Cloudwater "Closer To The Truth" - imperial stout aged in single use port barrel

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rich_n
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Cloudwater "Closer To The Truth" - imperial stout aged in single use port barrel

Post by rich_n » 15:54 Sat 20 Feb 2021

As those who have been on the virtual tastings might know, I'm a big craft beer fan as well as a big port fan, so getting my hands on a hefty imperial stout from one of the UK's current top breweries (IMHO) was not an opportunity to be passed up.

The beer itself is fantastic, my review "This is a big old beer, complex and smooth, deep and thick. Not aggressively barrel flavoured, but it's there. Umami, dark chocolate and caramel for days. Brilliant!"

There's less of a port note than I expected but it's there in the background and just builds extra complexity. Any fans of dark beer should seek this out.Image

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Re: Cloudwater

Post by winesecretary » 19:02 Sat 20 Feb 2021

Given the positioning, any coffee notes?

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Re: RE: Re: Cloudwater

Post by rich_n » 19:02 Sat 20 Feb 2021

winesecretary wrote:Given the positioning, any coffee notes?
Less than I had expected! A little coffee bitterness in the background.

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Re: Cloudwater

Post by JacobH » 14:42 Sun 21 Feb 2021

I presume it doesn’t actually spend that long in the barrel, so wouldn’t get as much chance to pick up the flavours as, say, a Port-barrel-aged whiskey would?

I’m a big fan of dark beers but am a bit disillusioned with the way that brewers, both on the craft and real sides of the market, have been going in recent years. It’s far too much of a struggle to find a dark beer which doesn’t contain some sort of cake ingredient (e.g. chocolate, coffee, vanilla etc. etc.). The craft side has also, I think, rather over-embraced the imperial stout side of the market, too. But then the only strong beers I really like are barley wines and some Belgium ones which I accept puts me in a minority these days!
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Re: RE: Re: Cloudwater

Post by rich_n » 14:51 Sun 21 Feb 2021


JacobH wrote:I presume it doesn’t actually spend that long in the barrel, so wouldn’t get as much chance to pick up the flavours as, say, a Port-barrel-aged whiskey would?
Barrel aging seems to be a bit of a dark art, the Americans have been at it longer so they've got more experience but brewers like Cloudwater and Siren in the UK are now catching up. A lot depends on the barrel (is it fresh from the previous producer or have you used it a couple of times already) and some is down to the preference of the brewer. I like my barrel aging to not be too overpowering - after all if I want to drink whisky, I'll drink whisky.

JacobH wrote:I’m a big fan of dark beers but am a bit disillusioned with the way that brewers, both on the craft and real sides of the market, have been going in recent years. It’s far too much of a struggle to find a dark beer which doesn’t contain some sort of cake ingredient (e.g. chocolate, coffee, vanilla etc. etc.). The craft side has also, I think, rather over-embraced the imperial stout side of the market, too. But then the only strong beers I really like are barley wines and some Belgium ones which I accept puts me in a minority these days!
There's a lot of what's referred to as "pastry stouts" out there, and adjuncts tend to be controversial. I like them but again I want them to be balanced within the beer, breweries like Omnipollo are doing mad beers like their Bianca series that are more like an alcoholic dessert than beer but they are fascinating to try (if only once). I like a well balanced pastry stout but I think I prefer barrel aging generally. If you like barley wines keep an eye out for Siren's Maiden if you haven't come across it before, it'll be out around the end of this month or the start of March and it's usually a really great beer that is good fresh but also rewards some cellar aging.

