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Behind the Scenes at The Rare Barrel, Berkeley, California's First All-Sour Brewery

Rare Barrel co-founders Jay Goodwin and Alex Wallash [Photographs: Mike Reis]

It's been ten years since I first met Alex Wallash. We were in high school. Back then, it wasn't a mash paddle in his hands—it was a lacrosse stick. He knew me as "that guy that always carries a camera," but that was about the extent of our familiarity. Our paths crossed again in college. Super tall and permanently smiling, it was hard to miss him as we intersected in the halls of UC Santa Barbara. Still, our relationship didn't extend much beyond that cool-guy head-nod of acknowledgement.

Several years after our respective graduations, though, fate brought us together again—this time in the craft beer industry. We had both developed a passion for beer at UCSB, a school known for its love of Keystone Light, and independently sought to build a career out of it.

Today, Alex has partnered with Jay Goodwin, former Head of Barrel-Aging at Orange County's sour-happy The Bruery, and Jay's father, Brad, to create the Rare Barrel. On the verge of licensing approval, they will produce exclusively barrel-aged sour beers. Their first stainless fermentation tank is arriving as I type this.

I re-united with Alex and Jay in their new Berkeley, California space (a 15 minute bike ride from my apartment—stop following me, Alex!), where we discussed their plans. Check out the space in the slideshow above!

About the author: Mike Reis is a Certified Cicerone and Co-Director of Beer at the Monk's Kettle and Abbot's Cellar restaurants in San Francisco. Follow him on Twitter @beerspeaks or find him behind a pint near you.

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