Following the initial nomination of Wild Beer Co Yadōkai yesterday, the annual look back at the most memorable new British beers continues. There are four other places to fill in the list, and for the next choice, we head off northwards from the plains of Somerset to the city of Manchester. There, a stone’s throw from Piccadilly Station, you’ll find one of the breweries of the moment. In the spring, one of their launch line-up really stood out…
Bergamot Hopfen Weisse (6.0%)
Cloudwater Brew Co, Manchester.
Beers of the Year, Breweries of the Moment, Cask Ales of the Millenium. All these lists have to be put together with a touch of tongue in cheek – it’s all subjective, after all – but one of the producers that beer people have talked about the most this year have to be Cloudwater. That stems in part from the publicity they generated at launch, and also from the fact that Paul Jones and his assembled team are well funded and have the internet savvy to get noticed. But it also results from the fact that their beers have well and truly followed this up – Cloudwater are absolutely walking the walk, just over a year since they first appeared.
New breweries fly out of the gates all of the time – I have recently written about how Cloudwater got started, so I won’t go over it all again here, but from the first tasting of their beers they have only got even better. Back then, at a tasting at Edinburgh’s Hanging Bat, an excited/nervous Paul and head brewer James Campbell talked through their philosophy and what they wanted to achieve, and did so over some beers that didn’t quite hit the mark (which is only to be expected), but many more that were seriously, seriously accomplished.
And that is the key word here, I think, why so many people have grasped what Cloudwater are trying to do. It’s not just hype. Their beers totally deliver. I’m more a cask fan, but it’s their keg offerings that have really come through in their first year of operations. Their seasonally-changing IPA, their Citrus Gose, and chief amongst all – the Bergamot Hopfen Weisse. Brewed with bergamot lemons added to the kettle during the boil, and again in the fermenter, of all the Earl Grey beers I’ve tried, this has been the standout (James’ previous brewery Marble occupied the top step, with their Earl Grey IPA).
I fully believe we should give new breweries time to settle in. But every now and again you try a debut beer from a brewery and realise that they have nailed it at the first attempt. Cloudwater’s Bergamot Hopfen Weisse was very definitely that beer, this year.
Check back tomorrow for the third in this series of best new British beers of 2015, which hails from the equally great brewing city of London. Find out then what beer it is. Cloudwater went from strength to strength over the course of the year, and their double IPA also has found its way on many people’s best-of lists for beers of the year…(but not mine, one beer per brewery maximum!)