Cloudwater’s long-awaited new taproom, Unit 9 has finally opened its doors. While Cloudwater’s Barrel Store looked like it was born out of necessity, Unit 9 has been lovingly crafted and is a welcome addition to Manchester’s thriving beer scene.
Full disclosure: on my first visit, it was a pre-opening event with free beer but I have since returned and bought my own bevs.
If you like the Scandi aesthetic, Unit 9 is the place for you. Its white walls and clean wooden lines are brightened up by features such as greenery aplenty, light fittings which resemble painted terracotta plant pots and colourful artwork resembling that of the brewery’s cans.
The venue is located in a building adjacent to the brewery and has been split over two levels. Downstairs, you’ll find beers to take away, all kept in a cold store, alongside plenty of merch. Head up the stairs (there’s also a lift for those who need it) and you’ll find the main bar.
Seating-wise, there’s a handful of tables for two, longer benches and an elevated area which resembles a stage to provide some additional places to perch. A long bar along the the righthand-side of the room completes the venue.
Twenty taps of beer are on offer and instead of pump clips or a list by the bar, menus are provided on a table by the entrance, along the bar and on the tables thought the venue. Expect a range on draught – from IPAs to stouts to sours – alongside some specials and collabs. Like the Barrel Store, they’ve gone for a flat pricing scheme with all beers costing £3. They’ve also gone cashless so it’s card payments only.
If you’re not drinking the beer, some soft drinks from Steep Soda are available and to keep yourself hydrated there’s a water tap available which is a great feature.
The toilets are also worth flagging up. Many brewtaps have pretty poor facilities, again based on necessity, but Cloudwater have gone all out with theirs. There are three cubicles, one of which is a disabled one, and around a corner are the urinals. A speaker plays music and the only thing is really missing is a mirror above the sinks.
Unlike the Barrel Store which was often on the chilly side (with blankets and portable heaters throughout), Unit 9 is super cosy. On my second visit, during the heatwave, it was pretty warm but not unpleasant – and an additional fan was also brought up to get some more air through.
In terms of the location, it’s now slightly further away from the other local brew taps (the area some call the Piccadilly Beer Mile), but it’s convenient to reach via public transport – I’ve walked it from both Piccadilly and New Islington Metrolink stops and it’s easy enough to reach. It’s about a five minute walk from where the Barrel Store was.
I’m aware this has been a pretty glowing review, but there wasn’t really anything I didn’t like about the space. It’s very much the sort of style that appeals to me and on each visit I found it an enjoyable place to be in with a relaxed atmosphere and good service. Having the takeaway area separate keeps the bar queue flowing, the easy access to tap water is very welcome and the mix of seating works well – I seem to find myself drawn to the platform area as it’s not something you often see in bars.
One potential pitfall could that I could foresee would mainly be down to Cloudwater’s popularity and the potential of queues if the venue reaches capacity early on, similar to what would happen at the Barrel Store, but hopefully the extended opening hours will stop this being an issue.
Unit 9, Piccadilly Trading Estate, Gidding Road, Manchester M1 2NP – cloudwaterbrew.co/events