Detour: Manchester, UK – Cloudwater Brew Co.

Detour: Manchester, UK – Cloudwater Brew Co.

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"DETOURS" is a travel series by The Hop Review. Being a weary traveler almost always calls for a reward in the form of a pint at the end of the day. Here, we document those beer breaks–as we travel the U.S. and beyond–with quips, photographs and Q&As.

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No. 043

CLOUDWATER BREW CO.

7-8, Piccadilly Trading Estate, UK M1 2NP, Manchester, UK

Manchester is one of England’s defining cities of the ‘North’, where industry has long laid claim to the blue-collar atmosphere. And it’s here where the UK’s craft brewing culture really took hold stronger and more rapidly than, really, anywhere else in the country. At the forefront of that creative expression and brewing hype was Cloudwater.

Founded just a few years ago, in 2014 by Paul Jones, the brewery has concocted several hundred different beers in a relatively short time–old, new, classic, re-imagined, hype-worthy–and seemingly introduced the British Isles to the haze craze. The Cloudwater name was one that quickly grabbed the attention of the already American-beer-style-obsessed British drinkers, and in turn made its way to the States by way of collaboration brews quickly thereafter.

They’ve become a prominent voice in the UK beverage scene–and like any quickly successful business, are not without their detractors. But ask anyone around Manchester who is leading the charge, and most with retort with a quick ‘Cloudwater’. They’re the industry ‘experts’ for new up-and-comers like 2019 UK Breakout Brewery of the Year–and neighbors–Wander Beyond. They’re the makers of can releases so sought-after that folks sometimes send proxies to collect. They’re UK’s version of Other Half, to put it into terms you might recognize. And it’s fitting, considering how many times the two breweries have collaborated.

With all this said to set the scene, we hopped the train and embarked on a day trip up from London to see it all for ourselves. Upon arrival, we ordered a few pours from the taproom bar and were greeted by Cloudwater’s Retail Manager Adam Blaszczyk. He was kind enough to take us back downstairs and through the production facility, housed just next door in a pair of large garage bays. There, he gave us a brief rundown on the growth history of the brewery and plans for future expansion, as well as what new beers are making their way through the production chain.

In terms of style approach, I’d say we’re always kind of looking to improve on previous versions of things. Like, say, with IPAs we’re always tweaking things and you end up with a new beer, a new beer, a new beer... We still do West Coast IPAs, although not as much as East Coast styles. But, in general, everyone has an input. For example, for our 500th beer, we did an Imperial Parkin Cake Brown Ale, because of someone’s love here for Parkin Cake–it’s an English style gingerbread cake with treacle, brown sugar. I’m massively into coffee, so I’m kind of pushing for more coffee stouts... I also really want Galaxy and Mosaic single hop IPAs... The inspiration kind of comes from everyone here.
— Adam Blaszczyk, Retail Manager, Cloudwater Brew Co.

And whether it’s an interpretation of a classic English porter or a beyond-opaque DIPA, it all gets equal attention at Cloudwater. Adam even mentioned that they are starting to give more focus to the traditional cask ales. “We love cask around here, we all drink it when we’re not working. We want to give it our modern spin.”

It’s safe to say that no beer trip to Manchester is complete without a visit to Cloudwater. We can attest.


What We Drank

Red Wine BA Chocolate Porter [Barrel-aged Porter, 11%] – An incredibly decadent and rich porter that was given a dose of sweetness form its time spent in red wine barrels. It’s chocolatey and almost drinks like liquid red velvet cake.

Small Pale [Pale Ale, 2.9%] – On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, we tried the this table beer, clocking in at under 3% ABV, yet still provided plenty of flavor. It had a mandarin citrus punch with a pillowy soft finish. More, please.

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The Cloudwater brewery and taproom in an industrial stretch of Manchester’s east end.

The Cloudwater brewery and taproom in an industrial stretch of Manchester’s east end.

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Freshness is something Paul [Jones] is very intent on. If there’s something that’s just been kegged down here in the brewery, he’ll say, ‘Take that upstairs to the taproom and take the old version off.’
— Adam Blaszczyk
Retail Manager, Adam Blaszczyk, shows us the production facility.

Retail Manager, Adam Blaszczyk, shows us the production facility.

Packaging Manager, Claudia Asch, manages the kegging line.

Packaging Manager, Claudia Asch, manages the kegging line.

We’ve got 20 taps in the taproom to always keep the options flowing. Back here in cold storage, we’ve also got [co-founder] Paul [Jones’] secret stash of beers, too, mostly American stuff he brings back. We’ll just get a text from him saying, ‘My suitcase is full,’ and he’ll share it with us all.
— Adam Blaszczyk
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Photographed by Chris Senn and authored by Jack Muldowney of The Hop Review. A big thanks to Adam Blaszczyk from Cloudwater for taking the time to show us the space and discuss Manchester’s booming beer scene. Check out the rest of DETOURS series as we travel the world looking for unique beers and where to drink them.