Last month, we entered four of our beers into the 2014 World Beer Cup, a global beer competition that evaluates beers from around the world and occurs once every two years. The competition is steep. This year, 1,403 breweries from 58 countries competed. 219 judges from 31 countries spent three full days judging beers across 94 categories. When all was said and done, of the 253 breweries who won an award, just 27 breweries won more than one award. To our astonishment, we went home with two awards from the 2014 World Beer Cup!
Category 18: American-Style Sour Ale
Beer Name: Ensorcelled
Beer Description: Dark sour beer aged in oak barrels w/raspberry
Category 59: Belgian-Style Flanders Oud Bruin or Oud Red Ale
Beer Name: Shadows of Their Eyes
Beer Description: Dark sour beer aged in oak barrels
We’d also like to give a big shout out to our friends at The Bruery, who took silver medal for Oude Tart in Category 59!
Well, that’s enough of us tooting our own horn. The barrels need tending to…
If you've had the chance to visit our tasting room in the last three weeks, you might have noticed something different about our beer: it's warmer. We are now serving our draft beer at 44°F, which is about 4°F warmer than we were serving our beer for the first two months of being open. Why are we serving our sours at a higher temperature? It tastes better.
We had casually talked about serving our beer at a warmer temperature for a little while, but it wasn’t until we had our Beer Week dinner at Mikkeller Bar SF that we realized we needed to serve our beer at a higher temperature. Throughout our five course beer pairing dinner at Mikkeller Bar SF, we tasted five of our sours that were served between 45-55°F, and decided that we needed to make this happen.
Why couldn’t we serve our beers warmer before? Originally, we were using straight CO2 to push beer through our lines. With our old set up, our serving temperature range was limited to 38-42°F. The closer we'd get to 42°F, the more problems we'd experience with foaming, because the CO2 would come out of solution. We could potentially have increased the CO2 pressure to keep CO2 in solution, but that would have resulted in us unintentionally carbonating our beers more, which we did not want to do.
How do we serve our beers at 44°F now? We needed to do the following four things to serve our beer at 44°F:
- Increase the temperature on our cooler to 44°F
- Increase the applied pressure on our draft system to keep CO2 in solution (CO2 wants to come out of solution at higher temperatures)
- Install flow-regulated faucets to provide more restriction to the draft system and counter act the higher pressure on the draft system.
- Push beer though the lines with a blend of CO2 and nitrogen, instead of straight CO2
The last part of the puzzle is crucial to the new set up. We recently installed a nifty Green Air Supply, which extracts nitrogen from the atmosphere, then blends the nitrogen and CO2 in a ratio that is calculated for our system. The ratio of nitrogen and CO2 is specific to our serving temperature, draft line resistance, elevation above sea level, and a few other things. Since nitrogen is an inert gas, and doesn’t dissolve into our beer and “carbonate” the beer like CO2 does, we are able to apply more pressure to the whole system, which allows us to serve beer a few degrees warmer.
Sounds like a whole lot of work just to be serving our beer a few degrees warmer, right? We don’t think so. In our tasting room, the tulip glass is the final “package” of our product. Our sours take a very long time to make, and we take great pride in doing everything we can to maintain quality throughout the entire production process. When we find a better way of doing something, we’re going to adapt and improve our processes.
Next time you visit, feel free to leave the mittens at home and let us know what you think about the new serving temperature.
You have questions, and we have answers. Here are a few frequently asked questions that we have some answers for:
Why is the tasting room only open on Friday and Saturday?
We currently don’t have enough draft beer to open up another day. We do intend to open the tasting room on Sunday and potentially Thursday when we have more beer, but until then, we’re going to have to stick with only Friday and Saturday.
Will you expand your seating in the tasting room?
Yes. We are installing an additional 20’ bar top that will seat 20 people. This communal table should be ready for the week of March, 28th.
Why don’t you do samples or sample flights?
You might have noticed that we currently only offer 10 oz pours of our sours, and do not offer sample sizes or flights. Why is that? Well, we believe the 10 oz pour combines the best of both worlds since it is a small enough size for you to try multiple beers without becoming over intoxicated, while at the same time it allows us to maintain timely service. Based on the number of visitors we have and the way our bar set up, we would sacrifice timely service in order to provide you with multiple smaller pours. We’d prefer to get a tulip in your hands in under 5 minutes than four samples in your hands after a 15-20 minute wait. We always have tasting flights in the back of our minds, but until we’re able to do it a manner that doesn’t sacrifice service, we hope that the 10 oz pour is a happy medium!
Where can I find your beer outside of the tasting room?
