Friday, March 26, 2021

A Quart of Ale± #44. On the craft journey with Whiplash Brewery


A Quart of Ale± #44

On the craft journey with Whiplash Brewery.

The Whiplash Story, so far!

Alan Wolfe and Alex Lawes met while working together at Rye River Brewing Company. Alex was a home-brewer with a few steps taken into professional brewing through different previous projects, and Alan - an operations manager coming from a few long stints at large breweries. They formed Whiplash and released a couple of beers in year one to a great reception. 

Being awarded Beer of the Year by Irish consumers, Best Brewery nods from bloggers, Honest Brew's Breakthrough Brewery award and landing in as Ireland's top rated brewery on Untappd was a serious encouragement to take the project full time.

By 2017 both had done just that, leaving behind 24hr shift brewing schedules, meetings in suits and a small part of their minds; for a better and more enjoyable arrangement. Alex doing the brewing, Alan doing the commercials with crossovers wherever they could. 

2018: they go full time including brewing at facilities across Ireland and Europe

2019: the announcement of their new brewery in Dublin along with the establishment of Fidelity - Ireland’s best international beer festival. 

2020 the brewery continued to release brand new beers against the backdrop of global hospitality shutdowns.

January 2021: were proud to make a reappearance in the Honest Brew awards, this time scooping Best International Brewery. 

Whiplash beers are now exported to the UK, Italy, Spain, France, Finland and the Netherlands too with more coming up. Quality is always and will always be the focus. Whiplash Beer employs 9 people and exports internationally to countries such as the UK, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Finland, China & Japan.

Whiplash “Dark Steering” Schwarzbier, 5.2%, 440ml can*

Dark Steering is the name of the Whiplash style Schwarzbier. Colour is after midnight in the Black Forest. The tan foam head quits like a match in the Redbarn wind. Aromas are forest floor; no, just joking, more like a mild chocolate with a hint of cherry in the mix. The body is much lighter than you’d expect. This black lager is easy-drinking, with that mild chocolate flavour a pleasing factor as this refreshing beer makes its way across the palate before finishing with a slight sweet touch, all the while nicely balanced by a fine lip-drying acidity.

Regarded in some quarters as a cold weather beer, this is best enjoyed alongside heavy, home-cooked German sausages (O’Flynn’s will do just as well), game meats, or pastries.

Whiplash say: Dark Steering is a Schwarzbier, Whiplash style. Built on a base of German Munich and an infusion of softer-than-soft water: we’ve peppered this with loads and loads of continental light Aromatic Malt, a very light sprinkling of Chocolate malt for colour and given this the full lager treatment. Boiled with only the finest Hallertau Magnum for a soft bitterness then flung into a fermenter to meet our old pal WLP833 – it’s fermented then given that long lager sleep it deserves.

The recent history of this style goes back to the toppling of the Berlin Wall (according to World Atlas of Beer). “What the five East German states brought back to the nation was Schwarzbier. They are not the equivalent of stout or porter, have a far less roasted malt character and a gentle quaffable disposition that positions them better as the yin to the Helles’ yang.” The Atlas recommends you get your hands on the Köstritzer from Bitburger Brewing, “the classic of the style”. For me, I’ll quite happy with my Whiplash.

Details: Munich Malt, Aromatic Malt, Chocolate Malt, Magnum, 

WLP883. ABV 5.2%. 440ml Cans. Artwork by Sophie Devere

Whiplash “Saunter” Belgian Dubbel, 8.3%, 440ml can*

This Whiplash Dubbel pours into the glass in a reddish-brown robe, topped briefly with a tan head. Dried fruits lead the aromas - Whiplash used dates as an adjunct. And you note them also on the fruity palate, along with coffee and caramel, quite an engaging and unique combination. Terrific body and balance. Perhaps I should have poured it into a wine glass. Next time, and there will be a next time, I will.

Never been a great fan of high ABV beers but there have been exceptions, most recently Devil’s Ladder (Eight Degrees), and I have no problem adding this limited edition Whiplash to the gradually increasing list. Sometimes, more often than not, the concentration of the alcohol consigns flavour to a black hole, but not always. And certainly not here!

They say: A base of Continental Pils, Dark Munich and Special B and Belgian sugar is all you need to let good complex yeast do its job. We’ve gone for a light touch of Magnum in there and some soft water then fermented on WLP530, a yeast originally from a somewhat famous Abbey brewery. What we love about this yeast is the heavy raisin and molasses character it can bring out in the beer while retaining a drinkability. To add to that, we’ve included a healthy addition of dates…

Geek Bits:

Pilsner Malt

Munich Malt

Special B



ABV 8.3%

Artwork by @Sophie_devere

Whiplash Melodie Noir Baltic Porter, 7.2%, 440ml can *

Okay, the basics. It’s black, a coffee coloured head that doesn’t hang about (always a strong clue, I think, that we have a porter rather than a stout at hand). Not your usual porter though. The Baltic-style Porter is a smooth, cold-fermented and cold-lagered beer brewed with lager yeast.

Cherry and chocolate on the nose, nothing over-intense.  But the introduction to the palate is intense. Very soon though, all the toasty stuff, the bread, the biscuits, plus the dark chocolate, separates out and you begin to enjoy the full flavours. And it is so silky smooth as it heads towards the moderately bitter finalé. 

Big credit to brewer Lynsey Campbell for pulling all this together, a bit like melding an Anfield lager-infused version of you’ll Never Walk Alone with a more formal religious take of the anthem by a full choir. Launched at the end of 2020, this Melody Noir is quite the hit!

They say: Our first Baltic Porter is everything we want in one. We’ve built Melody Noir with a super soft water base and stayed true to the style focusing on continental Pilsner, Dark Munich, Carabohemian and Chocolate Malt. Melody is lightly bittered with Hallertau Magnum in kettle and rightly fermented using our house lager strain of yeast WLP833.

Artwork by Sophie Devere

* Samples kindly supplied by the brewery. Have a few more that will feature in future posts.

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