Cloudwater Launch @PSBH

"And we have the word of the prophets made more certain. And you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place."
With these words and a barrage of fireworks to brighten the darkened Mancunian sky, Cloudwater Brewery was finally unleashed on the masses on Monday night. Ok there were no fireworks. Why weren’t there any fireworks? I don’t know. Possibly because I wasn’t involved in the launch. Had I been, there would have been fireworks. Lots of. And big, bright lasers like at a Jean Michel Jarre concert. And possibly a large inflatable elephant holding an umbrella. Oh well. What we did get was a highly anticipated evening at Port Street Beer House that not only gave us the chance to sample some of their beers but a trip to the brewery as well.
Now unless you have been living in beer-ignoramus land since last year-and you wouldn’t be reading this if you had-you’ll have heard all about Cloudwater. Consisting of Paul Jones, Will France, Al Wall, Emma Cole and James Campbell, most of who are well known locally, they bring a wealth of knowledge and idealism to an ambitious project. Although the “c” word is never used: they’re too smart for that, they’re actually so craft that it hurts. Forget the old concept of a core range of beers, they plan to be a seasonal brewer taking advantage of the freshest ingredients to deliver a wide variety of styles in a wide range of formats. Cask, keg or bottle: it’s all about the beer in this venture. And they’ve already got a barrel ageing programme in place. Ah, bet you’re interested now.

The night started with two cask beers on the bar: Session IPA and Pale. These were gradually joined by several others in the current Spring line-up, some on cask, some on keg and some on both. The focus of the Spring range is fresh American hops for aroma, British and European noble hops for bittering and the addition of Southern European citrus fruits.

Pale (4.1)
Best Ale, Pale, Wheat, Light Munich, Naked Oats, Clear Choice
Perle, Chinook, Citra, Galaxy
Session IPA (4.8)
Best Ale, Cara, Wheat, Pale, Light Munich, Clear Choice
Perle, Chinook, Amarillo, Citra, Centennial, Galaxy
Bergamot Hopfen Weisse (6)
Best Ale, Wheat, Light Munich, Cara
Perle, Citra, Galaxy
IPA (7.2)
Best Ale, Wheat, Cara, Dark Crystal, Pale, Clear Choice
Perle, Green Bullet, Galaxy, Citra, Summit, Centennial
Citrus Gose (5.5)
Best Ale, Wheat, Light Munich, Euro Pils (Lactic Acid treated)
Perle, Saaz, Motueka
Table Beer (4.2)
Belle Saison
Best Ale, Wheat, Flaked Oat
Perle, Centennial, Amarillo, Galaxy, Motueka, Citra
Pennine Light (3.6)
Best Ale, Clear Choice, Pale, Wheat, Naked Oats, Flaked Barley, Light Munich.
Challenger, Admiral, Galaxy
Imperial Stout (9)
Best Ale, Wheat, Medium Crystal, Dark Crystal, Black, Chocolate, Roast Barley, Malt Wheat, Flaked Barley
Saaz, Green Bullet, Bramling Cross, Galaxy, Motueka, Willamette

Both the Pale and Session IPA were very drinkable but the Pale definitely had the edge with a full-on Citra kick and a deep, bitter finish. The Hopfen Weisse really benefitted from its infusion of lemons and the Table Beer was as refreshing as Saison can be. The IPA was a little muted on cask but really crisp and rounded on keg: excellent stuff. It also was interesting to try the Imperial Stout, which is a little teaser; a non-barrel aged version of the one that is being aged in Ardbeg casks. Overall only the Gose disappointed; with head brewer James agreeing that it need higher lactic levels.

Talking of Mr Campbell, it was he who conducted the brewery tour. Of course he’s a renowned brewer who is known for his sterling work at Marble Brewery, so no worries about beer quality for this start-up. He was ably assisted on the night by Al who is, of course, famous for seemingly working in every single good pub in Manchester. And getting a degree in engineering in-between. With such a knowledgeable audience (ha-ha) the usual basic malt, hops, yeast brewing talk was jettisoned and we got more specifics about the brewery itself.

In a nutshell: it’s a 3-vessel brewing system. It’s a 20 US (and it is from the USA) BBL plant. That’s 15 BBL to us little Englanders. Part of their lovely shiny kit is a 3000L water tank as they don’t use the mains supply. They’ve also got 2x2400L and 6x4800L fermenters and a lovely whirlpool kettle; I think that’s for the beer and not tea breaks, anyway. Even the little bottling machine was impressive. Belying its size, it can knock out 2000 bottles an hour although they’re obviously not at that stage yet. With major plans for barrel-ageing, it’s no surprise that they have a separate barrel store close by. And if that wasn’t impressive enough, their own Tap will open on April 4th.

An excellent evening with thanks to the Cloudwater crew and Port St for hosting us all. You can follow their progress here 


John Clarke said…
I think you mean Paul Jones - Paul King is of course head honcho/Dear Leader/President for Life of T&H CAMRA

Agree about the beers although I have seen a couple of rave reviews for the Gose after the Edinburgh launch.
Tandleman said…
I tried the Table Beer at the Northern Bar Show and was very impressed. Refreshing indeed. The IPA had too much alcohol burn for me though, but I'm a wimp that way.

I think these guys may be on to something though!
Tandleman said…
PS: Can't see James churning out Murky either. Good to have so many good Manchester Brewers doing good things.
Sue said…
Thanks John Clarke - I was just about to enquire whether my friend Mr King had been hiding his light under a bushel. His presence would have been impressive as he was in a Travelodge in Dorking on Monday!
Tyson said…
It is possible that there are 2 Paul Kings in the world. However, as I was in the pub discussing CAMRA stuff whilst writing the piece, I can only conclude that I must have been thinking of the THE Paul king.

I agree. They may indeed be onto something.
Iron Maiden Ian said…
I thought the Pale was best. Wasn't that the first beer they brewed? Probably the most mature. The cask IPA was a little disappointing but the keg version surprised me in how much better it was. Weird.

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