I am very old and was around in Manchester at the end of the 80s as rave was picking up a head of steam. The bass would get you and become addictive. Sometimes, you might need to step out for a minute or two before your brain exploded. Now in my late 40s, I get the same thing with hops. I am addicted but sometimes, I need to step outside for a moment. We picked up 3 beers from Cloudwater which took me back.
We first became aware of Cloudwater on a trip to pick up some beers from Wilson Potter Brewery in Middleton. We were chatting about the number of new breweries springing up and they said that there was rumour of a big one just about to get off the ground in Manchester. Fast forward a little and we were picking up beers from Marble and chatting with the newly opened Chorlton Brew Co. when we heard that Clouwater had opened.
We didn’t come across their beers until a beery day trip to Thomas street. We had many beers that day and were rather smitten by Marble but the beer of the day was undoubtably a 6.8% Cloudwater DIPA on keg. It cut through the fug of the late afternoon and stayed long in the memory. One of those beers that you then compare others against. It hit me between the eyes, was clean as a whistle and was head and shoulders above everything else.
We then started to read about it online. It seemed that the Cloudwater DIPA was becoming a bit of an internet sensation. Since then, we have picked a bottle or two up whenever we have seen them.
One of the good things about Cloudwater are the visitor sessions and Phil and I found ourselves wandering around Piccadilly at 10.30am one Saturday morning in August looking for the brewery.
The place where the magic happens is an unobtrusive building and we spent a pleasant couple of hours finding out about the brewery, chatting and sampling straight from the fermenters. An impressive set up. One thing I like about Cloudwater is the apparent lack of secrecy. Both in the brewery and on the bottles, everything is listed. We came away with some inspiration and made our way through the bustling Manchester Pride crowds to Beer Nouveau and Alphabet before the Gaslamp, Brink and home. A good day.
We like to keep our stall fresh with a few interesting beers so I headed back over to Manchester to pick up a few cases. The place was busy. Cloudwater have no trouble selling their beer and there was plenty of evidence of a good throughput and beer heading out. I came away with:
Cloudwater Brew Co – Centennial Eldorado – 4.5%vol – Session IPA
A nice session IPA sitting next to our own 4.4% Holy Citra. Thought it would be good to compare a couple of unfined IPAs with a west coast character. No doubt that the Centennial poured much more pale which had me reaching for the bottle and looking for the grain bill. Some caramalt in there but clearly less than the Citra. A little wheat too. The aroma was proper cloudwater. It is so distinctive with this having more citrus going on than usual. Our Citra compared well and wasn’t lacking aroma. First taste had a good light carbonation. Juicy but not overpowering. I can’t think about centennial hops without the 1978 TV series coming to mind. Set in Colorado, Centennial spanned 2 centuries. Almost 40 years later, mention centennial and I get flashbacks. Sunday afternoon murder and intrigue stuck in my 9 year old mind. Happy days.
The term ‘session IPA’ got us wondering. We called our Big Bertha Stout a ‘session stout’ and knew what we meant. We called it session because it was quaffable. It wasn’t just the strength but the drinkability. Could I sit and spend the afternoon drinking this? Yes, I think I probably could. I often need a bit of light relief during in the midst of hoppy IPAs but this wasn’t too much. Light, lemony hops coming through to the finish.
Cloudwater Brew Co – Vic’s Secret – 6.5%vol – IPA
Next up was the 6.5% Vic’s Secret named after the hop. Pictured below sitting next to a bottle of our own Belmont Midge. Clearly more full on than the earlier, lighter session IPA and the Cloudwater aroma hits you straight off. Some Citra in there too which was good to compare with the Midge’s dry hopped Citra aroma.
The Vic’s Secret is definitely an IPA rather than a DIPA. A good definition to make. It has tons of hoppy character but it doesn’t hit you like a sledgehammer. For drinkability, the Midge stood up well. Not as complex but a deep bitterness that kept us reaching for it.
Cloudwater has such a distinctive aroma that one whiff transports me to the northern quarter. I am a bit of a hop head but I sometimes need something a bit different before I take a deep breath and head back in. The third beer of the trio was perfect.
Cloudwater Brew Co – Sorachi Grisette – 3.5%vol – Grisette
I imagine this lovely, light grisette as the perfect antidote to those emerging from the northern quarter in a hop fuelled fug. Dry and refreshing and having the same effect as it would on the workers leaving the mines and factories of old. The aroma is again distinctive of Cloudwater but this time because simply because of its prominence. Nobody puts aroma in beer like Cloudwater. This time it promises a fresh spiciness and pours very pale and lively. I reached for the bottle but could find no record of the yeast used on this one. It would be interesting to know whether it was a saison strain or something else.
I have had a bit of a soft spot for grisettes since selling an excellent Partizan grisette on our first ever stall. This was just as good.
We interspersed with a Lancashire vs Cheshire cheese taste off before going back to it. Third sip and the Sorachi came through loud and clear. I have been a sorachi fan since we had a couple of cases of Rammy Craft’s Nihon Hana which is made with Himalayan Pink Salt and for ages, I thought that was what the distinctive taste was. It kept bringing me back for more. The sorachi in this grisette is distinctive without detracting from the light, dry character of the beer. Bang on.
We will be bringing them to our markets over the next week or two. See you there.