13th Annual Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beer

2015 FoBAB crowd from above
2015 FoBAB crowd from above

Another Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beer is now in the books. Thirteen years strong and still growing, FoBAB is the premiere barrel-aged beer festival in all of the land. For the 2015 edition the Chicago festival featured 157 breweries that poured 363 different beers that spent some of its life in a wooden cask all categorized in 12 different categories.

Held each and every year in November this year’s FoBAB felt as if it was a in the middle of winter as a mid-November winter snow storm hit the Windy City. With a blustery wind and snow in the air the need of big, bold barrel-aged beers was quite evident. The three session event took place on November 20 – 21. One session on Friday evening and two sessions on Saturday with the award ceremony taking place during Saturday afternoon’s session.

Trinity Brewing Red Swingline on Apricots and Peaches with Jason Yester in the background at 2015 FoBAB
Trinity Brewing Red Swingline on Apricots and Peaches with Jason Yester in the background at 2015 FoBAB

Now in its second consecutive year at the University of Illinois Forum, the organizers from the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild improved the layout and attendee flow from last year’s FoBAB. The large festival floor poured all of the draft offerings while an annex room poured the bottle offerings to make things run a bit more smoothly than last year’s FoBAB.

Entry was $60.00 and included a festival glass and 16 tasting tickets for 2 oz pours each. However this year we noticed tickets not being used so each session was a barrel-aged beer dream come true on sampling. This is definitely a festival that should be on any craft beer fans radar. And if you’re afraid that your favorite beer will run out, organizers require three 1/6 barrels of each beer being entered with one for each session.

2015 FoBAB Program and AC Golden Kriek
2015 FoBAB Program and AC Golden Kriek

Beyond the breweries entered barrel-aged beers, FoBAB also features a unique project known as BarricAle. This is where all participating breweries from Illinois use one constant variable that all other breweries use and that is with the barrel used. Sponsored by Goose Island, the barrel used for 2015 FoBAB was from Heaven Hill. A few beers sat for 12 months while others sat for a few months.

Charlie Frye of MetalCraft receives GIgantic Brewing's Gold Medal for Pipewrench at 2015 FoBAB
Charlie Frye of MetalCraft receives GIgantic Brewing’s Gold Medal for Pipewrench at 2015 FoBAB

A majority of the barrel-aged beers at FoBAB are from the Midwest being the close proximity to Chicago. However as in year’s past this year’s FoBAB featured a few breweries from the Pacific Northwest including Big Sky Brewing, Breakside Brewing, Fat Head’s Brewery, Fremont Brewing, Gigantic Brewing, Glacier Brewhouse, Grand Teton Brewing, Oakshire Brewing, Payette Brewing, and Widmer Brothers Brewing. Our regions cideries included Finnriver Farm & Cidery and Seattle Cider Company.

One of two Goose Island Booths at 2015 FoBAB that continuously had the longest lines.
One of two Goose Island Booths at 2015 FoBAB that continuously had the longest lines.

Three Pacific Northwest breweries walked across the FoBAB stage on Saturday to receive a few coveted awards. Oakshire Brewing was the first to cross the stage when receiving its Bronze Medal for Frederic C. Noir in the Wild Beer/Brett category. Then it was Fremont Brewing’s turn for a Bronze Medal for its Bourbon Abominable in the Strong Dark Beer category. The last winner from our region was Gigantic Brewing for its Pipewrench in the Strong Pale Beer category. Then when the Best in Show awards were announced Gigantic was awarded Best in Show Runner Up for its Pipewrench making it the second best beer according to the judges at this year’s FoBAB.

Best In Show Runner Up, Gigantic Brewing Pipewrench
Best In Show Runner Up, Gigantic Brewing Pipewrench

Below is a list of the medal winning breweries and its beers in each of the 12 categories. The Best in Show Winner and Runner Up follow the individual categories. To calculate Best in Show at FoBAB all Gold Medal winning beers advance to the final judging panel to see which two come out on top. Congratulations to all winners!

Cider/Perry/Mead

  • Gold – Virtue Cider: Percheron
  • Silver – Apple Knocker: Hard Knocks
  • Bronze – Sonoma Cider: Dry Zider

Wild Beer Sours w/ Fruit

  • Gold – The Lost Abbey: Veritas 015
  • Silver – Trinity Brewing: Red Swingline on Apricots and Peaches
  • Bronze – Avery Brewing Company: Raspberry Sour

Wild Beer Sours

  • Gold – Avery Brewing Company: lll Dolia
  • Silver – Off Color Brewing/Central State: Whiskers
  • Bronze – New Belgium Brewing: Le Terroir

Wild Beer/Brett

  • Gold – Penrose Brewing Co. and 18th Street Brewery: Wild 18
  • Silver – Perennial Artisan Ales: Savant Beersel
  • Bronze – Oakshire Brewing: Frederic C. Noir

Specialty/Experimental

  • Gold – MKE Brewing Co.: Gin Barrel Aged O-Gii
  • Silver – Listermann/Triple Digit Brewing: Chickow!
  • Bronze – Solemn Oath Brewery: Limousine Of The Damned

Fruit Beer

  • Gold – Shoreline Brewery: Imperial Raspberry
  • Silver – Goose Island Brewpubs: Cherry Run
  • Bronze – Werk Force Brewing Co.: Water On Mars

Strong Dark Beer

  • Gold – Free Will Brewing Co.: Black Friday
  • Silver – Revolution Brewpub: Working Mom
  • Bronze – Fremont Brewing: Bourbon Abominable

Strong Pale Beer

  • Gold – Gigantic: Pipewrench
  • Silver – Nebraska Brewing Company: Barrel Aged Hopanomaly
  • Bronze – Rock Bottom Chicago: Cherry Fizz

Classic Beer Style

  • Gold – Half Acre: Gin Pony
  • Silver – Metropolitan Brewing: Wooden Dynamo
  • Bronze – Flix Brewhouse – Carmel: B.A. Chillaxed Mild

Barleywine/Wheatwine

  • Gold – Spiteful Brewing: Spiteful Barley Wine
  • Silver – Lakefront Brewery: Barrel-Aged Organic Beerline Barleywine
  • Bronze – 7venth Sun Brewery: Vultures From The Past

Specialty Strong Porter/Stout

  • Gold – Spiteful Brewing: Malevolence Chocolate Caliente
  • Silver – Brickstone Brewery: Barrel Aged Dark Secret With Raspberries
  • Bronze – Lagunitas Brewing: The Picante Perro

Strong Porter/Stout

  • Gold – Destihl Brewery: Dosvidanya Russian Imperial Stout
  • Silver – Bell’s Brewery: Expedition Stout
  • Bronze – Revolution Brewing Kedzie: Deth’s Tar

Best In Show

  • Winner – Destihl Brewery: Dosvidanya Russian Imperial Stout
  • Runner-Up – Gigantic: Pipewrench

Here’s a video of the 2015 FoBAB Awards Ceremony from Saturday, November 21.

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