Tag Archive: Cloudwater


Verdant: Cloudwater: Lost and Grounded – Loral and Ardi (England: Abbey Tripel: 8.2% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy tropical fruit juice looking with a large, loose, bubbled, white head.

Nose: Peppery. Light hop character. Apricot. Slight smoke. Brown bread.

Body: Apricot. Banana. Light custard. Smoke. Bready bitterness. Yeastie. Puff crisp thickness. Peppery.

Finish: Smoked meat. Some bitterness. Crushed Blackpool rock. Pepper. Slight floral air. Palma violets. Mature cheese and cheese puffs. Dried apricot. Peach.

Conclusion: A very grounded beer for a Tripel this one. Well by the end it is. At the start it seemed like it was going to be another fruity hop explosion beer. Not a bad thing in general, but very overused at the moment and can make a lot of beer styles seem very similar, losing the wonderful range of the beer world. So, glad that it turns out to be something different going on here.

What gave me that impression, that it would be a IPA style hop fest is 1) That the cloudy colour really makes it look like the NEIPA style that is all the rage right now and 2) The fresh burst of apricot hops early on. Thankfully there is a lot more ot this beer than first impressions would suggest.

The peppery, Belgian character is there backed by that cheese puff crisps and mature cheese notes that I associate with the Belgian yeast. It gives a lot of weight to what initially seemed to be a simple beer.

Does it work? Well you get juicy hop fruitiness and some hop bitterness matched with the aforementioned Belgian characteristics laid across a custard sweet malt base. It is nice, but I have to admit, feels less than the sum of its parts. The hops and the yeastie notes kind of work, but also seem to create a slightly muggy centre below that. Not terrible, just the dried fruit and peppery character matched with the yeastie notes combine to make things a bit overly clinging in the middle, just slightly wearing.

So lots of good parts, not bad overall, but doesn’t quite mesh everything together to create something better than the individual elements.

Background: Took a while for me to find the name of this – it is tucked away on the side of the can. An odd promotional choice, maybe they were just really ashamed of the pun? Another beer where I was unsure on beer style to use – it pushes itself as a Tripel, which makes sense with the abv so that is the style I listed – however it is closer to a standard blond Belgian ale in a lot of ways, just heavier hopped. Anyway – this is made with Ardennes yeast and dry hopped with Lorcal, Simcoe and Centennial. Grabbed from Independent Spirit, this was drunk while listening to a bit more of the varied sound that comes from Miracle Of Sound.

Brewdog Vs Cloudwater: New England IPA V2 (Scotland: IIPA: 8.5% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy apricot with a large white head. No evident carbonation.

Nose: Slightly milky hops. Mango juice and white grapes. Nectarines. Buttery shortbread.

Nose; Nectarine. Peach. Slight cloying cream. Low level bitterness and hop character. Light peppermint and greenery. Banana milkshake.

Finish: Milkshake. Grapes. Nectarines. Slight bitterness. Very light greenery. Slight cloying cream. Mandarin orange. Sour dough. Bready.

Conclusion: Ok, I’ve had two bottles of this – the first one was had the day I received it and was kind of average. This one was had a week later, so just over a week old and it is much more impressive. Another entry for the “It is possible to have an IPA too fresh” hypothesis.

This has low present bitterness, but still more than the average NEIPA – which is good by me. It still keeps the massive fruit burst I associate with the New England style though – kind of smoothie to milkshake style which seems to be the common trend in these cloudy IPAs. There is a lot of orange variety going on and some slightly tart white grapes as well. This part works perfectly – slightly creamy but not excessively so. I think the bit extra bitterness gives a punch to the flavours not seen in a lot of the style.

For flaws in the beer? Well it has a few minor ones – there is a cloying, slightly sour cream note in the middle – kid of akin to what happens with Punk IPA occasionally as a refreshing twist; Here it is present throughout the beer where it gets a tad wearing rather than refreshing. Apart from that – well there is a slight greenery that seems out of place – minor notes really.

