Brew Dude: Nov. 3, 2018
By Joshua Riley
Just around the corner is the biggest craft beer event in Chicago. Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beers, put on by the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild. It will be held Oct. 9 and 10 in three sessions at the UIC Forum, 100 Roosevelt Road, Chicago.
There is a Friday evening session from 6 to 10 p.m., and two Saturday sessions from 1 to 5 p.m. and from 6 to 10 p.m. Tickets are $85 and are available at universe.com/events/the-festival-of-wood-and-barrel-aged-beer-fobab-tickets-chicago-P7G9NW.
The ticket includes a taster glass, a fancy lanyard and some of the best beers you have been hearing about for years. FoBAB is similar to the bonus level in Super Mario, when you go down the pipe, and it’s full of coins.
I write about this event every year. It’s a staple piece of my end-of-the-year schedule. When I make a weekly schedule for the year in January, I start penciling in what columns I think I will do and when I think I will do them.
I make sure to cover some of my favorite events. I try not to do the same handful because there are some great events in Chicagoland. I go out of my way to find the best beer, breweries and events to tell you about, but I cannot avoid writing about this event.
I see Alex Lovinggood, BrickStone brewer and secretary of the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild, a couple of times per month, and we talk shop about guild stuff and upcoming events. FoBAB is always on that list of things to talk about.
It is the crown jewel of Chicago craft beer, and people from all over the country know about the event. Last year was the first year since I have been going that felt like a national or regional competition with Illinois breweries not taking the lion’s share of awards.
I am going to recommend beers you only are able to find at FoBAB. Every year, ICBG releases the names of breweries that will be in attendance but not the beers they are bringing.
If you know your local, regional and national beer game, then you can try to anticipate which beers each of these breweries will pour at the fest. According to FoBAB.com, there will be 197 breweries in attendance. Of these breweries, 71 are from Illinois, which is probably the best ratio between in-state and out-of-state breweries FoBAB ever has had.
I am going to guess you know the beers to look out for in Illinois, but just in case, you need to peep the new Goose Island Bourbon County Stout releases. Beyond BCS, you have to get your hands on some of the Revolution new flock of Deep Woods Series barrel-aged beers.
Half Acre and Pipeworks always put forward some of their heaviest hitting beers they offer at this party. Look out for last year’s big winner, the small but indomitable More Brewing of Villa Park.
Now, onto the interesting stuff coming in from all over. The first entry on FoBAB’s list that made my eyes jump out of my head was Bottle Logic Brewing from Anaheim, Calif., Bottle Logic has made a huge name for itself on the national beer trading scene with its barrel-aged imperial stouts.
Whatever they bring is bound to be exciting and delicious. If I were a betting man, I would say the Bottle Logic line will be as long as the Goose Island line at this year’s fest.
The other out-of-stater showing up that is sure to turn some heads is Casey Brewing and Blending from Colorado.
Casey’s specializes in the barrel-aged fruited sour beers. I had one of their beers recently at Half Acre’s epic jam Far & Away fest, and it was fantastic.
Galway Bay Brewing and Land and Labour Brewing are making debuts at FoBAB, all the way from Ireland, and will be bringing some international respectability to the fest.
I don’t know anything about Horus Aged Ales, other than famous beer blogger Alex Kidd, of dontdrinkbeer.com, posts bottle pics of these beers all over his Instagram. I am not sure what to expect, but they are on the list for me to try this year.
If you are heading to FoBAB for the Saturday early session, which is sold out, hit me up on the social media, @brewdudek3 on Twitter and Instagram, and let me know.
I can show you around to some of the booths I like the most. Make a solid plan ahead of time for how you are getting to and from the event, and take care of yourself in there — make sure to eat something before, during and after the fest.