Last week was Beer Week, and boy, was it an epic one! We had a lot of fun events and made a lot of new friends. Here is a little recap of some of our highlights from Beer Week 2014:
We had our very first bottle release on the first Saturday of beer week. We’ve spent almost 2 years working full time to get to this point, so needless to say, we’re ecstatic that we we’re finally able to get our bottles in your hands! If you didn't happen to snag a bottle before we sold out on Saturday... we have quite a few more bottle releases lined up on the near horizon. (What's up with the recliner below? The first fans showed up around 9:30AM for the 2PM bottle release, so we thought they needed a comfortable place to wait. We'll be keeping the recilner reserved for the first person in line for future releases.)
On Thursday night of Beer Week, we partnered with New Belgium Brewing to serve 6 sour beers and discuss blending in the basement of La Trappe. This event was particularly fun because everyone got to chat sours with Lauren Salazar (she manages the wood program at NBB, is a sour beer rock star, and an all-around great person). We hope everyone who came learned a little bit about sour beer and blending, while enjoying some sours from NBB and TRB!
What do you get when you have six sour beers and an remarkable chef? You get a delectable beer dinner. We worked with Chef Mike O’Brien from Mikkeller Bar to pair 5 of our sour beers with 5 food courses. If you are interested in getting adventurous in your own kitchen, you can eat with your eyes below. Warning: you will be hungry in 2 minutes....
Course 1 of 5 - SKUs Me (golden sour) paired w/Kumato oysters on the half shell w/Asian pear mignonette
Course 2 of 5 - (red sour w/raspberry) paired w/roasted baby beats, fennel, bulls blood
Course 3 of 5 - Egregious (dry-hopped golden sour) paired w/poached rock cod, celery root purée, endive
Course 4 of 5 - Shadows of Their Eyes (dark sour) paired w/honey glazed duck n barley risotto
Course 4.5 of 5 - Gose Without Saying (pale sour) granite, pineapple compote, chantilly
Course 5 of 5 - Ensorcelled (dark sour w/raspberry) paired w/salted caramel & dark chocolate tart
For those who haven’t been to Jupiter’s Sour Sunday, it is definitely worth penciling in the schedule for next year. Over 100 sour, wild, and barrel aged beers to choose from... yes please. While the weather was a little wet this year, we don’t think it stopped anyone from having a sour time. We were also very excited to be included at the featured pour table w/The Bruery, Russian River, Crooked Stave, and Almanac. Big shout out to Kelsey and the Drake’s/Jupiter/Triple Rock crew for throwing a great event!
We hope you had as much fun during beer week as we did.
Beer Week (Feb 7-16) is right around the corner, and we have some awesome events in the tasting room and around the Bay! Here is a snapshot of the good times ahead:
TASTING ROOM (Tasting Room is open Fridays 4-10PM and Saturdays 2-10PM)
All Sour, All The Time - We will dedicate all 10 of our beer taps to our sours, and we'll be rotating through every beer we've put on draft so far. Over the course of the two weekends, we'll bring back Map of the Sun, Fields Forever, Tremendous Slouch, Egregious, and Hope in the Darkness (all of which are no longer on tap, and will probably only last though Beer Week). We only have 1-2 kegs of each beer, so we'll pour them while supplies last! Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook to see when these beers are tapped.
EVENTS AROUND THE BAY
Friday, February 7th, 6-10PM
SF Beer Week Opening Gala - Come say "hi" to Jay and Brad as they pour you a sour or two at the gala!
Saturday, February 8th, ~6PM - ??
Barrel Aged Beer Fest @ The Trappist - Come enjoy some barrel aged beers from The Rare Barrel, Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project, 50/50 Brewing Co., and more. Jay will be there, and we hear Chad from Crooked Stave will too. If you haven't met Chad, he's pretty rad.
Sunday, February 9th, 11:30AM-??
Sour Sunday @ Jupiter - Jupiter will be pouring an egregious amount of sour and barrel aged beers on the back patio. Our crew will most definitely be there pouring sours and trying to catch 'em all.
Wednesday, February 12th, 5:30PM and 8PM
Beer Dinner @ Mikkeller Bar - We've worked with Chef Mike O'Brien at Mikkeller Bar to create a ridiculous 5 course meal... each course paired with one of our sours. This is arguably going to be one of the highlights of our week. Seatings are at 5:30PM and 8PM, and Jay and Alex will be at both seatings. Yes, this event is a little pricy, but hey, have you ever had an all-sour-5-course-beer-dinner-extravaganza? Treat yourself... feed the hedonist inside you.... a few tickets are still available here.
