The Rare Barrel is a first-of-its-kind beer concept for the Bay Area. It is not a brewery, but sour and funky beers are created here. In this way, The Rare Barrel is more like a “blendery” in the great Belgian gueuze and lambic makers’ tradition. Wort is cooked up according to their specifications at another brewery and trucked to the Rare Barrel warehouse in Berkeley. There, the wort is inoculated with yeast and bacteria, then transferred to tanks and barrels for fermentation. Along the way to becoming a finished beer, the Rare Barrel guys will extract samples from the barrels, and may blend the different beers to attain their desired taste profiles. Or maybe they’ll find the rare perfect barrel, and serve it unblended.
In the warehouse, you’ll find an area cordoned off as a tasting room where the beers are served. There are 12 taps behind a bar seating about ten people, plus picnic tables and empty barrels on which to rest your beers and a bite of light food from the kitchen. Guest beers provide a burst of hops for those who need a break from flights of sour beers.
Extras: The Sierra Nevada Torpedo Room is less than a mile from here.
940 Parker St, Berkeley, CA 94710• 510.984.6585
Official Ashby Station and connecting transit info.
This trip is well beyond beyond the one mile we typically recommend for these walks, so unless you prefer 1.7 miles of exercise each way, take the AC Transit #49 bus for part of the route or call a cab. (It’s not a bad walk during the daytime, though you will skirt some run down residential areas. If you are not grabbing the bus, walking from North Berkeley BART is also more than a mile but may be a better option.)
Exit BART through the West Adeline St. exit. If straight ahead is 12 o’clock on a clock face, head to about 2 o’clock and cut diagonally across the parking lot. (On weekends there will be a flea market to cut through). Exit the lot and you will be at the corner of Ashby and Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Cross Ashby. This is where you can pick up the 49 bus ($2.10 exact fare or Clipper Card).
If you decide to walk it, turn left and walk down Ashby about 10 blocks to San Pablo Ave. Cross San Pablo Ave. and turn right. Walk five blocks to Parker St. Turn left. Walk 2 1/2 blocks and Rare Barrel will be on your left, set far back from the street past the Nolo Press building.
Note: This is a big, high-ceiling old warehouse with concrete floors. It may be cold inside during the winter months.