I didn’t think when I said yes last year to a fantasy draft where local Chicago beer writers picked who we thought would win medals at the Festival of Wood and Barrel-Aged Beer (FoBAB) that this would become an annual event. I also didn’t think a worldwide pandemic was going to shift the way we live and breathe, but eight or nine months in, the fantasy draft is back. We will await the results of these medals not from the comfort of the UIC Forum deep in bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout and the most solid hang session all year round but from our respective homes, texting each other madly as the results come in and we see who was selected as the best breweries again.
It is that time again; the FoBAB awards are coming out as you are reading this column right now. The Awards ceremony will be streamed on Facebook Live at 3 p.m. today. I will be watching and checking my list to see what medals will be rolling in. This year, the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild put together what they called FoBAB at Home Kits with randomly selected beers from this year’s festival. These kits sold out in minutes, and I did not get one.
As you are reading this column this morning, you can go to the Festival website to check the results and root for your local beer writer to win the second annual FoBAB Fantasy Draft that was organized by the fine folks at ABV Chicago: Ryan Ingerswen and Craig Conciarcyzk. This duo hosts a podcast put out weekly called ABV Chicago, during which they drink beers and talk about their reactions live on the podcast. I have gotten to know Ryan and Craig during the years, especially over Honker’s Ale at the Goose Island Barrel Warehouse, where Craig pestered me to be on my small, passion project Nintendo podcast. To date, we have not had any guests on this show, but if we ever do, Craig will be the first.
The others who took part this year are husband-and-wife team Nkosi White, of Chicago Beer Pass, and Chalonda White, of Afro Beer Chick; Jack Maldowney, of Studio Malt design studio; Mike Zoller, the Midwest editor for Porch Drinking; Steph Byce, writer for Good Beer Hunting; Karl Klockers, of Guys Drinking Beer; and Ryan Tracy, owner of Beer on the Wall bottle shop and taproom in the Western burbs. We all signed up via email, and the draft happened in a socially distanced, 6-feet-apart, masks-worn, entirely-over-email exchange. The draft took a couple of days, and I am excited for my “team” this year.
The guys at ABV Chicago took a lot of time to put together some sophisticated spreadsheets with power rankings, medal history lists and breweries participating this year, which guided our drafting process.
My team name is the Rural Beer Writers Coalition, and I selected in order — The Lost Abbey, Listermann Brewing, Allagash Brewing, Hailstorm Brewing, Alesong Brewing and Blending and Midwest Coast Brewing.
I am looking forward to seeing who wins. I hope it is me, but I am not a super competitive person. I will report back and let you know how it shakes out. Next week, look for some information about Brickstone Brewery’s Dark Secret release.
If you want a taste of what it actually is like to be at FoBAB, our friendly neighborhood Goose Island Beer Company has your back. This year, you have two opportunities to try all seven of their famous Bourbon County Stout variants I wrote about last week. Both events take place Nov. 27 outside in Chicago.
You can head to their Clyborn Brewpub, where there will be chef-curated light bites prepared to pair with the Bourbon County beers for $120. You can get tickets on Eventbrite. Included in this ticket will be two flights of the 2020 Goose Island BCS lineup, two bottles of the Proprietor’s to take home, two BCS branded snifters glasses and two BCS collaboration items such as BCS hot sauce, barbeque sauce, marshmallows or maple syrup. All of this is well worth the price of admission.
Or you can try the less fussy version at the Fulton Street location for $30 per ticket, which gets you all seven variants in 2-ounce pours. All of this will be properly socially distanced in the weather provided. Get tickets at resy.com.
Moselle from Allagash Brewing
ABV: 6 percent
Style: Lager – Pale
Note from the brewery: “Our blend of a lager and saison. A meeting of the storied brewing traditions of Germany and Belgium. Crisp, balanced, easy to enjoy.”
Where to buy: The Open Bottle in Tinley Park in four packs of 16-ounce cans for $13.99.
Vlad the Second (Order of the Dragon) Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout Chocolate and Hazelnut from Hailstorm Brewing.
ABV: 14.1 percent
Style: Stout – Russian Imperial
A note from Brew Dude: This beer is what put Hailstorm on the map for me when they first released their imperial stout line, Vlad, years ago. Each year, they blend it with different ingredients to bring together an incredible line of beers. Last year, they released this beer in 12-ounce cans for the first time. The Chocolate and Hazelnut was one of my favorites out of that lineup.
Where to buy: Liquor World in Kankakee in 12-ounce cans for $10.99.
Purple Parrots from Listermann Brewing
ABV: 6.8 percent
Style: IPA — American
Note from the brewery: “West Coast IPA with Simcoe, Chinook & Idaho Gem.”
Where to buy: The Open Bottle in Tinley Park in four packs of 16-ounce cans for $16.99.