Despite that this is another NEIPA that I can approve of. Again I think it is the slight extra bitterness that makes it work for me – it is small but does stand out. Another one that makes me respect the style more than I did before.

Background: While I wasn’t massively enthused about the first Cloudwater vs Brewdog New England IPA, the buzz around this one was big enough that I grabbed a few bottles from their online store – it has been whirlpool hopped with Mosaic hops, and dry-hopped with Citra, Mandarina Bavaria and Mosaic. Sounded a very tidy hop set to me. This one is an IIPA rather than just a standard IPA so I was hoping the extra weight could work to compensate for the slightly lighter character of V1. Drunk while listening to a random selection of my most played tunes, so guaranteed to have some stuff to put me in a good mood on.

Cloudwater: DIPA v13 (England: IIPA: 9% ABV)

Visual: Very cloudy apricot colour. Large yellow white mound of bubbles for a head.

Nose: Tangy. Hint of gherkin. Apples. Slightly musty. Light raspberry.

Body: Thick and creamy. Slight gherkin. Stewed banana. Big peach. Tart raspberry if held. Toffee backbone. Hop oils. Tangy. Slight pineapple. Vanilla yogurt.

Finish: Raspberry pavlova. Tart. Light gherkin. Apricot. Low level bitterness. Bready. Banana sweets. Vanilla yogurt. Chinese stir fry vegetables.

Conclusion: Ok, this is a mix of the great, and the kind of shit. An odd combo. So, erm, here goes. This has a real thick texture – heavy duty and gives a good grip to the flavour. The malt base comes with some toffee character, but is generally a neutral creamy to vanilla yogurt style. Basically something to give room for the hop flavours.

So, onto those hop flavours – well, there is nearly zero bitterness here. A bit unusual for an IPA – even the fruitiest and sweetest tend to have at least a tiny touch of it in the body. Here the only sign is in the bready finish – with some hop oils giving a sheen to the feel, but not a bitterness. Generally this is a bitterness free zone. So, yeah very unexpected for an IIPA.

Ok, so we have a solid base, and a slightly unusual start. Where is the kinds shit stuff I mentioned? The gherkin. The slightly tangy, sour, vegetable gherkin notes. It is very intense early on, especially when first poured – but is still present in a diminished form by the end of the beer. Now, this is an element that can work in beers, but has to be used very carefully. Here it just makes for an uneven, overpowering element that stamps all over the fruitiness the beer has underneath it. I can see what they are trying to do – it feels like it is aiming for a thick, almost crushed cannabis, muggy strength – but in my opinion it severely hurts the overall experience.

Underneath that there is a sense of good stewed fruit and peach melba. Lightly tart in a good way this time – very creamy and moderately sweet. The beer is mostly good in what it does but that one, greenery packed heaviness just makes it one that I really cannot get into at all, instead feeling even sludgy at times. It ends with an almost stir fry veg air – another off note in a beer that felt like it had promise otherwise

I really hope this is not used as the base for any of their new DIPA range.

Background: Had a few of the Cloudwater DIPAs over the past year – didn’t really keep up to date with trying them all as they came out so thick and fast. This one however is their last prototype one off release before they setup a regular line of DIPAs based on what they found out from these. So, thought it may be worth giving another, final go. Unlike some people I have no negative attachment to the number 13, so have no probs with this being their 13th release. Anyway, this was grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to Ulver: Childhoods End.

Cloudwater: Against The Grain: Make Apple Pie Great Again (England: Fruit: 6.3% ABV)

Visual: Very cloudy caramel brown to cloudy apple juice. Very large off white head.

Nose: Cinnamon and apples .. ok, basically apple pie with fresh apples and buttery pastry. Danish pastry.

Body: Apples and cinnamon. Ground ginger. Pastry. Peppery and some white pepper. Dried apricot.

Finish: Vanilla. Apples. Cinnamon. Lightly bready. Light bitterness. White pepper. Light cloves and sugar dusting.

