October 8, 2019 | The Rare Barrel
The Rare Barrel, a sour beer-focused brewery with rotating guest beers and a kitchen, based in Berkeley, CA, has an immediate opening for an entry-level, full-time position as a Production Assistant. We are searching for someone responsible and trustworthy who can match our passion for craft beer and commitment to quality. We work as a team and share in both the difficulties and the fun aspects of working at a brewery. Prior experience working in a brewery, winery or distillery is not required, but preferred. Work experience with areas related to electrical, plumbing, mechanical and/or welding is a plus, but not required.
Hours: 5 days per week (8+ hours per day), Monday - Friday, some exceptions (ie, attending an event)
Prior experience working in a brewery, winery, or distillery is not required but preferred. Work experience related to electrical, plumbing, mechanical and/or welding is great but also not a requirement.
This position will report directly to the Cellar Manager.
This is a physical position. Applicants will be regularly required to lift 120 lbs safely (this is a bona fide occupational qualification), to stand for long periods of time, and be comfortable working on their feet. Safety is always a priority. Due to the physical nature of the job and the inherent risks of working in a production facility, doing this job safely is every employee’s first priority.
Safety must always be a priority. Due to the physical nature of the job and the inherent risks of working in a production facility doing this job safely must be your first priority.
We are looking for a team player, who is honest, trustworthy, dedicated, hard-working, self-motivated, possesses a great attitude and has a keen attention to detail. A personal commitment to cleanliness and organization is required.
Must love sours.
Cleaning, Organization, and Paperwork:
Lots of Cleaning. Sweeping, mopping, and organizing are a big part of this job (and any job in the brewing industry). This includes keeping the barrel cellar clean, organized and orderly. At The Rare Barrel, we are heavily focused on documentation of our processes and results. Keeping accurate and orderly paperwork is a top priority and elite attention to detail is a necessity.
Set up, operation and clean up of bottling, labeling, waxing, kegging and keg washing.
Material Handling and Maintenance:
Move and organize all materials pertaining to production at the brewery. In addition, keeping our equipment operating properly ensures our beers are the highest quality. This includes proper maintenance of forklifts, pallet jacks, barrels and lab equipment, as well as proper storage of raw materials, brewing equipment and finished product. Prior experience with a forklift is preferred but not required.
Barrel Maintenance and Movement:
Treatment of oak barrels including pressure rinses, ozone rinses, steaming, etc. This position is also responsible for forklifting and organization of barrels in the stacks and those staged for racking.
Tasting and Blending:
This position will participate in both the tasting and blending team. This will include daily barrel tastings (to ensure the barrels are free from off-flavors, outliers, etc.), QA/QC tastings run by our Quality department, ingredient intensity checks, and carbonation checks.
We blend and taste as a team. We also strive to improve everything we do as a team. This position should feel free to submit proposals on process, beer making and other improvements to help make The Rare Barrel a better place. Proposals will be considered and followed up on. You will have a voice in how things are done here.
Development and maintenance of all SOP, checklists, plans and best practice documents for the duties above.
Other tasks as needed.
A pre-employment background check, DMV check, and screening for illegal drugs is required. The Rare Barrel is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Qualified applicants are considered for employment without regard to age, race, color, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, disability or veteran status.
To apply, please send a cover letter and resume as one .PDF document to info at therarebarrel dot com (firstname.lastname@example.org) with “Production Assistant – INSERT FIRST NAME LAST NAME” in the subject line. Thank you very much!
July 9, 2019 | The Rare Barrel
A story told by Co-founder Alex Wallash
This story starts like many others… one friend introduces you to their friends however, this time around it doesn't stop there, some magic happens. In our case, our good friend Pete Slosberg introduced us to his friends Semilla, Ian, and Pisa from Juguetes Perdidos (a brewery in Argentina) and Oscar and German from Cerveceria Granizo (a brewery in Chile). Little did we know that we’d become friends and I'd have the pleasure to visit them in South America a year later.
Festival de Cervezas Extremas Juguetes Perdidos (May 25th - 26th, 2019)
This adventure began in Buenos Aires, Argentia, where I started off with the Festival de Cervezas Extremas Juguetes Perdidos. To my best knowledge this was the first festival in Latin America that was foucused on serving barrel-aged and sour beers! There were 62 participating breweries (mostly from Latin America with a select handful from the rest of the world) that poured their beers in a futbol (read: soccer) stadium in Juguetes Perdido’s neighborhood. Over 1,500 people attended the festival each day that had traveled from all across Latin America. For this first festival of it’s kind, the feeling in the air was electric.
The festival was EPIC. It was a huge honor that The Rare Barrel was one of the handfull of breweries from the USA that was able to participate. This was our first time sharing our beer in South America and we're excited about the opportunity. Personally I was incredibly excited to try some amazing mixed-culture and sour beers made in South America and really enjoyed tasting Catharina Sours, which I would say are closest described to a fruited Berliner Weise… light acidity, bright fruit character, balanced, and delightfully crushable. It's hard to describe all of the tasty beers I was able to try at this festival because there were so many!!!
I shared our sour beers...
And made some friends...
Collaboration & Asado
After the festival on May 27th, 2019, I had an amazing day brewing with our friends at Juguetes Perdidos. I got to enjoy many of their beers (which were fantastic) and listened to how Semilla taught homebrewing for free in Argentina for 15 years and had 16 barrels of sour beer in his living room before starting Juguetes Perdidos.
We brewed a beer with a simple grist of 2-row and unmalted barley, mashed at a high temperature to favor some longer chain dextrins, added a small amount of bittering hops to the boil, and then knocked-out the beer into their new coolship!
Our brew was the second time they’ve used the coolship and from what we know, Juguetes Perdidos has the first coolship in South America! (*Note: it was the beginning of winter in South America with temperatures that were ideal for a coolship project.)
