The Rare Barrel

The Rare BarrelThe Rare Barrel
The Rare BarrelThe Rare Barrel
Brewery, Bar, Beer-to-go

940 Parker St
Berkeley, California, 94710-2524
United States

(510) 984-6585 | map
therarebarrel.com

Notes:
BEER STATS
Average:
4.28
Beers:
99
Reviews:
484
Ratings:
4,392
PLACE STATS
Average:
4.48
Reviews:
39
Ratings:
155
pDev:
7.37%
View: Beers | Place Reviews
Reviews: 39 | Ratings: 155 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Zonian1
4.35/5  rDev -2.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.25

Was very excited to visit The Rare Barrel for the first time in June 2018. Spent a couple hours there on a Friday from about 5-7. It's a large warehouse space, and I was very surprised there weren't more people there on a Friday night. After all, this is THE RARE BARREL we're talking about! I asked our bartender, and he said it was typical to have a small crowd on a Friday. Apparently, this location isn't near housing or restaurants, so there's no walk-in traffic. He said the crowds are much bigger on Saturdays and Sundays.

I sampled about 10 beers during my visit. They ranged from good to very good. I didn't learn til the end of my visit that there was a separate tap list for subscriber club members where they keep the better quality offerings. That was a little disappointing when you travel a long way to a brewery and you can't try their best beers even if they are on tap and available.

The day I visited there was a special beer/food pairing available, so I ordered it. Fantastic! The chef created a specific menu to bring out the highlights of a particular beer. In this case, it was a beer brewed specifically for this meal. For $16 I got a small plate of food (pork with a corn chowder--delicious) and a pour of a one-off beer. Absolutely the highlight of my visit. If this is the direction The Rare Barrel is going, that's exciting news for the locals!

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Photo of elNopalero
4.7/5  rDev +4.9%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.5

I finally made it here! It’s tucked away at the way back of a parking lot/warehouse area, very easy to miss. Once you find it you’re set. Lots, lots, lots of barrels to wander.

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Photo of rustyjaw
4.3/5  rDev -4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

Large warehouse-like space with plenty of seating and a bar. The majority of the space, beyond the seating area, is taken up with a large number of wooden barrels.

The Rare Barrel has really improved their offerings over the years, originally (years ago) their beers were all fairly similar, but on my last visit, I was treated to a nice variety of sours/wild ales. Among my favorites was Emerald Vision, a blonde sour with cucumber. Super!

The staff is courteous, the crowd is jovial and casual.

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Photo of Frosty11161
4.34/5  rDev -3.1%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.25

Giant warehouse, can be a bit drafty at times. They need to get more seating as most of it is standing room only. Decent guest beers on tap, but don't expect to stay for dinner, as they only have grilled cheese.

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Photo of lomoshe
4.97/5  rDev +10.9%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

I love everything about this place. Plenty of seating, laid back but nice atmosphere with all the sour beers you could want. What else could you ask for?!

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Photo of SportsandJorts
3.67/5  rDev -18.1%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5

Atmosphere: a warehouse taproom offering views into an endless labyrinth of barrels, a very cool sight. pretty simple and open space.

Quality: Rare barrel has some of the more well received sours in the U.S. and they seem to hold that quality level across the board of beers. However to me there sours are a little to focused on acid and tartness to me, they never quite have a fully developed wild yeast character.

Service: no complaints. they were nice and helpful

Selection: slightly lacking for me. yes I understand they only do sours so that is not what was lacking. all the beers they had available seemed to be in the same point of wild yeast development. the beers I tried here started to blend together.

Overall: a good visit but the beer and variety of beer doesn't quite win me over.

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Photo of Zythophile
4.15/5  rDev -7.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4

They seem to be going for one thing: showing off the beer from start to finish. It's basically a bar in a warehouse. Service is good. There's a line, and it moves. Staff is friendly and helpful. Check, check, check.

It's not that loud (which is great), there's lots of space (which is great), and there are some nice furnishings (which is great). I guess it's about as welcoming as it could be, but if I wanted a place to bring some friends from out of town, this might not be it.

Selection on tap is really good, but I have to dock 'em for only having one food option while I was there. I mean, it was a really tasty cheese sandwich, but a few more ingredients will get you to three or four sandwiches.

