In late December 2013, The Rare Barrel, an all-sour beer brewery, opened in Berkeley. It's one of the few breweries in the United States that devotes their craft to just sour beer. Sour beer is the new "it" beer in town; it's hip. Some sour beers tastes like a nice tart, mellow or crisp wine, some of them dry tasting - it varies all over as any other type of beer. It's intentionally spoiled beer with "the same microbes that make yogurt, miso and salami," says Alex Wallash, co-founder of The Rare Barrel.
If you've had a Lambic and enjoyed it then you may enjoy the taste of sour beer, especially the types with raspberry or strawberry notes.
While this is a tasting room, they don't have actual tasting flights, so we just got everything on the menu except for the espresso shot. Between a party of three, we could finish easily - and we did. It was six 10 oz pours at $7 each. Because I am very new to the sour beer scene and I only have one other sour beer experience (Russian River), I can't really tell if I have preference over one brand or another. I just know what I like and what I gravitate towards.
Here's a list of all the beers we consumed:
- Gose Without Saying - pale sour beer aged in oak barrels, 5.3%
- SKUs Me - golden sour beer aged in oak barrels, 5.3%
- Proportional Response - amber sour beer aged in oak barrels, 4.8%
- Shadows of Their Eyes - dark sour beer aged in oak barrels, 5.6%
- Ensorcelled - dark sour beer aged in oak barrels w/raspberry, 5.8%
- Wise Guise - red sour beer aged in oak barrels w / raspberry, 5.4%
For fun, the three of us ranked the the beers from our favorites to least favorites. From these votes, you can see that Patrick falls in between Chris (his brother) and me for sour beer preference, and that I'm complete opposites of Chris except for the middle #6. However, all three of us really disliked Ensorcelled because it tasted and smelled of too much perfume.
The beers overall are very nice and I enjoyed tasting all of them. It's an acquired taste in general for sour beer but it's the kind of brew you can really appreciate it in a different light. I really enjoyed the visit and am really feeling the ambiance of the place. I would definitely go back.
THE RARE BARREL
Location: 940 Parker St, Berkeley, CA 94710
Hours: Friday 4-10 PM, Saturday 2-10 PM