Barrels lined up in the Rare Barrel's Berkeley warehouse. [Photo: The Rare Barrel/Facebook]
After seeing a brief mention of The Rare Barrel, a new Berkeley brewery, over on Berkeleyside, we contacted the owners to get more info on what they're up to. The new project is spearheaded by Jay Goodwin, an alum of Orange County's acclaimed The Bruery, and it's taking a unique tack by brewing only sour beers. The concept is an unusual hybrid of gypsy brewery and brick-and-mortar; while the Rare Barrel will brew their beers at another, undisclosed Bay Area brewery, they'll age, blend, and bottle their final creations on-site, as well as serve them on draft in a planned tasting room. Joining Goodwin are his father Brad Goodwin, a pharmaceutical entrepreneur who'll handle the business, and longtime friend and homebrewer Alex Wallash, who'll be in charge of sales and marketing.
Though Wallash wouldn't give us any details on the styles that the Rare Barrel is planning, he says they'll be using fruits, spices, and barrel aging extensively in their beers, and every beer will be made with lactobacillus, pediococcus and/or brettanomyces, which contribute to the characteristic tart, funky, and dry flavors of sour beer. This process has both upsides and downsides: all-sour brewing is more expensive and time-consuming, with beers taking anywhere from six months to three years to age, but without a lineup of more pedestrian brews to look after, Goodwin and his team will be able to innovate and develop new techniques for brewing sours. "We love sour beer—that's why we're starting an all-sour brewery—but we think there's room for a lot of exploration in the world of sour beer, and some of the most interesting explorations are on the fermenting side," says Wallash.
The trio is currently in the process of securing a permit from Berkeley for a tasting room, and plans to brew their first batch as soon as next month. Eventually, they hope to serve cheese and charcuterie in addition to their house brews. Given the construction hurdles still ahead and the lengthy time needed to age the beers, Wallash says he foresees an opening in late 2013.
· Shop Talk: The Rare Barrel [Berkeleyside]