I honestly thought I’d gone to the wrong place when I rocked up at Cloudwater’s Piccadilly Trading Estate Taproom. It could have been any anonymous building, on any unclassified light industrial estate, anywhere in the country, despite Manchester’s unique personality.
If it was my tap room I’d have big sign up. ‘Cloudwater This Way’ at the end of the street. ‘Tap Room’ above the door on the front of the building. They could have been selling optical instruments for all I knew. Maybe Cloudwater don’t need signs. Perhaps everyone that should know, knows?
Anyhow, it fooled me, to the point of fleeting grievous disappointment, bearing in mind the number of times I said I’d go over for a look. If you’ve never been, walk out of the Northern Quarter and turn right. It’s surprising how soon you run out of shops and things and all too soon you’re in Tool Hire land. Keep going though, because it’s worth it when you get into the edgelands of the city centre.
Once you realise you are in the right place, you walk up the stairs and get an earthy, woody scent, as the tap room sits on a mezzanine floor above an area full of wooden casks. A bit confusing because it looks a lot like a barrel store, which was the name of the previous tap room that was somewhere else? It’s comforting to see so much oak being used to barrel age their beers.
The tap room itself is like a posh school dining room that’s been trimmed up by the trendy new art teacher. Plain wooden tables and benches, light, lots of light – natural and electrical. Little glades of potted ferns on the tables, I like ferns, their earthy, damp smell. The barman was carefully watering them, I bet they take some looking after in here. And lots of really good art work on the walls, big stunning pieces, A lot of Dinosaurs would call it modern art, but some so called ‘modern art’ is over a hundred years old now, so it’s better termed contemporary.
The triangular, two tier, stage thingy? Not sure, looks good and unsquares the room, but takes out a lot of space. Maybe folk sit on it when it gets busy. I never tried it. No need, there were only six of us in at 1530hrs on a Tuesday. I reckon everyone was waiting for the ‘sold out’ Verdant & Deya tap takeover later on that evening.
There’s twenty keg lines and no cask. I think they made a mistake there. Cloudwater cask beer is awesome. You then start thinking, is it card payment only, because it’s sensible and bang on trend, or is it to deter Camrasaurs?
When I visited there were only serving from ten taps, the other lines bursting with Verdant/Deya beers in anticipation of the takeover event. Pricing was simple, £3.50 a measure, which could have been 1/3, 1/2 or 2/3.
Same glass lined at each measure , a sort of semi conical, semi bowlish, chemistry lab affair, reinforcing the school dinner table effect and the fact the designers must have a fixation with their secondary school days. To be fair the glass does work in terms of sampling the nose, and sitting nicely in the hand.
I had the DDH Pale. I’ve had it before. I’ve had it in cask in Leeds. It was the best beer I’d tried all day, and I’d had some good beer in Manchester that afternoon. I wished all beer was like this. Worth trailing out of the city centre and paying £7 a pint equivalent? Course it was. I bet it would have been even better in cask, just a little bit anyway.
I read that Paul Jones says the tap room which opened in Summer 2018, takes them a step closer to the tap room of their dreams. I get that. It doesn’t get better than drinking superb, really fresh beer that’s only moved fifteen yards sideways since it was brewed.
You can’t really fault anything here, from the many impressive design features to the superb toilet facilities. In terms of overall pub experience, it just seemed a little incongruous, sat in a well designed space in a light industrial unit in nowhere land, with my parka on. I’d recommend it though, the beer is beyond words.