Food & Drink

Craft Beer: On the lash with two cracking beers from Whiplash, inspired by German and Belgian methods

Whiplash's Immolator is a smoked doppelback
Whiplash's Immolator is a smoked doppelback
Dubbel Drop is Whiplash's ode to Belgium
Dubbel Drop is Whiplash's ode to Belgium

ST BRIGID'S Day isn't just a day for forcing school kids to bend and tie reeds into the shape of a cross, it's also supposed to be the day that signals the start of spring in the Celtic calendar.

A quick glance out the window will tell you that the weather is anything but spring-like.

The evenings are still dark too and it's times like this when it's good to seek out some comfort beers.

That was certainly the feeling I got when I happened upon a couple of offerings from Whiplash this past week.

Two dark, high ABV beers which take their inspiration from Belgian and German methods were just what was needed on cold and wet winter evenings.

First up was the ode to Belgium – Dubbel Drop. Clocking in at 7.5 per cent, it pours a deep ruby red, almost mahogany colour in the glass with a slim, off-white head.

Rich in colour, it's also rich in flavour, firing off aromas of dates and banana.

That dried fruit profile continues into the taste, where you get raisin and a rich, fruitcake like sweetness. There are hints of banana and vanilla through it too and despite its strength, it drinks rather smoothly.

Whiplash's Immolator is a smoked doppelback
Whiplash's Immolator is a smoked doppelback

Next up is the rather ominously named Immolator. There's no self-flagellation involved here, quite the opposite in fact as this is a beer to be slowly enjoyed.

It's smoked doppelbock, which is a form of German lager made using the decoction method.

In the words of a well-known shampoo commercial, here comes the science: decoction involves removing a little bit of the mash – that is, the mixture of malt and water which is the primary stage of beer making. This selected part is then boiled separately over an intense heat.

The result is that the sugars in the mash become caramelised and when it is mixed back into the main mash, lends the beer a sweet, toffee-like sweetness.

Immolator is a smoked doppelback, meaning some of the malt used has also been gently smoked. There's a danger that there could be a clash of flavours, but the smoked element to this is quite subtle and serves to bring across a warming feel - that and the fact that it is 8.6 per cent.

Given that this beer has been subjected to the decoction method three times, it's no surprise that there are deep toffee and caramel tones. Being a lager though, that smoothness ensures it's not too heavy or overpowering.

With so much going on in this beer, it can be tricky to strike the right balance, but Whiplash pull it off quite well.