Thursday, February 13th, 6-10PM
Wood Is Good @ La Trappe - We're pairing up with Lauren Salazar from New Belgium Brewing to pour three of each other's favorite wood aged sour beers. The Rare Barrel crew and Lauren will be there hanging out from 6-10PM. If you haven't met Lauren, she is a sour beer rockstar and someone for whom we have the utmost respect and admiration. This event will be $25 for a flight of six 4oz pours (flight of all 6 sours being served). Tickets will also include light snacks. 2 kegs will be tapped at 6PM, 7PM, and 8PM!
Friday, February 14th, 7-11PM
Ales for Autism Black and White Beer Ball - 27 craft breweries, live music, local food, and all the proceeds from the event support educating children with autism, providing care for people with autism, and furthering autism research. As a new craft brewery without much beer, we don't have enough beer to send everywhere we'd like, but we're particularly excited to donate beer to this event and support the cause!
Saturday, February 15th
Meet The Brewers Beer Fest @ Hermitage Brewing Company - 12-5PM - 20 breweries, 5 food trucks, and unlimited beer. Jay will be pouring at our booth, and we believe that brewers from all the other breweries will be in attendance too.
Funktastic Four @ Livermore Saloon, 1PM - ?? - Logsdon Farmhouse Ales + Prairie Artisanal Ales + 10 Barrel + The Rare Barrel = Funktastic Four. Word has it that David Logsdon will also be there.
Sunday, February 16th
Sleep in. Rehydrate.
Hope you have a stellar Beer Week!
We're releasing a new sour beer on draft in the tasting room this Friday, January 31st, at 4PM.
Gose Without Saying is a pale sour beer aged in oak barrels that clocks in at a refreshing 5.3% alcohol by volume. In our loose representation of a gose-style beer, a lemon tartness is the most defining characteristic of this beer. While gose style beers often have salt and coriander, we decided we like this beer better without those two ingredients (hence the "Without Saying" in the beer name). It goes without saying that this new sour is incredibly refreshing.
To quote the wise words of Reading Rainbow's LeVar Burton, "Don't take our word for it though. We'll see you next time."
Our tasting room is now open on Fridays from 4-10PM and Saturdays from 2-10PM! Our 12 taps will be flowing with our sours, two guest beers, and two guest wines. If you get hungry, you can also nosh on organic panini with a side salad. We're also kid friendly. Here is a preview of what we have to offer on December 27th, our opening day:
Location: 940 Parker St, Berkeley, CA 94710
Hours: Friday 4-10PM, Saturday 2-10PM
Hope to see you around!
We are excited to announce that we are opening up a limited number of memberships for the Founder’s Club! Below are some of the highlights for the Founder’s Club:
A Founder's Club Membership will cost $300 (+tax). Memberships will go on sale on Friday, October 11th at 9am PST. Membership benefits start on January 1st, and conclude on December 31st, 2014. Here are more details about the Founder’s Club
Membership in this club includes 10 bottles of sour beer that the blenders at The Rare Barrel will create specifically for the Founders Club. Of the 10 bottles included in the membership, we anticipate that there will be two bottles each of five different brands. These beers will be blended specifically for the Founder’s Club, and as always, we will work to create the best blends that we possibly can. These beers may be released throughout 2014. Our intent is to release these beers only to the Founder’s Club, however, it is possible that there will be a slight overage in production. When this happens, The Rare Barrel plans to offer Founder’s Club members the opportunity to purchase additional bottles. We also plan to cellar or serve these excess small-batch blends and may release them at special events. If there are excess bottles after the Founder’s Club members have the opportunity to purchase them, and we decide not to cellar or serve the remaining bottles, we may sell them to the public.
In 2014, we anticipate having limited quantities of each release available to the public. However, as a Founder’s Club member, you will have the first right to purchase a limited number of bottles of most bottled releases through the website (www.therarebarrel.com) before anyone else. We may sell the draft version of a particular release before we sell the bottled version. Additionally, we might have some brands that are only offered for sale in the tasting room.
Founder’s Club members will receive a 10% discount on purchases made through the tasting room and website. This includes bottles, draft beer, growler fills, apparel, and food.