The brew day turned into an amazing hang sesh with ~20 people from 10 different breweries and asado (aka Argentinian BBQ). If you ever visit Argentina, you must try asado… it’s delectable. Free-range meat smoked over a wood fire and seasoned with nothing but salt, it’s simple and perfect. There is a real sense of community at Juguetes Perdidos, they have asado every Friday afternoon together, but if you don't have the pleasure of joining them, Los Talas is an amazing asado joint that I hope to visit again.
Hanging with Ian, Pisa, and Semilla on the roof of Juguetes Perdidos...
Dinner, Beers, and Conversation
When the collab day was over, we headed over to Belgica, a craft beer bar and restaurant where we had a beer pairing dinner with four of our beers from The Rare Barrel. Great food was enjoyed...
And stories were shared...
Tuesday night was quite special too, as Phil from Almanac, Zack from KCBC, and I got to speak to a theater full of brewers, homebrewers, and enthusiasts about how we make beer...
I was supposed to leave for Chile Wednesday morning, but due to a nation-wide strike, my flight was canceled. No worries...that gave a day to hang out with Mati and Nico at Dos Dingos for another asado while they collab’d with KCBC...
and some time to see Tor at Strange Brewing, who has some really cool mixed-culture projects in barrels right now.
Waves, Beers, and More BBQ
Chile got off to a super chill start. I spent the first 3 nights with Jason, a surfer from California who has lived in Chile for 23 years and now grows hops in Chile under the name Lupulos Mantagua. Surfs and grows hops? Yea... we hit it off!
By day, we traveled around in search of surf, by night, we talked hops. On Saturday night, Oscar from Cervezeria Granizo invited us over to his house for a BBQ, where we were joined by our friend Peter Bouckaert (Purpose Brewing and Cellars) and where I was reuinited with my travel buddy Phil Emerson (Almanac).
Congreso De Barrel Aged & Sour Beer and Collaboration
On Monday, June 3rd, 2019, I had the honor of speaking at the first Congreso Barrel Aged & Sour Beer, which was the first conference in Chile (and likely Latin America) specifically focused on producing barrel-aged and sour beer.
It was incredibly rewarding and special to speak on behalf of The Rare Barrel and share what we know about making sour beer along with other speakers like Peter Bouckaert (Purpose Brewing), Oscar (Cervezeria Granizo), Phil (Almanac), and more. HUGE shoutout to Cerveceria Granizo for organizing and hosting this conference!
After the conference, we headed to Valpariso for a late night of celebrating where I couldn’t get enough of Granizo’s IRA … India Rosemary Ale. It might sound a little crazy on paper, but wow, that beer is amazing!
On the last day in Chile, I was happy to spend it making a beer with our friends at Granizo. We brewed some wort to make a saison base beer, but were lucky to score some whole cone hops grown by my new friend Jason at Lupulos Mantagua. The plan for this beer is to innoculate it with some of our mixed-culture after primary fermentation and then let the beer age and acidify in some Chilean Oak and Alerce barrels.
I am incredbily thankful to those who helped make this trip to Argentia and Chile so amazing! In particular I'd like to thank Pete Slosberg for introducing us to our new South American friends, Juguetes Perdidos in Argentina for hosting the Festival de Cervezas Extremas and for asking us to make beer with you all, Cerveceria Granizo in Chile for hosing the Congreso De Barrel Aged and Sour Beers, Miguel Rivas (@TheBeerTrekker) for taking amazing photos in Argentina, and all the amazing brewers in South America I met along the way who were so welcoming.
January 22, 2019 | The Rare Barrel
San Francisco Beer Week is just around the corner and we are excited about what we have planned this year! We've been working hard to create fun, exciting, and unique beer experiences for you all. Check out what we've got going on in the Tasting Room & Kitchen.
NorCal vs SoCal | The Rematch
Saturday, February 2nd, 1PM - 7PM @ The Rare Barrel
Currently NorCal holds the title for superior beer makers after taking the lead at our first showdown last SF Beer Week, but this is The Rematch and the match-ups are even more intense. Who will come out as victor? You decide.
This friendly competition will pit 14 NorCal breweries up against 14 SoCal breweries and let our guests vote on their favorite beers. Participating breweries will be matched up with a brewery from the opposing region depending on style. Guests will be asked to blind taste by style and cast votes on which beer they like better (not knowing who brewed what). The region with the most points at the end of the day will be take the title. Check out the list of breweries below along with beer style match-ups.
UPDATE: NORCAL WINS 625 to 597
STYLE MATCH-UPS/ BREWERIES/BEERS/STICKER COLOR
Barrel-aged Sour Beer (fruited)
Almanac, Farmer's Reserve No. 5 (black) vs. The Lost Abbey, Veritas 019 (orange)
Barrel-aged Sour Beer (non-fruited)
The Rare Barre, Forces Unseen 18 (blue) vs Cellador, Sacre (yellow)
Yeast of Eden, Family Miner (black) vs. Bruery Terreux, Minor Miner (orange)
Sante Adairius, Cellarman (blue) vs. Highland Park, Saison 300 (yellow)
West Coast IPA
Faction, Faction/Chapman IPA (black) vs. Societe, The Pupil (orange)
West Coast DIPA
Urban Roots, Bigger On The Inside (black) vs. Beachwood Brewing, Greenshift (orange)
Hazy Pale Ale
Armistice, Pilly (red) vs. Green Cheek, Taste The Ceiling (teal)
Cellarmaker, Turok Juice (blue) vs. Burgeon Beer, Fine Tuned (yellow)
Humble Sea, Juice of Hazard (red) vs. Pure Project, Clouds of Delusion (teal)
Russian River, STS (red) vs. Fireston Walker, Pivo (teal)
Temescal, Pils (blue) vs. Eagle Rock, Plan 9 (yellow)
Sierra Nevada, Stout (red) vs. Bagby, New Order (teal)
Imperial Stout (non-barrel aged)
Moksa, Moksa One (blue) vs. Pizza Port, SAF Stour (yellow)
FiftyFifty, Mocho Nut Eclipse (red) vs. Modern Times, Devil's Teeth with Macademia Nuts, Coconut, and Cocoa (teal)
Real Smoked BBQ is bringing a massive smoker to our parking lot again and will dishing up some amazing BBQ for this weekend. Come hungry and thirsty!
