FOBAB 2017 Recap: Favorites & Winners

UNIVERSITY VILLAGE, CHICAGO

FOBAB 2017 Recap: Favorites & Winners

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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

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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)


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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

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BEST IN SHOW

MORE Brewing Co. (Villa Park, IL)  
BA Karma (BA Imperial stout aged in Weller barrels, w/coconut, cinnamon & cocoa nibs)

RUNNER UP

Listermann Brewing Co. + Triple Digit Brewing Co. (Cincinnati, OH)  
Chickow! Brandy Barrel (Imperial Brown w/ hazelnuts, in brandy barrels)

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STRONG PORTER STOUT

GOLD / Coppertail Brewing (Tampa, FL) BA SuperVoid
SILVER / WeldWerks Brewing Co. (Greeley, CO) – Rum Double Barrel Medianoche
BRONZE / Surly Brewing Co. (Minneapolis, MN) – BA Darkness

SPECIALTY/STRONG PORTER STOUT

GOLD / MORE Brewing Co. (Villa Park, IL)  – BA Karma
SILVER / Haymarket Pub & Brewery (Chicago, IL) – Clare's Thirsty Ale
BRONZE / Mikkeller Brewing (San Diego, CA) – Beer Geek Mid-Day Dessert

BARLEYWINE/WHEATWINE

GOLD / Fremont Brewing (Seattle, WA) – Brew 2000
SILVER / Short's Brewing Co. (Bellaire, MI) – Bourbon Wizard
BRONZE / Revolution Brewing (Chicago, IL) – Very Special Old Straight Jacket (VSOJ)

OTHER PALE BEER

GOLD / Warped Wing Brewing Co. (Dayton, OH) – Barn Gang
SILVER / Mothers Brewing (Springfield, MO) – BA Asceticism
BRONZE / Nebraska Brewing Co. (Papillion, NE) – Blanc is the New White

OTHER DARK BEER

GOLD / Zaftig Brewing (Columbus, OH) – Zaftig Wee Heavy
SILVER / Rhinegeist Brewery (Cincinnati, OH) – Double Oaked Mastodon
BRONZE / Pollyanna Brewing Co. (Lemont, IL) – Orenda Volumen 02

FRUIT BEER

GOLD / Shoreline Brewery (Michigan City, IN) – Imperial Raspberry
SILVER / Werk Force Brewing (Plainfield, IL) – Farmhouse Vultures
BRONZE / Alter Brewing Co. (Downers Grove, IL) – King's Blood

SPECIALTY/EXPERIMENTAL

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/BRETT

GOLD / Wolf's Ridge Brewing (Columbus, OH) – Terre du Savage Green
SILVER / Blackberry Farm Brewery (Walland, TN) – Barrel Series 18
BRONZE / Hopewell Brewing Co. (Chicago, IL) – Extended Family

WILD BEER (ACIDIC) SOURS

GOLD / Upstream Brewing Co. (Omaha, NE) – Things!
SILVER / TRVE Brewing (Denver, CO) – Life's Trade
BRONZE / Rivertown Brewing Co. (Cincinnati, OH) – Ville de Rivere Geuze

WILD BEER (ACIDIC) SOURS with FRUIT

GOLD / Upstream Brewing Co. (Omaha, NE) – Things! & Stuff
SILVER / Jester King Brewery (Austin, TX) – Atrial Rubicite
BRONZE / Wicked Weed Brewing (Asheville, NC) – Cerise Morte

CIDER/PERRY/MEAD

GOLD / Angry Orchard (Walden, NY) – Understood in Motion #2
SILVER / Virtue Cider (Fennville, MI) – Percheron
BRONZE / Tin City Cider Co. (Paso Robles, CA) – Heartland Cider


The calm before the storm, at Saturday's early session...

The calm before the storm, at Saturday's early session...

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2017's Best in Show winner, MORE Brewing Co.'s BA Karma, out of Villa Park, IL

2017's Best in Show winner, MORE Brewing Co.'s BA Karma, out of Villa Park, IL

Danielle D'Alessandro, Executive Director of the ICBG, announces the winners.

Danielle D'Alessandro, Executive Director of the ICBG, announces the winners.

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2017 saw 11 categories, down from 12 in 2016.

2017 saw 11 categories, down from 12 in 2016.

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Lost Abbey's Cable Car garnered plenty of social media hype after Session 1.

Lost Abbey's Cable Car garnered plenty of social media hype after Session 1.

Columbus, Ohio's Wolf's Ridge Brewing brought plenty of wild beer surprises.

Columbus, Ohio's Wolf's Ridge Brewing brought plenty of wild beer surprises.

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Photography by Nick Costa.