If someone told you that one of the the top 10 breweries in the world was based just a short walk from Piccadilly Station, you could be forgiven for thinking they’d been drinking too much.
But it’s true. Take a trip behind Piccadilly Station heading towards the industrial trading estates that boast some of Manchester’s pride and joys and you will find Cloudwater Brew Co.
Cloudwater have stormed the brewing industry with their seasonal, modern beer since Paul Jones opened the brewery in 2015. They’re also the only UK brewery to be named among the top 10 breweries in the world and were recently named second best brewery in the World on RateBeer.
The concept of a brewery tour isn’t unique to Cloudwater. Look at all the people who flock to Dublin’s Guinness factory to grab a fresh taste of the black stuff. But there’s something quirky about the Cloudwater Brewery tour – and it’s not just the number of bearded men who work there.
The tour usually sells out, so make sure to head to the website and book a ticket first. It will set you back £13.15, but that’s nothing compared to the amount of beer you will consume when you’re there.
On the day of the tour, get up bright and early. It starts at 10.45 and finishes around midday. Make sure you’ve eaten before it: nobody appreciates a tipsy person in a brewery where bits and bobs may be fragile.
Once you’ve found the brewery on Piccadilly Trading Estate, relax and unwind in the Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory of the brewing industry.
First things first. Nobody walks around with an empty glass on the brewery tour. On arrival, you’re welcome to try a selection of beers fresh from the tap. Soak up the atmosphere of a brewery with nothing to hide. You’re free to have a wander but don’t go messing around with packaged beers and bottles. They do make a good Instagram pic though.
The tour begins with a talk by brewer Jay Krause about Cloudwater and how they started. Jay will accept any question from visitors. Be sure to ask him about his favourite band.
There’s no right or wrong question. They won’t judge you for not having a clue about how hops turn into your favourite IPA. They encourage questions like that. Remember, it’s an open tour of the brewery, not a job interview.
As you stand around the big tanks containing the liquid gold and sip on your third or fourth 2/3 pint of DIPA v3, you realise that getting up at the crack of dawn was worth it.
It’s not a massive tour and the brewery isn’t a wonderland of tanks, barrels and production lines, which makes it even better. You get the real sense that Cloudwater is a local brewery and you feel like you’re best mates with the brewers even though you’ve only just met. That’s the power of beer.
You’re lucky enough to try beers whilst they’re still in production, from IPA to brown ale. The tour ends when you want it to. You’re welcome to have private chats with the brewer about those burning questions you want answering about Cloudwater, such as ‘why is it even called Cloudwater?’
Take the token you received at the beginning of the tour and head to Cloudwater’s Barrel Store, just a short walk from the brewery. Exchange your token for another – yes, another – free pint from a range of Cloudwater’s beers straight from the barrel.
The Guinness factory has nothing on a brewery tour that is changing the ways the public get to learn about the pints they’re drinking. Let’s raise a pint to Cloudwater!