FoBAB Fantasy Draft: Power Rankings 2020
One of the best beer fests in the world is going virtual this year. And though we’re already feeling the absence of endless rows of barrel-aged beers at FoBAB, we here at ABV Chicago recommend starting a Fantasy FoBAB 2020 League. (Quickly, because the awards will be livestreamed on November 14th.)
Want to run your own Fantasy FoBAB draft? Here’s what you need to know:
- 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.
- Gather Teams: Our league is 10 teams, but this can certainly be done with fewer or more. We draft six breweries each, and that can be adjusted based on the size of your league.
- Draft: We did this: we randomly generated a draft order using a free online draft generator. 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. Teams were still welcome to draft outside of the “awake” hours if they chose, but no team would be penalized for not selecting during that time.
- 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 are pitching money into a pool that will then be used to purchase gift cards for the 1st and 2nd place winners from local small businesses or breweries of their choosing.
If you’re playing along at home with your own FoBAB Fantasy Draft for the 2020 season, we the non-experts at ABV Chicago have drafted up our Power Rankings for your draft preparation.
The list was prepared by two people using their arbitrary opinions and limited experience, so take it for what it’s worth. Since there are 163 participating breweries listed on the FoBAB website, this list overlooks many breweries – so we undoubtedly missed a lot of great stuff.
The rankings were made based on a combination of several factors:
- Medal history: Using our master spreadsheet of Medal History, we gave higher placement to breweries that have won the most medals, but especially if those medals have come over the last few years. Previous Best of Show and Runner-Up awardees were valued somewhat highly. Last year’s Power Rankings were updated to reflect changes in attendance and medals won at FoBAB 2019 and the 2020 GABF competition.
- Multiple locations: For simplifying our Fantasy Draft, each team manager is only allowed to pick one brewery that has multiple locations. As far as we understand, multiple locations means more entries which of course means a higher chance to win. We also didn’t want to bog down the draft with separating out each location. So, they are drafted as a collective. This gives great value to picking Haymarket or Off Color or any other multiple-location brewery. (They are marked in the rankings with an asterisk.)
- Style variance: Some breweries enter beer in multiple, distinctly different categories, while others focus primarily on producing beer that fits in just a handful of categories. Though, the number of categories are pretty split in terms of “sours” vs. “stouts”, which we know is reductive. But certainly, choosing a cider-producer or mead maker has its limitations, as there’s really only one category for those to compete. But the number of competitors is much smaller as well, so choosing a cider or mead producer might be a late-round value pick.
- Reputation: A combination of our subjective experiences and recent wins in other prestigious beer awards, a brewery that has a reputation for excellent barrel-aged beers will be pushed up the list.
- Our Subjective Personal Experience: We are not beer judges or experts in any way, but we do drink a lot of beer critically and have been for many years, so I guess we’re allowed to have an opinion. Some breweries may have been pushed up the list because we arbitrarily decided that their barrel-aged beers are better than other breweries’ barrel-aged beers. It’s only a small factor, but it played a part.
So we present to you the Power Rankings without further defending our choices. We’re in a time where the smallest unknown brewery can out-barrel the 30-year pros. FoBAB is almost more fun when a list like this one turns out all wrong. Let us all raise a barrel-aged beer to the prospect of drinking together safely in 2021. (See below the rankings for further observations about this year’s entered breweries.)
Here’s a handy Google Sheet you can copy and use for drafting purposes: FoBAB 2020 Fantasy Draft Master List
FoBAB 2020 Fantasy Power Rankings
- Revolution Brewing*
- Bottle Logic Brewing
- Pollyanna Brewing Company*
- The Lost Abbey
- Off Color Brewing*
- Beachwood Brewing & Blendery*
- Haymarket Brewery & Taproom*
- Sun King Brewing Company*
- Werk Force
- Firestone Walker Brewing Company
- Goose Island Beer Co.
- Half Acre Beer Company*
- MORE Brewing Company
- Listermann Brewing Company
- KROS Strain
- Forager Brewery
- Hacienda Beer Co.
- Wolf’s Ridge Brewing
- Hopewell Brewing
- DESTIHL Brewery
- Cerebral Brewing
- Cruz Blanca Brewery
- Afterthought Brewing Company
- Nebraska Brewing Company
- Allagash Brewing Company
- Avery Brewing Company
- Central Waters Brewing Company
- Pipeworks Brewing Co.
- Alesong Brewing*
- Phase Three Brewing
- MadTree Brewing Company
- Begyle Brewing
- Breakside Brewery
- Crystal Lake Brewing
- Lakefront Brewery
- Hidden Springs Ale Works
- Rhinegeist Brewery*
- Spiteful Brewing
- Lake Effect Brewing Company
- Misbeehavin’ Meads
- Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project
- Pure Project
- Wicked Weed Brewing
- MobCraft Beer
- Alvarado Street Brewery
- Forbidden Root
- Superstition Meadery
- Derive Brewing Company
- 4 Hands Brewing Company
- Coppertail Brewing Co.
- Imperial Oak Brewing
- Lil Beaver Brewery
- Rock Bottom Brewery
- Prairie Artisan Ales
- Hailstorm Brewing Co.
