Tuesday 22 October 2019

‘Cuckoo brewers’ Whiplash finally get a home to call their own

  • Dublin’s newest brewery to be launched with summer beer festival ‘Fidelity’
Alex Lawes, Alan Wolfe, David Parle and Packie McCarthy who are behind the ‘Fidelity A Beer Festival’, taking place July 13 at The Mansion House in Dublin
Pic: Steve Humphreys
Alex Lawes, Alan Wolfe, David Parle and Packie McCarthy who are behind the ‘Fidelity A Beer Festival’, taking place July 13 at The Mansion House in Dublin Pic: Steve Humphreys
Alex Lawes, David Parle, Packie McCarthy and Alan Wolfe who are behind the ‘Fidelity A Beer Festival’ with Arthur The Dog Pic Steve Humphreys
Alex Lawes, Alan Wolfe, David Parle and Packie McCarthy, who are behind the ‘Fidelity A Beer Festival’ Pic Steve Humphreys
Gareth Morgan

Gareth Morgan

THE acclaimed Whiplash Brewery, which has long been forced to state ‘no fixed abode’ when listed for awards, is finally getting a home.

The team at Whiplash describe themselves as “cuckoo brewers” because they’ve been piggybacking on other facilities for so long.

But now the small team are setting up Dublin’s latest craft brewery which promises to be “hyper efficient” and eco-friendly.

They’ll also be celebrating the opening of the capital’s newest brewery with a summer launch festival.

Alex Lawes, David Parle, Packie McCarthy and Alan Wolfe who are behind the ‘Fidelity A Beer Festival’ with Arthur The Dog
Pic Steve Humphreys
Alex Lawes, David Parle, Packie McCarthy and Alan Wolfe who are behind the ‘Fidelity A Beer Festival’ with Arthur The Dog Pic Steve Humphreys

Whiplash has been a rising force on the Irish beer scene in recent years, making an impact in the UK and beyond. It has hoovered up awards from the likes of craft-lovers’ websites Untappd and Beoir, which named their offerings Beers of the Year in both 2017 and 2018.

Light but flavoursome beers such as ‘Northern Lights’ (2.8pc) jostle for attention with the likes of the banging ‘Surrender to the Void’ (8.5pc).

But they have been brewing out of places as diverse as Dundalk, London and Switzerland in recent months – as well as using the facilities of Rascals in Inchicore.

“We were using five breweries in three different countries at one stage,” says Alex. “We’re cuckoo brewers!”

Brewer Alan Wolfe is an ex-Guinness employee and later met Alex Lawes while they worked at Rye River in Celbridge (which makes McGargles). He then realised that they had single tanks which were hardly being used because they were inefficient for that scale of brewing.

He asked whether he could rent the tanks and work on different brews at the weekends.

Alex Lawes, Alan Wolfe, David Parle and Packie McCarthy, who are behind the ‘Fidelity A Beer Festival’ Pic Steve Humphreys
Alex Lawes, Alan Wolfe, David Parle and Packie McCarthy, who are behind the ‘Fidelity A Beer Festival’ Pic Steve Humphreys

They then struck out into using more friends’ facilities to craft a diverse range of brews, again done in their spare time initially.

The rest is history as beer-lovers increasingly began to notice Whiplash’s brews wherever a decent pint of craft was served.

“We didn’t mean for it to become a full-time job, it was always a project… but we were getting so many people asking for it, and coming to expect it.”

The idiosyncratic names of the beers mostly come from cultural touchstones, such as songs and albums – the popular ‘Bone Machine’ is a nod to the Pixies because they are fans of the music, but it helps with the marketing. When the band tweeted about the beer, they got a massive surge in page impressions.

Gravity's Rainbow is named for a 1973 novel by American writer Thomas Pynchon. “A notoriously difficult book to read, we wanted to make a beer that was difficult to drink!” laughs Alex.

“But mostly, you get to communicate a bit more about yourselves when you name beers this way. I wouldn’t want to be thinking up different clever beer names as many as some other breweries. We have only been doing about three specials a month, another brewery might do three a week.”

The new brewery is in Cherry Orchard and should help them brew a greater variety of beers with more regularity – although they will remain a small operation.

“We are consolidating all the brewing into one place. Travelling was nice, but in reality it’s better to do it all there… I designed it myself and it means we can do beer in interesting different ways.

“It’s relatively small kit but the quality will be good. We’re happy with where we are but there is always room to improve. With the new brewery we will be able to experiment a bit more, push it a bit more.”

It’s the first independent brewery they know of to use a mash filter which makes it super efficient. “It will be a low oxygen brew system and we are going to reduce carbon dioxide too, trying to run the boiler on biofuel.

“It will be a super small but hyper-efficient brewery, we can brew on it six times a day to get the volume we need.”

They are hoping to be up and running in late July, shortly after the new summer beer festival ‘Fidelity’ – which will celebrate the brewery’s opening.

Alex says: “We’ve been traveling Europe pouring our beers and collaborating with friends for a couple of years now and a big frustration of ours has been not having the facility to get our pals back to our own brewery in Dublin to host them here.

“With the brewery coming along we decided it would be fun to try get lots of our friends in at the same time and throw an opening party this July.”

The event at the Mansion House in Dublin on July 13 features a host of names that will get any beer connoisseur’s mouth watering: Deya, Northern Monk, Yellowbelly, Rascals, Boundary and Salopian to name just a few.

It will take a novel approach to allow beer-lovers to taste as many different flavours as possible.

No glugging pints here – it will be all about tasting small samples.

“It is pay up front and then sample at your leisure. Instead of being stuck with a pint of something, and limited in how many beers you can sample that way, you can have lots of small samples. You will get a good taste of everything that way.

“They're craft beer heads just like us though and got really excited about the idea of this and are throwing all their might behind it.”

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