Exploring Sour Beer Horizons: Jay Goodwin of The Rare Barrel

Jay Goodwin is the founder and Lead Blender at The Rare Barrel in Berkeley, California, a leading producer of sour beer that pushes the boundaries of how Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus, Pedioccocus, oak and time can be used to create amazing taste and complexity. With his skill and passion for sour beers, Jay is transforming the industry and his innovative brewing processes are producing beers respected worldwide. Discover how Jay Goodwin is revolutionizing American sour beers.

Jay Goodwin and The Rare Barrel - Exploring the Boundaries of Sour Beers

Jay Goodwin, co-founder and brewmaster of The Rare Barrel Brewing Company, is exploring the boundaries of sour beers. Based in Berkeley, California, the brewery specializes in producing American sour beers. Goodwin and his team use Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus, Pedioccocus, oak, and lots of time, to produce Sour Beers unlike anything else on the market.

Exploring the Possibilities of Sour Beer with The Rare Barrel Team

As an ardent beer lover, Goodwin’s interest in sour beers began in college when he started homebrewing. This sparked an interest in sour beers and eventually led him down the path to owning a brewery of his own. Although it presented a lot of challenges, Goodwin and his friend, Alex Wallash, formed the The Rare Barrel in the Spring of 2013.

The brewery has become well-known in the craft beer community for their sour beers. Their team of four full-time and two part-time employees are dedicated to creating something new and special. They want their beers to go beyond the limits of what has been done before and explore something new, exciting and unique.

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The Science behind The Rare Barrel Sour Beers

Goodwin and his team begin by culturing wild yeasts, such as Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus, Pedioccocus, and other souring organisms. Depending upon the beer and recipe, the sours are aged in wine barrels and/or tanks. For some beers, the barrels are supplemented with second-use fruit such as cherries, apricots, and peaches.

The team then adds in oak chips and leaves the beers aging until they’re ready to drink. When they’re ready, they bottle or keg the beer, often placing it on a secondary fermentation to further enhance the aromas and flavors of the beer.

The Artistry of Fermenting Sour Beer

In an interview with the New York Times, Goodwin stated that "There’s a great potential to get creative. There’s the chemistry and the microbiology, but there’s also the artistry, the constraints of time and the presence of microbes you can’t necessarily see."

Indeed, there is an art to brewing sour beer and Goodwin is a master. He knows how to manipulate the beer to bring out desired aromas and flavors. It’s this knowledge, enhanced by his commitment to sourcing only the best ingredients, that creates the unique flavor profiles found in Rare Barrel sours.

Head Brewer Jay Goodwin and the Rare Barrel Team Keep Pushing the Sour Beer Envelope

What’s impressive is that Goodwin and The Rare Barrel team seem to continue to surprise craft beer drinkers with their recipes and formulas. They’ve pushed the boundaries of what Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus, Pedioccocus, oak and time can do, resulting in sours that keep people coming back for more.

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Notable beer releases include The Grand Miser, a burly sour ale brewed with cranberry, lemon and orange peel, and the Citra & Son, a blended sour beer made with blueberry, lemon and fresh Citra hops. It’s these kind of revolutionary combinations that have kept The Rare Barrel at the top of the craft beer industry.

Beers from The Rare Barrel Brewing Company

  • The Grand Miser
  • Dreamland Unfettered
  • Forbidden Soul
  • Apropos of Nothing
  • Grendel's Curse
  • Citra & Son
  • Into the Mothership
  • Beyond Yonder
  • Golden State of Mind
  • Banana Boat

Accolades and Awards

  • Good Food Awards (2017)
  • World Beer Cup (2016)
  • Great American Beer Festival (2015, 2017-2019)
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