Crafty Stuff: Gravity's Rainbow from Whiplash, Irish brewers 'Rated'
VERY few beer makers walk into their very own purpose-built brewery and begin knocking out IPAs and stouts with joyful abandon: most have to cut their teeth in the lower leagues of home brewing, treading a fine line between unintentionally souring their beer and blowing up their mother's kitchen.
It's a well-worn path for many of Ireland's top brewers and even up-scaling those recipes to marketable quantities isn't really the end of the road. Hauling a load of stainless steel into your brewery is when the real fun begins.
Of course, that's not always an option either, but it hasn't stopped self-styled gypsy brewers Whiplash producing some of the best beers in Ireland.
These intrepid brews have been brewing their wonderful beers at Rye River and anywhere else that'll have them, but quality and invention has never slipped.
For me, Rollover is the standout session IPA of recent years and every time Surrender to the Void pops its head up, it's consumed by faithful fans and discovered afresh by others.
Before Christmas, the founders Alex Lawes and Alan Wolfe decided to make Whiplash their full-time jobs and have their own premises in Co Wicklow
Not long after that news, I picked up Gravity's Rainbow, a double IPA they'd brewed in collaboration with Galway Bay. As with many Whiplash brews, the can design is fantastic – what's inside is pretty good too.
Okay, so it's another DIPA and, at 9 per cent, it's quite the heavy hitter, but it's smooth and refreshing too. There's a fair bit of wheat in the malt bill, which gives that smoothness, and it has been dry hopped to within an inch of its life with a cocktail of hops, which hints at a 'raiding of larder' type of brewing.
The upshot is a smooth, juicy hop bomb with flavours of grapefruit and pineapple, a bit of toffee and fair welt of bitterness.
Crack a can open, poor the amber contents into a glass and toast a new chapter in Whiplash's already illustrious history.
:: THIS year's Ratebeer rankings, a kind of TripAdvisor for beers, made for some welcome reading for a number of Irish brewers.
Farmageddon snapped up the accolade of top-ranked Northern Ireland brewer while Boundary's Gift imperial stout was the top ranked beer for the north and Heaney Farmhouse Brewing were the top newcomers.
Galway Bay were the top ranked brewery from Ireland while the favourite Irish beer among Ratebeer readers was White Hag's Black Boar 2016 Barrel Aged stout.