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Re: Cloudwater

Post by JacobH » 17:52 Sun 21 Feb 2021

rich_n wrote:
14:51 Sun 21 Feb 2021
Barrel aging seems to be a bit of a dark art, the Americans have been at it longer so they've got more experience but brewers like Cloudwater and Siren in the UK are now catching up. A lot depends on the barrel (is it fresh from the previous producer or have you used it a couple of times already) and some is down to the preference of the brewer. I like my barrel aging to not be too overpowering - after all if I want to drink whisky, I'll drink whisky.
What I would really like to see is a revival of real ales being served from wooden rather than aluminum casks. The few times I have tried this they have been really good. Makes me think that SPBW were onto something...
rich_n wrote:
14:51 Sun 21 Feb 2021
There's a lot of what's referred to as "pastry stouts" out there, and adjuncts tend to be controversial. I like them but again I want them to be balanced within the beer, breweries like Omnipollo are doing mad beers like their Bianca series that are more like an alcoholic dessert than beer but they are fascinating to try (if only once). I like a well balanced pastry stout but I think I prefer barrel aging generally. If you like barley wines keep an eye out for Siren's Maiden if you haven't come across it before, it'll be out around the end of this month or the start of March and it's usually a really great beer that is good fresh but also rewards some cellar aging.
I’m glad to see that there is some proper terminology for them! Caroline is quite keen on the “alcoholic dessert” ones so we usually have some peanut butter or raspberry marshmallow flavoured porters in the house... I usually find a single sip is enough!

I’ll try the Maiden if I see it when it comes out. My usual go-to barley wine is the Elizabeth Ale by Harvey’s, although I haven’t had it in ages since I haven’t been Lewis and I like stocking up from the brewery.
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Re: Cloudwater

Post by idj123 » 18:09 Sun 21 Feb 2021

Sounds worth seeking out. I too am a big fan of dark beers and have been for many years. I've recently been sampling quite few of the new breed of brewers' ranges based on friends' recommendations and whilst I have nothing against a bit of experimentation the key for me is whether I would drink a second can/bottle of the same brew straight after the first. The more eclectic mixtures tend to fail on these grounds but I've sampled a number of chocolate and milk stouts that have hit the mark. Even though it's over 11%, the Banofee Imperial Stout by the Vocation brewery is one such comtemplative brew...

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Re: Cloudwater

Post by rich_n » 18:27 Sun 21 Feb 2021

JacobH wrote:
17:52 Sun 21 Feb 2021
What I would really like to see is a revival of real ales being served from wooden rather than aluminum casks. The few times I have tried this they have been really good. Makes me think that SPBW were onto something...
I do like a good classic ale from a wooden cask, but there are so many potential risk factors involved (including the issue of contamination from sub-par quality wooden casks and pubs who don't treat them with the respect they deserve that have seen that decline. I suspect that like vinyl records we may see a revival on a small cult revival in the future. CAMRA don't help matters...
JacobH wrote:
17:52 Sun 21 Feb 2021
I’m glad to see that there is some proper terminology for them! Caroline is quite keen on the “alcoholic dessert” ones so we usually have some peanut butter or raspberry marshmallow flavoured porters in the house... I usually find a single sip is enough!

I’ll try the Maiden if I see it when it comes out. My usual go-to barley wine is the Elizabeth Ale by Harvey’s, although I haven’t had it in ages since I haven’t been Lewis and I like stocking up from the brewery.
I also enjoy drinking my dessert - brewers such as Kees and Brew York who are very good at making sickly sweet dessert beers that are also full of flavour and have some level of balance with bitterness.

Let me know what you think! Siren have a good balance of doing mad experimental beers but also doing very traditional styles well.

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Re: Cloudwater

Post by rich_n » 18:29 Sun 21 Feb 2021

idj123 wrote:
18:09 Sun 21 Feb 2021
Sounds worth seeking out. I too am a big fan of dark beers and have been for many years. I've recently been sampling quite few of the new breed of brewers' ranges based on friends' recommendations and whilst I have nothing against a bit of experimentation the key for me is whether I would drink a second can/bottle of the same brew straight after the first. The more eclectic mixtures tend to fail on these grounds but I've sampled a number of chocolate and milk stouts that have hit the mark. Even though it's over 11%, the Banofee Imperial Stout by the Vocation brewery is one such comtemplative brew...
I like that as a rule, I think mine would be more along the lines of whether I'd drink another one on another occasion if I see it, partly because a lot of those beers (like the Cloudwater stout I started this thread with) are too big and boozy for me to have any more beer after I've finished it! I have seen Vocation around but haven't sampled many of their beers - an 11% Banoffee Imperial Stout certainly sounds like something I need to sample.

