ABV Chicago’s FoBAB Fantasy Draft 2019
As if drinking barrel-aged beers from 229 breweries, cideries, and meaderies from all over the country (and the world) was not exciting enough, we’ve come up with a simple way to make the Festival of Wood and Barrel-Aged Beers (FoBAB) a fun competition amongst friends – the FoBAB Fantasy League.
Running a FoBAB Fantasy League is pretty simple. Find any reasonable number of friends (anywhere between 2 and 12), preferably ones that’ll be attending FoBAB with you, and borrow our rules from below – or tweak them to fit your needs. Here are the rules we set up for our FoBAB Fantasy League:
- The Simple Concept: Draft breweries who you think have the greatest chance to win medals at FoBAB this year. Each medal win translates to points. The team(s) with the top points win.
- Draft: First, we randomly generated a draft order using a free online draft generator (that also has prominent ads for maintaining prostate health). We did an e-mail draft amongst 10 team managers, with “awake” hours from 8AM to 10PM. Each manager had a four-hour window to make their selection, and if they did not pick within that window, they would have a brewery auto-drafted for them based on our FoBAB Fantasy Power Rankings. (We finished our draft in two days, and no one had an auto-draft pick made for them.) We used the snake draft format, and there were six rounds.
- Multiple Location Brewery Rule: There are ten breweries that have multiple locations represented, meaning more entries than a brewery with one location. This changes the odds slightly, thus the rule. Teams may only draft one brewery that represents multiple locations. For simplicity’s sake, we consolidated multiple location breweries into one entry, so you didn’t run into people arguing over drafting Revolution Brewing vs. Revolution Brewpub. Here are all of those breweries:
- Braxton Brewing Company
- DESTIHL Brewery
- Half Acre Beer Company
- Haymarket Brewery
- Off Color Brewing
- Revolution Brewing
- Rock Bottom Brewery
- Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
- Sun King Brewing Company
- Zaftig Brewing Co.
- Scoring: The scoring works like this: a gold medal is worth 3 points, a silver is worth 2 points, and a bronze medal is worth 1 point. If the brewery wins Best of Show or Runner-Up, that will be an additional 3 points or 2 points respectively.
- Prizes: For our league, we have agreed that the losing teams will buy a single six-pack or four-pack of a beer they like which will be distributed to the top two teams, with the first-place team taking the largest share. You could up the stakes even more by making the ante a barrel-aged beer.
- Resources: Feel free to use any of the following resources to help facilitate your own FoBAB Fantasy draft:
- FoBAB Medal History – This is a handily sorted document covering all medals from all years of FoBAB. (Anyone know what the heck is up with Wild Beers from 2006?)
- FoBAB Fantasy Power Rankings – This is our totally arbitrary list of breweries that we think have the greatest shot at winning medals. But what do we know? (Having a list like this is helpful for the auto-draft option, though, so feel free to use it.)
- FoBAB Fantasy Draft Master List – I highly recommend copying this GoogleSheet, clearing out our results/formatting, and using it for your draft. It contains an alphabetical list of all the breweries competing at FoBAB this year (with multiple location breweries consolidated), a tab for keeping track of draft results, and our Power Rankings for easy reference.
That’s it! And if you’re holding your own FoBAB Fantasy Draft with friends, post the results to Twitter or Instagram or Facebook and be sure to tag us!
The Inaugural ABV Chicago FoBAB Fantasy League: Draft Results
When we made a list of Chicago beer media members and personalities that we’d like to have in our league, we never thought that the first eight we asked would all reply enthusiastically. These team managers are colleagues and friends – people for whom we have tremendous respect. We admire the work they do for beer locally, and we suggest you give them all a follow.
We capped the league at 10 teams this year as we were still figuring if it would actually work or not, so we may expand the league next year. Check out the squads from our talented team managers below, and let us know on social media who you think came out of the draft with the best lineup. The teams are listed in the randomly generated draft order, and the numbers next to each brewery represent their overall pick number.
Team: The Blowfish
Team Manager: Nik White
Nik is the co-founder of Chicago Beer Geeks and the co-host of the Chicago Beer Pass podcast. When not sipping Hypnotiq from a coffee mug or spending too much time deciphering the goddamn Julian Date Code on a Lagunitas 6pk at checkout, Nik loves spending time with his wife and their Golden Retriever, Raleigh.