Conclusion: Ok, I think I’ve mentioned before that apple seems to be a hard ingredient to use correctly in a beer. They tend to have too little effect, or end up artificially sweet, or such issues as that.

So, in case you were wondering – yep! This makes apple pie (In a beer) great (Again? For the first time?). Anyway, I think what makes this work is the spice they add which does a lot of heavy lifting for the beer. The cinnamon and ginger notes are well used here, and of course are so closely mentally linked with apple pie that it really makes that core apple flavour seem much more significant than the intensity would otherwise manage. Also that spice grounding means that the apple and accompanying vanilla and pastry notes don’t come across sickly sweet. This all feels very well planned.

I feel like they looked at all the cinnamon and clove influenced Christmas beer and used what was learned from them as a base to work from to make this. It really has that vibe. But with apple pies. Then again, maybe they didn’t – I don’t know how they brewed it, that is just the impression got from the beer itself.

Now you could call this a one trick pony – but that would be somewhat unfair. For one it delivers its concept spot on, and that is what they are selling this beer as. So criticising it for doing its job feel slightly unfair, even if that was true. As a second point, it manages to still feel beer like under the apple pie styling, albeit in the aforementioned Christmas beer style. Finally the spice also brings in some more unusual elements with peppery character mixing well with the hop bitterness to give a bit more edge to that aspect.

Overall, good concept, good learning from beer history, good beer that makes apple pies great!

Background: Ok, this one I am fairly sure is a piss take of Donald Trump. Then again I have been wrong before, so I will just say Donald Trump is an incompetent man child shit who sucks up to fascists. Anyway, this is a beer made with apple puree, apple juice, cinnamon, nutmeg and muscovado sugar. Drunk while listening to Evil Scarecrow: Galactic Hunt – love the over the top fun and pop culture referencing metal of these lot. This beer was grabbed from Independent Spirit. Yes, again.

brewdog-vs-cloudwater-new-england-ipa

Brewdog Vs Cloudwater: New England IPA (Scotland: IPA: 6.8% ABV)

Visual: Pale cloudy coconut touched apricot juice look. Large white crisp bubbled head.

Nose: Pineapple and coconut juice. Dried banana. Light hop character. Light bitterness.

Body: Thick, slightly bitty texture. Apricot and pineapple. Creamy smoothie style character. Light hop character. Fresh peach. Crusty white bread.

Finish: Peach. Coconut. Creamy banana smoothie. Milky. Light hop oils and bitterness. Slight musty dust notes. Malty ovaltine. Slightly gritty, rocky character.

Conclusion: Ok, this is far better than the first bottle – as explained in the background my first experience with this was kind of odd. Anyway, this is a much thicker beer with a bit of an unusual texture with it. It mixes a creamy smoothie style with a slight gritty infusion that comes in late mid body and then rises massively in the finish. I am not 100% sure if it works, as I shall explain, but it is interesting.

To begin with the bitterness level here is low, concentrating more on the fresh fruit and using a touch of coconut style for grounding. Here in the early days the smoothie character rules the roost. Very fruity juice smoothie giving a mix of pineapple, sweet peach and mashed banana. Pretty good start.

As time goes on the grittiness rises, bringing initially just a hop feel, then into that rises hope oils and light bitterness. At this point it is a pleasant addition to the beer – but after that it becomes gritty and with slightly musty bitterness in the finish. It is around this point in the finish that I begin to feel the beer doesn’t 100% work. The rest of the beer is quiet restrained – easygoing and fruity for an IPA. It builds up to a slow drinking , leisurely beer for kind of if not quite session drinking (anything over 6% is not a session beer!). The final musty and gritty moments in the finish make it feel rough. Elements that are good in a bigger more brutal IPA feel out of place in an easygoing one like this.

The thing is, the early fruit juice smoothie with a bit of grip to it still works – it is just let down by the end. So, still reasonable and a bit different but doesn’t work either as a big IPA or an easygoing IPA. So, close but not quite.

