Hikerdelic Inner Circle: Cloudwater

Where does the name Cloudwater come from?

The name Cloudwater is derived from the Japanese word unsui, which literally translates as ‘cloud water’. Its origins are from Zen Buddhism and is used to describe wandering novice monks seeking further training and deeper knowledge, emphasising the continuous process of improvement and development that defines our work. Also, cloud water is rain, and we’re based in Manchester!

What does a good day in the life of a Barrel project lead look like?

Surrounded by barrels, perhaps not leaky ones though. A good day is when everything is going as planned, which isn't necessarily always the case when you're working with a live product such as beer. I use lots of different adjuncts (brewers speak for ingredients that aren’t malt, hops, and yeast) in the BA beers and sometimes you have a good, clear idea that you think will work exactly how you expect but it doesn't always follow a straight line from ingredient to glass. It's a process which means I am always looking for new and different flavour combinations to compliment the base beer without straying too far from the essence of the Cloudwater Barrel Project. A good day is sometimes also just transferring the beer from barrel to bottle, without it covering my face! 

Can you describe yourself as if you were a beer? 

A young lambic. Simple and boring still, needing more time to develop in complexity and depth in flavour. 

Tell us a bit about your Barrel project line? Barrel ageing has been at the heart of what we do at Cloudwater since the brewery’s inception in 2014. We made a modest start with a handful of wine barrels and in 2016 we took delivery of three 5000L foudres, which you can see from the mezzanine of our taproom.

In regards to the process of Barrel Ageing we have two distinct lines of beer; the clean beer line is more about how the flavour of the beer, mainly imperial stout, interacts with the flavour from the first used spirit or wine barrel. The wild and sour beer line is a bit more complicated. It’s about how different bacteria and wild yeasts ferment the beer in the barrel, interact with ingredients, and even biotransform one flavour profile into another. This can cause great uncertainties but also one of the beauties of the barrel program.

Are you working on anything new and sensational at the moment?

Our Christmas release! Each year we launch 12 Christmas Barrel Aged beers, and I am really excited for the imperial stout because we extended the ageing period, and it’s going to make a huge difference! Also, I am working on a collaborative experimental brew with a South Korean brewery. We used Korean rice wine yeast for that beer, and it’s still evolving in the barrel.