Sour Super Bowl Sunday with Creature Comforts
Sunday, February 3rd, 1PM - 10PM @ The Rare Barrel
Join us for the big game! For all you football fans and beer lovers, we'll be airing the Super Bowl on our big screen and serving up a bunch of cool beers from our friends at Creature Comforts Brewing. Blake Tyers, Creature Comforts Wood Cellar & Specialty Brand Manager will be in the brewery, hanging out and watching the game with us.
Real Smoked BBQ will be on site for some finger-licking good food. Have your own Super Bowl plans? Stop by to grab some beers to go!
Avec des Amis Bottle Release Party | Side Project Brewing & The Rare Barrel collaboration
Thursday, February 7th, 4PM - 10PM @ The Rare Barrel
Join us for the public bottle release of Avec des Amis, this collaborative sour is a blend of golden sour beers aged in oak barrels selected with friends from Side Project Brewing. This sour was refermented with fresh Summer Sweet white peaches and Viking Pearl white nectarines from Blossom Bluff Orchards, and is bold with fresh juicy peach character and a tart nectarine finish. Along with this bottle, we will have a variety of guest beer from Side Project!
Come for beers and stay for dinner. The Tasting Room & Kitchen will be in full swing and dishin’ up some awesome food to enjoy with these tasty brews.
Sour Vibez 3 Day Beer & Music Festival
We’re putting out the vibe, the sour vibez. Come move to the groove, tap your toes, and enjoy the musical tunes from various artists in our 2nd Sour Vibes Beer & Music Festival! Now spanning 3 days we have a little bit of everything for everyone. Check out what we have planned for each day.
Friday, February 8th, 4PM - 12AM | New School
It’s going to be a banger! We’re opening at 4PM but we’re keeping the party going until midnight with all your favorite new school vibes. Dance yourselves clean all night, we’re playing everything from house to rap. We also got a lineup of beers to satiate your new school dreams with everything from Hazy IPAs, Pastry Stouts,to tasty sours. We may even be releasing a new line of beers...in a can... from The Rare Barrel (more info at a later date.) Hungry? Grab a bite from our kitchen.
|DJs||GUEST BEERS FROM||TENTATIVE TRB CAN RELEASE|
|Alexxmillerr||Alvarado St. Brewing||* more details to come|
|Puppy Party||Faction Brewing|
|Diva Tbale||Jester King Brewery|
|and more||Modern Times Beer|
Saturday, February 9th, 1PM - 10PM | Old School
Oldies but goldies! We’re going to celebrate music and beers from our past with artists, duos, and bands that love taking it old school and draw inspiration from musical classics. We’ll also have a lineup of vintages from our cellar on draft as well as some of your favorite vintages from guest breweries. If you are looking to take some bottles to go we will also have a limited number of bottles available from our cellar. Hungry? Don't worry I'll kitchen will be open.
|ARTISTS||GUEST VINTAGES FROM||TRB CELLAR SALE|
|Katz Roar||Deschutes Brewery||*tbd|
|Matt Jaffe||Cellarmaker Brewing|
|John Courage||Firestone Walker|
|DJ White Wheat||The Lost Abbey|
|Perennial Artisan Ales|
|Russian River Brewing|
Sunday, February 10th, 1PM - 8PM | All That Jazz
We're putting out those jazzy vibes for the last day of beer week. We'll have a few jazz bands jamming through out the day and we'll also be improvising with our beer list. Various beers from throughout the week will be available in the Tasting Room & Kitchen and the menu will be rotating through out the day. Not all beers from our events are guaranteed.
|ARTISTS||GUEST BEER FROM|
|Underscore Trio||*various beers served from throughout SFBW|
|Analog Us||*menu is subject to change throughout the day.|
Come for the music and beer and enjoy some grub from our kitchen.
Sours from The Rare Barrel can also be enjoyed at the following events: SFBW Opening Gala (2/1), Sour Sh!tstorm at Old Devil Moon (2/2), Sour Sunday at Jupiter (2/3), Knights of the Dank Table at Toronado (2/4), An Evening with Sante Adairius + The Rare Barrel at The Crafty Fox 2/5), The Rare Barrel Tap Takeover at Ale Arsenal (2/6) Womxn on Beer Panel at Temescal (2/6), Mash The Patriarchy at Mission Cheese (2/7), CCBA @ Trumer Fest (2/9) and more...
Enjoy an epic Beer Week and see y’all in the Tasting Room & Kitchen
August 8, 2018 | The Rare Barrel
We want to personally invite you to attend our 5th Anniversary Day Party on Saturday, October 6th. This is a big milestone for us so we are going big and changing our party up a bit.
Tickets are now on sale, please check out details below on the different tickets available online.
5th Anniversary Day Party Details
- $5 beers - this included TRB sours )many coming out of the cellar) as well as guest beers
- 5th Anniversary Sour bottles - we packaged our first bottle of an Anniversary Sour. We’ll have bottles of 5th Anniversary Sour available to go (while supplies last)
- DJs all day
- Food Trucks
- New Merchandise
- Raffle (to benefit ALS research)
- Dunk Tank
- Games & more…
There are just a few things to note…
- You must have a ticket to enter however, your ticket will allow you to leave and re-enter the party
- There will be no entry after 6PM
- You must show a valid for of ID at the door along with your ticket to enter
- There will be no growler fills during this event
- We will not be able to accomodate Ambassador pick-ups during this event
- No outside food and drinks will be allowed
- Due to this event there will be limited parking, we suggest taking alternative forms of transportation to and from The Rare Barrel
Day Party Ticket Types
General Admission | Saturday, October 6th 1PM - 7PM
$25 online, $30 at the door ticket includes entry, commemorative glass, 1st pour, 1 raffle ticket, and access to purchase 5th Anniversary Sour bottles.
