Posts Tagged ‘festival of wood and barrel aged beer’

Thouhgts on FoBAB 2012

Monday, November 19th, 2012

The third pilgrimage to FoBAB. Each year I have been fortunate enough to be accompanied by my wife. Sitting on our tickets for two plus months gave me the burning desire to see what the new FoBAB venue would have to offer as well as the tasty treats the American craft brewers would bring forward.

That’s about where the excitement ended. A third straight year in which FoBAB under staffed the line. For the 500 – 750 that would be attenting, that wasn’t enough. Some 40 minutes in line got us into the venue. Coat check, glass, beer listing; ready to go.

Unfortunately the event was on the fifth floor, there was only one freight elevator, and it was slow. Not good for a fat guy. Once we made it up stairs, the best beers had already ran dry: only 40 minutes into the night. Yuck.

Once up there, it was hot. 90 degrees hot. Even after a first session in which they knew it was hot, they didn’t open the windows. I sweat easily and, when I do, I am not a happy camper.

The shape of this new space was rectangular and narrow. Not a great way to move around. In the past, the square shape allowed those with beer to move to the middle, not so as there was no middle. The low ceiling combined to make the space seem much more confined.

Yes, I a bitching. It wasn’t a good event. At $45 per ticked, I don’t feel I was able to get my value out of the event. We had a few good beers but nothing more. We left less than two hours after we arrived, giving away five of our tickets each. This was my last FoBAB. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: In 1912 a law passed in Nebraska where drivers in the country at night were required to stop every 150 yards, send up a skyrocket, wait eight minutes for the road to clear before proceeding cautiously, all the while blowing their horn and shooting off flares.

Thouhgts on FoBAB 2011

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

crowd at 2011 fobab

My second pilgrimage to the Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beer (FoBAB) has come and gone. I have some thoughts, comments, and a review of the American craft beers that I tasted, with one becoming beer #347 for my 365 American craft beers in 365 days (more to come on that).

62 breweries put their wares up for everyone to taste. 172 beers represented those breweries with many breweries bringing out the heavy hitters. I met an assistant brewer from Firestone Walker Brewing Company that was finishing up taking classes at Siebel institute. He mentioned that most of the beers from Firestone were very limited release that few people would have the chance to appreciate. Those 62 breweries were located in 22 of the states.

After going around I felt that maybe half of the beers there were represented by a handful of breweries. My perception was the beers were much more Midwest centric with some of the breweries from previous years there but not bringing as much swag. That concerns me for what will happen going forward.

The ninth annual FoBAB cost $40 for 16 tickets. This is an increase of $5 in ticket price for one more ticket over the previous year. The event sold out quickly so I would imagine the price will go up again next year non-proportional manner. Once again the amount of people allowed into the fest seemed to be perfect. There was room to move and the goers always seem to get their beers and move away from the pourers, making the experience pleasant.

ninth annual festival of wood and barrel aged beer

I once again attended the event with my wife and we met up with Ed and Shawn from the Tuesday Night Beer Club. The wife, being the socialite she is, found people’s ears to chew, allowing us to meet a couple of huge American craft beer fans we never knew before. The beers were fantastic, as they always are, with only one disappointing.

The beers that I tried with notes taken from the FoBAB pamphlet handed to all festival participants (in the order tasted):

  • Half Acre Beer Company Wake of the Flood (~6.0) – An autumnal rye with apple and Lactobacillus. Aged 11 months in a French oak Pinot Noir barrel.
  • Nebraska Brewing Company Black Betty (~7.5) – American Imperial Stout aged in Colorado craft whiskey barrels.
  • Goose Island Manhattan Barrel Aged Bourbon County Stout (~8.8) – Imperial Stout aged in a 2nd use Heaven Hill bourbon barrel (10-16 years) that was previously used to age barrel-aged Manhattans.
  • Firestone Walker Brewing Sticky Monkey (~7.5) – English-style Barleywine aged in Heaven Hill bourbon barrels.
  • Flossmoor Station Pullman Brown Reserve (~9.2) – Brown Porter with molasses aged in Woodford Reserve bourbon barrels for 9 months.
  • Sun King Brewing Company Pappy Van Muckle (~8.7) – Strong Scotch Ale aged in a Pappy Van Winkle barrel.
  • Haymarket Pub and Brewery Claire’s Thirsty Ale (~8.8) – Imperial Stout aged on raspberries in bourbon barrels.
  • Bear Republic Brewing Company Tartare (~4.2) – Berliner Weisse aged for 18 months in a neutral French oak wine vat. Brightly acidic with a distinct wheat character.
  • Surly Brewing Company Five (~8.4) – 100% Brettanomysces fermented dark beer aged in red wine barrels.
  • Goose Island Heartwood Symposium (~8.3)
  • Bell’s Brewery Black Note (~7.6) – Imperial Stout aged in first-fill bourbon barrels.
  • Lost Abbey 2010 Deliverance (~8.9) – Imperial Porter aged in Heaven Hill bourbon barrels.
  • Piece Brewery Mooseknuckle (~9.1) – American Barleywine aged in a Woodford Reserve bourbon barrel.
  • Goose Island Broadshoulders Barleywine (9.4) – favorite beer of the evening – English style Barleywine aged in an 18 year old Elijah Craig bourbon barrel.
  • Fifty Fifty Brewing Company Old Conundrum (~8.7) – Barleywine aged in a combination of brandy and rye barrels for 225 days.
  • Schlafy Beer Barleywine (~7.7) – Barleywine aged on oak.
  • New Belgium Brewing Company (~8.1) – Sour brown ale.