- 3 Floyds Brewing Co.
- Taxman Brewing Company
- Church Street Brewing Company
- DC Brau Brewery
- Branch & Bone Artisan Ales
- Transient Artisan Ales
- Upstream Brewing Company
- Mikerphone Brewing
- Noon Whistle Brewing
- Verboten Brewing and Barrel Project
- Open Outcry Brewing
- Horse Thief Hollow Brewing
- Horus Aged Ales
- Maplewood Brewery & Distillery
- Old Irving Brewing Co.
- Shoreline Brewery
- Solemn Oath Brewery
- Whiner Beer Co.
- New Image Brewing Company
- Collective Arts Brewing
- Wren House Brewing Company
- Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
- Black Horizon Brewing Company
- Milwaukee Brewing Co.
- 18th Street Brewery
- Burnt City Brewing
- Penrose Brewing Company
- Foreign Exchange Brewing Co.
- Four Fathers Brewing
- Lo Rez Brewing
- Scorched Earth Brewing Co.
- New Holland Brewing Co.
- Wild Mind Ales
- Bhramari Brewing Company
- Smylie Brothers Brewing Co.
- 10 Barrel Brewing
- The Dayton Beer Company
- Reuben’s Brews
- New Braunfels Brewing Company
- Midwest Coast Brewing Company
- Barn Town Brewing
- Wolfden Brewing Company
- Area Two Experimental Brewery
- Excel Brewery Co.
- Call to Arms Brewing Co
New or Returning in 2020
Despite the numerous losses for the competition with a majorly scaled-back list of breweries, there are some new or returning breweries that bring a lot of value to the hunt for medals this year. We highlight some of those that seem most poised to impact scoring in the Fantasy League. Yeah, some of these are sleepers, but others may be obvious choices for your squad.
Alesong Brewing and Blending/Alesong Brewing an Tasting Room (Eugene, OR)
An Oregon-based brewery with an impressive pedigree of medals with barrel-aged beers from GABF (including this year) and other competitions, this is a relative-unknown locally that has two locations and could be a steal late in the draft. They also have two locations, which immediately improves their value.
Wicked Weed Brewing (Asheville, NC)
This crew was churning out award-winning sour and barrel-aged beer even before the AB purchase – it’s scary to imagine a Wicked Weed with the type of barrel budget given to Goose, but that’s exactly why they’re a powerful pick. They also just added a bronze for a lambic at GABF to their impressive medal history. (They also have a FoBAB bronze from 2017 for – what else – a fruited sour.)
Breakside Brewery (Portland, OR)
Another brewery that is relatively-unknown in the Midwest but a big player in the Northwest, Breakside has won many medals over the last decade for a large variety of styles, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see them take home at least one from FoBAB. (They’ve done it twice before in 2013 and 2014.)
Alvarado Street Brewery (Monterey, CA)
Though they’re well-known – and well-decorated with three more GABF medals this year – for their playful fruity sour or hazy beers, they also have an impressive-looking lineup of barrel-aged beers that could sneak their way into a few categories.
DC Brau Brewery (Washington, DC)
Another well-established brewery, this one from the nation’s capital has been making quality beer so long, and garnering significant recognition along the way, they are a great value pick.
Firestone Walker Brewing (Paso Robles, CA)
The fact that they were missing from last year’s competition was a total shocker, but now that they are back, they instantly rocket into the top 10 with easily one of the best barrel programs in the country, and nine previous FoBAB medals looking for a tenth.
Horus Aged Ales (Oceanside, CA)
A damn fine brewery with a great handle on barrel-aged beers, they won a bronze for a sour the last time they were at FoBAB in 2018.
Nebraska Brewing Company (La Vista, NE)
Another brewery with a long FoBAB pedigree making a return, don’t undercut Nebraska’s chances, as they have six medals from the competition over the last decade.
Scorched Earth Brewing Co. (Algonquin, IL)
This Algonquin-based brewery made a nice splash with a gold in 2016 in the notoriously finicky Strong Pale category, and their return this year sneaks them into the power rankings.
Allagash Brewing Company (Portland, ME)
Fun fact: Allagash has only won one FoBAB medal and it was back in 2009. Another fun fact: that doesn’t matter because they’re one of the best breweries in America, hands down, and should be drafted early.
Unsurprisingly given the trajectory of this year, the number of breweries competing in FoBAB this year is down by around 66 – from 229 to 162 breweries. There are some notable absences from the competition which had a significant impact on the Power Rankings. Here are some of the missing breweries, with last year’s Arbitrary Power Ranking in parentheses.
- WeldWerks Brewing Co. (9)
- Fremont Brewing (10)
- Orpheus Brewing (14)
- The Rare Barrel (15)
- Rowley Farmhouse Ales (16)
- Free Will Brewing Co. (19)
- Blackberry Farm Brewery (21)
- New Belgium Brewing (23)
- Karetas Brewing (28)
- 5 Rabbit Cerveceria (35)
- Funk Factory Geuzeria (37)
- MKE Brewing Co. (38)
- Virtue Cider (40)
- Garagiste Meadery (46)
- Monday Night Brewing (49)