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CLOUDBURST’S ESSENTIAL, QUINTESSENTIAL NORTHWEST IPAS

CLOUDBURST’S ESSENTIAL, QUINTESSENTIAL NORTHWEST IPAS

All photos courtesy Cloudburst Brewing.

All photos courtesy Cloudburst Brewing.

With respect to Vermont and San Diego, no region has been making hoppy American ales longer than the Pacific Northwest, where the hops are grown. For nearly forty years, IPAs have been a staple in the region, and over that time, different breweries have pushed the style forward. Were you to ask where to find the best IPAs now, those that express the quintessence of the Northwest, one might safely point to Portland’s Slabtown or Hood River or Astoria. There are a number of right answers—different strokes and all—but I’d direct you further north, to the heart of Seattle, where a shadowy, gritty warehouse houses a cramped brewery with squat fermenters crouched under low ceilings. That’s where you’ll find Cloudburst Brewing and, for my money, the most reliably tasty range of pales and IPAs in the country.

Steve Luke’s hoppy ales are at once familiar yet distinctive. They shimmer with hop particulates, but don’t look hazy, exactly. The aromas are invariably fruity, but identifiably hoppy as well—one doesn’t hang a nose over the rim of a glass and confuse them with orange juice. With most IPAs, we’re used to a balance point set to “intense,” with some combination of flavors and textures battling it out like cats in a bag. Explosiveness is their calling card, and we forgive brewers who err on the side of excess. When I drink a Cloudburst, by contrast, my immediate impression is one of balance and harmony amid intensity. Cloudburst IPAs feature saturated juicy flavors, appreciable (but far from violent) bitterness, and a spectacular quenching dryness that make them dangerously drinkable.

 

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