The Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beers is upon us once again. FoBAB takes place in early November with this year’s two-day sessions taking place Nov. 8-9 in three sessions: from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday, and Saturday’s two sessions — the awards ceremony from 1 to 5 p.m. and later session from 6 to 10 p.m.
Early entry for the awards ceremony is at noon. Tickets for these sessions are $85, and you can still find some here: fobab.com. The FoBAB is at the UIC Forum, 725 Roosevelt Road in Chicago. There are parking options available in the area with several parking decks. I have never had an issue finding decently priced parking.
With that being said, this year’s coverage of this event is going to be a little different as the fine folks of the podcast ABV Chicago decided to start what I think is going to be one of the most hotly-contested craft beer developments in Chicago. Ryan I., of La Grange, and Craig G., of Chicago, who have been at the podcast game for nearing 300 episodes.
I’ve been at the same events with these guys dozens of times, most recently at Goose Island’s Bourbon County Brand Stout Media Release night where we talked draft picks most of the night. Ryan and Craig set about creating a Fantasy Brewery Draft and invited six other craft beer personalities in Chicagoland to join them.
The operation is simple here, the FoBAB invites breweries from all over the country to submit their beers to be judged and awarded medals for a series of different categories. They award a bronze, silver and gold for each category, and then award a best-in-show award and a runner-up.
The awards are during the early Saturday session and we all wait on baited breath to find out who wins what. The FoBAB award is a prize for these high-concept, difficult to make, high ABV (usually), expensive (almost always) beers.
This year, the beer writers in the room will have a little more time. Along with these awards, the breweries provide enough beer so that the fest-goers will be able to sample the beers they know have just won medals. It’s a hilariously good time had by all.
We drafted these breweries like a fantasy baseball draft so we get points for which brewery wins the awards at the festival. Here’s the lineup in the order by which we drafted:
The Blowfish manager Nik White
White is the co-founder of Chicago Beer Geeks and the co-host of the Chicago Beer Pass podcast. When not sipping Hypnotiq from a coffee mug or spending too much time deciphering the Julian Date Code on a Lagunitas 6-pack at checkout, he loves spending time with his wife and their Golden Retriever, Raleigh.
1. Revolution Brewing (Chicago), 20. Cruz Blanca Brewery (Chicago), 21. Spiteful Brewing (Chicago), 40. Crystal Lake Brewing (Crystal Lake), 41. Upland Brewing (Bloomington, Ind.) and 60. Wild Onion Brewery (Lake Barrington).
Team: The Rural Beer Writer Coalition, manager Joshua Riley.
2. Off Color Brewing (Chicago), 19. Begyle Brewing (Chicago), 22. Hailstorm Brewing Co. (Tinley Park), 39. Avery Brewing Co. (Boulder, Colo.), 42. Surly Brewing Co. (Minneapolis) and 59. Superstition Meadery (Prescott, Ariz.).
The Cherry Red Lipstick Delegation manager Chalonda White
White is the personality behind @afrobeerchick on Twitter and Instagram where she has been the subject of many viral pieces of content most notably and recently the #IAmCraftBeer movement that saw thousands of mentions all across the country and the inaugural Beer Culture Summit put on by Chicago Brewseum.
3. Half Acre Beer Co. (Chicago), 18. ERIS Brewery and Ciderhouse (Chicago), 23. Maplewood Brewery & Distillery (Chicago), 38. Open Outcry Brewing Company (Chicago), 43. Odd Side Ales (Grand Haven, Mich.) and 58. Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project (Denver, Colo.).
The Old Man Lagers manager Ryan Tracy
Tracy is the owner and general manager of Beer on the Wall, a craft-beer focused liquor store and tap room, located in Park Ridge. He lives in nearby Niles, where he routinely drags his supportive wife, son and daughter to breweries to play board games and lament about how hard video games used to be.