In order to continue keeping the tasting room open on Friday and Saturday, we’ve paused self-distribution around the Bay Area. For the short term, draft is only available in our tasting room.
How do I enroll in the Founder’s Club?
Unfortunately, enrollment for the Founder’s Club closed last October. However, if you would like us to email you when the details for our 2015 beer club are ready, simply click here and submit your email address in the form at the top of the page. We’ll drop you an email sometime around fall with the details for the next club!
Do you fill growlers?
We are currently testing out a growler program with our Founder’s Club. Once we have enough beer to fill more growlers, we plan to offer more growlers in the Tasting Room. We don't have enough beer to fill a lot of growlers right now. In order to manage our supply of draft beer, we can only fill our growlers.
Do you have any bottles for sale?
As of today, we do not have any bottles available for sale. However we do have a number of brands that are bottle conditioning and should be ready in the upcoming months. If you would like to know when our bottle releases are, follow us on Facebook, Instagram (@therarebarrel), Twitter (@therarebarrel), and our newsletter.
Do you ship beer?
One of benefits included in the Founder’s Club is that we can ship your bottles of beer directly to your residence or business in California. We do plan on expanding our direct shipping program outside of the Founder’s Club at some point, but are not sure when that will be.
We hope that answered a number of the questions you may (or may not!) have had. If you have any other questions, feel free to email us at email@example.com.
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:
SKUs Me Bottle Release
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.)
Wood is Good w/New Belgium Brewing
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!
Beer Dinner At Mikkeller Bar SF
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
Sour Sunday at Jupiter
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!
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
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%
Map of the Sun - golden sour beer aged in oak w/apricot, single barrel release, 6.4%
Sirius Black - golden sour beer aged in oak w/blackberry, single barrel release, 5.8%
Tremendous Slouch - golden sour beer aged in oak w/peach, single barrel release, 6.4%
Fields Forever - red sour beer aged in oak w/strawberry, single barrel release, 4.8%
Melange #3, The Bruery, Orange County - american strong ale, 5 oz, 15%
The Publican, Societe Brewing Co., San Diego - pale ale, 16 oz, 5.5%
Sluice Box, Donkey and Goat, Berkeley - white rhone style blend, 6 oz, 13.7%
The Return, Eno Wines, Berkeley - red grenache, unfined and unfiltered, 6 oz, 14.9%
Organic Panini served w/ quinoa side salad
Turkey Pesto - goat cheddar on acme ciabatta roll
Sliced Apple and Cheese - bellweather carmody cheese, local chevre, chicory on acme ciabatta roll
Hope to see you around!
Enrollment for Ambassadors of Sour, our 2015 beer club, will open on September 30th at 8AM PST
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:
- Ten 750 mL bottles of sour beer (Blender’s Choice)
- First right to purchase most bottle releases online
- 10% discount on all purchases in tasting room and online
- One custom ceramic 32oz. growler
- Two pieces of custom glassware
- Membership ID card
- First right of acceptance for 2015 membership
- Option to pick-up at brewery, ship within California (at an additional cost), or assign a trustee
- Cost - $300 (+tax). Non-refundable
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
10 Sour Beers
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.
First Right to Purchase Bottled Beer
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 ID Card
Membership also includes a personalized, non-transferrable, membership card. Show your membership card in the tasting room to receive your 10% discount.
First Right of Acceptance to 2015 Membership
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.
Order Shipping and Pick-up
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.
- Pick-up at brewery – Members can place orders online, and then pick them up in the tasting room, at no additional charge. Orders can only be picked-up from the tasting room during normal tasting room hours.
- Shipping within California – Members who live or work in California will also have the opportunity to have their orders shipped directly to them at an additional cost. If you would like to save on shipping costs, members will have the option to compound orders by shipping multiple orders at once. At this point, only Founder’s Club members will be able to change shipping options and compound multiple orders into the same shipment. The Rare Barrel is only legally allowed to ship to addresses within California, even if your state allows beer shipping. A signature and government issued ID proving that the person accepting the packing is 21+ years of age will be required upon delivery. We cannot ship beer to P.O. boxes.
- Trustee - A member of the Founder’s Club may designate a Trustee to pick-up their beers in the tasting room and fill their Founder’s Club growler. This is a great option for members who live outside of California and are not able to visit the tasting room. We are happy to fill Founder’s Club growlers for trustees. The 10% discount and other club benefits do not apply to trustees.
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 | Golden Sour Beer Aged In Oak Barrels | 5.3%
"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 | Dark Sour Beer Aged In Oak Barrels With Raspberries | 5.8%
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 | Dark Sour Beer Aged In Oak Barrels | 5.6%
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 | Amber Sour Beer Aged In Oak Barrels | 4.8%
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.