Designated Driver/Under 21 | Saturday, October 6th 1PM - 7PM
$10 ticket includes entry
*tax and processing fees will be applied to all ticket orders
May 7, 2018 | The Rare Barrel
In a continued attempt to expand our processes and knowledge, The Rare Barrel team decided to delve into the world of beer/wine hybrids. As we have steadily forged our way into the world of fresh and unpasteurized fruits, wine grapes inevitably became an ingredient of interest.
Before we made moves to actually get the grapes in hand however, we had to answer a few questions. We were going to combine two incredibly different fermentation processes, so it was important that we were thorough in our planning to ensure a unique and expressive product. After months of research and a load of information from our friends at other breweries, we came to a few simple questions that we needed to ask ourselves.
What varietals were we going to use?
How would we process the ingredients?
What beer would work best with wine grapes?
How would we ferment everything?
WHAT GRAPES? AND HOW DO WE GET THEM?
Due to a number of circumstances, there were some mild limitations on the varietals available to us. Our intent for a red wine hybrid was to truly showcase the fruit, which led us to lean toward the fruitier, jammier, richer varietals such as Pinot Noir, Syrah, Merlot, and Zinfandel. As for a white varietal, we specifically had our eyes set on Chardonnay. We have some phenomenal oak forward Chardonnay barrel aged beers in the cellar and we were looking to compound upon this character with the addition of grapes. Unfortunately, we were unable to source any fresh white wine grapes as we had started the search too late into the harvest season. We were also barred from tapping into our immediate neighbors to the north in Napa and Sonoma due to a series of devastating wildfires. Much of the remaining crop was either affected by smoke taint or destroyed outright, which resulted in a number of particular varietals becoming unobtainable. Fortunately, there are a number of other beautiful grape growing regions in Northern California which allowed us to follow through with the idea of using a local grape source. We eventually made contact with a vineyard in Amador County who was able to supply us with nearly one ton of incredible late season Merlot and Petite Sirah.
Our timing could not have been better, as we were able to clip the grapes just a few days before the first major storm of the fall. The sudden rainfall would have either caused rot or destroyed the fruit, ultimately ending the harvest season and closing our window. Pushing the harvest so late into the season however, allowed the fruit to ripen much longer on the vines than typical. This yielded a much higher sugar level, a more concentrated fruit flavor, and drier/less green stems. All of these factors helped contribute to an accentuated fruit character in the final product.
PROCESSING, PROCESSING, AND MORE PROCESSING
After harvesting the grapes came the processing. We at first attempted hand processing the grapes, which we quickly realized was an incredibly painstaking process that would have resulted in the fruit spoiling before we could finish. We decided to reach out to a local wine cellar who was kind enough to lend us their grape processing equipment. The crusher/destemmer made quick work of the ton of whole fruit and really saved the day for us. The fruit that we yielded from the crushing/destemming process provided us with the base fruit we would utilize for the majority of our wine/beer experiment.
As it was our first year using this fruit, we wanted to gather as much data as possible on its interaction with our beer. There were numerous methods through which we could have introduced the fruit into the beer, but we settled on utilizing three different fruit processing methods: purée, destem/crush, and whole cluster.
The degree to which we processed the fruit seemed to exhibit the biggest impact on the flavor of the final product. The idea of pureeing the grapes was both intriguing and worrisome; we felt that the pureed fruit would result in the best extraction, as the contact between the fruit and beer would be maximized. This maximized extraction however, could potentially pull out some of the less desirable characters from the wine grapes, such as tannin and astringency. In the end, the pureed grapes produced the juiciest, fullest, and most flavorful beer. None of the anticipated tannin or astringency translated to the final product and the fruit character was some of the most expressive we have ever experienced. The more traditional fruiting method of crush/destem worked well too. The crushed/destemmed fruit allowed us to pull strong fruit character without any of the harsher qualities of the grape expressing themselves.
Whole cluster fruiting was by far and away the most unique fruiting method we have attempted. Before we crushed/destemmed the bulk of our stock we set aside about 500 lbs. of whole grape clusters. We took a page from a more traditional method of wine fermentation and added whole clusters of the fruit (stem and all) to the beer. The thought process behind this method of addition was to allow the fruit to undergo a semi-carbonic maceration fermentation method. The theory we had for this fermentation method was that each individual grape would undergo its own internal fermentation, and as CO2 was built up, the fruit would burst and release its contents into the main body of the beer. This would allow for a steady flow of fermentables to work their way into the beer as it aged in the barrel, as opposed to the immediate flood of sugar introduced in a more standard fruiting method. This fruiting method seems to have created a more complex final product. Not only was there a noticeable flavor contribution from the stems, but the slower pace of fermentation seems to have helped promote the retention of some more delicate aromatic profiles.
EXPERIMENTS IN FERMENTATION
After fruit processing, we had to decide the types of beer we would ferment the fruit in. Again, to obtain a better understanding of the interaction between our beer and wine grapes, we chose a number of different bases to fruit. The first two base blends we settled on were a more standard approach to fruited beer. We utilized an aged blend (the typical approach we would apply to any other fruit refermentation) as well as a fresh/young mixed culture beer. As we were expecting a significant drop in pH and a corresponding increase in acidity, we tried to fruit blends that were less acidic than our typical bases. The acidity of the aged blend in particular was something we tried our best to keep in check, as an aggressive acid profile could end up masking the more delicate characteristics of the fruit. To our surprise, the resulting products picked up relatively little acidity even though an incredible amount of readily fermentable fruit sugar had been added. Both the aged and young blends ended up showcasing a pronounced fruit profile while maintaining the expressive, yeast forward foundation set forth by the base beers.
