestly tall cans.

Some of you might remember some other non-stout nitro beers from years ago such as Kilkenny and Caffrey's.

This Irish Red achieves the great smoothness you'd expect from a nitro beer, but has a beautiful depth of flavour which wasn't always apparent in the nitro offerings from the bigger breweries many moons ago.

Once it settles, it's a ruby red colour in the glass with a creamy, slightly off-white head. There's no prizes for picking out the smooth and creamy mouthfeel, but that is merely the platform for some sweet, biscuity malt flavours.

There's flavours of toffee and a soft bitterness, and even a little hint of spice coming through from the roasted barley. That all contributes to bring a warming feel to this easy drinking red ale which clocks in at a manageable 4.3 per cent.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Food & drink