CloudWater Brew Co. are based in Manchester.
Units 7-8, Piccadilly Trading Estate, Manchester, M1 2NP to be exact.
They have been masters of their own hype.
The brewers themselves are of a high calibre with a highly decorated beer soaked, brewing-leaden background and the website (coupled with Instagram) has led to self-perpetuating hype the likes of which have not been seen in these parts.
I can’t paint Manchester as some quaint northern backwater, forever in the brewing shadow of London – there are 60+ brewers in Manchester and along with Cloudwater (whose own brewery tap opens on the 4th of April 2015) there are at least 7 brewers in our own “Beer Mile” – which will be more than a rival for our erstwhile capital’s one in Bermondsey (seriously, blog soon).
Their media does show-off just what a good-looking outfit it is and though I wasn’t able to get tickets for the Monday launch in Port Street Beer House in Manchester, which included visiting their brewery, as I type this (a Tuesday) like some rock n’ roll band, they are currently touring up and down the United Kingdom, today is Edinburgh, tomorrow (Wednesday, when I’m finishing this post) and for the rest of the week, they head down to southern climes…
Their beer menu reads very much like a fashion catalogue (click to enlarge)…
I’ll get the two let downs out of the way first.
A 9% limited edition release that is being barrel aged for proper release in the winter (as I’m sure you read from the menu). I love my dark drinks so these will always be judged more harshly and this was already creating waves in my twitter feed as a few bloggers (@FoodGeekUK, @hungerjams and @DasKegster) had not found it up to scratch, especially in the (planned) lack of carbonation.
The weren’t wrong. The most favourable comparison for me is coffee-flavour Gazpacho. I got flavours and aromas I’d expect in a stout, just with the volume set on 1 when I expect Spinal Tap 11. A massive let-down.
The Citrus Gose (keg, 5.5%) was a disappointing mouthful of nothing. A got a very slight taste of something for a millisecond and then it was just flat and oddly warm, water. I also didn’t get much of an aroma either. Not horrendous but completely uninspiring.
The Pale (cask, 4.1%) did indeed have a strong bitter taste and despite being brewed with a plethora of non-UK hops it did taste distinctly British – not really my thing these days but a good representation of the style.
The Pennine Light (cask, 3.6%) was, like the Pale, not my style of drink but again was a very good version of the style, even if a mild that is pale seems like an anathema.
Having the IPA on both cask and keg at the same time lead to an interesting side-by-side comparison. Both were everything you’d expect from a modern strong (7.2%) IPA but for me the cask won out, not through slavish militant Camra tendencies but because it was slightly less sweet than the keg and had a more alcoholic taste. A very, very nice drink either way.
Table Beer (cask and keg, 4.2%) was my favourite of the bunch. This was tried on cask first and both were tasted before I saw and of the notes (as were all the beers) so I was unaware that this was attempting to be a Saison/Farmhouse style ale. The cask was just a fragrant, light (though when I see Table beer I expect sub-3%) and stupidly drinkable pale ale, the palest of all the drinks I sampled. It was on keg that it really did scream Saison, the citrus and berries coming to the fore in the taste and aroma. Top marks.
In short CloudWater beers are a bit like the girl who had a little curl, but to clarify the bad beers are not bad and they are far from horrid, it is just some don’t match up to the hype and so are ultimately an even bigger disappointment because of it.
But the Pennine Light and Pale are good session beers and their Table Beer and IPA are superb.
I’ll end this blog with the words of Chuck D…
“Rock the hard jams – treat it like a seminar
Teach the bourgeoise, and rock the boulevard”
No, I don’t know of what relevence that is either, but it made sense when I was writing this drunk on Tuesday.
I look forward to trying more of Cloudwater’s coming season’s