As aforementioned, the majority of the barrels we fermented were with a varied collection of mixed culture blends, and those more or less panned out as we expected. We did however, employ a number of atypical processes to ferment our beer/wine hybrids as well. One of the more unique fermentations we did attempt was a “natural,” fermentation process. We added the grapes to unfermented wort and let the naturally occurring yeasts on the grape skins take on the brunt of the fermentation tasks. Though there were a few days of lag before any noticeable fermentation took place, the beer eventually took off and has been aging nicely.
Another unique fermentation process we experimented with was open fermentation. We removed the heads from a number of our oak barrels, added the fruit, and racked beer on top. There are obvious risks involved with this practice as the beer is exposed directly to the open air, which could quickly lead to the development of undesirable off flavors. The pay-off would be a potentially more expressive and unique final product. We punched down the fruit twice a day for the first week and once a day for the second week. To mitigate the surface’s constant exposure to oxygen, we employed another strategy from the wine world and laid a small layer of dry ice on the fruit’s surface. This was done in hopes of creating a thin blanket of CO2 after the majority of the initial fermentation had ceased. Seemingly the layer of CO2 curbed the growth of acetobacter and yielded a fairly clear expression of yeast and fruit. Ultimately, the open fermentation has resulted in a beer that has expressive yeast character while retaining the grape’s intrinsic wine elements. Though it was one of the more involved methods, this beer actually reached stability before the others and was the first to be released.
These beers are the result of a collaborative effort and could not have been created without the kindness of our local community. We were fortunate enough to have the help our neighboring winemaking friends to accomplish the production of these beers. We’d like to give special thanks to John of Golden Leaves Vineyards in Amador County for providing such amazing fruit for us to work with. We would also like to thank Bob of Urbano Cellars for not only providing us with the machinery we needed but with priceless advice on our overall process. These beers took a lot of time to figure out and think through as we were attempting something quite foreign to us here at The Rare Barrel. We hope that the results are worth the effort and that we can share the products with everyone in the coming months.
Senior Cellar Technician
March 15, 2018 | The Rare Barrel
Long story short... We conducted our first Search for The Rare Barrel back in September of 2016 and found Barrel p9t. Over the course of 3 days, our friends along with some of our Ambassadors of Sour participated in an extensive tasting of our barrel house in order to find the best barrel of beer...aka “The Rare Barrel.” Well, the time has come for us to conduct our second Search for The Rare Barrel this April! We’re changing it up a little so make sure to check out more info below.
Long story long... our namesake, The Rare Barrel, and The Search for The Rare Barrel, is inspired by the epic story of pH1. pH1 is an oak barrel, and she was crafted in France from French oak in 1990. After a few years of housing wine, she found her way to New Belgium Brewing, where she was part of their original sour beer program. With Lauren Salazar as pH1’s shepherd at New Belgium, pH1 helped define the process and flavor profile of La Folie, an amazing and pioneering sour brown ale. Around 2003, pH1 disappeared (or was secretly gifted, depending who you ask) to Vinnie Cilurzo at Russian River Brewing Company. While at Russian River, pH1 contributed to the first batches of Beatification, their spontaneously fermented beer, and spent the following 11 years contributing to their exceptional sours. When we heard this story about the travels of pH1 and her impact on these breweries, we were inspired by an idea… the idea that there is one barrel that stands out from the rest. There’s a rare barrel that houses an amazing, and possibly perfect, blend of yeast and bacteria. We named ourselves The Rare Barrel because of pH1. Shortly after our first Search for The Rare Barrel, Barrel pH1 mysteriously showed up at our back door. No joke! We received an unexpected delivery at the back door of our warehouse and when the truck rolled up its door, Barrel pH1 sat there alone, waiting to call The Rare Barrel her next home. We were lucky enough to shepherd her for the next year and bottled a single barrel of her beer. She now has traveled on to her next journey, back with old friend Peter Bouckaert, one of her original shepherds at New Belgium Brewing and now at his own brewery Purpose Brewing. We are looking forward to continuing to follow her story while we continue to search for our very own rare barrel.
WHAT | The Search for The Rare Barrel will spanned 4 days. A group of our Ambassadors of Sour and some friends in the Industry (a.k.a. The Search Party) tasted and ranked barrel samples throughout the final two days of The Search. We crunched the data from The Search Party to find the best barrels in our barrel house. Founders Jay Goodwin, Alex Wallash, and Brad Goodwin tasted through the selected best barrels from The Search and, from those, select The Rare Barrel 2018, barrel N6Z.
TOP TEN TO THE RARE BARREL 2018 | The top 10 oak barrels selected from The Search for The Rare Barrel were blended along with a splash of The Rare Barrel 2018 (the majority of The Rare Barrel 2018 will be used to ferment future batches) and bottled on Wednesday, May 2nd 2018.
N6Z (The Rare Barrel 2018)
March 8, 2018 | The Rare Barrel
We’re doing it again! We are more than honored to host another Saison Day. The Fifth Annual Allagash Saison Day will be held at The Rare Barrel on Saturday, April 14th starting at 1PM. Join us, along with Allagash Founder Rob Tod, in the Tasting Room & Kitchen as we celebrate this amazing style along with 15 other Northern California breweries. So who else is going to be raising a glass and partying down with us? Check out the list of breweries that will be showcasing saison for Saison Day below.
