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The Rare Barrel

Not Rated.
The Rare BarrelThe Rare Barrel
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BEER AVG
4.19/5
Based on:
40 Beers
2,535 Hads
Place Score: 96
Reviews: 26
Visits: 109
Avg: 4.42
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 | map
www.therarebarrel.com

Notes:
Place added by: pmarlowe on 10-18-2013

No notes at this time.
Place: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 26 | Visits: 109
Reviews by bram325:
Photo of bram325
4.75/5  rDev +7.5%

More User Reviews:
Photo of Rddayson
5/5  rDev +13.1%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

Photo of amano_h
4.68/5  rDev +5.9%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 5 | selection: 4.25

Yet another establishment where the beers speak for themselves so I'll focus on the more yelp-oriented details.

Yes, it's way the heck out of the main area in Berkeley. But I don't care.

Yes, they only serve grilled cheese as their (finger) food option. But I don't care.

Yes, you're severely limited in terms of takeout beer options unless you're an exclusive member of the Ambassadors of Sour. But frankly, I don't care about that either.

What I do care about is the fact that despite all the beergeek hype surrounding this place, the people are extremely humble and passionate about beer and most importantly, the community. Perhaps it's due to the fact that it's located a little off from the main Berkeley, but even the patrons here are decidedly more down-to-earth and easygoing than the ones you find at some of the more student-oriented bars downtown (e.g. Pappy's, Eureka).

Okay fine, so I'm fumbling around the dark here, but I first came here on my birthday and despite the fact that there were about seven of us, Rare Barrel were very accommodating despite it being a busy Thursday night; they even recommended some good places to grab a bite in the neighborhood and apologized for their lack of food choices and all three of the beer servers at the counter comped me a drink each -- who the hell even does that anymore?

As long as they never change who they are, the Rare Barrel can take all my money and keep it.

 1,432 characters

Photo of captaincoffee
4.19/5  rDev -5.2%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 3.75

Very laid back place with the typical industrial feel of many newer Cali breweries. Pretty crowded despite showing up right after opening and within a few minutes of getting my beers the line was very long. Beer is really excellent, but popularity is getting to the place.

 274 characters

Photo of gfunk1121
4.43/5  rDev +0.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.5

Photo of rodbeermunch
4.04/5  rDev -8.6%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.25

Outside its shitty Berkeley, inside its smoothed out stone and wood fixtures. Quality is top notch, it does get a little troubling if you drink nothing but their sours, acidic can tear your insides up.

Service has always been good the few times I've been there. Everyone friendly, very important. Selection is good, usually some Cellarmaker stuff too.

 355 characters

Photo of Knapp85
4.14/5  rDev -6.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.25

Photo of bouncepass
4.76/5  rDev +7.7%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.75 | service: 5 | selection: 4.75

Photo of W_Des
5/5  rDev +13.1%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

Stopped by while exploring Berkeley. I really like this place. It was a really laid-back comfortable atmosphere as you enter and hang out. The bar tenders are attentive and prompt and the beer selection is great with a selection of guest taps to go along with the Rare Barrel sours which was really perfect to grab an IPA as a break in between the great sours. If you are in the Bay area definitely try to make your way out here.

 429 characters

Photo of pmangold
4.75/5  rDev +7.5%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.75

stopped in while on vacation. the selection was great, the staff was helpful and the beers were EXCELLENT. if you're into sours this is a must stop. They didn't have any bottles for sale to go, but a member hooked me up big time as I was leaving

 248 characters

Photo of frasergrove
4.26/5  rDev -3.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4

Photo of Phil-Fresh
4.48/5  rDev +1.4%
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!

 543 characters

Photo of Coldstorage
4.34/5  rDev -1.8%
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.

 1,371 characters

Photo of Barracudas
4.25/5  rDev -3.8%
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!

 160 characters

Photo of 1000lbgrizzly
4.01/5  rDev -9.3%
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.

 1,262 characters

Photo of DudeBeerYaBro
4.33/5  rDev -2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 3 | selection: 5

Photo of JaredSammy
4.29/5  rDev -2.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4

Great place for American wild ales. Huge parking lot for Berkeley. Massive interior.

84 characters

Photo of bostonbeans
4.58/5  rDev +3.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.75

Photo of BeerBucks
4.5/5  rDev +1.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.25

Photo of BDeibs
4.09/5  rDev -7.5%
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!

 336 characters

Photo of SFCraft
4.74/5  rDev +7.2%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.75

Photo of Anaxagoris
4.25/5  rDev -3.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5

Photo of Resuin
4.46/5  rDev +0.9%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4

Photo of Jdizzy92
4.58/5  rDev +3.6%
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.

 379 characters

Photo of GRG1313
4.37/5  rDev -1.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4

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The Rare Barrel in Berkeley, CA
96 out of 100 based on 26 ratings.