Background: Cloudwater know how do do very good IPAs. So do Brewdog. Ok, let’s go with this one. I grabbed two bottles of this – first was slightly thin. Think that something went wrong with bottling on that one- it had a lot of brown gunk in the neck of the bottle – filling about 80% of the area. Think some sediment or yeast issues there. Anyway, this was the second bottle – gunk free, so let’s give it a go. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog. Still plaything Dark Souls 2 – finally broke another DLC area so this was my treat to myself for that bit. Drunk while listening to more Louise Distras.

Cloudwater DIPA v5

Cloudwater: DIPA v5 (England: IIPA: 9% ABV)

Visual: Hazy yellow to apricot. Good carbonation. Large white to yellow touched head.

Nose: Passion fruit. Light boiled egg. Banana. Bready. Pumpkin.

Body: Moderate bitterness that rises to solid over time. Cloying passion fruit. Apricot. Vanilla fudge. Fresh white crusty bread. Frothy mouthfeel. Dried pineapple.

Finish: Good bitterness and hop oils. Digestives. Slightly cloying touch. Peppery. Passion fruit.

Conclusion: Ok, I will admit that I was expecting the slightly cloying touch to the fruit in v4 to be one of the things that changed between it and this v5. It didn’t change. See I am already learning things about how timing of dry hopping does or does not affect a beer.

What we find instead is a more restrained aroma that shows less evident notes, a fact I am pretty sure will be due to the timing of the dry hopping – and a body that has a bigger evident bitterness to it. Also, overall the beer does feel less resinous as well. Yes I will spend a lot of time comparing this to v4, it seems a waste of time to just repeat the elements that are the same between the two.

In fact, returning to the cloying touch, if anything this feels more dedicated to the dry and cloying fruit side of things, with less bright notes showing through. Because of that we also seem to get slightly more of the fudge malt base shining through. Since that doesn’t seem to be something that would be increased by the hop timing I am guessing that it could be because there is less to get in its way so it shines through more. It feels slightly heavier and longer lasting in the flavour.

Of course this is all tried by having only one sample of each beer, with no blind, so hardly the scientific method being done here.

Anyway, this also seems to lack that touch of funky yeast touch from the v4, though it still keeps the peppery character I associated with that. It feels like the more weighty, slower drinking double IPA of the two. There is a nice weight to it, maybe a tad too heavy though, and it does get slightly wearing as it gets warm.

Of the two I would say that v4 is the better, with a tad more complexity, but the two are very similar. This is however the heavier of two slightly heavier than normal Double IPAs, and doesn’t have as much in return. Still good, but not great. V4 definitely wins from the two for me.

Background:Ok quick copy past from v4 which was released at the same time as v5. The two versions came out side by side as they are mostly the same beer, with the difference being V4 is dry hopped during fermentation, v5 is dry hopped after fermentation which will alter how the elements interact. Very interesting. The official advice is to drink half of one, half of the other, then mix the two and try that. Whichever is the preferred one will be used as the template for v6. My alcohol tolerance these days is sod all, and my taste-buds would probably get confused, so I did not do that. instead I drank v4 one day, and v5 the next, so I still had a clear memory of what they were like. Grabbed from Independent Spirit – these were very small batch due to their experimental nature, so I was very happy to get hold of a bottle of each. Also I deliberately didn’t look at notes of v4 until after initial notes but before conclusion so to minimise influence, but help with comparison.

Cloudwater DIPA v4

Cloudwater: DIPA v4 (England: IIPA: 9% ABV)

Visual: Just slightly hazy yellow to peach skin. Good carbonation. Massive white fluffy head.

Nose: Resinous. Peach. Quite clean. Pine cones. Light cannabis. Dried banana. Vanilla. Bran flakes.

Body: Peach. Nice bitter kick – moderate but there. Juicy. Good hop feel. Passion fruit and kumquat. Dried fruit. Thick. Brown bread. Slightly peppery. Yeasty. Peach syrup. Resinous.