Astrid | mixed fermentation saison aged in Aquavit barrels
Belfius | blend of spontaneously fermented beer and saison
Hibernal Fluxus | saison milk stout
Shiro's Delight | mixed fermentation saison aged in plums and pluerries
Saison Gratis | open- fermented saison hopped in a coolship
Bay Saison | saison with California bay leaves
Lost Wisdom | solera style saison
Brett Midler | sauvignon blanc barrel aged saison with Brettanomyces
Citraison | saison brewed with citra hops
Aces Rye | rye saison dry-hopped with citra hops
Resonance | blended saison
Champ Rochaux | saison with nectarines
Saison Sandwich | mixed fermentation saison aged in chardonay barrels
Paid Vacation | hoppy saison
Brouwerij Kat | mixed fermentation saison aged in gin barrels
The Goose that Laid the Golden Egg | solera aged saison with Brettanomyces
Admiral Loral Saison | strong saison brewed with Admiral Maltings Maiden Voyage, loral hops, and Fantome's primary yeast strain
Yeoman's Pride | oak-kissed saison
Take The Time | keg conditioned saison
Roads Diverge | tart saison aged in oak barrels
Fork in the Rose | tart saison aged in oak barrels with rose hips and rose petals
Leaf in the Grassland | tart saison aged in oak barrels with sumac and lemon grass
Tomorrow's Verse | classic saison
Saison Apotheca | open fermented warehouse saison
Hungry? Tacos El Rey will be on site to dish up some tacos, burritos, and quesadillas to eat while drinking saison! So come thirsty, come hungry, come ready to cheers to this time-honored style.
January 30, 2018 | The Rare Barrel
The time has come… we are thrilled to announce the grand opening of our new kitchen on February 1st! Executive Chef Charis Wahl joined our team last August and has been secretly creating an amazing food program that extends far beyond the grilled cheeses we’ve been grillin’ up for you over the last couple of years. Charis Wahl was most recently the Executive Chef at Gather and before that worked at other local favorites such as Rivoli, The Advocate, and Ozumo. With over 17 years of culinary experience, Chef is ready to share her new food with you.
So, what can you expect from our new kitchen? We’re a from-scratch kitchen, making almost everything in house. We want to focus on crafting flavor profiles and serving the best dishes possible from locally sourced, seasonal produce and seafood. And why are we only using locally sourced, seasonal produce and seafood? Because it’s a fresher product, environmentally responsible, supports the local community, and we think it will show in our dishes and create amazing flavors. That means our menu is also going to change as the seasons do, which will keep things exciting for you and fuels Chef’s creativity. Our menu will also showcase charcuterie boards and cheese boards, which we love because the acidity in sour beer cuts through the fats in the meats so well. We also love that boards can be a communal experience and can be a great adventure of unlimited flavor combinations. With a few options to share and a few entres, you’ll be set to come in and enjoy our menu for dinner or snacks. We’re also using our sour beers as an ingredient in our food… because it tastes really good and is a unique ingredient that we have the opportunity to cook with. How does pork belly braised in our dark sour beer sound?
We’re not huge fans of pinning down specific styles, but we guess you could say that puts us in the loose category of New American cuisine. Seating is still first come first serve and you’ll order your food at the bar like normal. With our new and expanded menu, we kindly ask that our guests please refrain from bringing outside food into the new Tasting Room & Kitchen. We appreciate your understanding. While we’re still a brewery and bar first, you can expect something quite different from your typical bar food!
You know what they say though… a bite is worth a thousand words. Swing on by the Tasting Room & Kitchen when you’re ready for some food to pair with your sour beers!
January 18, 2018 | The Rare Barrel
NorCal vs. SoCal Showdown & Cellar Bottle Sale
Saturday, February 10th, 1PM - 10PM @ The Rare Barrel
NorCal vs SoCal Showdown
Which region’s beer reigns supreme…NorCal or SoCal? This friendly competition will pit 10 NorCal breweries up against 10 SoCal breweries and let our guests vote on their favorite beers . Participating breweries will be matched up with a brewery from the opposing region depending on style. Guests will be asked to blind taste by style and cast votes on which beer they like better (not knowing who brewed what). The region with the most points at the end of the day will be announced victor. Winners will not only be able to brag about which region makes better beer but be able to put an end to the long standing debates on who makes a better burrito, if "hella" is a legitimate word, and if it is ever appropriate to put the word "The" in front of a freeway name. Well, at least for the next year.
So who won? NORCAL WINS! Check out each category and what was served below.
|Non-fruited tart saison||
Saison Bernice | Sante Adairius Rustic Ales | pink
Mellona | Cellador Ales | orange
Apropos of Nothing | The Rare Barrel | green
|La Vie En Rose |Pure Project | yellow|
|stone fruit sour||
Stone Hearted |Alvarado St : Yeast of Eden | red
Careful With That Aprium, Eugene |Beachwood Blendery | blue
Compunction | Russian River Brewing Company | green
Highbinder | Societe Brewing Company | yellow
|spirit barrel aged sour||
4th Anniversary Sour | The Rare Barrel | red
Black and Blue BBLs | The Bruery | blue
|blonde ale||Lite Idea | Temescal Brewing | green||
Refresh | Highland Park Brewery | yellow
|hazy pale ale||Moonage Daydream | Cellarmaker Brewing Co. | pink||We Bought A Bench | Green Cheek Beer Company | orange|
|IPA||Turok Juice | Cellarmaker Brewing Co. | green||
That's It | Highland Park Brewery | yellow
|hazy IPA||Tiny Umbrella | Humble Sea Brewing Co. | red||Two Thousands of Money | Pure Project | blue|
|west coast DIPA||Hop Soup | Faction Brewing | pink||Noble Ale Works | orange|
|hazy DIPA||From Yakina With Love | Cellarmaker & Moonraker | pink||Always in Love | Green Cheek Beer Company | orange|
|imperial stout||Narwhal | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. | red||Night Rider | Pizza Port Brewing | blue|
|barrel aged stout||Eclipse Elijah-Craig | Fiftyfifty Brewing | green||Devil's Teeth Cuvee (Rum & Rye) | Modern Times Beer | yellow|
Cellar Bottle Sale
We’ve been cellaring bottles from every bottle release since our very first bottling run of Skus Me back in 2013. We’ll have about 10 different bottles from our cellar available for purchase to go! This will be our first and biggest cellar sale of this scale, but quantities will still be limited and bottles will be sold on a first come first served basis. We’ll post more details about this on social media as we get closer to the event.
Real Smoked BBQ is bringing a massive smoker to our parking lot again and will dishing up some amazing BBQ for this weekend. Come hungry and thirsty!
