Impossible Soul
The Rare Barrel

Impossible SoulImpossible Soul
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American Wild Ale
4.3 | pDev: 6.05%
The Rare Barrel
California, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Impossible SoulImpossible Soul
Notes: Impossible Soul is a golden sour beer aged in oak barrels with tart cherries and sweet cherries. Fermented with Saccharomyces, Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus and some other special microorganisms, this blend displays notes of cherry preserves with hints of lemony tartness. At the heart of this beer lies an Impossible Soul: seductively tart, yet timidly sweet.
Reviews: 16 | Ratings: 149 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of BEERchitect
4.46/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

To be both rugged and refined seems to be an impossible feat. But the sour cherry ale of The Rare Barrel has personality traits that exhibit both. Deep down, right into the soul of the beer, a rustic but regal character is realized.

And so Impossible Soul pours with a hazy and tawny bronze; rising and falling swiftly into a rusty sherry appearance. A bold aromatic display of brandy soaked cherries tease the nose along with the musk of cellar-like scents. Citrus, wine, cider and tropical fruits ebb and flow throughout the perfume of funk and fauna. A scant sweetness glosses the tongue with sour candies, whole wheat and kiss of fructose.

Then the real fun starts as the sourness washes the malts from the tongue with ease, ushering a vast array of vinous fruits. Black cherry, red grape, black currant and blackberry command attention while the natural fermentae reveals a sharper underpinning of crabapple, lime, lemon, grapefruit, orange and gooseberry before trailing into a late palate of madeira and dry port. A mild and woodsy bitterness invites an sour and spicy taste hinging on balsamic and peppercorn.

Medium light in body and trending drier and spicier with vinous booze as the session endures, a finish of sherry warmth and umami savory flavors decorate the final frame while a medium length afterglow carries the essence of cherry and sherry wines once more.

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Photo of superspak
4.2/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle into tulip glass, bottled in 8/2015. Pours slightly hazy golden amber/light orange color with a 1-2 finger fairly dense off white head with good retention, that reduces to a thin spotty lace cap that lingers. Light spotty lacing clings on the glass, with a light amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of big sour/tart/tangy red/black cherries, fruit skin/pits, lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, citrus zest, peach, pear, green apple, melon, white wine, oak, hay, straw, grass, wheat, cracker, and white bread; with lighter notes of honey, oaken vanilla, pepper, leathery/musty/lacto funk, white wine vinegar, and yeast/oak earthiness. Damn nice aromas with great balance and complexity of fruity/funky/acidic yeast, cherries, oak barrels, and moderate pale/wheat malt notes; with great strength. Taste of big sour/tart/tangy red/black cherries, fruit skin/pits, lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, citrus zest, peach, pear, green apple, melon, white wine, oak, hay, straw, grass, wheat, cracker, and white bread; with lighter notes of honey, oaken vanilla, pepper, leathery/musty/lacto funk, white wine vinegar, and yeast/oak earthiness. Light-moderate fruity/lactic tart/sourness, fruit tang, and light yeast/oak spiciness on the finish. Lingering notes of sour red/black cherries, fruit skin/pits, lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, citrus zest, peach, pear, green apple, melon, white wine, oak, hay, straw, grass, wheat, cracker, white bread, light leather/musty/funk/vinegar, and yeast/oak earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible complexity, robustness, and balance of fruity/funky/acidic yeast, cherries, oak barrels, and moderate pale/wheat malt flavors; with a nice malt/tart/sourness, and tangy fruit balance. Lightly increasing pucker through the glass, but not overwhelming. Light-moderate increasing dryness from tart/sourness, and tangy fruit. Medium carbonation and body; with a smooth, moderately bready/grainy/acidic, fairly tangy, and lightly tannic balanced mouthfeel that is great. Minimal warming alcohol for 7.2%. Overall this is a fantastic fruited sour/wild ale! All around outstanding complexity, robustness, and balance of fruity/funky/acidic yeast, cherries, oak barrels, and moderate pale/wheat malt flavors; very smooth and easy to sip on; despite the increasingly acidic/tangy/drying finish, not overly lactic. Outstanding presence of nicely jammy cherries; with balanced Brett/bacteria complexity, oak, and pale/wheat malt backbone against acidity. A highly enjoyable offering as expected.

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Photo of Phil-Fresh
4.41/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2015 Bottle.

