• • • Best Dark Beer • • •
Saturday 25 September 2021
This article is from
Beer52 Awards 2021
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Whiplash co-founders Alan Wolfe and Alex Lawes have been making beer together since 2017, initially cuckoo brewing with their friends and neighbours at Rye River. Then, in 2019, the popularity of their brews (and an understandable yearning for a place of their own) spurred them to open Whiplash in Dublin, a permanent space with permanent roots and permanent tanks.
Now comprising a team of 12 based in Ballyfermot, Dublin, Whiplash is turning out some of the most exciting beers to come before the Beer52 tasting panel, not to mention wooing hype chasers with its edgy branding and relentless release schedule.
Co-founder and head brewer Alex Lawes says it’s hard to pick out a particular high-point for the brewery over the past 12 months.
“We’ve certainly kept busy,” he says. “In June alone we managed to release 11 new beers, and frankly it left us a bit exhausted. We usually work plenty of pilots into the plan that we don’t really expect to see the light of day until a few months down the line, but we’ve had so many absolute bangers coming out of the sample tap we just lost the run of ourselves and filled our boots.
“We’ve really seen ourselves finally able to brew very seasonally and this summer has been about bright fresh Belgian ales and kettle sours, while now we’re seeing our lagers finally taking centre stage. Barrel ageing has been going on throughout the year too and we’re slowly building a program of stouts and barleywines that we love here, and we’re just dying to get those out to the public as soon as they’re ready.”
At the time of writing, Whiplash is planning for the colder months, staying two to three months ahead, which means pilot brews are getting darker and richer here, with stouts, dark lagers and barleywine dominating the board.
“We’ve generally taken a different route when it comes to dark beers in today’s climate,” continues Alex. “Fatal Deviation was our first line thrown down, where we decided to focus on a clean, adjunct-free stout, in what was then a world of fried chicken and marshmallows swimming in mash tuns. I feel things have calmed down since then and we’ve even dipped our toe in adjuncts we feel work, like coffee, coconut and hazelnut. To us though, good beers are ones where you can taste the sum of its parts, and in the case of porter it allows you a lot of parts to show off complexity of malt and flavour.”
The beer in this month’s box has been on Whiplash’s ‘to-brew’ list for years now; a “love letter to clean porter” for which every detail of how it should smell, feel and taste was locked in long before the team actually committed to a recipe.
Alex says: “Porters to us are all things softer, more coffee and dark chocolate and lower bitterness than their stout cousins, so we focused on some more modern malts to achieve a more intense nose and flavour in this one. The main star in this is CaraBohemian – a kind of rich and decadent Czech Brown Malt but it oozes fruity Bournville dark chocolate with a hint of coffee in there too. Melanoidin for that toasted flavour, Dark Munich for the sweet bready goodness and Special B to round off the whole affair with that roasted caramel with cherry sweet nose. Restrained roasted malts, more for colour than bite and a light Pilsner malt base leaves room for all those parts to do their thing to their fullest extent.
“Our art as always is by Sophie Devere. Porter being something intrinsically linked with Dublin industrial history, we asked Sophie to produce something abstract to represent here, visually and emotionally, how she saw fit. The piece is stunning.”
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