Organized by the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild and a dedicated committee of craft beer industry experts, the festival called the Bridgeport Art Center home for a second year. Surrounding attendees with beautiful wood and brick with light seeping in from skylights overhead, the Skyline Loft of the art center feels like it was built specifically for the festival, as though the beers could have been aged right in the hall where they are served.
Despite rainy weather, an enthusiastic crowd arrived fully prepared for sensory overload, with ImBIBE members getting an hour's head start before the masses came in for the first session. Lines quickly formed at some of the most sought after beers, like the 29% ABV behemoth Utopias from Sam Adams, a beer that normally sells for $200 a bottle or more, or the Barrel-Aged Abraxas from Perennial Artisan Ales. At some points, these lines ended up stretching well across the main hall, turning 90 degrees to wind lengthwise down the side.
The festival also includes the National Wood Aged Beer Competition, dividing the beverages into 11 categories and awarding bronze, silver, and gold medals to the top three entries in each one. A Best of Show runner-up and winner are then chosen from the top medalists. This year, Goose Island received Best of Show Runner-Up for their Backyard Rye Bourbon County Brand Stout while Bell's Brewery took home the top prize for Le Bretteur, a 100% Brett fermented in French Oak Chardonnay barrels. Check out the full list of winners over at BeerDownload.com.
|The Bell's Brewery crew celebrates their big Best of Show win on stage with Haymarket's Pete Crowley.|
|Whole lotta love between Goose Island's Brett Porter and Haymarket's Pete Crowley.|
Did you attend FoBAB this year? What were some of your favorite samples? What would you like to see at next year's festival? Let me know in the comments.