- 1 – Revolution Brewing (Chicago, IL)
- 20 – Cruz Blanca Brewery (Chicago, IL)
- 21 – Spiteful Brewing (Chicago, IL)
- 40 – Crystal Lake Brewing (Crystal Lake, IL)
- 41 – Upland Brewing (Bloomington, IN)
- 60 – Wild Onion Brewery (Lake Barrington, IL)
Draft analysis: With the coveted first pick, Nik took the de facto number 1 in most people’s eyes. Revolution Brewing, who – when combined with the brewpub – have taken 11 medals in 8 years, only missing out on winning in 2012. Cruz Blanca has steadily become one of the best barrel programs in the city, even without the FoBAB hardware to show it. And the fact that they can make both heavy stouts and elegant saisons, along with many more styles, they have a good shot in diverse categories. Spiteful had an impressive 2015 with two golds for stout and barleywine, and followed in 2016 with a bronze for barleywine. They’re still as good as ever with big beers, so they’re ready to cross that stage again.
Team: The Rural Beer Writer Coalition
Team Manager: Joshua Riley
Josh Riley is a craft beer columnist for the Weekend Life Section of the Daily Journal in Kankakee. He has been writing this column for nearly 5 years basing his writing on what is available and notable for the fine folks of Kankakee County. In addition to a monthly brewery crawl article, Untappd Badges, local beer events, the “Brew Dude” also runs an annual Christmas Gift List Giveaway. He lives with his wife, Sam, and daughter Penelope in rural Illinois.
- 2 – Off Color Brewing (Chicago, IL)
- 19 – Begyle Brewing (Chicago, IL)
- 22 – Hailstorm Brewing Co. (Tinley Park, IL)
- 39 – Avery Brewing Co. (Boulder, CO)
- 42 – Surly Brewing Co. (Minneapolis, MN)
- 59 – Superstition Meadery (Prescott, AZ)
Draft analysis: We debated whether or not Off Color should be in the top spot of our Power Rankings, but it came down to the yearly consistency and overall medal count of Revolution. But don’t overlook the lovers of small furry things: their foeder beers and barrel-aged wilds are the best they’ve ever been (as a recent trip to the Mousetrap confirmed), and it’d be a shock if they didn’t take home at least one gold medal this year – if not a Best of Show. Begyle is hot off their huge win at GABF for their barrel-aged stout Imperial Pajamas, so theoretically, they have a great shot to rise above a smaller field of entries here in Chicago. Using the second-to-last pick to snag Superstition Meadery is a smart move, as mead makers are at an obvious disadvantage for fantasy points with only one category. But the competition is so much smaller, you’d have to think last year’s silver medal winners will have a great shot to rack up some points.
Team: The Cherry Red Lipstick Delegation
Team Manager: Chalonda White
Chalonda is a down to earth wife and mother with a kicking afro who drinks her way through life by drinking one awesome beer at a time.
- 3 – Half Acre Beer Co. (Chicago, IL)
- 18 – ERIS Brewery and Ciderhouse (Chicago, IL)
- 23 – Maplewood Brewery & Distillery (Chicago, IL)
- 38 – Open Outcry Brewing Company (Chicago, IL)
- 43 – Odd Side Ales (Grand Haven, MI)
- 58 – Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project (Denver, CO)
Draft analysis: Half Acre does so many things well, it’s almost easy to overlook how insanely good their wild and sour beers have gotten. They’re a brewery that anyone would be lucky to have on their team. The ERIS pick is a savvy way to play in multiple categories, as they have proven success with their beers in competition and can enter the lower volume cider category as well. Their barrel program is still unproven at this point, but I suspect that won’t last long. Open Outcry in the fourth round is a fantastic pick. With former Revolution Brewpub head brewer Wil Turner at the helm, there’s a bit of a built-in FoBAB medal history for this relatively new South Side brewery. And though Odd Side often strives not to be taken too seriously, their medal history at GABF is no laughing matter.
Team: The Old Man Lagers
Team Manager: Ryan Tracy
Ryan is the owner and general manager of Beer on the Wall, a craft-beer focused liquor store and tap room, located in Park Ridge. He resides in nearby Niles, IL where he routinely drags his supportive wife, son, and daughter to breweries to play board games and lament about how hard video games used to be.
