Sunday, 14 April 2013

#138: Better Than The Best

Or at least, as good as.
That's what the O'Shea's range in Aldi is, when compared to it's flagship stablemate O'Hara's. I wasn't expecting much when I picked them up, so pleasant surprise was the order of the day.

First up is their Pale Ale. I pours similar to the O'Hara's version, albeit with a lesser head. The aroma is really nice, with a strong hop profile to the fore with fruity floral notes, backed up by biscuit malts. The taste delivers on the promise, with perhaps more toffee and butter from the malt than before. It's bitter, fruity and very drinkable. Perfect fridge fodder.

The Irish Ale of the range appears to be the equivalent of the O'Hara's Red, and reds don't often treat me well. This was more dark brown than red though, and the nose offered plenty of nice nutty and woody malts, with hints of toffee and even smoke throughout. It smells sweet, almost syrupy, with just a touch of roasted malt hidden in the background. The taste is more explicit, with a sticky, chocolatey malt backbone and a light hop bitterness that makes suggestions of dark and red fruits. The body is fuller than it has any right to be, for this price, and although the  style is mostly reminiscent of those boring English ale balance-a-thons, it's rich and warm enough to be thoroughly enjoyable (not to mention it lacks any of those metallic hop bites). Highly recommended.

I was mostly looking forward to the Irish Stout, seeing as how both O'Hara's stouts are delicious, so this was opened shortly after the red. It pours black and tan, and the aroma has plenty of roast character with a decent, herbal hop presence. The underlying sweetness is just hinted at here. As above so below, it seems, but it develops more coffee notes and a zestier bitterness. The only real problem is the carbonation, which was too active for me. Other than that it's a perfectly enjoyable beer, though it's surprisingly the worst of the three. I'll probably come back, but when I do, I'll be bringing a pale and a red friend.

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