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The Rare Barrel & Side Project Brewing | Avec des Amis


With spring fast approaching I find myself looking for stone fruit, both the actual fruit and in beer! The Rare Barrel collaborated with Side Project Brewing to bring about a beacon that spring is finally here. I was able to speak with Alex Wallash, founder of The Rare Barrel, about this collaboration brew and he provided some insight to the making of Avec des Amis.

Mmmm Stonefruit!

As I filled a Teku glass full of this warm honey toned golden sour beer a slight fluffy head arose. It quickly dissipated though, which is normal for acidic beers. What was left in the glass was the culmination of hard work, lots of fresh white peaches and white nectarines, and oak barrel aging.

avec des amis showcase
Photo by Justin Carter

The white peaches and white nectarines come through on the nose, with a slight sourness. The peaches lend a juicy quality that helps balance the tartness from the white nectarines. Avec des Amis has a bright acidity, coupled with the stone fruit, would be an excellent pair with a cheese board, grilled meat, or even a peach cobbler with a huge dollop of whipped cream on top!

Q&A with Alex Wallash, founder of Rare Barrel

PorchDrinking: How were the barrels that you used chosen?

Alex Wallash: We wanted to make a beer together because we’ve been friends for years, and also really admire the beers that the Side Project crew are making.When Cory, Tommy and Brian came to visit last summer, we started off by pulling nails and tasting through our barrel cellar so that they could get an idea of spectrum of flavors we had to work with in our beers. As we were talking about the barrels that we all liked, we noticed that there were a lot of complimentary flavors to stone fruits.

PD: What was so special about the barrels you picked?

AW: The special part was having the Side Project crew taste through our barrels and apply their likes and preferences to our beer. Blending sour beer is a real art, and depending on who is blending the beer, you can get very different outcomes.

PD: How did The Rare Barrel and Side Project decided on the stone fruit to use?

AW: In particular, the base beers we liked happened to pair well with peaches and nectarines, which were in season. Cory is a huge fan of white peaches and white nectarines, partly because they are slightly more acidic than the yellow peaches and nectarines. We were sold on that. We selected the barrels that we thought would blend well with peaches and nectarines, and blended them together. Shortly after our Side Project friends left, we sourced some amazing white peaches and white nectarines from Blossom Bluff Orchards, and fruited the beer at a level that would leave you thinking that you just bit into a juicy white peach or white nectarine. 

PD: Care to share the poundage of fruit used or rather keep that a secret?!

AW: 6lbs/gal… that’s a lot of fruit!

PD: How did you first meet the fab people at Side Project? Making friends as an adult can be hard!

AW: I wish I remembered, but I can’t remember the very first time! We’ve been fortunate enough to attend a lot of the same events and festivals over the years, which has made it very easy to keep in touch.

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About The Rare Barrel

The Rare Barrel is an all-sour beer company located in Berkeley, California and yes, they only make sour beer! When they helped Sierra Nevada out by brewing Resilience, like many other breweries, their offers were soured – it tasted great still!

About Side Project

Side Project is a 100% barrel-aged, and almost 100% barrel fermented, brewery. Located in Maplewood, Missouri and focus on Belgian inspired beers. Their Cellar is where you can find their taproom – complete with draft offerings, whiskey, and wine!

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