We will also be selling and filling a limited number of 32oz. glass growlers in our tasting room, however, members are are guaranteed a 32 oz. ceramic growler that is unique to the Founder’s Club. Due to limited production volumes, we can only offer small number of beers available for growler fills. For our regular glass growlers, we will strive to make one beer available for growler fills. Members will have access to this beer with their Founder's Club growler plus exclusive access to one additional beer of our choosing. Founder’s Club growlers can be filled by the Founder’s Club member or their trustee. Empty growlers can be picked-up in the tasting room or shipped at an additional charge.
Each member will receive two pieces of glassware that are specific to the Founder’s Club. Glassware can be shipped (at additional charge) or picked-up in the tasting room.
Membership also includes a personalized, non-transferrable, membership card. Show your membership card in the tasting room to receive your 10% discount.
Founder’s Club members will have the first right to purchase a membership with our 2015 sour beer club. The number of memberships available for 2015 is currently undetermined, but will be based on production volumes and our ability to provide club members with limited release blends. Either way, each Founder’s Club member will have the opportunity to purchase a 2015 membership. Additionally, the 2014 club will be the only one called the “Founder’s Club.” Subsequent memberships will have a different name.
Founder’s Club members will have three options for fulfilling their orders placed online. Members cann either pick-up beer at brewery, shipping beer to their house/business within California, or a designate a trustee to pick-up their beer for them.
Founder’s Club membership is valid through December 31st, 2014. Beer purchased through the membership can be stored at The Rare Barrel up to March 31st, 2015.
Are you in?
Our first four sour beers are ready! Here is a little more info about these beers:
"SKUs me, is there any room on this shelf for another new brewery? There is? Great!!" SKUs Me, which is our very first blend, was fermented with Brettanomyces yeast and Lactobacillus bacteria and aged in oak barrels. This moderately tart golden sour beer has notes of lemon zest and hay.
Ensorcelled is a blend of our oak-aged red sour beer and oak-aged black Brettanomyces beer. After blending our red and black sours together, we added raspberries and let the beer age in barrels for a few more months.
Shadows of Their Eyes is a dark sour beer fermented with Brettanomyces yeast and Lactobacillus bacteria and aged in oak barrels. Aromas of chocolate complement the dark fruit notes in this assertively sour beer.
Proportional Response, a balanced amber sour beer, is a blend of our mouth-puckering red sour beer and our faintly tart pale sour beer. The result of this blend is well-balanced amber sour beer with moderate tartness and hints of cherries and grapefruit.
Our first draft beers are ready to be served! Starting on October 17th, we’ll have a few events around the Bay Area to give you a sneak peak of our sour beers.
Here are the details on the first four events scheduled:
Thursday, October 17th, 5-9pm, City Beer Store, 1168 Folsom St #101, San Francisco
Friday, October 18th, 5-9pm, Beer Revolution, 464 3rd St, Oakland
Sunday, October 20th, 12-5pm, Sour Sunday @ Jupiter, 2181 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley
Saturday, October 26th, 4-7pm, Livermore Saloon (by The Beer Barron), 2223 1st Street, Livermore
Each of the craft beer spots listed above will be serving two of our oak-aged sours on draft, accompanied by The Rare Barrel crew. Come by, say hi, and get a sneak preview of some of the beers we will be serving in our tasting room, which will hopefully be open by the end of November. We will be having a few more events over the next couple of months if you can’t make any of the three listed above.
Our dream of serving our first sour beers has been years in the making, so we couldn’t be more excited to share our first sour beers with you!
We do things a little differently at The Rare Barrel, and we don’t have a brewhouse. Instead, we rely on renting time on our friends’ brewing systems around the Bay Area. On brew days, we hop in our box truck and travel to one of the breweries with our recipe, specialty malts, and two 15BBL transport tanks ready to brew!
Overall, we’ve been very happy with the process so far. Scheduling brews, transporting sterile wort, and the quality wort have all been up to our standards. We haven’t tested positive for any infections on our wort stability testing, and we are very happy with the way our barrels are progressing. Each batch has come home to us safe and sound. All that positive momentum had to come to an end sometime though…and that momentum came to a halt with Batch #13.
Jay had just returned from a successful brew, so Alex and Brad helped him unload the truck, as usual. Alex forklifted one of the tanks from the truck, and proceeded to set it down in the parking lot. However, when the tank was 6” above the ground, this happened…
Did the forklift puncture the tank? Did a pipe break? Why are we flooding the parking lot right now? Will this ever stop???