- 4 – Fremont Brewing (Seattle, WA)
- 17 – Forager Brewery (Rochester, MN)
- 24 – Afterthought Brewing Company (Lombard, IL)
- 37 – Pure Project (San Diego, CA)
- 44 – Cerebral Brewing (Denver, CO)
- 57 – Lake Effect Brewing Company (Chicago, IL)
Draft analysis: Fremont has been one of the best barrel-aged beer producers in the country now for the better part of a decade, and their two medals last year (a gold and a silver) prove that they haven’t lost a step. Forager makes some of the most desirable barrel-aged porters and stouts amongst the trading crowd (Nillerzzzz, anyone?), so it’ll be interesting to see if they are as beloved by the judges at FoBAB. Pure Project has been an absolute highlight of our last two years at GABF. If they entered their Corylus, a barrel-aged stout with hazelnuts, cacao, and coffee, they will have an excellent chance of winning a medal. The secret star of this lineup is the 6th round steal of Lake Effect, a criminally-underrated brewery that is especially adept at barrel-aging.
Team: Gentlemen Imbibing Intoxicating Beverages
Team Manager: Karl Klockars
Karl Klockars is a co-creator of GuysDrinkingBeer.com, which has covered the Chicagoland beer scene for longer than most breweries have been in existence. He’s also the author of Beer Lovers Chicago and a regular freelance writer for outlets including Chicago Magazine. His FoBAB Fantasy Draft team, the Gentlemen Imbibing Intoxicating Beverages (GIIB for short) hopes to at least nail down the Fruit Beer category but will be thrilled to see how the Pretentious Barrel House performs.
- 5 – Werk Force Brewing Co. (Plainfield, IL)
- 16 – DESTIHL Brewery (Normal, IL)
- 25 – Virtue Cider (Fennville, MI)
- 36 – Hacienda Beer Co. (Baileys Harbor, WI)
- 45 – Middle Brow Beer Co. (Chicago, IL)
- 56 – Pretentious Barrel House (Columbus, OH)
Draft analysis: A quiet powerhouse, Werk Force has absolutely owned the fruit beer category, with five medals in the last four years. DESTIHL has both a Best of Show and Runner-up designation in the last few years, so they’re not to be discounted. Officially the first non-brewery off the board, Virtue is about as dominant in one category as Werk Force is, so it doesn’t seem like a reach. The sour beers from Hacienda have so far proven refinement far beyond their years, so they could easily come in and steal a medal or two.
Team: Third and Lager
Team Manager: Stephanie Byce
Stephanie is a digital marketer in Chicago masquerading as a writer and photographer. When not hiding behind a camera lens or cutting the sleeves off of brewery T-shirts to wear while playing sports, she often finds herself on her back porch drinking with her cat.
- 6 – Hopewell Brewing Co. (Chicago, IL)
- 15 – Pollyanna Brewing Co. (Lemont, IL)
- 26 – käretäs brewing (Itasca, IL)
- 35 – Phase Three Brewing (Lake Zurich, IL)
- 46 – 5 Rabbit Cerverceria (Bedford Park, IL)
- 55 – Old Irving Brewing Co. (Chicago, IL)
Draft analysis: The only All Illinois Team, this one is a great mix of experience and promise. Hopewell is averaging a medal a year, and they earned the Runner-up designation last year for their wild ale. Most everyone in Chicago knows that Shaun from Phase Three won two medals and a Best of Show in two short years with his former outfit, so it’s absolutely reasonable to bet on his new venture. Both Pollyanna and the much lesser-known käretäs have recent success to build on, and Old Irving is about as talented of a young brew crew this city has seen in some time. Editor’s note: I deeply regret using the term “young brew crew” and I would like to apologize.
Team Manager: Jack Muldowney
Jack Muldowney is co-founder of The Hop Review and since 2012, has been fortunate enough to share pints with some of beer’s biggest personalities. Through his travels, Jack appreciates the varying perspectives of an industry that’s always adapting, and can often be found with a crisp IPA in-hand.
