If you look closely at the edges of pH1 (It's more affectionately known as “The Rare Barrel.”), you’ll see a series of cracks and dents.
“When we first received these barrels at New Belgium, we didn’t really think about how we were going to move them around,” Peter Bouckaert tells me on a recent visit to his new project, Purpose Brewing and Cellars, where pH1 now resides. “We had no forklifts or anything like that, so we would just roll them around. It looks quite badly damaged from the outside, but actually it’s fine inside.”
That barrel helped New Belgium kickstart its own sour project, now the largest in the U.S., back in 1997. It then did the same for Russian River Brewing Co., before eventually going on to another brewery, The Rare Barrel, which took its name from pH1 itself. During GABF week, The Rare Barrel’s Jay Goodwin surprised Bouckaert by returning pH1 to its former owner at his new brewery in Fort Collins.
“I’m not sure where it’ll go when we’re done with it,” Bouckaert says, “but it doesn’t feel like its journey is finished just yet.”