International Women's Day 2024 - Isca

Feb 19, 2024

At Cloudwater, we have a diverse team consisting of 50% women who are involved in different areas of the business such as production, packaging, warehouse, retail, hospitality, and management. We value and celebrate the achievements of women as it is an essential part of our identity here at Cloudwater. On February 6th, we hosted an extraordinary brew day in honour of IWD 2024 and invited women from various Manchester organisations who have inspired and impacted us and their communities. Participants in the project include Flawd, Manchester Laces, Odd Arts, Eat Well, Isca, and other notable figures like Maxine Peake and Rivca Burns who attended the brew day..It was amazing to have everyone under one roof, and we cherish the result of the day which you might be holding in your hands right now. Enjoy!


What have been the standout moments for you both since opening?

All the collaborations we have been doing over the years from Beers in the Garden at Platt Fields community garden to our visit to Hector’s in London. They all had their magic moments. Each of our wine trips has been truly memorable as well. The pleasure to meet, see, observe, taste, feel where and how winemakers work and live is truly incredible. 


What principles do you stand by when you select your low-intervention wines and ingredients for your menu? Quality & care are produced organically in respect of the labour and the environment. Our food and wine are from small producers. We like to source our food as locally as possible. It is important to us to know the story of where it is coming from and to establish a connection with the source.


Isca is an intimate space with a big community impact, how did you achieve this? By working closely with a constellation of like-minded people. Celebrating collaboration through a series of events. Never compromise on ethics.    


Which winemakers are exciting you the most at the moment and why?

Jeanne Gaston-Breton  from La Ferme des 9 Chemins in Alsace. Her vineyard is surrounded by forest and the vines share the landscape with meadows, horses and herds of goats. Therefore she is well located in reaction to climate change. The forest and the altitude isolate and yet protect her. It cools and regulates everything down.  I visited Jeanne last year but when I tasted her wine something deep touched me inside. That feeling is hard to describe and what comes to my mind is subtle, steady, elegant, hopeful, generosity, finesse, precision, ecosystem, wildlife… so so giving but not shouting.   



What did you both do before you opened Isca?

Caroline was head sommelier at Where the Light Gets In since its birth and is still involved. Before opening Where The Light Gets In, she was a professional dancer and toured mainly in Europe, Canada and America.

Issy was Sous Chef at The Cremeries and had worked in Manchester as a chef for many years in restaurants and with her supper club Season’s Eatings.


Caroline, do you think your background as a performance artist influenced your passion for hospitality? I never had an individual practice as an artist but always worked in collaboration. And most of the projects I was involved with questioned the use of hospitality in participatory artwork. The fact that I have been touring Europe, Scandinavia, Canada and America for years allowed me to research places that were serving natural wine and food. 


What does hospitality mean to you?

Caroline: Hospitality means to me that I take care of you, that I look after you in my own space, in my home. It’s not yours it’s mine but I am sharing it with you. 

Issy: To me, hospitality is sharing the food and wine I love with other people and telling the stories of the people behind the produce, allowing people to indulge in food and drink that brings them joy.



Where do you get the inspiration for your ever-changing seasonal menus from Issy?

I love to read about food in cookbooks and more recently Substack. I also love to travel and eat all over the world. I never want to stop learning and tasting new things. So I take inspiration from things I eat and the produce available. 


What restaurants and businesses influence the work you are doing at Isca?

Everywhere we go or visit always makes us reflect on what we do and the way we do it. It never stopped!


You have both worked closely with Cloudwater since we were founded in 2015, looking back through the history of Cloudwater, what are some of your stand-out beers?

Caroline: I remember vividly the first time I tasted what is now a “classic Cloudwater IPA” years and years ago somewhere in Manchester. The texture was smooth, yet the hops were so distinctive. Some sort of Strong softness. 

Issy: I’ve always enjoyed the barrel-aged project and love seeing what new releases are coming up.


What's your favourite thing about Manchester?

It’s an exciting time to be in Manchester at the moment. Lots of new restaurants are opening and the natural wine scene is growing. Things are changing and moving. The city is investing in green spaces, bike paths and culture. People are moving in the city from all around Europe and the UK and further away.  


What's the most exciting thing happening in Manchester at the moment?

Manchester is growing in all aspects and it brings a great sense of possibility.  


Why is it important to empower women in the hospitality industry?

It’s important to empower women in any industry but in the world of hospitality, women need support to be able to stand up for themselves and have confidence in male-dominated environments. 


Caroline, what challenges did you face whilst paving a career for yourself in the hospitality industry while raising children? It’s missing out on school pick-ups, bedtime routines, shared meals, Halloween, birthdays…it’s hard, very hard. 

The creation of Isca came with a desire to not only own my place but to open it where I live and where my children go to school so I can go and pick them up from school, take them back to Isca for a hot chocolate and a cookie and ask them how their day’s been. Issy and I wanted to create a different hospitality environment with Isca, not just from a customer point of view but from a working environment. From the customer's point of view we wanted to have a casual place where you can come for a cookie and a coffee, a glass of wine and a book, or indulging with a group of friends with loads of different sharing plates of food and bottles. From the working point of view, we wanted an intimate small place, where the hours don't exceed 43 hours a week and where sustainability isn’t just in the ingredients but in the work ethic.        


Women have been enabled to find their voice and progress in their careers in wine and food through mentorship from both of you. How have you successfully achieved this? 


By respecting and recognising labour, engagement & ethics. By encouraging communication and creating space for people to speak up and share what they think truly. By showing women that they should have the confidence to do what they dream of and not accept second-rate treatment in the workplace.


What are your stand-out hospitality experiences from around the world and how have these influenced what you are achieving at Isca?

I was performing at a festival in Freiburg Switzerland and my colleague and I went to a local place called Le Port which was in an old abandoned high school. We sat outside and we had a glass of Rose made from a local winemaker (can’t remember the name). A very light smoked trout fillet from a river passing near us with a side of some sort of cottage cheese made around the corner. All around us were big boxes of all sorts of things growing. A group of teenagers were having a workshop on “How to grow vegetables” in one of the corners. The place was buzzing with different things going on but yet you were able to relax and enjoy yourself. Everything was from the surrounding area where we were sitting. Family, people alone reading books or newspapers, classes, food being prepared with care and love in a relaxed way. It was like a very elegant utopian squat. It was magical. (Caroline)     


What's your guilty pleasure in Manchester?

One of my favourite things about English culture is going to a pub ordering beers and bags of snacks/crisps and opening widely on the table to share. 

What’s your connection/ when did you first work with Cloudwater?

Caroline: I met Paul and his team in London at a natural wine fair, we quickly exchanged numbers and the week after he gave me a tour of the brewery. 

Issy: I met Paul a while ago when he was a keen food blogger and photographer on Instagram. I was excited to see where Cloudwater developed when he started it.

Proper DIPA

Our 8th DIPA in our  Proper DIPA series is out this week, called Proper DIPA NZ edition, a perfect example of the beautiful things that happen when modern meets tradition.We've infused Southern Cross and NZ Cascade to accentuate the JW Lees yeast strain.This DIPA excels in both body and hop intensity, delivering a hearty hop medley characterised by quintessential NZ hop aromas of white grape, all culminating in an exceptionally dank finish.Enjoyed in the video by JW Lees brewer Matthew and available in our webshop now. 

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