The 11th Annual Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beers

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Last weekend was the 11th Annual Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beers or what the cool kids call, FOBAB. This was the first year in 5 years that the Hop Cast didn’t film an episode at the event. However, we did have a chance to document the event through a few great photos taken by friend of the show, Sergio Salgado. I wish I would have posted these up earlier but I think it took me a while to recover from the festivities.

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This years FOBAB was bigger than it’s been in the years past. Last year it had moved to Bridgeport Arts Center mainly for space reasons and it’s once again busting at the seams. Last year the event mainly took place in one large room, but this year it had spilled into a second room. I almost wonder if there were some people who didn’t even know about this second room. The second room was where you’d find most of the wild / sour ales and ciders. For being a smaller room, it really never got awful in there, it was busier during the second session but still you could make your way up to the stations for the beer.

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Like previous years past the Hop Cast crew went to both sessions. It’s fun to see the different crowds at the two sessions. During the day you’ll find some of the brewers, judges and their friends; so it’s a little older of a crowd and they tend to know how to handle their beer. But as soon as the doors open for the evening session, all hell breaks loose. That crowd is there to party, they are also on a mission to try all the beers that won awards during the afternoon session. At night you’re going to find longer lines for some of the beers and they will run out quickly. During the afternoon, very few beers kick in the first 3 hours, it’s not until after the awards that you see beers getting pulled off. But you do see lines throughout the day for some of those extra special beers like Goose Backyard, Firestone Walker Parabola, Utopias and most of the Track beers from Lost Abbey.

For me it’s the awards that make the afternoon session great. Having the opportunity to see all the brewers you know taking the stage and accepting their well deserved awards is just awesome. The Chicago beer community is very close and I doubt anyone is too upset when a fellow brewer wins for what they do best.

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The amount of beers at FOBAB is a bit overwhelming and I don’t think anyone could sample them all. With that being said you get a booklet of tickets when you arrive and I know very few people who needed more. In the years past when the list of beers wasn’t so large I know they used to sell extra tickets, I don’t think that’s even an issue anymore. After a dozen or so 10% ABV barrel aged beers I personally am ready for a nap.

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This years Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beers was a blast. I know getting tickets was a bit tricky this year and I don’t see next year being much different. So make sure you follow the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild for all the news as it approaches because you really don’t want to miss this event. FOBAB is the only place you can have the opportunity to try so many of these rare beers from brewers all across the country in one place.

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