We tried everything we could to stop the flow, but couldn’t figure out why the valve that would stop this madness wasn’t closing. After a little maneuvering, we got the handle loose and closed the valve. After the fact, we realized that the threaded piping on the tank had rotated 90 degrees in transportation, so that our piping was the first thing to touch the ground, not the legs of the tank. With 5,000 lbs. of wort resting on the pipe, it didn’t stand a chance. We lost about 150 gallons of beer in the parking lot. Our neighbors joked about grabbing their beer steins and having a party in the lot.
Mistakes happen…especially with new companies. We’ve already made our fair share, and this won’t be the last, but this is the first one that really cost us some beer. While we originally intended to re-use the yeast from this batch to ferment future batches and top off some barrels, we’ve decided to release this beer on its own. This beer has a funk’d up backstory, so we’ve decided to stay funky with this beer by adding multiple strains of Brettanomyces and bacteria to it.
We haven’t updated our blog recently, and we are here to do something about that. We’ve been quite busy around The Rare Barrel lately, and would like to share some recent events with you.
We started brewing in February and it’s kept us very happy. While we started off brewing once every other week, we recently upped it to brewing two times every three weeks. That’s still a relatively small amount compared to most breweries, but with all of the preparation and work involved with sour beer, we stay busy.
More equipment allowed us to increase our production and prepare for packaging. This new equipment includes a second 30BBL fermenter, a 15BBL blending tank, and a 70BBL blending tank. The second fermenter has allowed us to double our production, but we aren’t using it to its full capacity yet. We’re expecting to start packaging sometime in the second half of this year. The 15 BBL blending tank will be used to package draft and small bottle releases, while the 70BBL blending tank will be used for our larger bottle releases. Additionally, our bottling line and labeler are currently being manufactured.
We’re also building a tasting room. Woo! Back in March, we got zoning approval for the tasting room (thank you to all our friends and neighbors who came to speak in favor of it!). The tasting room should be open around late 2013.
How do you like the new website? Click around if you’d like. With this new website, we’re now able to sell our apparel (hoodies, hats, and shirts) and ship to all 50 states. Eventually, we will even sell and ship beer to residents in California using our new website, too.
We’ll do our best not to go this long without posting again. For the most up-to-date news, be sure to follow us on Facebook. For updates in 140 characters or less, you can follow us on Twitter. And for #artsy photos, follow us on Instagram @therarebarrel.
About one year after announcing the founding of The Rare Barrel, we have finally brewed our first full batch of beer! It is happily fermenting away in our 30 barrel fermentation tank as we speak. We’re very excited and proud to share what we have in store for this inaugural brew.
Batch #1 will be a 3-year old golden sour beer blended like a Belgian Gueuze but fermented using our choice of cultured yeast and bacteria. Three years from now, we will blend Batch #1 with a 1-year old and a 2-year old golden sour to create our Batch #1 blend. It’s worth noting that we are not trying to make a true Gueuze (by definition, Gueuze can only be made in Belgium and must be spontaneously fermented), but instead we are trying to create a fascinating flavor profile that comes from their blending techniques.
Image: Spent grain from Batch #1
Our company is heavily inspired by the talented Gueuze blenders of Belgium. In addition to blending beer, many of these Gueuze blenders procure wort (or beer) in a similar manner to us. Some blenders will pick up spontaneously inoculated wort from Lambic brewers and bring it back to their barrel warehouse to fill their barrels. Similarly, we bring back sterile wort (but not beer) to our barrel warehouse, and we inoculate the wort with cultured yeast and bacteria in our fermentation tank. For Batch #1, it seemed fitting to start fermentation with a strain of Brettanomyces from Drei Fontenien, one of these amazing Belgian Gueuze blenders headed by Armand Debelder.
Image: Jay with Armand Debelder of Drei Fonteinen
Batch #1 will be blended with batches brewed one year and two years from today, to create a blended golden sour beer. The first part of this blend (already brewed to be aged for 3 years) will start by aging with Brett for several months. Once the desired level of attenuation and flavor development has been achieved, we’ll be adding pediococcus bacteria cultures to the beer with a little bit of fresh wort. This will add complexity to the flavor of this beer as well as give the Brett an addition of new fermentable sugar and some bacteria to keep them company.
The second and third parts of the blend are still up for consideration. Will we continue with the same fermentation track as Batch #1? It’s hard to say. We will have to taste it in one year to see how the flavor has developed which will largely determine the plan for the second and third parts of the blend.
Image: Alex and Jay pitching Brett from barrels
2016. Until then, sit back, relax and enjoy some sour beer!