In our 10 years as a brewery, Brew By Numbers has had the privilege of seeing the UK Craft Beer scene grow and evolve into the vibrant and thriving scene it is today. One of the most exciting and inspiring parts of this journey has been seeing our close friends open breweries of their own. Having the opportunity to work with them, contributing our different strengths and skills to create something unique and synergistic is always a wholesome experience.
One of our favourite collaborations to date is with Manchester heavyweights and all-round lovely people, Cloudwater Brew co. To celebrate our friendship and the mouth-watering Double IPA we brewed using Citra, Galaxy and Talus. We sat down with Co-Founder and Managing Director of Cloudwater, Paul Jones and asked them to share their thoughts on our Birthday collaboration and reflections on the past 10 years of Brew By Numbers.
Cloudwater Co-Founder, Paul Jones. Image: Andy Lambert
Feelings about the Citra, Galaxy and Talus hop combination?
Both Paul and the brew team at BBNo agreed that “Citra is the most quintessential Craft Beer hop there is … and possibly ever will be.” With this coveted hop as a base, you cannot go wrong, as Paul says: “it always delivers”. Bringing to the table a vast array of tropical fruits you can taste sweet stone fruit, bright citrus notes and a classic bitterness in the collaboration.
The other two hop varieties used; Talus and Galaxy are where it becomes a little more bespoke, Paul notes that these hops require “a little more skill”. We had a lot of fun working as a team to get the balance right and know they’ll appeal to the more adventurous drinkers. We see this beer sitting somewhere between the past and the horizons of Craft Beer, tipping its hat to the origins while exploring the combinations of the future. Specifically with the use of Talus, which Paul remarks is “pretty specific”. What the BBNo Brewhouse Manager, James Rabagliati enjoys most about the relatively new Talus hop – hitting the market in 2020 - is its unique blend of flavours and aromas which “satisfy my cravings for old-school West Coast IPAs but are just as happy in a modern haze bomb”, noting that the bold citrus and appealing floral notes make this an exceptionally moreish and versatile hop.
Why the Double IPA style?
At Brew By Numbers, we jumped at the opportunity to craft a IIPA with a brewery like Cloudwater, who have truly helped pioneer the style in the UK. Though, we wondered if the love affair was still alive and thriving for Cloudwater after 8 years of defining and redefining the style. The answer: a resounding yes.
“There are two things I love about a Double IPA”, says Paul, - when done well – “they’re the pinnacle of hop impact and drinkability”, with the elevated alcohol in a IIPA v. Pale Ale or India Pale Ale allows a higher solubility of the hops delivering maximum impact of aroma and flavour, making them a true sensory experience. The other thing he loves, “they’re a bit dangerous!” which the team at Brew By Numbers wholeheartedly agree, having enjoyed a decade of ‘product research’.
Part of the appeal of brewing this style of beer - for Brew By Numbers and Cloudwater - lies in the difficulty of execution, with the definition of success in a Double IPA being in maximizing hop flavour, aroma and intensity without producing aggressive astringency/ ‘hop burn’ or ethanol heat. Paul describes the process of brewing a great IIPA with the analogy: “if it were a gig, it would be a Math Rock gig, but turned up to 11”, explaining that although its technical, it’s definitely groovy, you’re never certain if you’re dancing on the right beat but you’re enjoying it all the same.
Why the choice of the 250ml can?
When we acquired our new canning line at the Morden Wharf brewery this year, we were very excited to experiment with new package format. We theorised that it could help make beer drinking - and particularly some beer styles - more accessible to new and different drinkers. How often have you ogled a large bottle or can of a IIPA, TIPA or Imperial Stout at the back of your fridge and shied away from the commitment?
With both Cloudwater and ourselves having a history of releasing 440ml cans and somewhat of a reputation for it, we thought it would be a step into the future to release our collaboration in our new 250ml cans and were glad to have Paul and the Cloudwater team jump aboard enthusiastically. Paul agreeing that as bigger beers have become a “mainstay”, it’s important to be able to offer different package sizes at home so the Craft Beer Explorer can “try more, in a format that doesn’t feel like it’s locking them in”.
What was your first Brew By Numbers Beer?
“First? It was a good one… That’s all I’ve got! I’ve tried so many over the years. My first recollection was sitting there as a consumer – not a brewery owner – on a street in Bermondsey and drinking something that was delicious and tasted like it was cared for and because of that I felt like I was cared for.”
“I paid close attention to Brew By Numbers from that point and got to know Tom (Hutchings). It really made an impact; you were producing beers that met me at my desire for quality and curiosity. It was a great match. It was the very early part of the acclimatisation of what UK Craft Beer was and is, with all the outlets trying to cut their teeth. But very early on, Brew By Numbers put themselves out there as being worthy of attention.”
We had such a great time working on this beer with Cloudwater and couldn’t think of a better brewery to share in our 10th Birthday Celebrations. Be sure to try our Collaboration Double IPA in our slimline 250ml cans, available in our limited edition 10th Birthday Beer Box now.