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The Rare Barrel

Not Rated.
The Rare BarrelThe Rare Barrel
Based on:
36 Beers
2,148 Hads
Place Score: 95
Reviews: 21
Visits: 100
Avg: 4.36
pDev: n/a
Taps: --
Bottles: --
Cask: N
Beer-to-Go: Y
[ Brewery, Bar ]

940 Parker St
Berkeley, California, 94710-2524
United States
phone: (510) 984-6585

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap @therarebarrel

Place added by: pmarlowe on 10-18-2013

No notes at this time.
Place: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 21 | Visits: 100
Photo of Phil-Fresh
4.48/5  rDev +2.8%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.25

The brewery is expansive, yet manages to be somewhat tucked away into the landscape, because Rare Barrel uses minimal signage. I was surprised just how big the place is, plenty of room for barrels! The tasting area is essentially a partitioned area of the warehouse -- chill, though can get surprisingly busy (considering it isnt exactly close to BART). The quality is superb; while most offering are wild ales, there are a handful of other non-sour options, all quality. The service is quite friendly and helpful. All around great place!

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Photo of Coldstorage
4.34/5  rDev -0.5%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.25 | selection: 3.75

Great vibe. Big room that is a comfortable temperature and plenty of seating. If it's not a special event you will likely find enough room to be comfortable. Great that they allow outside food... nice to have a TRB picnic with friends.

Quality is top notch. They are not a very diverse place but what they do, they do very well.

Service is always friendly... but sometimes overly so. It's frustrating to be 6-7 people back in line while they slowly fill a glass and then have a long conversation with the customer. Dinged .75 points for not always keeping it moving.

Selection is where they have the most room to grow. Even as an "all sour beer" company, it's still possible to be more diverse than they are. Seem to be in a rut with their golden base + fruit and always one or two hibiscus variants on. Hope they can broaden that. The guest taps are always well curated though and provide nice contrast to their own beers so cheers for that!

There isn't a field where this is relevant but these guys are probably about 50% overpriced. Boggles my mind that I can get a world class imported Gueuze that has been through 3 tier distribution for 2/3 the price of a sour beer made locally and bought from the source. People keep paying it so they have no reason to change but I find myself taking less and less of each allocation because my budget cannot go to TRB alone.

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Photo of Barracudas
4.25/5  rDev -2.5%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.25

The place is very close to San Francisco, one can even visit to very good breweries in one trip to Berkeley.

This is a very good stop for lovers of craft beer!

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Photo of 1000lbgrizzly
4.01/5  rDev -8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 3.75 | selection: 3.75

-Minimalist. A bar with metal stools, some hardwood tables with metal chairs. That is all.
-Oh, plus a HUGE F****** WAREHOUSE FULL OF BARRELS! F*** YES! Seriously huge space, probably 50 ft. tall ceilings, chock full of barrels housing delicious yummy sour beer nectar. Awesome to witness. They ain't f'n 'round 'round here.
-Very dim, however. Even in the tasting area it was not well lit. Not for ambiance/to set the mood, it was just plain dark. The beer is all in lightproof barrels, no need to worry about oxidation, just let me see what's going on!
-Beers are great. You gotta like sour or content yourself to some guest beers/wines, however.
-Only food is grilled cheese. Which is hilarious. Didn't try it, looks like it'd be good. Really, how do you mess up grilled cheese? Sadly, this probably means you can't bring in your own food. I don't know for sure though, so I won't knock them on my score.
-Service was good. A bit of chit-chat going on, plus resting bitch-faces, but they still got the beers flowing in a timely manner.

A sour-head's dream. Not world class, but really damn good, and for fair prices. Good for a good beer, but I can't imagine hanging out here for an extended amount of time, what with virtually no food and only sours on tap.

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Photo of BDeibs
4.09/5  rDev -6.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.75

The sour beer quality is really great and they have a small selection on tap which I assume is a product of being a fairly new brewery with a club to support. Wonderful tulip stemware was used for every pour. I love that they only offer one food item and it is a grilled cheese which is really good and I highly recommend ordering it!

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Photo of Jdizzy92
4.58/5  rDev +5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 5 | selection: 4

Went here when they first open and been a fan of the place ever since. For me, they make the best sours here in NorCal and I even joined their Ambassador club. The place is roomy but gets crowded around an hour after they open and it dies down a couple hours before they close. The people that work there are great and very knowledgeable. I will be coming here for years to come.

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Photo of netllama
4.11/5  rDev -5.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 3

Really nice vibe in the tasting room. They seem to have around 5 of their brews on tap at all times (always rotating), plus an equal number of guest beers. Definitely get there early, as the place was completely packed by mid afternoon on a Saturday.

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Photo of BenHesk12
3.95/5  rDev -9.4%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.25

Rare barrel has a small tap room in west berkeley and the brewery has been getting a lot of buzz lately being a sour-only brewery. The tap room itself is located inside the brewing facility and has almost a winery look to it with the walls of barrels just beyond the tasting room. The beer is high quality but here the things that prevent me from really loving this place:

-membership fees - why have an exclusive brewery? the brewery is brand new and should be gaining market share not starting out with a membership model.

-price - I know breweries in urban areas have to charge more money, but the beer on tap here is expensive, and 22oz bottles are over $20 each.

-no tasting flights - maybe this will change in the future but currently they only offer full glasses of beer, making it impossible to try all the beers in one sitting. This makes it seem more like a bar than a tasting room or a brewery.

Fans of sour beers will be delighted. Worth checking out but not somewhere I would visit often.

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Photo of JackDempsy
4.2/5  rDev -3.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

The beer selection is only style, so you need to like American Ales that are on the sour note. That said, if you do one thing - then do it right - and they do. This place also has a nice café attached that is better than average. Very good vibe here. It is a nice find.

