01 April 2016

The wire service

Session logoSean from Beer Search Party is at the helm for this month's Session and has centred the topic around Twitter. I'm a big fan of the microblogging platform and it has certainly had a huge impact on the beer scene, even though a lot of that is to the detriment of blogs. I do miss the more long-form beer analysis which has taken a bit of a pasting in the Twitter era, though there are plenty of good writers still out there blogging about beers on a regular basis. And there was beer hype before Twitter -- certain new releases and new breweries generated reactions and buzz among the bloggerati, a prime example being BrewDog's arrival in 2007.

But Twitter has intensified the whole thing; streamlined it, I guess. One side effect I've noticed is a reduction in the breadth of breweries getting attention from the hype machine, at least among UK Twitterers. It seems to be the same five or six British breweries being mentioned over and over again (BrewDog, of course, still mixing it in there). I know from drinking in Britain that this is not representative of national brewing, nor even of the "craft" sub-sector that gets most of the attention. Maybe I just need to recalibrate my follows a bit better, but I would like to see a wider picture on UK beer Twitter.

New additions to the mini-pantheon are rare but one such is Manchester's Cloudwater Brew Co., and with good reason as their beers are generally very good. A particular twitbuzz appeared to surround their double IPA so when I happened across a bottle of Cloudwater DIPA v2 in Belfast's The Vineyard off licence a few weeks ago, I snapped it up.

"Gyle no. 131" says the helpfully informative label, 9.6% ABV and hopped with Pilgrim, Citra and Chinook: 99kg, 2015 harvest. That's a lot of detail to take in. "Drink fresh" it also says, and my bottle was just five weeks from filling at time of opening, though The Vineyard had not deigned to keep this delicate specimen in its fridges. It poured fairly clear for a naturally conditioned job, the pale orange hue only slightly misted. The aroma is very juice-forward, all sweet pineapple and mango with just a slight lacing of spicy pine in behind. Any alcoholic vapours are keeping their volatile heads well down at this stage.

It's not hot to taste either but the mouthfeel does serve as an indicator of the strength, being quite thick. As with the aroma, tropical fruit is the centrepiece of the flavour: ripe mandarin and gooey peach. An acidic resinous bitterness builds quickly behind it and I thought that was going to be the finisher, but the hop fruit bounces back right at the end leaving you with a mouthful of tasty nectarine flesh and maybe just a slight harder diesel edge.

This is a beer of tremendous nuance and restraint. It takes very little effort to drink and I had to keep reminding myself to slow down and enjoy it. I deem it an object lesson for any brewery attempting the double IPA style and very much a case where the Twitter hype is justified. I just wonder who else is making beer this good that I don't know about.

There'll be more from Cloudwater in next Monday's post, perhaps inevitably.

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