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The most-awaited brewery of the year debuts

teve Luke, owner of Cloudburst Brewing, with a beer selection at his tasting room’s bar,
Steve Luke, owner of Cloudburst Brewing, with a beer selection at his tasting room’s bar, where he also brews, Mon., Jan. 11, 2016, in Seattle.

Cloudburst Brewing on Western Avenue opens to beery fanfare.

The day before Cloudburst Brewing opened, dozens of brewers and beer bloggers gathered in the new tasting room to congratulate owner Steve Luke, one of the industry’s young talents.

He’s hard to miss. Luke sported a ski cap and salmon-colored pants. With his mountain-man beard and a parentheses of a shaggy mane, the dude looked like he just came from a Phish concert.

“Oh, thanks,” he said repeatedly upon receiving pats on the back and congratulatory handshakes from a list of who’s who in the beer scene, including Seattle Beer Week founder Ian Roberts and beer writer Kendall Jones.

Located two blocks north of Pike Place Market, Cloudburst debuted last Thursday, but I could have sworn it had been open for months. It’s all I’ve been hearing about at breweries and beer halls since last fall. It’s easily the most anticipated brewery opening in recent memory.

The 7,000-square-foot warehouse with an 11-tap tasting room showcases a rotating list of IPAs from a traditional Seattle variation that’s piney with maltiness (called Old Flame) to a robust IPA with pineapple notes (Flashing Lights).

Even his pilsner tastes hoppy. But they go down easy for such boozy, bitter concoctions, a sign of good craftsmanship.

Luke learned to brew at the esteemed Allagash Brewing Co. in Maine. But he made his reputation the past four years toiling with recipe development and experimental suds for Elysian Brewing Co. (The much talked about Space Dust IPA and Split Shot Espresso Milk Stout were his recipes.)

Looking for the next challenge, the 32-year-old brewer realized the way to get creative freedom was to run his own shop. Thus, Cloudburst was born.

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