The 13th annual Festival of Barrel Aged Beer (FOBAB) falls in the same category as Mardi Gras, The Carnival of Rio de Janeiro and Up Helly Aa Fire Festival; in other words, it is a must attend in your life time experience. FOBAB is held in Chicago once a year and boasts hundreds of barrel aged beers, along with ciders from breweries around the nation. During this two-day festival, attendees can sample beers from twelve categories such as: sours, strong ales, ciders, meads, traditional and pale beer. The festival is then wrapped up in an award ceremony for the 3rd, 2nd and 1st best beer in each category and then the Best of Show beer.
Perrin Brewing Company was nice enough to send some of our production team down to the festival this year. The night before the festival we spent the evening at the Goose Island Brewing Company’s Brewer’s Dinner. This dinner was held at their barrel storage facility which was retrofitted with dim lights, a live pianist, lite candles and boasted a 5 course meal (catered by the Publican) with multiple Goose Island beers on tap including multiple variants of their famed Bourbon County Brand Stout.
Outside of our festival “obligations”, the time in Chicago gave us the opportunity to check out what the Chicago beer scene had to offer. Ten years ago Goose Island was the only brewing putting out a significant amount of beer. Fast forward to present day. Chicago now boasts over 30 craft breweries, with the likes of Revolution, Half Acre, and Pipeworks leading the charge. Three days and a limited amount of time, we set out to sip on as many Chicago suds as time allowed. During our time in the Windy City, we were fortunate enough to experience a guided tour of Goose Island’s production facility and barrel warehouse, featuring exclusive samples of some rare yet to be release beers. Both were extremely impressive and we were able to glean a tid bit or two on how to more efficiently operate back here in Comstock Park. Beers were sampled and darts were thrown at West Loop’s Haymarket Brewery after one of our festival sessions on Saturday afternoon. Brunch was had at Revolution on Saturday morning. Looking back on it, I think we did alright, and left more than impressed with the Second City’s brewing culture, and yes, we did stop at Three Floyds on the way home.
The actual festival was held at the UIC Forum right in Downtown Chicago. There were three sessions spread over two days of barrel aged glory. As we strolled through the aisles of beers proudly displaying our Perrin attire, we were stopped for a handshake and congratulations on having “the best beer here” by a fan, referring to our No Rules Vietnamese Porter. Then moments later, another person, then another! All of this happened within just a few minutes of walking into the festival. We instantly decided to find our No Rules among the aisles, and It wasn’t hard to find. There in the already crowded festival was a quite large, line-ish looking gathering of people waiting to get their sample glasses filled by none other than No Rules. Each session of the festival, No Rules was one of the first kegs to go. That, along with the dozens of people singling us out just to tell us how awesome our beer is, gave us very high hopes for the upcoming award ceremony.
No Rules wasn’t the only beer Perrin had entered in the competition though. Roeselare was in the running, as well as Lil’ Griz. After visiting the sour beer area and hearing the amazing volunteers who pour the beer recommend everyone try Roeselare our confidence was soaring. Unfortunately, we did not come home with any hardware. We did, however, come home with a lot of great feedback, some new Perrin fans, and an experience we will never forget.