The results are in. Festival of Barrel Aged Beers was a big success for plenty of breweries local and far away.
Bottle Logic Brewing, of Anaheim, Calif., and national renown, took home best in show again this year with Arcane Rituals, a bourbon barrel-aged Barleywine. Another California brewery, The Lost Abbey took runner-up with Peach Afternoon, a barrel-aged fruited sour.
Neither of these were surprises for the breweries, but they were a surprise for the styles taking best in show this year. Most often, the best in show has been a straight-up-the-middle bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout, but these beers were worthy of their honors for sure.
Illinois took received 14 medals. Some notable repeats made the list, such as Revolution Brewing winning a gold medal in the Other Strong Beer category for their V.S.O.R. or Very Special Old Ryeway, which I sampled and is fantastic.
This beer is being released this weekend at their Kedzie Taproom in four packs of 12-ounce cans along with their old standby, Straight Jacket, a barrel-aged barleywine, similar to this year’s top fest winner.
Off Color Brewing took home some hardware, which gave me some points in the draft (more on that later), a silver medal for Wild Beer (Acidic) Sours for its wine barrel-aged sour, Procatstination. This silver medal keeps pace with Revolution for top FoBAB medal holders of all time.
Another winner and friend of the column, Pollyanna Brewing, won gold for Other Pale Ale for Apple Brandy Barrel-Aged Orenda Volume 3. Pollyanna took silver right after Rev in the Other Strong category for its Orenda Vol. 2.
Illinois almost swept the category of Strong Porter Stout, with the fabulously popular More Brewing taking bronze and medaling again for its Mendhi 2019, and Crystal Lake Brewing taking silver for its Boathouse Reserve Rye Whiskey Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout. Wolf’s Ridge, of Ohio, took gold for its 3-2-1 Dire Wolf BA stout.
Haymarket Brewing won, with founder Pete Crowley’s trademark walk-up music Ozzy Osborne’s “Mr. Crowley” playing overhead, for its barleywine Barrel-Aged Bollucks. Hometown favorites Half Acre took home bronze for one of my favorite beers of the night, Vanilla Benthic. Church Street, of Itasca, which I have written about before, took bronze for its barrel-aged regular stout, Holy Moly, which I’ve loved.
Illinois swept the Fruit Beers category, with Werk Force Brewing taking gold for its Farmhouse Vultures with Raspberries and Blackberries. Revolution won silver for its summer barleywine, Strawberry Jacket, a barrel-aged barleywine with strawberries added.
I found head brewer Jim Cibak toward the end of the night and shook his hand and said, “Summer barleywine is apparently a thing.” MyGrain Brewing, of Joliet, took bronze with its I Have Time, a barrel-aged Belgian Quad with tart cherries. I have to try this beer.
5 Rabbit came in strong with a gold medal for its El Pirata in the specialty-experimental category. El Pirata is a Caribbean rum barrel-aged Imperial Rice Ale with vanilla bean, Mexican cinnamon, condensed milk and raisins.
Afterthought Brewing, of Lombard, took gold with its Afterthought Ale: Wine Barrel Fermented (Yuzu and Key Lime Juice) in the Wild Beer-Brett category. I haven’t had much of Afterthought beer, but what I have had is fantastic.
Last but not least is the winner of the inaugural Fantasy Brewery Draft that ABV Chicago organized for the beer-writing community of Chicago. I wrote about this last week and laid out the breweries each beer writer selected, so I won’t go over that again. I will tally a list of who gained how many points:
Nkosi White — The Blowfish — 7 points (Revolution: 1 gold, 1 silver; Crystal Lake: 1 silver). Nik co-hosts the Chicago Beer Pass podcast.
Josh Riley — Rural Beer Writers Coalition — 3 points (Off Color: 1 silver; Superstition: 1 bronze).
Chalonda White — Cherry Red Lipstick Delegation — 1 point (Half Acre: 1 bronze).
Ryan Tracy — The Old Man Lagers — 8 points (Forager: 1 silver; Afterthought: 1 gold; Cerebral: 1 gold). Ryan Tracy is the owner of Beer on the Wall craft beer bottleshop.
Karl Klockers — Gentleman Imbibing Intoxicating Beverages — 5 points (Werk Force: 1 gold; Hacienda: 1 silver). Karl is the founder of beer blog Guys Drinking Beer.
Stephanie Byce — Third and Lager — 8 points (Pollyanna: 1 gold, 1 silver; 5 Rabbit: 1 gold).
Jack Muldowney — Team Hopboiz — 2 points (Haymarket: 1 silver). Jack is a co-founder of the beer blog The Hop Review.
Ryan I. — Waka Flocculation — 6 points (The Lost Abbey: 1 gold, 1 Runner-up; Monday Night: 1 bronze). Ryan is one of the co-hosts the ABV Chicago podcast and Fantasy draft organizer.
Craig G. — FIBless — 2 points (Garagiste: 1 silver). Craig is the other co-host of the podcast ABV Chicago and fellow draft organizer.
Mike Zoller — Team Slow Haze Pour — 7 points (More: 1 bronze; Bottle Logic: 1 gold, 1 Best of Show.) Mike is the Midwest editor of Porchdrinking.com.
The winner, after an elaborate tiebreaker, was Tracy.
Doing the draft this year and talking amongst ourselves while we were waiting for the awards to be given out changed my appreciation of the festivities. I think we are planning to do it again next year.
I was elated when Off Color and Superstition won, but I’m not a super competitive person, and I was just happy for the people I know in the industry who actually put in the hard work to make these beers day-in and day-out, and I want them to get the accolades. This fantasy draft thing was just a bit of fun among friends.