Cellarmaker Sunday - Tangerang Bottle Release + Growler Fills
Sunday, February 11th, 1PM - 8PM @ The Rare Barrel
We get so excited hanging with our buds from Cellarmaker Brewing Company. The creative juices start flowing and we put our heads together to come up with some new (and old favorites) collaborative brews. This year we are sharing 3 beers with y’all! What makes this year’s party more special than years past? We bottled Tangerang!
Yes, that’s right, for the first time ever you can take Tangerang! bottles home with you, and on top of that for 1 day only we will be filling any clean 32oz and 64oz growler brought in with one of the other Cellarmaker collaboration beers. There are just a few requests we need to ask prior to bringing in your growlers to this Cellarmaker + The Rare Barrel event.
- Growlers must be a marked 32oz or 64oz growlers with a lid
- Please tape over any logo that is not The Rare Barrel logo
- Please clean your growler prior to attending this event
Stay tuned for more details to come on pricing, limits, and draft styles.
Looking for grub? Real Smoked BBQ will be hanging out Sunday as well to fill bellies with tasty BBQ dishes!
pH1 Beer Dinner (ticketed event)
Wednesday, February 14th @ The Rare Barrel
pH1 is the name of a barrel. Crafted from French oak in 1990, she’s traveled from brewery to brewery, positively shaping every beer she touches.
pH1 is an idea. The idea is that there is one barrel that’s better than the rest. She’s better than the rest because she is the perfect home for the perfect mix of yeast and bacteria.
pH1 is the original rare barrel, whose story inspired us to search for that perfect barrel with the perfect mix of yeast and bacteria.
We will be exploring pH1’s influence on sour beer and showcasing some of the fruits of her labor throughout this beer dinner. Our intention is for guests to enjoy the destination as much as we have enjoyed her journey. Check out the details below.
Seatings | Each seating is intended to provide a more intimate dining experience for you to enjoy the beer, food, and shared company.
Seating 1 | 5PM - 7PM
Seating 2 | 8PM - 10PM
Ticket Price & What’s Included | $175 + tax (includes gratuity)
Each ticket will include a 5 courses paired with 5 sours including a serving of The Rare Barrel’s bottled release pH1. In addition to the beer dinner, each attendee will receive 1 bottle of pH1 to take home. This is a single barrel release with less than 200 bottles in existence. This will be the only chance to take home a bottle of this limited beer since bottles of pH1 will not be sold and will likely only be available for special events.
How to Purchase | Click here to enter the 24 hour lottery at 9AM Pacific on Wednesday, January 24th.
Due to the limited amount of tickets per seating we will be holding a lottery for tickets. This lottery will be open to the public and sold through our shop page. Please see details on lottery entry below.
- 1 entry per person, duplicates will be removed
- No entries will be accepted after the lottery closes
- Entry does not guarantee your ticket
- 32 lottery winners will be randomly selected and contacted by 12PM Pacific on Thursday, January 25th.
- Winners will be required to purchase their ticket within 24 hours in order to secure their seat.
Central Coast Showcase & Benefit
Thursday, February 15th, 4PM - 10PM @ The Rare Barrel
A lot has been going on in the Central Coast outside of brewing some phenomenal beers. Much of our state has been victim to devastating fire and flood, most recently Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties. However, we find ways to persist, support each other, and continue to produce awesome beer! Join us on Thursday, February 15th to get a taste of the Central Coast and raise money to help our California neighbors.
In addition to a variety of our beer that will be on tap, we will be showcasing 10 beers from some of our friends in the Central Coast. $2 from every guest beer sold will be donated to the Thomas Fire and Flood Fund in order to help those that were affected. Check our what breweries we will be showcasing for this event below.
Santa Barbara, CA
San Luis Obispo, CA
Paso Robles, CA
Come for beers and stay for dinner. The Tasting Room & Kitchen will be in full swing and dishin’ up some awesome food to enjoy with these tasty brews.
Sour Vibez Music Festival
Friday, February 16th, 4PM - 10PM @ The Rare Barrel
We’re putting out the vibe, the sour vibez. Come move to the groove, tap your toes, and enjoy the musical tunes from various local artists!
We are excited to celebrate our music program by bringing back all of the artists who have played our 2nd Friday series to present the Sour Vibez Music Festival! It'll be 5+ hours of live music, including our featured band Sharkmouth. Sour Vibez will showcase a variety of sounds, from folk to soul and all the genres in between. PLUS The Rare Barrel's very own Alex Wallash, as the loser of our fantasy football league, will kick off the evening with some ukelele tunes.
Check out the line up below for a full night of music at The Rare Barrel.
Ash Powell (with Rob Dietrich and Emily Studden)
and Tall Alex
Come for the music, sip on some sours, we’ll also have a few non-sour guest brews on from friends, and enjoy some grub from our kitchen.
Celebrating Women in Beer
Saturday, February 18th, 1 - 10PM @ The Rare Barrel
We are throwing a party to celebrate all of the women in beer that continue to help this industry grow and thrive. Outside of the variety of our beer that will be on draft, we will have beers from 14 breweries that were founded and/or have Head Brewers that are women. To further empower women in beer, we are donating $2 from every guest beer sold to the Pink Boots Society, a non-profit organization that assists to advance careers for women beer industry professionals by raising money for educational opportunities.
Check our what breweries (and some of the women behind making awesome beer) we will be showcasing for this event below.
Alex Zobel - Co-Founder & Brewer
Los Angeles, CA
Devon Randall - Head Brewer
Natalie Baldwin - Brewer
Los Angeles, CA
Ting Su - Co-Founder
Claudia Davis - Co-Founder
Redwood City, CA
Alisha Blue - Head Brewer
Lisa Allen - Head Brewer
Averie Swanson - Head Brewer
San Francisco, CA
Regan Long - Co-Founder & Brewmaster
Sarah Fenson - Co-Founder
Kim Lutz - Brewmaster
Fort Collins, DE
Kim Jordan - Co-Founder
Lauren Limbach - Wood Cellar Manager
Adair Paterno - Co-Founder
Laurie Porter - Co-Founder
Lynn Weaver - Founder
Alex Nowel - Brewmaster
We will also have a food truck on site to fill your bellies with tasty grub throughout the day.