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Re: Cloudwater "Closer To The Truth" - imperial stout aged in single use port barrel

Post by JacobH » 22:23 Thu 25 Feb 2021

I saw a 2019 Siren Maiden yesterday which I am trying tonight. I'm rather in two minds about it. I really can see the attraction but I think it is just a bit too much for my taste. The nose is lovely: freshly baked caramel biscuits. In the mouth, it's got a thick mouthfeel with incredible sweetness (almost like a pudding wine) and a decent amount of wood. The alcohol seems quite aggressive too.

It feels to me almost as if someone mixed a Rodenbach Grand Cru with a can of golden syrup and some brandy. Is it sacrilege to suggest this would be a good basis for a blend, to be refreshed with something a little younger (like the famous Green King 5X)?
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Re: RE: Re: Cloudwater "Closer To The Truth" - imperial stout aged in single use port barrel

Post by rich_n » 00:30 Fri 26 Feb 2021


JacobH wrote:I saw a 2019 Siren Maiden yesterday which I am trying tonight. I'm rather in two minds about it. I really can see the attraction but I think it is just a bit too much for my taste. The nose is lovely: freshly baked caramel biscuits. In the mouth, it's got a thick mouthfeel with incredible sweetness (almost like a pudding wine) and a decent amount of wood. The alcohol seems quite aggressive too.

It feels to me almost as if someone mixed a Rodenbach Grand Cru with a can of golden syrup and some brandy. Is it sacrilege to suggest this would be a good basis for a blend, to be refreshed with something a little younger (like the famous Green King 5X)?
Did you acquire one to age as well? I love the depth and complexity of the Maidens but they are often better after a couple of years (2019 was released just under a year ago), and I personally love the thick sweetness. I'm surprised that you found it aggressively alcoholic, that's not something I've usually associated with that series. I don't think the craft beer world is as concerned with sacrilege, I'd like to hear your thoughts if you ever manage that blend!

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Re: Cloudwater

Post by JacobH » 11:14 Fri 26 Feb 2021

No: I only bought one as I couldn’t carry any more! I’m sure you are right that it can age a bit and improve.

By the alcohol being aggressive, I didn’t mean so much that it was too spirity (which can be a problem with some beers) but that its strength made it feel like a bit of a slog to get through. I would have preferred it dialed back to about 9% or so. But, that said, I have never liked super-strong beers. Lots of my favourite Belgium beers (e.g. Duval or Straffe Hendrik’s Wild) are in the 8% to 9% range but I can’t think of one beyond that that I’ve actually liked and would drink more than once!
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Re: RE: Re: Cloudwater

Post by rich_n » 12:16 Fri 26 Feb 2021

JacobH wrote:No: I only bought one as I couldn’t carry any more! I’m sure you are right that it can age a bit and improve.

By the alcohol being aggressive, I didn’t mean so much that it was too spirity (which can be a problem with some beers) but that its strength made it feel like a bit of a slog to get through. I would have preferred it dialed back to about 9% or so. But, that said, I have never liked super-strong beers. Lots of my favourite Belgium beers (e.g. Duval or Straffe Hendrik’s Wild) are in the 8% to 9% range but I can’t think of one beyond that that I’ve actually liked and would drink more than once!
That's fair, I love those thick, heavy beers but have plenty of friends that don't understand how I can drink more than a few sips of them!

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Re: Cloudwater

Post by JacobH » 12:30 Fri 26 Feb 2021

I appreciate this makes little sense for someone who is quite happy to drink quite a lot of Port, but I actually like most of my alcoholic drinks to be fairly light. I get a little frustrated that there aren’t more bitters (as opposed to best bitters) and milds about in the <4% range!
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Re: RE: Re: Cloudwater

Post by rich_n » 12:42 Fri 26 Feb 2021

JacobH wrote:I appreciate this makes little sense for someone who is quite happy to drink quite a lot of Port, but I actually like most of my alcoholic drinks to be fairly light. I get a little frustrated that there aren’t more bitters (as opposed to best bitters) and milds about in the <4% range!
They're starting to make a comeback. Boxcar are leading the charge on a new school bitter/mild approach. They're a tiny brewery so can be more expensive than the old guard who are brewing at scale.

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