A Tale of Two Beers

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For a long time, I’ve not been a massive fan of the beers done by O’Hara’s Brewery. They’ve never really floated my boat. I’ve always preferred that if I’m paying a premium for my beer, I want it to be exciting. And in that, I believe I’ve discovered my error with them. And it took a little beer by them called ‘Opsession to show me the error of my ways.

My mistake with O’Hara’s was wishing they were something they’re not, instead of fully appreciating what they are; a craft brewery that makes well made, accessible craft beers that can be appreciated by macro-drinkers and craft beer drinkers alike. They’re not a brewery intent on pushing the boundaries. Instead, they are a brewery that sets the mark for where craft beer starts in Ireland. And this is a good thing.

No, I’m not going crazy. I think my previous views on them were crazy. Not every brewery wants to be Stone Brewing or Dogfish Head. Some are happy to produce solid, well made, consistent inoffensive & easily transitional beers. And these beers are what can help provide respite beers for hopheads who just want a well-made craft pale ale, red ale or stout without the thinking.

‘Opsession

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ABV: 4.0%

Description: Session IPA

When I first tried ‘Opsession, I was really happy with the bitterness levels, & the body for the ABV. I was disappointed there was almost no aroma worth talking about on the beer. And I felt it shortchanged me as a session IPA. And it bugged me for a few days. That’s when it dawned on me.

I’m so used to session IPA’s like BrewDog Dead Pony Club, Blacks of Kinsale’s The Session, or Beavertown’s NeckOil, I’d completely forgotten that not all session IPA’s are going to be in the American vein. O’Hara’s are not a producer of American influenced beers. They produce their beers in their style (which has served them through 20 years of existence in Ireland. Twenty Years.

O’Hara’s take on a session IPA was always going to be subtle. It was never trying to be Dead Pony Club, or The Session. It was going to be a light, refreshing yet bitter IPA that wouldn’t kick the s**t out of your senses. It’s not designed to. And as they rightly point out,

This year we celebrate 20 years of brewing and ‘Opsession is the latest in a new wave of beers we are releasing as a result. We hope that such a wide and diverse range of beers will show our fans that we want to continue to lead the Irish craft beer revolution and push the envelope in terms of innovation. We feel like we are only getting started and want to constantly evolve to deliver.

O’Hara’s overnight are not going to join the extreme brewer’s club. There is no way they are going to bin twenty years of hard work, dedication & investment to join what really when it’s said & done right now is a hop-fad (Yes, I’m aware as a hophead I just said that – but it’s true). They’ve created an IPA for those who want to enjoy a couple of them without feeling like they’ve chewed the cud of Yakima Valley in the process, or lost the ability to taste. And for that, Opsession is a well-crafted session IPA in O’Hara’s style.

I feel a bit of an asshat for giving it 2.75 stars on Untappd along with my comments when I look back in retrospect. Session IPA is not narrowly defined as some hop-insanity-lite, nor is the style owned by the popular session IPA producers we get here in Ireland, the UK or the USA.

RATING: review-fullreview-fullreview-full

O’Hara’s Double IPA

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ABV: 7.5%ABV

Description: Bold Double IPA

With the realisation from ‘Opsession, I decided to revisit a beer that for a long time has born a huge amount of my ire; Double IPA by O’Hara’s. I’ve for a long time publicly stated that this beer was an insult to double IPA’s, & if anything it was just a tarted up IPA that was too sweet & had nothing bold about it.

I can admit when I’m wrong. I’m not above that. I’m not saying ‘I’ve seen the light, & I’m converted‘, but I can say I’ve viewed this beer wrongly. And as a result, I’ve also judged it wrong too.

As everyone knows, I love Stone & BrewDog. I also love Sierra Nevada & I used to be a massive shill for Ballast Point before they sold their souls. I held Ruination by Stone, & Hardcore IPA as two of my all-time favorite double IPA’s. I am still very much in love with Sierra Nevada Torpedo all these years later. I have held these as benchmark beers for a long time. And that was another mistake. These beers aren’t benchmarks. If anything, they’re beers I have alot of love far & I shouldn’t compare new beers I try to these, & then slap ones that do not ‘meet them’. Each beer should be on its own merit.

And as a result, when I went back to try O’Hara’s Double IPA, I had a new appreciation for it looking at it & approaching it very differently. I actually understand this beer now. I ‘get’ where O’Hara’s are coming from with it. And it is an incredibly accessible double IPA. We really don’t have these in our double IPA selection in Ireland. We only have extreme & even more extreme in the limited choice of them. There is nothing to take a casual IPA drinker to an occasional double IPA without obliterating their senses.

And this beer does bridge that gap. It gives them their higher ABV. It gives them a lot more hop character, but the sweetness is there to help make sure they don’t end up with a mouth as dry as Moses’ sandals. This might even find its way to some regularity with me over the coming Autumn & Winter months where I want the malt & bitter ooomf of a double IPA, but I’d rather like my senses to be left in one piece for the evening.

RATING: review-fullreview-fullreview-fullreview-full

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