UNIVERSITY VILLAGE, CHICAGO
FOBAB 2017 Recap: Favorites & Winners
As if it were concocted just for FoBAB, Saturday's temperature in Chicago dipped a bit below freezing, and was accompanied by a rainy-snowy mix and gray skies. Ahhh, barrel-aged beer season is officially back. And the annual kick-off party of the season, the Festival of Wood & Barrel-Aged Beer, was back for its 15th year in 2017.
Folks looking to get their hands on the country's best of all that is barrel-aged made their way to the University of Illinois-Chicago Forum on November 10th and 11th. There, they were greeted by FoBAB2017's 370+ beers, ciders, perrys, and meads from 206 different breweries (up from 179 in 2016). Split out across 11 different categories (down from 12 last year – gone is the 'Classic Beer Style' category).
Twenty Seventeen saw the states of Ohio and Illinois winning big, with seven and eight medals, respectively. It also saw an unsurprising large amount of bourbon barreled beers, Brettanomyces'd ales, spiced stouts, fruited sours (is the raspberry king in '17?), and more. You name the barrel/wood-type or adjunct, and it was there.
This year's #FoBAB–the crown jewel of the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild–held many surprises, and saw plenty of first-time medal winners. Chock-full of barrel-aged excitement, we went and tasted as much as we could, in order to share our favorites with you–as well as a list of the winners in each category. Below are a few brews from the nearly 400 offered that made an impression on us.
THR'S 2017 FAVORITES
Angry Orchard (Walden, NY)
Understood in Motion #2 (Cider in cognac barrels)
August Schell (New Ulm, MN)
Elektrik Empress (Berliner Weisse in foeder on plums)
Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project (Denver, CO)
L'Brett d'Raspberry (Golden sour ale aged on oak barrels with raspberries)
Half Acre Beer Co. (Chicago, IL)
Benthic (Imperial stout in bourbon barrels with coconut & coffee)
Jester King (Austin, TX)
Atrial Rubicite (BA sour ale re-fermented with raspberries)
Lil Beaver Brewery (Bloomington, IL)
Rye Barrel Whole Lotta Wonderful (Imperial stout in rye barrels with coconut & cacoa nibs)
Rhinegeist Brewery (Cincinnati, OH)
Double Oaked Mastodon (Belgian dark strong in red wine & bourbon barrels)
Upstream Brewing Co. (Omaha, NE)
Things! (Red wine barrel geuze-style ale)
WeldWerks Brewing Co. (Greeley, CO)
Medianoche Reserve (Imperial stout in bourbon barrels with coconut, vanilla & cacao)
Wolf's Ridge (Columbus, OH)
Terre Du Sauvage Green (Farmhouse ale in oak with Brett, lacto & Saison yeast)
Finally, we'd like to congratulate all of the winners at 2017's FoBAB. With the number of entries in each category, it's certainly a commendable feat to take home some hardware.
2017 FESTIVAL OF WOOD & BARREL-AGED BEER WINNERS
BEST IN SHOW
MORE Brewing Co. (Villa Park, IL)
BA Karma (BA Imperial stout aged in Weller barrels, w/coconut, cinnamon & cocoa nibs)
STRONG PORTER STOUT
SPECIALTY/STRONG PORTER STOUT
OTHER PALE BEER
OTHER DARK BEER
GOLD / Listermann/Triple Digit Brewing Co. (Cincinnati, OH) – Chickow! Brandy Barrel
SILVER / Lakefront Brewery (Milwaukee, WI) – Brandy BA Imperial Pumpkin Ale
BRONZE / Avery Brewing Co. (Boulder, CO) – Tangerine Quad
WILD BEER (ACIDIC) SOURS
WILD BEER (ACIDIC) SOURS with FRUIT
Photography by Nick Costa.