Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Festival of Barrel Aged Beers (FOBAB)

The Festival of Barrel Aged Beers is an event that happens annually in Chicago. It is both a celebration and a competition for barrel aged beers. The only qualification to be entered in this competition is that it must be aged in some sort of barrel. Wine Barrels, Sour Barrels, Oak Barrels, Bourbon barrels, Any Wood Barrel goes! The event is an open tasting with dozens perhaps 100s of jockey boxes. There are so many taps that there is barely ever a line, each group of 4 or so taps is manned by a person. You're never waiting for a sample for long, water is provided as a palet cleanser and there is food availible to purchase. This is a well run event with 2 sessions, and no beers are only availible at a single session.

(read more after the break.)

This was our second FOBAB. This year I went almost exclusively for sour beers. After just my second bourbon aged beer I was feeling bourbon fatigue. The first year we went to FOBAB we had severe bourbon fatigue, we couldn't finish the tickets we had. We were so over BBA beers. It was terrible. This year my highlights were Utopias, Bourbon County Bramble Rye, Bell's Black Note, 50/50 Eclipse - Elijah Craig, and Red Poppy. The numerous sours I tried reenforced that this was an area I wanted to explore with my brewing. Derek wanted to see more barrel aged American style beers, or aggressively hopped beers, or innovative beers. The hole I saw were flavorful mild beers, everything BBA tends towards super strong, very few things were wine barrel aged, even fewer examples of gentle subtle sours and belgians were there. I think that there is a huge opportunity out there for some one to make good beers, with reasonable alcohol and strong tastes.

This event absolutely crushes some other beer events I've been to. Any release party could learn a few things from this:

1.) more taps = shorter lines. This seems so intuitive but almost every event I've been to has had really long lines to buy, taste, or eat.
2.) If you're not waiting in line for hours the bathrooms aren't as busy. In them mens room I think there were 4 urinals and 2 toilets. In 2 years there hasn't been a line.
3.) Space = speed. By spreading out the good stuff it didn't pack everyone into a single area. The Bruery had all of the good beers on tap on the truck in the back, 3 Floyd's never has enough taps.
4.) Don't over sell tickets. If you have a tent for 400 people don't sell 2500 tickets.

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