Home > Imperial Stout, Stout > O’Hara’s 20th Anniversary Imperial Stout

O’Hara’s 20th Anniversary Imperial Stout

Rating: 3.7

My eleventh beer from the Carlow Brewing Company now and what I believe will be my ninth under their O’Hara’s banner. The beer is a limited release that has been available since around March of 2016 as a 20th Anniversary Imperial Stout to celebrate twenty years since the original brewery was founded back in 1996. I stumbled across this beer while I was visiting Armagh in the north of Ireland last month and quickly picked up two bottles, trying one the next evening while keeping a second to age and see how it tastes at a later date. Labelled as a complex brew with rich coffee and chocolate notes, the brewery mentions that the taste should continue to develop for years and I’m hopeful it will prove to be a good decision in picking up two bottles. This one will be my first imperial stout from the brewery but I have tried two other stouts from them previously, their O’Hara’s Leann Folláin dry stout which I reviewed here back in July 2015 as well as trying their excellent, flagship O’Hara’s Irish Stout numerous times over the years so this was definitely one I was looking forward to going in; here’s what I thought of it.

oharas-20th-anniversary-imperial-stout

Appearance (5/5): Quite a thick, dark beer that is black in colour and comes with an opaque body. There was a one and a half centimetre head on top that was foamy looking with the odd bubble near the centre. Head retention was quite good, particularly for the strength of the beer and there wasn’t much movement or reduction in size over the opening minutes really. Eventually losing about a third of its initial size, the head manages to leave some nice touches of lacing on the sides of the glass as I started to drink the beer.
Aroma (7/10): Slightly fruity on the nose initially, there was a sweet-smelling beer that opened with some cherries and a hint of plum coming through alongside an excellent helping of chocolate and plenty of darker malts. There was some coffee notes nearer the middle of the beer and I got some touches of spice too but further sweetness was added thanks to some vanilla and oak notes. Despite being a beer with quite a high abv., this one didn’t have an overly strong nose but there was some burnt sugars and roasted notes that brought things to quite a nice close.
Taste (7/10): Opening with quite a lot of milky notes and some lactose, there was a definite milk chocolate taste to this one in the early going with some touches of liquorice in there too. I found this one to be quite a creamy tasting beer that featured some pleasant coffee flavours towards the middle, although they seemed a little subdued when compared to those from the nose. There was again a hint of spice and some darker fruits coming through towards the end, hints of plum and cherries featuring alongside some raisin and figs before the vanilla from the nose seen things out. It’s quite a nice tasting beer but I’d have liked it to come through just a little bit stronger really.
Palate (3/5): Quite a creamy beer that came through quite balanced and smooth with a medium body that could perhaps have been a little fuller. There was touches of spice nearer the end of the beer and it also turned out to be slightly boozy at that point too, something not unexpected for a 10% abv. beer. There wasn’t quite as much complexity to this one as I’d have liked in truth but the balance was nice enough and carbonation wise the beer sat somewhere around moderate; the sweetness being the most memorable things about this one in truth and something that got stronger as things went on.

Overall (14/20): Quite a nice beer overall without being a standout, although to be honest I was probably expecting more from this considering it’s a 20th anniversary beer from the brewery. It opened with some nice sweetness thanks to the sugars as well as some dark fruits then later on some vanilla but it definitely wasn’t the strongest tasting beer, something I wasn’t expecting to say about one coming in at 10% really. It had quite a smooth, creamy feel with milky chocolate dominating the taste but it could have been darker and more complex. It’s one that I’m still glad to have picked up and tried but I’m hoping the bottle I’m ageing turns out to be better than this one.

Brewed In: Muine Bheag, County Carlow, Ireland
Brewery: Carlow Brewing Company
First Brewed: 2016
Type: Imperial Stout
Abv: 10.0%
Serving: Bottle (375ml)
Purchased: The Wine Store (Armagh)
Price: £3.99

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