I will be back for the 10 year FoBAB next year but I might be in for it solo as the wife isn’t sure she wants to go again. We use this day to celebrate our anniversary so I am hoping I can coax her into rescinding her early decision. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, the man who designed the Eiffel Tower, also designed the inner structure of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor.

Thoughts On FoBAB

Sunday, November 7th, 2010

The Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beer (FoBAB) for 2010 is history. I was there, so now it is time to put down my thoughts for my first FoBAB. I went with my wife, as an anniversary gift, and met Rich and a few of his friends there. We set up base camp towards the back of the hall and shared our thoughts about the beers we were partaking. The best part of going with your wife: being able to share each of her beers, which easily doubles the amount of beers you could otherwise taste.

A few statistics: 158 beers, 53 brewers, from 23 states. Yep, almost half of the United States was represented.

My ugly mug with Bryan Shimkos of Flossmoor shorly after winning his first of two awards.

The Festival was probably one of the coolest I have been to but it does have its’ short comings. All the beers are listed/grouped by style. I guess you could easily view that as a nice way to present similar beers together, but what about a brewery in which you want to try multiple of their beers. You have to look at the flier they gave you, find the numbers (all beers are grouped on a numbering system) for each beer, then come up with a plan for how you want to attach that particular breweries beers. Not the way I am used to getting at beers. As I said, I can also see their side of this so that if you go and get one bourbon aged beer, you are in the land of bourbon aged beers or the land of sours.

Now, my second and final beef. There are two sessions kept to approximately 500 people per session. This is actually a good amount of people as the hall has just enough space to allow one to move around without knocking into others. You receive 15 or so tickets, which I decided I would ration and make sure I had them up to the end, which was 5:00pm for the afternoon session (1:00pm – 5:00pm).

Matt Yohe from Upland Brewing posing after a talk about some of their lambics

That’s all good but by 3:30pm some taps were already getting shut down; it might have even been earlier. I personally think that is horse shit. How can you shut it down with over 90 minutes left? It made me have to choose beers that I would have never tried if not for this fact. No, most of the beers I felt forced to try, were not that good. This was really disappointing for me. I guess you actually have to burn through your tickets as quickly as possible in order to get everything you might have wanted to try up front. I would have to say this is probably the thing that really kept me from raving about this festival. It was good, just not great.

The beers that I tried with some brief notes:

  • Blackberry Whiskey Barrel Love – New Belgium: sour w/ whiskey tart heat carbonated really good (I had two of these)
  • Rosie Pom – Flossmoor: subtle Brett tart on nose brown Lil pucker (won a medal)
  • Sumpin’ Fruity – Rock Bottom: light on the nose but a acidic and overwelmingly sour not for me
  • Barrel Aged Bad Man – Revolution: ruby brown not much on nose with lots of sweet toffee but that about it
  • Angel Share – Lost Abbey: is damn yummy with loads of bourbon and heat that lasts. Vanilla brown sugar. Probably one of my favorite beers of the day
  • Kaiser Curmudgeon – Founders: tough to make out after the big Angel Share. Sweet and light come to mind but I know the beer isn’t. Viscous.
  • Heavier Handed – Two Brothers: citrus pine hop bomb fantastic on tap
  • Barrel Aged Big Hugs – Half Acre: some type of Brett possibly white grapes. Expected more, was a little disappointed.
  • Deliverance – Lost Abbey: this is huge bourbon drying heat and just outstanding, probably my favorite of the show.
  • Lil; Opal – Firestone Walker: piece brewmaster told my wife to get some he was jealous white wine grapes. Something different and not for everyone.
  • BA Hi-Fi Rye – Flossmoor: true sign of aging smooth clean finish for such a big beer. Bourbon adds nice notes but is only an aside not overly done. Great. Still has some heat.
  • Russian Imperial Stout BA 2008 – Stone: wow good bourbon, this was darn tasty.
  • Bourbon King Henry – Goose Island: subtle, expected more from this beer
  • Dantalion – Upland: brown cloudy sediment sour, the reason I want to get their sours
  • Strawberry – Upland: acidic in taste belies from tart to farm house, not as solid a beer as Dantalion and I don’t know if I would ever have this again
  • Jockey Full Of Bourbon – Piece: smokey, won an award, not first, for style and you could definitely see why
  • Sweet Home Stout – Goose Island: bourbon goodness, won award for style, and right up there with Deliverance for the best of the evening.
  • BA Norte de Garde – Bluegrass Brewing
  • BA Turk – Flossmoor: first beer of the evening from Flossmoor I was a huge fan of

Overall the festival was run well, fun, and a way to meet up with a few brewers I have talked to before but never met. It also was a great opportunity to try some really rare beers that you might not get to try any other way. I will be back for 2011. Enjoy!

Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beer

Friday, November 5th, 2010

The Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beer is tomorrow, Saturday, November 06 and I will be there, for the first time, to soak up some of the rarities that will be on tap. Does it get much better than a festival in which all the American craft beer has to be aged on wood or in a barrel? I think not.

The list of breweries is quite impressive. Most of them have published a list of what they are bringing or Rich has contacted them to find out. In either case, some of the beers tomorrow will be one-timers and sound flat out delicious.

Instead of listing all the breweries here, just head on over to the Illinois craft beer site. They have them all linked to the original sites. I am looking forward to some Hi-Fi Rye Bourbon Barrel Aged from Flossmoor. That is my number one priority.

I will write something up Sunday detailing the day. It should be outstanding. Enjoy!