Jay Goodwin and Alex Wallash
Seeking to follow in the footsteps of American craft sour producers such as Russian River, Cascade, Allagash, New Belgium, and the Bruery, the Rare Barrel will be producing exclusively barrel-aged sour beers. Why go all-sour? The guys weigh in: "There isn't enough sour beer available right now. We want to change that forever." Their business model is based on renting out brewing time at existing local breweries to produce wort (that's what beer is called prior to fermentation). After brewing, the wort will be shipped to their own warehouse, where it will be fermented and barrel-aged with a host of yeast and souring bacteria.
Here, co-founders Jay Goodwin and Alex Wallash stand in front of their first barrels. The two men, along with Jay's father, Brad, plan to launch The Rare Barrel's first beers in 2013.
Barrels stacked high
Jay shows off the Rare Barrel's first 205 red wine barrels, which will soon house beer for souring. Their current space allows for the addition of up to 1,300 additional barrels, totaling a barrel capacity of 88,500 gallons of beer, minus the angel's share.
Red wine barrels were chosen for the relatively neutral impact they have on the beer. The wine previously held within has stripped much of the aggressive tannins and oak flavor from the wood, leaving an environment ideal for the proliferation of the yeast and bacteria responsible for souring beer.
In the near future, the brewers plan to experiment with the use of other barrels. Experimentation is a big theme with these guys—they hope that The Rare Barrel is "going to be a decades long experiment using all the combinations of yeast and bacteria that exist in brewing today and those yet to be discovered."
Where Fermentation Will Be
This is the future home of The Rare Barrel's stainless steel fermentation tanks. Most initial fermentations will occur here prior to souring in barrels.
Tasting room here
This pile of dirt is the future home of a tasting room, which the founders hope to have open by the end of 2013.
So, when can you try their stuff? They guys aren't sure, exactly: "When producing sour beer, we are simply barrel shepherds, and the beers will tell us when they are ready. We hope to have some sour beers ready around the end of 2013."