One of Seattle’s most celebrated brewers is in expansion mode. After five years of holding down the fort in Belltown near Pike Place Market, Cloudburst Brewing is opening its new Ballard location at 5456 Shilshole Ave for to-go orders today, as announced on Instagram (the blog My Ballard also shared the news).
The brewery will keep its production facility and original taproom in Belltown, but a new beer garden with pop-up tents will open at the new Ballard outpost, perhaps as soon as next week. Sichuan restaurant Plenty of Clouds has signed on to provide food, whenever the garden is ready to roll, and founder Steve Luke tells Eater Seattle that he’ll keep things reservation-only to start in order to avoid long lines and crowds.
Cloudburst was founded in 2015 by Luke, formerly the experimental brewer for Elysian Brewing, and the brewery is known for a wide selection of bright, seasonal IPAs. Many of its beers have found their way to area restaurants and bars on tap, and — as it has made adjustments during the COVID-19 pandemic — Cloudburst has started canning its offerings for the first time, including newer selections such as That’s Bolshevik, a baltic porter.
Luke says the canned effort will continue, even post-pandemic, as the brewery now owns its own canning line (one can find them at the two locations, as well as some local restaurants and bottle shops). Most of the same selection of beers will be available in both Belltown and Ballard for curbside pickup, and eventually there will be some fermentation happening in the newer spot.
The uncertainty during the past several months delayed the opening of the new Ballard location, but things have finally come into focus. When announced last year, Cloudburst promised that the expansion would retain the vibe of its shaggy Pike Place-adjacent roots. Housed inside an 80ish-year-old warehouse, the brewery said that it’s as “old and shitty,” with tons of “soul, character, and history” as the Belltown original.
With Seattle still in phase two of the state’s “Safe Start” reopening plan during the pandemic, breweries are allowed to stay open for to-go orders and seat people inside, if they provide a full food menu. But Luke says he’s playing things cautiously for now, sticking to outside seating only, once that area is ready. This spring, he had reflected on the state of craft breweries in the state — after one dire report cautioned that many would close under current restrictions — and noted that quick adjustments were crucial to staying afloat.
“I don’t think our current tasting room [in Belltown] will ever be as crowded as B.P. (before pandemic), and honestly, it’s irresponsible on our part if it is,” he said. “That means, we need to figure out a way to sell as much beer as we did in a future we can’t predict, but can assume that it’ll be slower and harder to do so. Thus, every smallish brewery is going to need to evolve, and quickly.”
- Cloudburst Brewing [Official]
- Cloudburst Brewing [Instagram]
- One of Seattle’s Best Breweries Will Open a Ballard Taproom [ESEA]
- All coverage of Cloudburst Brewing [ESEA]