Located in Berkeley, CA
Courtesy of hisandhersbeernotes.com
Happy New Years folks! 2014 was a humongous year when it came to beer and marked the beginnings of Grains and Yeast itself! Since going live, we've visited and interviewed a handful of shops, establishments, and breweries all across the USA, so look out for more upcoming articles!
This week, I want to talk about a local offering I've been consistency impressed with. The Rare Barrel is a specialized barrel-aged sour brewpub in the outskirts of Berkeley. Revered as a local favorite, its fast becoming a strong powerhouse of new and exciting sour craft brews. Walking in the warehouse, one will be comfortably delighted at the comfort-driven interior setup of their working space turned into a tasting room - e.g. seeing laid out leather couches surrounded by a backdrop of stainless steal vats and organized pallets of bottles. You sit down and the menu shows yet another set of new batches that just released after aging. Each choice has a wildly different flavor profile drawing on experimental elements like ginger, hibiscus, lavender, cinnamon, peaches, etc...enough to make any sour lover roll over.
Flavor, check. Presentation, check. Fame, check. Their expertise and dedicated focus has truly paid off as they recently took Gold in the The Great American Beer Festival (GABF) in American Sour Ales and were featured on Business Insider's "Coolest New Businesses of 2014" - what a great year they had and very deserving as well!
Check out my group's tasting of their beers. A personal favorite of mine was the Sourtooth Tiger due to its ginger profile, though its now currently unavailable. (Unless you're part of their Founder's Club I'm sure). As their experiments evolve, new beers will appear and old ones will inevitably retire. While some might be saved for further aging or sold to loyal customers, don't count on your favorites coming back forever.
This is where the benefits of a Founder's Club come in. The Ambassadors of Sour program benefits its members with ten 750 mL bottles of sour beer, glassware/ growler swag, and basically front row seats to all the new yearly releases, some of which are never publicly released! I'm personally not part of the program this year as the $300 fee did not justify it for me- but maybe next year if anybody wants to split it with me! Ultimately, I think its still competitively priced and worth it for those who truly enjoy quality sour beers, live close by to pick up the bottles, and wish to be part of a bigger beer movement! As for me...I will continue to frequently visit this amazing tasting room, see you there!