Finish: Fluffy hop character. Slightly dry. All bran. Moderate bitterness. Hop oils. Palma violets. Passion fruit. Kiwi. Yeasty feel. Peppery.

Conclusion: This is definitely the dried fruit side of the double IPA. I mean it is fruity as heck, and laid over a quite dry base, but the fruit all comes in just slightly dried with that. It is just slightly parching rather than refreshing. Until I try the v5 I can’t say if this is due to the dry hopping being done during fermentation or if it just the base character of the beer. I’m looking forwards to finding out. This does feel pretty yeasty itself though, with a touch of Belgian feeling funkyness and alight peppery character. Nothing too obtrusive, just a nice feel.

With that I find it enjoyable in the flavours, definitely well done there, but just slightly cloying. It doesn’t make it bad, just different, which is oft appreciated. However it does make it far less refreshing as an IPA, resulting in a beer which is definitely better having as just a one in a session rather than repeat visits.

The flavour range is the best part, with the fruit emphasised and the malt body mostly out of the way. The bitterness is nicely pitched, present in a hop oil and resinous way that is present, but far from overly harsh. It matches the more dry and cloying fruit notes well.

So a slightly funky beer, the peppery notes and slight palma violets bring to mind the more noble hops, and matched with a quite resinous and slightly cloying IPA. Thick and definitely set for slow drinking. For me, I generally would prefer a slightly cleaner take on the fruit going forwards, really let it shine out of the beer. However I have enjoyed this different take on it. Let’s bring on v5 and see how it compares.

Background: Something a bit unusual here. I had tried DIPA v3, though from feedback I have got my experience was not similar to most drinkers so I may have got a tad yeast infected or something beer. Anyway, even with that it wasn’t too bad so when I saw v4 and v5 come out I thought I would give them a go. The two versions came out side by side as they are mostly the same beer, with the difference being V4 is dry hopped during fermentation, v5 is dry hopped after fermentation which will alter how the elements interact. Very interesting. The official advice is to drink half of one, half of the other, then mix the two and try that. Whichever is the preferred one will be used as the template for v6. My alcohol tolerance these days is sod all, and my taste-buds would probably get confused, so I did not do that. instead I drank v4 one day, and v5 the next, so I still had a clear memory of what they were like. Grabbed from Independent Spirit – these were very small batch due to their experimental nature, so I was very happy to get hold of a bottle of each. Drunk in the insane current heat while listening to the haunting David Bowie: Black Star album.

Cloudwater Vermont ESB

Cloudwater: Vermont ESB (England: ESB: 6.5% ABV)

Visual: Apricot to brown. Loose brown creamy head that leaves lace.

Nose: Watermelon and grapefruit. Fresh and tart. Mild gherkin. Slightly bready.

Body: Thick and viscous. Vinous notes. Smooth and creamy. Brandy cream, Mild gherkin. Raisins and Madeira. Glacier cherries. Caramel. Blood orange and tart grapes.

Finish: Light bitterness that raises quickly. Walnut oil. Malt drinks. Pineapple chunks. Kiwi. Watermelon. Light acidic drying feel. Tart grapes. Palma violets.

Conclusion: This very smooth, very smooth indeed. I think this, unlike the DIPA v3.0 is showing how the Vermont yeast works, based on the descriptions I have heard. It is smooth, creamy and really lets the hop flavours show.

Speaking of the hops flavours, for me ESBs have always been a malt led beer choice. This one on the other hand very much emphasises the tart fruity hop character. Though for that it does have a low bitterness, with the exception of the finish – it instead pushes really high on the tart fruit hop flavours.

In fact the fruit – the pineapple, blood orange and the like, feels so fresh that you can almost imagine fishing fruit pulp bits off our tongue – the texture is smooth but somehow you still have the urge to lick off psychosomatic flecks of fruit. This fruit tartness leads to an acidic dryness in the mouth, again almost akin to consuming the fruit itself.

