I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to see the plans we have made over the past year come to life as our warehouse units get fitted out (we’ve been micro blogging and posting on Instagram if you’ve missed any of the action so far). We are all very happy that we are making a solid foundation upon which we hope to create the brewing output of our dreams. We are a small team with divergent tastes (ranging from a love of traditional styles on hand pull, to an unstoppable enthusiasm for barrel blended brett beer), and one of our founding ambitions is that we all get what we want.
Brewing is the conversion of agricultural products, through craft and science, into a broadening range of flavours and experiences. As we discussed the various ways we could work with new and old styles, utilising modern and traditional techniques, we kept coming back to ideas about making the most of what we have, where we are in the world, and the context within which we’ll make our beers. Our name, Cloudwater, was inspired by ‘Unsui’ or 雲水 from Zen Buddhism, and translates as literally ‘cloud, water’ but was used to describe a wandering novice who has undertaken training "to drift like clouds and flow like water.” Shunryu Suzuki once said “In the beginners mind there are many possibilities, in the experts mind there are few.” These founding principles may become something like guides for us – to look to nature for our inspiration, and put the ingredients first and foremost.
We are only going to produce seasonal beer, with four distinct line ups each year. Each season will see us work towards getting the very best out of local or seasonally available ingredients, hops that are fresh to the marketplace or that give us just the flavours we feel fit the most, and traditional styles and modern experiments that accord to our lifestyle at that time. Some beers may never be made again, whilst others may appear season after season, having been tweaked into shape (a spring IPA will likely be quite different to an autumn IPA for example).
Each season we will work with a new artist, illustrator or designer to create packaging that is as fresh as the beer itself. We are starting with packaging designed by the wonderful team that created our logo, Textbook Studio. If you would like to get involved and put yourself forward for designing a new season’s range, please email email@example.com with an example of your work and a few words about why you want to work with us. Please note, we do not accept ‘freebies in exchange for exposure’. This is a paid position only, with contracted terms and fees discussed with each artist/designer/illustrator accordingly.
Please don’t mistakenly think we are making a statement against core ranges. We know from previous experience, our friends in the industry, and publications that core range beers often make up over 50% of most successful breweries outputs, and form a reliable brand that is a welcome sight. This is simply a statement of intent, of wanting to be ourselves, and to celebrate the seasonality that has revitalised British food and drink in the past decade. We feel full of energy, and want to take advantage of our new set up and the flexibility it affords us. Hundreds before us have gone their own way, and made beer we are inspired and impressed by ever since. If we are to pay homage to those that have inspired us most, we must go our own way too, and pay close attention to the natural world from which we gain our ingredients, and to our actions to transform them from one great thing into another.
As we get closer to seeing our brewery fitted and commissioned we’ll be back with news about our first seasonal line up, Spring 15.
Now, we were going to finish up at this point, but it strikes us that it’s going to be difficult to keep this next bit under our cap once we introduce ourselves to our new neighbours, so here goes.
We’ve just signed our second lease. This time for an archway on Sheffield St, less than two minutes walk from our brewery. It’s a little over 1700 sq ft, and will be used for something altogether different to our main brewery.
Our processes in our brewery are centred around two main technical focusses – making the best possible home for our chosen yeast strain within the confines of our brewery pipework and vessels, and creating an environment toxic to unwelcome bacteria outside of our brewery pipework and vessels. In this way, as with nearly every other brewery that uses non porous fermenting vessels (made from stainless steel for example), we will look to set tight parameters so that we get just the flavours we planned, with few surprises.
Ageing in wood is something we always planned to devote a generous amount of space to. Our original storage and shelving plan for the brewery includes space for 24 barrels in cold store and 36 at room temperature. With the archway now in our possession, we can now look to work with up to a total of up to 220 barrels across both units. Joy!
Because we want to keep our brewery focussed and uncontaminated, and because we also love wild, funky flavours from barrel ageing and 100% brettanomyces fermented beers, we are going to run the barrel store in the archway as wild, and as funky as we desire. We will end up with complex beers which we’ll either package as they are, or blend to our hearts content with stock from our brewery.
There’s more. We are also hoping to open a bar in the front end of the unit, which will be devoted to the breadth and depth of fermentation. Natural wines, lambic beers, small plates of fermented food, and more (pending permissions coming through from licensing and planning). Wish us luck, and watch this space…