4. Fremont Brewing (Seattle), 17. Forager Brewery (Rochester, Minn.), 24. Afterthought Brewing Company (Lombard), 37. Pure Project (San Diego), 44. Cerebral Brewing (Denver) and 57. Lake Effect Brewing Company (Chicago).
Gentlemen Imbibing Intoxicating Beverages manager Karl Klockars
Klockars is a co-creator of GuysDrinkingBeer.com, which has covered the Chicagoland beer scene for longer than most breweries have been in existence. He’s also the author of Beer Lovers Chicago and a regular freelance writer for outlets, including Chicago Magazine.
His FoBAB Fantasy Draft team, the Gentlemen Imbibing Intoxicating Beverages (GIIB for short) hopes to at least nail down the Fruit Beer category but will be thrilled to see how the Pretentious Barrel House performs.
5. Werk Force Brewing Co. (Plainfield), 16. DESTIHL Brewery (Normal), 25. Virtue Cider (Fennville, Mich.), 36. Hacienda Beer Co. (Baileys Harbor, Wis.), 45. Middle Brow Beer Co. (Chicago) and 56. Pretentious Barrel House (Columbus, Ohio).
Third and Lager manager Steph Byce
6. Hopewell Brewing Co. (Chicago), 15. Pollyanna Brewing Co. (Lemont), 26. käretäs brewing (Itasca), 35. Phase Three Brewing (Lake Zurich), 46. 5 Rabbit Cerverceria (Bedford Park) and 55. Old Irving Brewing Co. (Chicago).
HopBoiz manager Jack Muldowney
Muldowney is co-founder of The Hop Review and since 2012 has been fortunate enough to share pints with some of beer’s biggest personalities. Through his travels, Jack appreciates the varying perspectives of an industry that’s always adapting, and can often be found with a crisp IPA in-hand.
7. WeldWerks Brewing Co. (Greeley, Colo.), 14. Goose Island Beer Co. (Chicago), 27. Blackberry Farm Brewery (Maryville, Tenn.), 34. The Bruery (Placentia, Calif.), 47. Haymarket Brewery & Taproom (Chicago) and 54. New Belgium Brewing (Fort Collins, Colo.).
Waka Flocculation manager Ryan I
Ryan has been the co-host and producer of the ABV Chicago craft beer podcast for almost six years. He teaches middle school, lives in Forest Park with his wife and two kids, and sometimes comes up with silly high-concept beer games while washing the dishes.
8. The Lost Abbey (San Marcos, Calif.), 13. Rowley Farmhouse Ales (Santa Fe, N.M.), 28. Pipeworks Brewing Co. (Chicago), 33. Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery (multiple), 48. Rhinegeist Brewery (Cincinnati, Ohio) and 53. Monday Night Brewing (Atlanta).
FIBless manager Craig G
Co-host of ABV Chicago. CPS teacher. Husband to Elizabeth and walker of Barley. Likes Final Fantasy, Tetris and Ancient History, Unlike these sentence fragments, can stand on his own.
9. Listermann Brewing Company (Cincinnati), 12. The Rare Barrel (Berkeley, Calif.), 29. Orpheus Brewing (Atlanta), 32. Sun King Brewing Company (Indianapolis), 49. Beachwood Blendery (Long Beach, Calif.) and 52. Garagiste Meadery (Tampa).
Slow Pour Haze manager Mike Zoller
Zoller is the Midwest Editor for PorchDrinking.com and has been covering beer in Chicago for seven years. He also runs the Instagram account @chicagobeer.
10. MORE Brewing (Villa Park), 11. Bottle Logic Brewing (Anaheim, Calif.), 30. Lil Beaver Brewery (Bloomington, Ill.), 31. Arclight Brewing Company (Watervliet, Mich.), 50. Lakefront Brewery (Milwaukee) and 51. Area Two Experimental Brewing (Stratford, Conn.)
Here we go; the teams are in place, you know these people now. Please visit their websites and respective Twitters, Instagrams and podcast feeds. Subscribe to the Guys Drinking Beer Newsletter, its incredible, and follow along.