Steve Luke has been making beer in his bike shop turned brewery for a little more than a month now, distributing it to a handful of local bars. But on Thursday, January 7, his Cloudburst Brewing will finally open the doors of its taproom, offering a look at perhaps the city’s most promising new brewer (and 11 taps of seriously good beer).
Before striking out on his own, Luke was the experimental brewer for Elysian, using the small system at the brewery’s stadiumside Elysian Fields location to tinker with uncommon ingredients like green tea, uncommon hops, or even whole bouquets of flowers. Experiments like these yielded some of Elysian’s recent favorites, like its Space Dust IPA and Split Shot Espresso Stout.
Now he’s manning his own 12-barrel system in an old building with brick walls and timbered ceilings at 2116 Western Ave. It’s free of frills like food (or heat) but you can settle in with a pint of beer, maybe watch local teams on the unobtrusive TV. Despite a location in the heart of tourist town, Luke wants his brewery to be a local joint most of all. To that end, Cloudburst is 21+…but dogs are welcome.
As his previous gig implies, Luke likes to experiment; lately he’s been brewing saisons with whatever looks intriguing down the block at Pike Place Market, like cranberry and sage. He’s also a fan of aggressive West Coast–style IPAs (expect at least two on tap here) but Cloudburst definitely isn’t a clubhouse of novelty ingredients or hop bombs. In recent soft opening runs, the taplist included a marvelous coffee porter and an oyster stout made with the shells of 120 Baywater Sweets. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, ask about the secret tap.
While Luke’s brewery plans were in place before Elysian’s sale to Anheuser-Busch last year, an assistant at a big-name brewery opening his or her own place is relatively—surprisingly—rare around these parts. Luke is very aware of this; he describes the reactions from Seattle’s beer community as “high expectations in a very vocal town.” One enjoyable similarity to his former employer: Cloudburst’s beers tend to have clever monikers with multiple layers of meaning.
The taproom will keep regular hours from 2pm to 10 Wednesday through Saturday, and 12 to 8 on Sundays. Fair warning: Opening weekend might be a madhouse. Starting next week, Cloudburst will sell pre-filled half growlers; if you’d like to fill one of your own, contact the taproom manager to arrange. Keep tabs on Cloudburst's Facebook page for more details and taproom specifics.