A: Lots of cherries upfront – slightly sweet and moderately tart, coupled with moderate funk and wood.

A: Deep burgundy color, clear, with a moderate slightly off-white head that has adequate retention.

T: Complex cherry flavors, slightly sweet and moderately tart, coupled with a pronounced funk and moderate sourness that lingers through the finish.

M: Medium bodied with moderately light carbonation. The beer has a moderately light, but pleasing acidity.

O: Awesome; the funk has become more pronounced as the beer ages and really complements the complex sweet/tart cherry component. Absolutely delicious and very easy to drink.

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Photo of scottfrie
3.83/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

750ml bottle into tulip. Bottle from August 2015 release.

A: Pours a deep dark golden amber with a finger of fuzzy light pink head that quickly fizzed away into a faint collar.
S: Bright tart cherry notes and lactic acid dominate over hints of tannic skins and a subtle musty and earthy quality. I get a hint of vanilla and pepper as well.
T: The flavor is a cherry medley of sweet cherry juice mixed with whole tart cherries including tannic skins and pits. I say “mixed with” rather than “balanced by” because the tartness from the tart cherries and the lactic acid definitely overpower what little sweetness that is present. Still, the sweet cherry flavor is very juice-like and full of flavor. The finish is peppery, earthy, and musty, and contains the hint of vanilla or maybe cream that I was getting on the nose. The aftertaste is dry and full of gritty tannins along with lingering flavors of tart lemon juice.
M: Medium body, dry and tart mouthfeel, tingly carbonation. This beer is definitely on the tarter end of their spectrum, or maybe it’s just the cherries mixed with the acid.
O: A great tart cherry sour. Flavors are fairly straightforward, but that doesn’t make it any less delicious. Definitely a tart sipper, but not overly acidic and in no way harsh.

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Photo of Davepoolesque
4.3/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Muddy reddish orange hue. Head fizzles out with a crackle instantaneously. Tart and earthy cherries. Some lemon zest and funk. Sour! Oak. Lacto, but balanced out with some sweetness. Medium finish.

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Photo of Fcolle2
4.24/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours slightly hazy golden in color with a light pink hue. Aromas of Brett lacto, cutrus rind, and light oak. More citrus rind, lacto and Brett sour flavored. Not much cherry but it is well balanced with great dimensions added from the yeast.

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Photo of breadwinner
4.02/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Not the prettiest thing out of the bottle, a dull, ruddy color, no head, somewhat cloudy, a bit lifeless looking. Nose was nice, you really get some fresh cherry flesh notes out of it, along with sour bacteria and maybe a touch of vinegar, an omen of things to come. On the palate, this is rather tart, increasingly acidic and vinegary, the cherries present but really doing battle with the acid/vinegar notes. It's not unpleasant, per se, but I have to admit finishing the glass was a bit of a chore. Not much oak presence to my palate. Not a ton of funk either to ground things a bit. Just acidic and tart and some cherries poking through. Had this side by side with Lindemans Cuvee Rene Kriek, and that was clearly the superior beer.

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Photo of mdfb79
4.42/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Got to sample this up at EBF in Boston.

Overall definitely one of the best at the fest. Sour tart cherries and dark fruits, light vinegar and funk, brett, and citrus. Highly recommended, need more stuff from these guys.

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Photo of johnnnniee
3.77/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

On tap at EBF 2016
Somewhat golden color for a beer with two kinds of cherries in it. Hints of cherry amid a huge bit of tart and funky flavors. Decent enough beer, but really where are the cherries?

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Photo of rand
4.21/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

750 mL red wax-sealed bottle, into a Red Barrel wine glass

A: The brew has an amber color with a pink hue - the pink curiously gains contrast when taken from the light. Really no noticeable head or lacing.

S: Fruit-forward bouquet, tart but not overly so. The unripe tart cherries come through at first, but you can parse notes of the ripe cherries as well. Citrusy tartness combined with added cherries is reminding me of unripe wildberries.

T: A little more sour on the palate, and the unripe cherries hit first. There's a touch of fruity sweetness in tow, but it's quickly offset but oaky notes and a little farm funk. Not a lot of carbonation, but it's not really necessary as a light complexion and citrusy sour overtone keeps the palate clean between sips. Where the brew lacks complexity, it gains in drinkability, as it closes with a short and refreshing finish.

