Boom. Roasted! Coffee Porter
“[Our IPAS are] more bitter and less muddled than [New England–style] IPAS but not as resiny or harsh as traditional West Coast– style IPAS nor as malty as traditional Northwest IPAS. We tend to gravitate toward bright, fruit-forward hops flavors, a present but in-check bitterness, and a dry, crisp finish.”
The Market Fresh Series, and most of Cloudburst’s beers for that matter, don’t last long in the tasting room. Luke and Kornfeld brew them on their 10-barrel system, often taking risks on process and ingredients. “That risk is minimized because we brew such small batches,” Luke says.
They might not always be available, but the Cloudburst beers are remembered for their bold names and the causes they support. For example, 10 percent of the revenue generated from the Rhythm Method IPA was donated to Planned Parenthood. The Alternative Facts IPA was purportedly brewed with 1.5 million pounds of Centennial, Citra, Amarillo, 522, and Mandarina Bavaria hops.
Another unforgettable Cloudburst beer is the Swedish Prison Orgy, a Triple IPA hopped with six different hops. “This is not a country-club beer, and it’s not going to apologize,” says this beer’s description. Arguably, that’s a statement that applies to all of Cloudburst’s beers.
“It always cracks me up when people are shocked at our beer names [and descriptions] or at our causes because we all look like hippies,” Luke jokes. “That’s one of the side perks to owning your own business—we get to play around with beer names. And we get to donate to whoever the hell we like.”
They get to brew whatever the hell they like, too. “We don’t really distribute outside of Seattle, either, so we can brew what we like with a longer leash for playing around with new techniques, or hops, or other ingredients,” says Luke. “We don’t really have a shtick when it comes to beer styles.”
They might not have a shtick, but Cloudburst has a lot of soul. “Our building is 120 years old. We tried to source used equipment. It’s not the prettiest, and it’s not the warmest space as far as the lawn furniture goes, but it feels good to be in an old building and making something new in it.”
The brewhouse at Cloudburst came from Silver City Brewing in Bremerton, Washington. There’s also a fermentor from Fremont Brewing, a couple of grundy tanks from some other Seattle breweries, a walk-in cooler found on Craigslist from a northern Washington distributor, a hot liquor tank that used to be an old dairy tank from Wisconsin that Luke says he found on a sketchy auction website.
With all these finds, Cloudburst opened for less than $700,000. “My grandfather was a fisherman in New England, so I like grit,” Luke says. “I’m skeptical of new and flashy and polished things. But maybe that’s just the New England chip on my shoulder. My philosophy is to start at the bottom, work your way up, learn everything you can, move on somewhere else, rinse, and repeat until you think you have enough to go out on your own.”
Luke’s Northeastern background also explains his appreciation for haze. Cloudburst’s IPAS tend to be hazy from the hops polyphenols due to large rates of dry-hopping. “While we don’t filter our beer, we do cold condition it before packaging and stabilize the haze with a fining agent. Those finings bind to yeast and large proteins and then precipitate them out.”
The IPAS at Cloudburst can’t really be qualified under one subcategory of IPA, Luke continues. “They’re more bitter and less muddled than [New England–style] IPAS but not as resiny or harsh as traditional West Coast– style IPAS nor as malty as traditional Northwest IPAS,” he says. “We tend to gravitate toward bright, fruit-forward hops flavors, a present but in-check bitterness, and a dry, crisp finish.”
Most of the beers at Cloudburst are flavor-forward and aggressive, Luke says, which is why he likes the brewery’s name so much. “The meaning of the word resonated with me—‘a sudden, unexpected onslaught of rain,’ ” he says. “That carries over to flavors in beer.”