AS IndyManBeerCon turns off its keg taps for another year after another showcase of the UK’s craft beer elite one of the microbrewery powerhouses, our own Cloudwater, has taken a step back. Literally – by re-embracing cask.
In the brewery’s latest blog head honcho Paul Jones, lamenting that novelty seeking may lead to burn-out across the craft scene, explains their decision to start producing cask-conditioned real ale again.
“We dropped cask beer for a variety of reasons, in a marketplace that couldn’t get enough of our bolder, hoppier beers in bottle, can, and keg. Only just under two years ago, this was a broadly questioned, and bold move. We made more production volume available for more of the beers many of you couldn’t get enough of, and in the process gained accolades no other brewery has gained outside of the USA. But in the process we removed ourselves from conversations about what cask beer could be, and distanced ourselves from drinkers that are wedded to that genre of beer.
“And at this time of year, as the nights start to lengthen and the temperatures drop, a cosy pub is our favourite place to be for a relaxing afternoon pint, or a quiet evening session. We miss our cask Session IPAs, Bitters, and Porters, and find ourselves drinking many a pint of cask beer and wondering just how well our Brown Ales, or Stouts, and seasonal Pale would do on cask.
So we’re going to wonder no more, and produce cask beers over the autumn and winter for a small number of customers that treat cask conditioned beers with all the expertise and quality focus they deserve.”
The rest of the blog, introducing their latest seasonal beers, makes fascinating reading from a brewery whose pioneering energy, under recently departed head brewer James Campbell, led them to be named No.2 brewery in the world by the influential RateBeer.
“My ideas for distinct seasonal ranges of beer gradually morphed into rotating styles, an enormous number of one-off releases, a phenomenally successful DIPA ‘v’ series, and recipes and styles brought to the forefront from the history books and the depths of our imagination.
“Where we thought the UK beer scene had untapped potential, we worked to demonstrate new markets and appetites for up-to-the-minute modern beer. Three-and-a-half years into brewing, and nearly three years after our first DIPA release, that style has progressed from intermittent releases by a handful of breweries, to what feels like an almost excessive number of DIPAs jostling for attention, shelf space, and the liver capacity of a reasonably small number of beer geeks. And not every cover song hits the high notes of the originals.
“The same sense of saturation can be felt in the vast number of one-off beers, whether imported for a ‘one time only’ event, or brewed to appeal to the UK’s most fervent and exploratory beer geeks. There’s DDH beers (with little mention as to whether the first D actually stands for double the amount of hops), and New England-style IPAs and Pale Ales on offer from what feels like just about every modern beer focused brewery, old and new, with a few notable exceptions of breweries that stuck to their own rhythm and own path.
“It has become novel to find a brewery that has an output that genuinely feels unique.”
To sample Cloudwater’s outstanding beers visit their new Taproom at Unit 9 Piccadilly, Trading Estate,, Manchester, M1 2NP. Open: Mon-Fri 3pm-10pm; Sat 10am-10pm; Sun 3pm-10pm. For news on new brewery taps opening in Manchester check out this link.