Unfortunately due to this the traditional ESB flavours are pushed to hide as backing notes, especially early on. Though when they do come through, and are more notable late on they are done very well. Lots of spirit soaked notes, malt drinks and dark fruits, just hid much more than you would expect. The smooth texture lets the stabbing spirit notes stand out and gives the creamier, brandy cream influenced notes some play, so it really feels like the yeast could make a good malt led ESB if they wanted to lean that way.

So, yeah, it is interesting to note that the Vermont yeast used here has none of the brett style notes that were in the DIPA V3.0, which confirms my suspicion that the beer had something off with it. As for this beer itself, it is very good, but feels almost like a fruity IPA over an ESB base rather than as a firm example of the ESB style. It maybe could do with the malt side pumping up a bit.

As a beer in itself, rather than as an example of the style, it is lovely. A spirit touched tart fruit hop fest – the light use of the ESB style makes if feel like a barrel aged IPA, with a freshness of spirit character I do not feel we would see any other way.

It is a luxurious base beer with tart challenging flavours. A mix of relaxing and awakening. In the end it is a style mash up I can highly recommend. It may not be weak at 6.5% but it delivers a boom that tastes 8% or up with all the spirit notes, the thick character and the big hops. It earns every inch of the abv it uses. Very impressive.

Background: After my set of notes on Cloudwater: DIPA V3 a few people let me know that the weird Brett style flavour in it wasn’t similar to their experience, so I may have got a just slightly duff bottle. As of such I was interested to find another bottle made with Vermont yeast for comparison. Thankfully Independent Spirit had in another Cloudwater beer made with that yeast – this ESB. So, here goes my quest to get used to what this yeast does.

Cloudwater DIPA V3

Cloudwater: DIPA V3 (England: IIPA: 9% ABV)

Visual: Deep cloudy apricot coloured body. High carbonation. A centimetre of apricot to brown touched head that quickly leaves sud rings.

Nose: Kumquat. Slight egg. Quite musty. Sour gherkin. Lime. Apple.

Body: Lime and kiwi. Sour grapes. Sour dough. Lime sour sweets. Pineapple. Grapefruit chunks. Slightly funky cheese notes. Custard. Slightly acidic. Melon. Apricot and peach.

Finish: Sour white grapes. Lemon sherbet. Kiwi. Apple. Sour dough. Haribo sours. Cheese. Acidic cider. Pepper. Peach.

Conclusion: Ok, I’ve just had to google Vemont yeast half way through doing the notes, just to check that it was not a brett variant, or acid malt, or some other weird thing. But, no, my initial thoughts were confirmed, it is in fact just a specifically DIPA aimed yeast. So why does this test Bretted as fuck? Or Bretted as funk if you want a poor pun.

The unusual character meant that it took a while for me to try and work out what the beer was trying to be – and, partially because of that, initial impressions were terrible. The beer’s aroma felt closed with sour gherkin, eggs and acidic notes. The body helped a bit with tart fruit, but the mix of light acidic notes and attenuated style did make me wonder if it had a light yeast infection. After a while I concluded that the acidic, feeling brett touched, style seemed to be intentional, so lets look at it as that.

It is unusual – not really bitter, more acidic and funky with sour dough and yeast characteristics – it reminds me very much of Wild Beer’s Evolver and Brett Brett beers. This becomes fruitier and sweeter over time, much more pleasant, but still interrupted by sour stabs that make the beer feel off.

The funk character of it can be fun, the fruit range is very good, but that base character just keeps intruding – too dry and acidic, and not in a way that complements the beer. There is a lot of good in this beer, but those notes initially up front end up hanging around in the background dragging it down.

Lots of good high points utterly let down by a few flaws in the base character.

Background: Not tried any Cloudwater before this, another brewery with a good reputation. We have a seriously well growing beer scene in the UK at the moment and it is awesome. Anyway, grabbed this at Independent Spirit. Again. Thought I would go for the Double IPA as the heavy hop stuff is always a good start for me. Drank this quite late at night, with music on random.

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