Better known as O’Hara’s Brewery, Carlow Brewing Company was founded in 1996 by the O’Hara family and is one of the most successful and oldest of Ireland’s craft breweries. The brewery is located in Bagenalstown, Co. Carlow, the heart of Ireland’s historical hop- and malt-growing Barrow Valley region, where the water supply is particularly suited to brewing stouts and ales.
The brewery is independent and family owned. A new custom-built brewery was opened in 2009 and expanded in 2011 with the addition of a new automated kegging line, more tank capacity and more warehouse space. A new partnership with the Lexington Brewing Company in Kentucky will see the Carlow Brewing Company move into new territory, when they start to distil whiskey. They are also now acting as importers for the Lexington Brewing Co.’s Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale.
Founder Seamus O’Hara explains the philosophy: “We have gone back to basics and brew our beers as they used to be brewed – with natural ingredients and no artificial additives. We believe this leads to a superior quality product with robust body, taste, flavour and aroma.” Enthusiastic consumer response certainly bears this out as well as a host of awards over the years.
Available in both bottle and cask, there are five beers in the core range: O’Hara’s Irish Stout, O’Hara’s Leann Folláin, O’Hara’s Irish Red, O’Hara’s Irish Pale Ale and Curim Gold Celtic Wheat Beer. New additions to the range include O’Hara’s Natural Blonde and an oak-aged version of Leann Folláin as well as the seasonal Winter Star amber ale.
Tours of the brewery give Ireland’s indigenous brewing history and include tastings, though they must be arranged in advance. The beer can be found in bottles and on draught throughout Ireland as well as in 20 countries around the world.