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Photo of busternuggz
3.23/5  rDev -27.9%
vibe: 2 | quality: 3.25 | service: 3.75 | selection: 3.25

I was very much looking forward to visiting this brewery after hearing all the positive things local beer nerds had to say about it, and went there with some friends on a brewery road trip. I was disappointed in the experience though. The interior was dreary and dark, I felt like I was in a goth club. The stools were high and uncomfortable and the decor was stark and boring.
They had 4 of their beers on tap and a few guest beers, and a few of their bottles that weren't on tap. Beers and limited snack selection were expensive, but it's a sour beer brewery in Berkeley, so I expected that. We tried all of their beers they had on tap and I was unimpressed. They all tasted like the same one-note sour blonde, just with different adjuncts. The staff was fine and courteous, no complaints there. There was kind of a long line but they moved as fast as they could.
I know other places gave them much better reviews, so perhaps I am in the minority. Take it with a grain of salt, I'm not trying to be a troll I just didn't like the experience. I liked Fieldwork a lot more.

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Photo of dbannister
4.97/5  rDev +10.9%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

I have to add a disclaimer that I'm a member of Rare Barrel's Ambassador club.
This place is one of my favorite breweries in the Bay Area.
Ambiance - Great. They have a lot of seating options including a nice couch to hang back on. Always has nice people who are there to enjoy the beer.
The beer selection is always top notch. They always have selections from other brewers like Cellarmaker or Society IPA's which helps me given my wife doesn't care for sours. Their sours are always very good quality.

If you are visiting the Bay Area, I'd definitely say make this a place to visit. Its reasonably close to BART (subway) so you can easily go there from San Francisco.

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Photo of ONovoMexicano
3.94/5  rDev -12.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5

Cool space with a ton of barrels to look at. They'll have good beers for sale and bottles to go.

A complaint I have about this place as opposed to other places is that they don't do small pours or flights, so you either have to settle for a tiny taster or a full pour at a minimum of $8-9. That's a bit of a bummer.

Some nice swag for sale and the people serving are nice enough and the beers are good, although some of them are sour as all hell.

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Photo of Alequine
3.92/5  rDev -12.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.75 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4.25

Warehouse brewer in a small industrial type building buttressed by two other buildings to the left and right with the parking lot out back. No outdoor space. I'm not a fan of breweries that do not incorporate building plans without some type of outdoor space. When I drink I sometimes like to have a cigar. Here your smoking area is the parking lot - 100 feet away from the front of the building so you are smoking behind parked cars. The inside is lavish, the crowd young and hipster which reflects the seating spaces and congregating areas which were decorated with couches - minimizing two to four party sitting space. Couldn't have a flight so had a glass of one of their sours. Love sours. The sour I had was underwhelming and so was the welcome there by the staff. It felt underwhelming. So I left.

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Photo of SanFranJake
4.4/5  rDev -1.8%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.5

Dropped in yesterday with a buddy who is an Ambassador.
We got there at 12:15 on a Sunday and not a soul in sight so we weren't sure if they were open or not and luckily they were.
Had the place to ourselves for 20 minutes or so and being my first time there, loved the experience.
Great open space with tons of barrels creating a nice feel to an otherwise open warehouse.
Maybe 15-20 seats at the bar, a few raised bar tables and couch-like setting sprinkled around the floor to allow for an enjoyable experience without standing in crammed quarters.
RB tap list was, as expected, awesome, as was their guest list.
Wish they had more than grilled cheese on the food offerings but then again, I was there for the beer.

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Photo of amano_h
4.68/5  rDev +4.5%
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.

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Photo of captaincoffee
4.28/5  rDev -4.5%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.75 | 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.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
4.04/5  rDev -9.8%
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.

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Photo of Knapp85
4.14/5  rDev -7.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.25

Big open warehouse looking building with barrels stacked from floor to ceiling. The vibe is decent, it's kind of chill but kind of too open to comfy. The service is very good and the selection was great too. Would stop in there again.

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Photo of W_Des
5/5  rDev +11.6%
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.

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Photo of pmangold
4.75/5  rDev +6%
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

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Photo of Phil-Fresh
4.48/5  rDev 0%
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 -3.1%
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 VABA
4.5/5  rDev +0.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

The place is very close to San Francisco, one can even visit a few 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 -10.5%
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 -8.7%
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 +2.2%
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 -8.3%
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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The Rare Barrel in Berkeley, CA
Brewery rating: 4.28 out of 5 with 4392 ratings