A little more tart than I was expecting, which threw me off at first, but the beer was tastier and more interesting as it warmed. This will be really tasty after some time in the cellar.

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Photo of ILikeGoodCider
4.23/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a RB angled wine glass.

L: Tan w/a tint of redish amber. Only head present is from a vigorous pour; dissipates quickly.

S: Sour. Oak. Cherry skin. Lemon zest.

T&F: A lot of pH zing. More oak and lemon than cherry.

O: Very drinkable. A wonderful AWA.

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Photo of frasergrove
4.31/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Light redish amber tinge, no head. Smells of fresh fruit, tart apple skin and berry. Big burst of tart sourness, little to no funk. Passion fruit and tart cherries on the tongue. Good zip, big flavor. Excellent sour.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.24/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

their take on a kriek i suppose, with a few types of cherries and a major polyculture of funky stuff. its real good, but i keep looking for that kriek dryness i like, and its not here, this is a sweeter take on the style, despite how sour it still is. less red in color than expected, with more of a murky golden complexion, maybe a hue of pink in there, but low key for sure. big head though, and it looks good in the glass even if it doesnt look like a cherry beer. it has a great nose, thats where the tart cherries hide, tangy and mouthwatering, its real nice. there is some wood on the nose, a red wine vibe, and a lot of acidity thats puckery as can be. you get all that sourness in the flavor, but instead of finishing that way, it moves more into the sweet pie cherry flavor, glazed and rich, and here i appreciate all the body it has, especially compared to some of its peers, it feels substantial, and it is. i like the two sided cherry spectrum in this one, they really cover the whole range of possibilities, but even with all the tannic acidity, its sugary after the swallow. a little more booze in this one too than most of their others i have had, but its not out of place. another top notch release from these guys, fun to taste a bunch of their stuff in one sitting, i really got a good feel for their overall quality.

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Photo of HeadyTheElder
4.53/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750mL waxed bottle poured into a Rare Barrel Ambassador's glass.

Soft red in color with a nice clarity. Not a deep ruby red like you'd see in a kriek. Taste is like a tart lemon pie with cherry preserves. There is a nice oakiness and light funk to it as well. The flavors work very well. The tartness is assertive but balanced nicely by sweet cherry flavors. Nice mouthfeel lends to great drinkability. Overall, one of the best I've had from Rare Barrel.

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Photo of Tele
4.25/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Serving Type: Bottle
Consume: 9.12.15

A: 4.25 Pours a clear red-gold. The off-white head is minimal and doesn’t last long.

S: 4.25 Aromas start off mild with funk, lactic tartness, and some cherries. As the beer warms, some more interesting funky elements come through. The age of The Rare Barrel’s beers are starting to become evident, as pepper, lemon, and toasted oak aromas are reminiscent of a gueuze. Cherries, apples, and oranges also develop nicely.

T: 4.25 Like the nose suggested, the beer starts off very tart with lots of lemon and a little cherry. Again, as the beer warms things become much more interesting with some mild funk, oak, apples, cherries, and a touch of sweetness (maybe from the sweet cherries). The finish is slightly dry with a lingering graininess.

M: 4.25 The body is nice and feels just like their 5% beers. Carbonation could be a bit higher and a drier, more tannic finish would be nice.

O: 4.25 Really nice beer from The Rare Barrel. It seems like the base beers for blending are getting more interesting as time goes by. The fruit addition is a nice compliment, rather than overpower.

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Photo of GRG1313
4.74/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

I've tasted most of the Rare Barrel offerings and this is absolutely one of the best in my opinion. The real highlight of this one is the amazing balance and flavors. In other words - it's really a nice drink!

I admit it; I took a swig out of the bottle before pouring it. I never do that and don't know what possessed me but it was really educational. I tasted it without seeing it and it tasted of pure cherries! I immediately poured it and was expecting a bright cherry red color, that's how much "cherry" character was in the "blind taste.

It poured a gold/orange with a white head. Mouth feel was nice carbonation and super well acid balanced. It was so drinkable that I wanted to almost gulp it. Flavors profile is off the chart with cherry layers and layers of tart and sweet. Clean, fresh fruity flavors and finish.

Love this one.

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Impossible Soul from The Rare Barrel
Beer rating: 95 out of 100 with 149 ratings