Cloudwater reveal Taco/Cat experiment results

Posted this on the old forums might as well post it here too!
I assume many of us tried Cloudwater’s recent experimental brews Taco and Cat - identically brewed beers except for one key difference. They’ve finally posted on their blog a fairly long article on it:

The difference was simply the source of the hops (US sourced vs UK sourced).

Purpose of the experiment was that Cloudwater discovered they brew their DIPAs in almost identical ways to US brewers, but wondered why the hoppy DIPAs brewed in the US with hop rates as low as 15g/L are just as impactful as their own which need a much higher rate of 25g/L. With the help of The Veil they were able to brew a split batch IPA identical in every way except the source of the hops. Taco using US grown, Cat using UK grown.

Taco was dry hopped with US sourced hops that The Veil air freighted over, and Cat with UK sourced hops, both sourced from the same parent company. Of course the differences between the two beers could be simply down to variations between the two batches as far back as soil conditions, micro climate, harvest time, drying and processing methods at the respective farms, any minor storage differences at the pellet plant (such as hop bale arrival temperature), or indeed any differences in transportation environments as the pellets made their way over land to Richmond, Virginia to sit in The Veil’s cold store, or over land, and sea, for the UK sourced pellets to be warehoused in the UK before we took delivery of them into our hop store.

US hopped Taco was the “winner” with 55% of respondents citing it as their favourite (I was also in this camp). 22% declared UK hopped Cat to be the better. The remaining percentage all saying some variation of them both being too similar to decide, equally good or bad.
Unfortunately it seems Cloudwater were unable to draw any reliable conclusions from the experiment because…

Taking part in hop selection this year was the most eye opening experience I’ve had regarding hop quality variation. Adjacent farms with seemingly minor differences in growing, picking, and processing preferences scored anywhere between class leading and poor, so I’m far from being able to draw any reliable conclusions this year.

With regards to that last point it sounds like they’ll be writing a follow-up blog post to this explaining where they’re going with this.



fascinating but risks pissing iff their supplier

Something I forgot to add to the first post. Did RateBeer users agree with the majority?

Not really, no! In fact it’s so close there’s just 0.01 in it in favour of Cat at the time of posting (though curiously it has 4 fewer ratings)
Taco - - 25 ratings with a mean of 3.84
Cat - - 21 ratings with a mean of 3.85

Purely for reference/comparison, the scores from UT checkins are currently:
Taco - 664 ratings with a mean of 4.14
Cat - 685 ratings with a mean of 4.03

Considering how close the scores are from both sites it strikes me as slightly odd that a majority of respondents decidedly prefered Taco, yet RB ratings and UT checkins put both beers extremely close with one another.

Yeah, well it’s mentioned the supplier was the same parent company, so not sure they’d really care if Cloudwater’s money goes to the US or UK side? Anyway I’m curious to read their follow up to see where they go from here. Seems one of two things will happen:

  1. Continue using UK grown hops (presumably much cheaper, but will need more of them).
  2. Start sourcing hops from the US - less are apparently needed then, but will the additional freight cost cancel out any cost savings?

no but implication is same supplier send better grade to US. and i read it as same hops bought one via uk distro one via us distro

but yeah I struggled to find anything interestingly different

Turns out you’re right, I’d misinterpreted. Both sets of hops were US grown. Difference being Taco’s came direct from The Veil’s Virginia contract while Cat’s came from Cloudwater’s own contract in the UK.

It would be fun and interesting if most of the difference were attributable to something as easy as water minerals or as cool as turbulence, pressure, temperature or some other physical feature of dry hopping.

Side bar fact: Cloudwater, despite being somewhat small, is now one of the most rated brewers on RateBeer. How do I get some of that?

Come to Englandland.

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I was hoping to do that this month but it will have to wait. We hope to be integrating with retail a bit better in the future and one of our affiliated e-retailers is located outside of London. I want to bring some dev team members to observe users as well. Culturally, there’s not much else like England’s beer culture.

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I knew that before, but not which one was which.

Also, shouldn’t they now be aliased? After all, Mosaic from the same hop grower is Mosaic from the same hop grower. Or do we make an exception because it clearly was brewer’s intent to find out if it makes a difference?

Well I’m not an admin but I don’t agree with aliasing these because I think we should respect the brewer’s intent in this particular case. Also I think it’s actually interesting to see and compare our ratings of both, yes, some found them to be quite similar, but some found them to be quite different. I think it would be a shame to lose this.

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