I think it's fair to say that it is difficult to think of another brewery that has shot to fame in quite like the way Cloudwater have in the last twelve months. Even given the fact that the Manchester-based brewers were the recipients of a level of financial backing that would make most other breweries green with envy, I don't think anyone could have expected them to have become one of the best and most exciting new breweries in the UK in such a short space of time. Despite receiving plaudits for their excellent seasonal range of beers, it is Cloudwater's limited-run small batch brews in particular that have impressed me the most. v1 and v2 of their Double IPA were snapped up with gleeful abandon by pundits after their release in November and February respectively, and rightly lauded as being fantastic incarnations of the Double IPA style unmatched by any other brewery in the country. I'm pleased to report that after finally trying v3 last night, there appears to be no danger of complacency sneaking into the Cloudwater ranks anytime soon.
A return to the 9% ABV of its original incarnation, DIPA v3 pours an exquisite mandarin orange colour with a thin white head. The aroma is similar to that of v1 and 2, with lots of orangey and tropical flavours coming through. The initial taste is a combination of juicy and citrus grapefruit and a touch of mango and passionfruit, which fades to a slightly lingering bitter finish. It might just have been my imagination, but there definitely seems to be a bit more of a bite to this incarnation that the previous versions, and despite it not being any stronger alcohol-percentage wise, there is more of a booziness to it than I remember from v1 and v2. Don't let this fool you, however, for 9% this is still a dangerously drinkable DIPA; indeed, I was rather disappointed with myself for having slurped the entire bottle in under half an hour.
I think what I like most about Cloudwater's Double IPAs is the complete lack of resinous and bitter flavour that is present in some American versions of the style such as Stone's Ruination. In v3, the overriding flavours come entirely from the juicy Mosaic and Citra hops, which combine with the balanced fruity ester of the Vermont ale yeast to hide the beer's strength incredibly well and give it a frankly astonishing drinkability. It's hard to say whether this version tops v1 or v2, but make no mistake; this is one of the very best examples of a DIPA you're likely to get this side of the Atlantic.
After drinking this beer last night, I remarked it was so good that other breweries ought to just stop trying. I was chastised for this, and quite rightly told that to stop trying is exactly the opposite of what we ought to be asking other breweries to do. Nonetheless, Cloudwater have set the bar so astonishingly high that I think it's unlikely any UK brewery will come even close to replicating what they're doing anytime soon. Still, here's hoping they give it a shot.
Cloudwater Brew Co. DIPA v3 specifications ————————– Style: Double IPA ABV: 9% Location: Manchester Yeast: Vermont Bittering Hop: Pilgrim Alpha CO2 Extract Aroma Hops: Citra, Chinook, Comet, Mosaic Malts: Golden Promise, Dextrose Monohydrate