“Sour beer is different—not just from other beers but from other beverages,” says Jay Goodwin, the cofounder and director of blending and brewing at The Rare Barrel in Berkeley, California. The less-than-two-year-old brewery is exclusively producing sour beer and quickly establishing itself as one of the leading sour-beer experts in the country.
Goodwin likens brewing and fermenting sour beer to conducting scientific analysis, and he fondly refers to his beers as “experiments.” Most of these experiments are primary fermented with a combination of wild yeasts and souring bacteria and then aged in oak barrels for six months to three years, “depending on how extreme the experiment is.”
One of these experiments was Ensorcelled, a dark sour ale aged in oak barrels with raspberries. Ensorcelled, another word for “enchanted,” was named for Goodwin’s utter fascination with the barrel-aging process. During ten months of tasting this beer from its barrel, he repeatedly expressed that it was one of the best sours in The Rare Barrel’s cellar.