Late last year a friend managed to get me a signed copy of Mark Dredge’s excellent book “The Best Beer in the World“, and during that book launch – in South London’s Bottle Shop – he described the Cloudwater IPA as “One of the most interesting, exciting and excellent new British breweries making a top IPA.” Indeed there were some bottles available at that event and my friend reported that he too enjoyed it.
I like Mark’s writing and enjoy his ‘Pencil and Spoon’ blog (here), and respect his reviews, so, when an online Brewmonger emailed to say they had some Cloudwater IPAs in stock I immediately fired off an order.
Cloudwater was founded shortly after I’d finished my stint working in Manchester, they’re located near Manchester’s ‘Piccadilly’ railway station. The founder, Paul Jones, has built a sizeable brewery with 15 Barrels (that’s 2,400 litres, or 5,000 US pints) of brewing capability, that’s three times the size of most start-ups.
He also gathered a team with excellent brewing credentials, including Manchester’s Marble Brewery, Summer Wine Brewery in the Pennines, BrewDog, and the Port Street Beer House, one of my favourite Manchester watering holes – not that I ever drank water!
On joining Cloudwater, each member of that team was required to contribute, in writing, what they wanted to achieve from the brewery; their personal aims and goals – however small or seemingly unrealistic. Lofty goals.
Anyway, let’s try the IPA:
It pours cloudy, which was unexpected, it transpires that this is bottle conditioned, but I got the nose as I was pouring this out, a rush of exotic citrus.
Another bottle, opened when I didn’t have my camera/phone to hand, poured crystal clear.
I’m obviously out of practice with bottle conditioned ales.
The flavour? Well it’s earthier than I expected – that’ll be the hops – but then the citrus kicks in. Pink grapefruit, mango, mandarin, orange and apricot. Everything!
Oh my goodness!
This is a really well balanced brew, with exotic hops to the fore.
The label lists ‘Pilgrim Alpha CO2 Extract’ hops for bittering (on a bed of ‘Extra Pale Maris Otter’ and ‘Clear Choice Pale’ malts – with American Pale Ale yeast), along with Mosaic, Victoria’s Secret, Chinook, Centennial, Pacific Jade and Simcoe hops for aroma. A heady blend in anybody’s book.
It reminds me of Thornbridge Jaipur – one of my favourite brews – but with an additional earthiness and hop complexity.
And quite a bit more alcohol, 8% ABV? Seriously?
That said, I really like this brew, it’s potent, aromatic, earthy and frankly delicious.
And worthy of five Brewclub Stars.
The name ‘Cloudwater’, incidentally, is a literal translation of the Zen Buddhist term ‘unsui’, taken from a Chinese poem “To drift like clouds and flow like water.”
Thus, obstacles to be overcome are parted like clouds; and flowed around like water.