- 7 – WeldWerks Brewing Co. (Greeley, CO)
- 14 – Goose Island Beer Co. (Chicago, IL)
- 27 – Blackberry Farm Brewery (Maryville, TN)
- 34 – The Bruery (Placentia, CA)
- 47 – Haymarket Brewery & Taproom (Chicago, IL)
- 54 – New Belgium Brewing (Fort Collins, CO)
Draft analysis: We are deeply biased, but we tasted through several of the barrel-aged Medianoche stouts at the WeldWerks booth during GABF, and each one was more stunning than the last. They’re a rare brewery who can both please a crowd and impress a palate-fatigued judge. This year’s original Bourbon County Brand Stout from Goose Island is the best they’ve done in years, but they also have some incredible barrel treatments (2-year Reserve and Double Barrel, in particular) that absolutely deserve to win. It’s also surprising that trail-blazing New Belgium fell to the last round, as they have an actual foeder forest that produces some of the best sour beer in America.
Team: Waka Flocculation
Team Manager: Ryan I.
Ryan has been the co-host and producer of the ABV Chicago craft beer podcast for almost six years. He teaches middle school, lives in Forest Park with his wife and two kids, and sometimes comes up with silly high-concept beer games while washing the dishes.
- 8 – The Lost Abbey (San Marcos, CA)
- 13 – Rowley Farmhouse Ales (Santa Fe, NM)
- 28 – Pipeworks Brewing Co. (Chicago, IL)
- 33 – Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery (multiple)
- 48 – Rhinegeist Brewery (Cincinnati, OH)
- 53 – Monday Night Brewing (Atlanta, GA)
Draft analysis: One of the most well-decorated breweries in FoBAB history (and hell, every beer competition they enter), The Lost Abbey makes some of the best sour beer in the world, and as GABF proved this year, they can also win for a goddamned Wee Heavy. Rookie pick Rowley Farmhouse Ales might be a bit of a reach, but they also stole the show at GABF this year with several medals and the Small Brewpub of the Year award. Rock Bottom is an obvious value pick with several locations (5 or 6, depending on if the recently-shuttered Portland location is still eligible) and a rich history of medals across multiple locations. With a silver in 2017 and a gold in 2018, Rhinegeist has further solidified Ohio as a legitimate state competitor to Illinois’ hometown dominance of FoBAB.
Team Manager: Craig G.
Co-host of ABV Chicago. CPS teacher. Husband to Elizabeth and walker of Barley. Likes Final Fantasy, Tetris and Ancient History. Unlike these sentence fragments, can stand on his own – most of the time.
- 9 – Listermann Brewing Company (Cincinnati, OH)
- 12 – The Rare Barrel (Berkeley, CA)
- 29 – Orpheus Brewing (Atlanta, GA)
- 32 – Sun King Brewing Company (Indianapolis, IN)
- 49 – Beachwood Blendery (Long Beach, CA)
- 52 – Garagiste Meadery (Tampa, FL)
Draft analysis: Taking the exact opposite approach of Steph, this team is all out-of-state breweries. But Listermann is about as good of a pick in the nine spot as they come with their recent three-year Chickow! dominance. The lineup Orpheus presented at GABF was a masterclass in barrel-aging, with an elegant gueuze, a few huge adjunct stouts, and a barrel-blend worthy of Firestone Walker (who are absent from the fest this year, oddly enough). Sun King just wins medals, plain and simple. Beachwood has taken home GABF hardware for their lambic-style beers, and they are a great value pick as they might fly under the radar of most Chicagoans.
Team: Slow Pour Haze
Team Manager: Mike Zoller
Mike Zoller is the Midwest Editor for PorchDrinking.com and has been covering beer in Chicago for 7 years. He also runs the Instagram account @chicagobeer.
- 10 – MORE Brewing (Villa Park, IL)
- 11 – Bottle Logic Brewing (Anaheim, CA)
- 30 – Lil Beaver Brewery (Bloomington, IL)
- 31 – Arclight Brewing Company (Watervliet, MI)
- 50 – Lakefront Brewery (Milwaukee, WI)
- 51 – Area Two Experimental Brewing (Stratford, CT)
Draft analysis: Personnel changes at MORE shouldn’t be a concern as they replaced talent with talent, but it’ll be interesting to see if they’ll continue their gold streak. Bottle Logic took the Best of Show last year, and their barrel expertise backs up the hype on their beers. If big flavors and adjuncts are “in” again this year (they seem to alternate), expect Lil Beaver to be in the conversation. Lakefront is a good legacy pick with a diverse portfolio, and they’re an absolute lock if they bribe the judges with cheese curds.
Don’t forget to check out our annual FoBAB preview episode for this year: FoBABlin’ 4 The People!