Whiplash & The Big Romance are hosting the Fidelity Beer Festival this month. Bringing their favourite breweries from around the world to The Mansion House on Saturday July 13. Fidelity promises a huge selection of incredible beers across two sessions accompanied by some top beats. Each session will have its own unique beers. We spoke to Alex Lawes from Whiplash about Fidelity and the state of craft beer game.
How did the idea for Fidelity come about?
We’re opening a brewery by the end of summer and we thought it a good Idea to invite all our brewery friends to Dublin for a big knees-up. We’d become a bit jaded by the usual big marketing stands you’d encounter at festivals and decided to strip back the whole thing and make it about the quality of the beer and talking to brewers with some dancing and messing thrown in. We’ve been travelling to beer festivals like this all over the continent for years and it’s been long time there’s been one in Ireland. There’s never been a festival in Ireland like this and we felt if nobody has done one yet we’d best do one ourselves. Nearly all the breweries in the room will be travelling to, and pouring in, Ireland for their first time. All the beers are exceptionally rare and the quality of breweries makes it one of the best line-ups in Europe. You’d have to do a silly amount of travelling to try all these beers abroad so it’s really special that this is all happening in the one room on your doorstep in Dublin.
What can people attending it expect on the day?
It’ll be different to your usual beer festivals in a good few ways. One, there’s no token system. Your ticket covers all your samples and it breaks down that barrier immediately about worrying which stand to use them on. Try as many as you like and focus on having a good time with your mates and talking to brewers. You’ll arrive, exchange your ticket for a wristband and special glass that’s yours to take away and just head on into the amazing Round Room at the Mansion House to drink beer. We’ll be doing two sessions, one afternoon and one evening. The beer line-up will change for each so each brewery will be pouring different stuff on each session. When the keg kicks, it’s gone, so you’ll have to try the next thing pouring. The Hidden Agenda crew will be organising tunes and we’ll take full advantage of that big sound set-up in the place too.
How did the collaboration between The Big Romance and Whiplash come about?
Before there was a Whiplash or Big Romance we were already going on beer trips together to Europe with plans of opening a brewery and starting a bar someday. We’ve done both (nearly in Whiplash’s case) and throwing a festival just like the ones we’d go to seemed like the right thing to do. The crew behind The Big Romance have all the event co-ordination know-how and we’ve got plenty of brewery friends who have an unhealthy amount of excitement in the build-up to coming here and pouring.
Can you tell us a bit more about the new Whiplash brewery and when it is coming on stream?
We’ve been banging out beers on kits not belonging to us for a good while now and as people in the game joke we’re probably the only brewery in the world who’ll have it easier once they open their brewery than how they have it now. We’ve learned so many tricks and design quirks from working on so many amazing breweries all over Europe that we took the unusual step of designing the whole thing ourselves. It’s pretty technically advanced and has a lot of stuff you’d only see in mega factories and then some new stuff on top of that. We’re not loaded though so we’ve had to sacrifice the volume we can produce in it in order to get the quality and amount of bells and whistles where we want it. This thing is really going to push a lot of brewing theory and it’ll double as a bit of a special research facility once we can finally fulfil orders. We’ve had a lot of delays since we’ve announced but it’s looking like we’ll be filling it with beer by the end of August.
What are the most noticeable current trends in the craft beer market?
We’ve seen a lot of people follow us into the hazy and hoppy game in cans lately. Consumers have voted at the bar and in the shops that they want that and lots of it, but we’ve made a point of making Stouts, Lagers and Belgian styles over the year too and they’ve been well received. Our thing has always been making a contrast of low ABV hoppy beer and releasing a new modern Double IPA every month or so too. In terms of beer styles to watch now there’s only one: Rauchwine.
“In terms of beer styles to watch now there’s only one: Rauchwine.”
The roll-out of ‘craft’ style products, brands and labelling by the major player indicates they are finally understanding the changing palette of consumers. What are the drawbacks of this mass market, origin, confusion though?
Imitation is the best form of flattery, but in the world of macro corporate beer the aim of the game is complete market dominance. Independence in the brewing world allows us the freedom to make a beer for the sake of the beer and push ourselves and others to be more creative and open up new styles and tastes. The great thing is that a macro brewery would never be able to make a beer like ours as their accountants would have a meltdown when they see what it cost to make, so the response instead is to make similar looking offerings to obfuscate what’s really going on here in the hopes of curbing the growth of small brewers looking to make a living making interesting beer. There’s always been a huge range of beers available to people over the years but we had a blip after the First and Second World Wars when small breweries couldn’t survive in the race to the bottom. A few big players took over national and international markets and a generation later people thought that’s how it’s always been. All that’s happened here is things getting back to normal and people having a choice again. Drink what you like, it’s our job to make better beer.
Fellow Irish craft brewers who are knocking it of the park at the moment?
They’re coming to Fidelity! Rascals with banging fruited sours, Yellowbelly with their flawless Citra Pale Ale, Boundary with just about everything they’re making there as well. In terms of others we love and respect, we’ll always give a shout out to Trouble Brewing, DOT, Rye River and Kinnegar too who’ve consistently pushed the Irish scene over the past few years too and we’d only hoped the Mansion House was a bit bigger.
International craft brewer visiting Fidelity to bow down to?
It’s all killer, no filler.
Fidelity Beer Festival 2019 takes place in the Mansion House on Saturday July 13. Afternoon Session: 11.30am – 4.30pm. Evening Session: 6pm-10.30pm with a new selection of beers. All beers included with tickets which cost €62.50 per session. Click here to purchase: https://bit.ly/2P408O7
OTHER HALF (US)
J. WAKEFIELD (US)
MIKKELLER (DK / USA)
JACKIE O’S (US)
NORTHERN MONK (UK)
TO ØL (DK)
COLLECTIVE ARTS (CAN)
LEFT HANDED GIANT (UK)
NORTH BREWING CO. (UK)
BURNT MILL (UK)
WHITE FRONTIER (CH)
LOST & GROUNDED (UK)
GIPSY HILL (UK)
FUERST WIACEK (DE)
BROWAR STU MOSTOW (POL)
DRY & BITTER (DK)
FIVE POINTS (UK)