Sunday, February 19th, 11 - 5PM @ The Rare Barrel
If you like mimosas but don’t want to commit to champagne, then you are in for a treat! We will be serving beermosas and 2 other brunch cocktail inspired sours during Sunday Brunch at our Tasting Room & Kitchen. We are adjusting our hours from 11AM to 5PM so that you can wind down from a fun and busy SF Beer Week by enjoying a beermosa and some of our brunch-inspired dishes from our kitchen. If you weren’t able to try any of the beer from our events during the week or want to get another chance to grab a glass of something that was offered during one of these events, Sunday Brunch will be your last chance to try some of these amazing guest beers. We’re not sure what will be on tap yet but our draft list will be updated on site throughout the day.
Sours from The Rare Barrel can also be enjoyed at the following events: SFBW Opening Gala (2/9), Sour Sunday at Jupiter (2/11), SARA’s Friends at Sante Adairius Santa Cruz Portal (2/11), Homies night with Alvarado St, Cellarmaker, Sante Adairius, and The Rare Barrel at Toronado (2/12)
Enjoy an epic Beer Week and see y’all in the Tasting Room!
December 20, 2017 | The Rare Barrel
Here at The Rare Barrel we bottle condition all of our bottled beers. While bottle conditioning can be a little more challenging that force carbonation, we believe that this is an important step for creating the best flavor profile. In short, bottle conditioning means that we add a simple sugar (Dextrose) and new dry yeast to a beer before packaging. And then we wait… A new fermentation occurs in the bottle to carbonate it, this also adds a richness and body that we are fond of.
Unfortunately, most yeasts do not perform optimally at a very low pH or at a high alcohol content. In the past we, along with other breweries that bottle condition sour beers, have had issues with inconsistent and under carbonated conditioning results. Even experiencing batches where carbonation nearly completely fails. This is obviously an incredibly disappointing incident, we love the beer we make and we want you to experience the best presentation of our beer. As Quality Manager, I wanted to help overcome this issue. After doing a bit of research on yeast shock and speaking with a few breweries, we created a protocol to improve consistency in carbonation and bottle conditioning.
What is Terminal Acidic Shock (or TAS)?
Terminal Acidic Shock refers to the death or dormancy of Saccharomyces cerevisiae during fermentation in a high acidity and high ethanol content environment (Rogers et.al.) To combat this many breweries will temper a yeast addition slurry with a portion of the beer to be carbonated. This allows the yeast to slowly adjust to the severe conditions and have a few generations of growth within a few steps to increase the productivity once pitched into the beer and bottled.
To test different mediums and processes I created an experiment where I took the dry yeast and hydrated it with a sugar solution. A few different types of low sugar content solutions were tested in this experiment including wort and varying sugar water concentrations. After adding the same amount of yeast to every sugar solution I allowed 2 days for some growth and fermentation. I then added a 50:50 solution of more low sugar solution and sour beer and waited another 2 days. I then tested cell viability and density as will as pH and gravity changes. I concluded that a 2 degree Plato water and dextrose with nutrient added yielded the healthiest yeast at the end of the beer tempering. The slurry was then added to a small bottling run. I also compared this experimental slurry to a control of just day-of rehydrated dry yeast which was our current method of yeast preparation. I concluded that the tempering increased yeast health and decreased conditioning time (tested by yeast viability and pH/gravity changes).
*QA/QC Manager Jenna Blair counting cells of Saccharamyces and Brettanomyces mixed cultures under a microscope.
Our New Procedure
We now boil dextrose and water with a small amount of yeast nutrient to a vessel cool to an optimized fermentation temperature, add yeast and allow for 24 hours of fermentation, then add a 50% 2 Plato sugar water and 50% beer solution the day before bottling and count the yeast each day during tempering in order to assure the yeast we pitch is healthy. On bottling day we add sugar to the beer which is calculated based on the desired CO2 volumes and then count the slurry of tempered yeast and pitch by weight for a goal of 2 million cells/ml. This may seem like a lot as it is far over what would be recommended for a pale ale but for sour/barrel aged beers even with the tempering 1.5-3 mil cells/ml is recommended.
*Weighing dextrose before adding to boiling water.
Scaling this experiment up to our needs was interesting, anyone who we had known that had tried anything like this had small enough bottling runs where the liquid and yeast additions could all be contained in a small flask! We adopted the procedure to yeast brinks converted from full half barrel kegs and eventually into our 5 barrel fermenter for our largest bottling batches.
* Top Photo: Cellar Technicians weigh dry yeast that will NOT be added to the dextrose mixture to ensure that the yeast added is not contaminated.
Bottom Photo: Yeast starter after dry yeast has been added to the dextrose mixture prior to transfering to a brink 24 hours before bottling day.
Though not without challenges we have experienced favorable results with this procedure. We have seen shorter carbonation times as well as more bottle to bottle consistency. We are however continuously tweaking the procedure. We plan to play with different liquid addition volumes and sugar water to beer rations as well as pitch rates. Our goal is first and foremost to make good beer, we get to accomplish this by continuing research and experimentation not only in fermentation and blending but also by conducting experiments that can streamline process and improve the quality of our product.
Consistency and predictability are often regarded as some of the pillars in beer quality assurance and control. Sour beer is a beast that refuses to be controlled but with continuous experimentation we are enthusiastically working towards higher caliber beers.
If you have any questions, feel free to comment below.
Rogers, C. M., Veatch, D., Covey, A., Staton, C., & Bochman, M. L. (2016). Terminal acidic shock inhibits sour beer bottle conditioning by Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Food Microbiology,57, 151-158. doi:10.1016/j.fm.2016.02.012