Steve Luke is opening a new taproom for his hoppy beers.
Steve Luke is opening a new taproom for his hoppy beers. Lester Black

It looks like it’s going to get a lot easier to drink Cloudburst Brewing’s fantastic hoppy pale ales and lagers, at least for the people living in Ballard. The acclaimed brewery announced Monday that they’re opening a new beer garden and taproom on Shilshoe Avenue NW in downtown Ballard, with a projected opening by the end of 2019.

Steve Luke, Cloudburst’s owner and head brewer, said in an e-mailed statement that the brewery wasn’t looking to specifically move to Ballard but saw an opportunity when they came across “an old & crusty garage from the 1920s.”

“We weren’t looking in Belltown in 2015, and we weren’t looking in Ballard this time around,” Luke said. “But, this building checked all of our boxes (foot traffic, an outdoor space, population density, existing small businesses) and was in our budget…”

Luke has taken his brewery on a skyrocketing trajectory since he left Elysian Brewing and opened his own brewery steps away from Pike Place Market in 2015. In less than five years, Cloudburst has become one of the city’s favorite breweries, making standout IPA and Pale Ale in a city full of it. Cloudburst has also gained a nationwide presence, with their beers pouring at festivals around the country and frequently producing collaboration beers with some of the best breweries in the world.

There's simply more Cloudburst customers than there is Cloudburst beer. They don’t sell their beer in cans or bottles and their windowless downtown taproom is consistently packed with people. This new taproom will make it easier for Ballardites but the new spot will not have a brewing presence or packaging line, so don’t expect more Cloudburst beer to be making it around the city.

Cloudbursts Belltown brewery is constantly crowded.
Cloudburst's Belltown brewery is constantly crowded. Lester Black

Luke said the brewery plans to keep the new Ballard location open seven days a week and allow kids before 6 p.m.

“Having a kid curfew allows parents to have a few beers during the day & afternoon and pick up a crowler to go, and it also allows humans without children to enjoy beers after work in a kid-free zone,” Luke said in an e-mail.

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The brewery is also looking to have a permanent food truck at the Ballard location.

With Cloudburst's arrival, Ballard is about to go through a second (third? fourth?) beer renaissance. Urban Family is bringing their phantasmagoria of fruited sours and hazy IPA with a new brewery. Fair Isle, a new mixed culture brewery, is nearly opening their new taproom and restaurant (as soon as they pose for a few more Instagram time lapse selfies while standing in fields of grain). Aslan Brewing from Bellingham is opening a brand new brewery in downtown Fremont, just a short boozy bicycle ride from Ballard. And all of these openings (including Cloudburst’s) are slated for some time before the end of 2019.

That means there's yet another reason to upzone the shit out of Ballard and start building glassy, 40-story, housing projects along Market Street. It will provide more affordable housing while also making sure these fantastic breweries have enough business.

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