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Photo of teamchevymxer
4.02/5  rDev -7.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.25 | selection: 4

Cool place, the closest sour brewery to my house. Their beers are great, but the service can be sub par. they have some great employees like Rob, and some others that rub me the wrong way and are kind of rude like Jeff. But i wont let one bad employee hinder my visits.

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Photo of JamLand
4.53/5  rDev +3.9%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

Nice setup inside with both comfy couches/chairs, tables and bar seating. We went on a Friday night, and although busy, the staff were very courteous and seemed to handle the crowds easily. In addition to their own taps, they had another seven or so taps of guest beers from quality breweries like Cellarmaker and The Bruery. I would highly recommend this place if you are any where near the area.

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Photo of Deggar
4.56/5  rDev +4.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5

Cool joint. Very dark and intimate but also vast. Its set in the front of their storage/brewing facility with no walls to separate. It feels like you shouldn't be allowed in.

Amazing tap list; not only do they typically have around 10 of their own brews on tap, but also 5-8 guest taps that never disappoint. When i went Abraxas and a couple of SARA beers were on tap.

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Photo of ronricorossi
4.68/5  rDev +7.3%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.5

Great warehouse space; tasting area is set against an open, expansive backdrop of stacked barrels. Decor's great with couches and tables as well as a bar. AND...right around the corner from Berkeley institution Juan's Place. Who WOULDN'T want to follow up some heavy mexican food with a bunch of sour beer!

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Photo of waitwhatamidrinking
5/5  rDev +14.7%

Visited on a whim while in NorCal. Knowledgeable/corteous staff, delicious range of continually impressive sours, and beautiful space. This is a destination.

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Photo of Goalcam
4.25/5  rDev -2.5%

Real cool vibe with nice selection of sours on tap to try. Unfortunately no growlers and limited bottles if you're not a member. Also, no food but it's in a nice area.

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Photo of ianw87
5/5  rDev +14.7%

A great brewery doing strictly sours. Some outside the box stuff, Coffee Sour!? Great Place, I will be visiting here again. Jealous of the Founders members.

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Photo of Tazmaniandavis
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%

Love the beer, love the location, love the atmosphere. It is pretty pricey and gets crazy busy on bottle release days, though. Oh yeah, love the guest taps that they do!

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Photo of nmann08
4.75/5  rDev +8.9%

Visited during my trip to San Francisco. This was a favorite place of mine during the entire Pacific Northwest trip. It's in a quiet neighborhood in Berkeley, big building, lots of parking at the main entrance.

The tasting room is actually just a cornered off section of the entire barrel room, which is actually an awesome sight to see barrel after barrel stacked in this giant warehouse. Reminds me of a winery. Their is plenty of bar seating, tables, standing room and even a few couches.

They have several of their beers on tap, but also a handful of guest beers. Everything is full pours and about $7-$9 a glass, which is expected with most sours. They also had bottles for sale, but they were pricey. The one they had when I visited was $30.

Food is limited, just a couple of panini options.

Overall, as a tourist, if you are visiting San Fran/Oakland area over a Friday or Saturday, I would make a trip out here.

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Photo of scottfrie
4.45/5  rDev +2.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.25

The atmosphere is that of a lofty warehouse brewery with a small tasting area tucked in the corner. Oak barrels full of beer adorn half the warehouse, with brewing and bottling equipment and storage taking up the other half. The bar and seating area has a clean and minimalist design to it, and there are a couple couches for lounging. Service is always spectacular as the bar staff that works there are always friendly, knowledgeable, and accommodating. Typically there is anywhere from four to eight brewery sours on tap, and their is always something special on their half a dozen rotating guest taps. I wish they had a few more munchies, but typically there are two to three types of paninis available (brought in from a local restaurant). The owners are very welcome to feedback, and they make an effort to make modifications and improvements if necessary (i.e. bottle releases). They also give periodic brewery tours. Overall this is a relaxing place to satisfy your sour fix. I understand why they are currently only open two days a week, but I cannot wait until they have the ability to add more hours. Definitely check them out if you are in the area.

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Photo of HaveUSeenMyCellar
5/5  rDev +14.7%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 5

Great Atmosphere, Great Beer, Great Service, Good Food...what more could one want from the place Iovingly call "Rarrel". :-)
Glad someone finally thought to make sours only. And good sours too!!!!

I understand why they are only open Fri.-Sat. (Supply/Demand), though it would be wonderful if they could one day pull-off running everyday.
More seating and tables would be the only other thing I would want changed.
This is one of my favorite breweries for a very good reason.

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Photo of dirtylou
4.21/5  rDev -3.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4.25

Rare Barrel is tucked in a quiet section of Berkley - a huge promenade entrance to their rather large open brewery.

These guys have put their eggs in the barrel aged wild ale basket - it's a bold move - expensive and tricky to master. Not to mention questions over what stage we are in the 'sourz' trend and how long all of this will keep rolling. Who knows.

Their beers were interesting and good, but not great. The real issue with places that sellout on this genre (to me) is differentiating in yeast strains. Everything from Rare Barrel seemed to have a consistent undertone that could be seem tiring over an extended time frame. They had maybe 6 barrel wilds on tap during my visit. Ensorcelled and wuise guise were both good but home sour, home was just OK

It's an interesting place, and certainly was jamming on this Saturday afternoon. They're young and just getting into the bottle release game (via the infamous society model) - i'll be interested to see how this all plays out over the next few years. Hopefully I can get back over there and witness the evolution.

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The Rare Barrel in Berkeley, CA
95 out of 100 based on 21 ratings.