GABF 2022: Illinois Pour List Preview
For the first time in 3 years, the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) returns to an in-person beer event! While they did cut the number of breweries from about 800 in 2019 to about 381 this year, it’s still an absurd number of breweries pouring at the festival. That said, you’ll need some guidance, especially since there are so many not-in-your-state breweries pouring. Without further ado, here’s the GABF Illinois pour list and recommendations.
For each brewery I will list what they’re pouring (according to GABF’s page) and what you should get if you only try one beer. For some breweries I’ll also list a “Treasure Trove” option because sometimes breweries bring things that aren’t listed. If they happen to be pouring that beer (or anything similar) that would also be something to get.
Brickstone Brewing (Bourbonnais, IL)
Belgo-APA – Belgian Pale Ale; 6.25%
Brickstone APA – American Pale Ale with Amarillo; 6.25%
Brickston Lager – American Light Lager; 4.3%
Dark Secret – Barrel-aged Russian Imperial Stout; 11%
Dark Secret with Raspberries – Barrel-aged Russian Imperial Stout with raspberries; 11%
HopSkipNImDrunk – Double Pale Ale with Citra, Amarillo and Centennial; 7.75%
Permanent Vacation – IPA with Citra; 6%
ABV Recommends: Any of the Dark Secrets. If you like fruit in your stout go with the raspberries. While not as complex or deep as Bourbon County, you’ll get all the chocolate and barrel you need from it.
Treasure Trove: Cherry Bomb. Usually only available at their Bourbonnais brewpub, Cherry Bomb is light and full of cherries. Perfect because you’ll be drinking so much!
D and G Brewing Company – Saint Charles, IL
Archangel Red – American Red Ale; 5%
California OJ – Hazy IPA; 8.4%
Kolsch – 5%
Level 3 Cleric – Belgian Tripel; 9.98%
Rust Belt Rye – Rye; 6.1%
ABV Recommends: Not often there’s a brewery pouring a Belgian Tripel at the fest. I’d grab that and stick around for the red ale and rye if it’s good.
Hailstorm – Tinley Park, IL
BBW – Big Beautiful Wheat – Hefeweizen; 5.8%
Hotel Life – American Lager; 4.7%
Pinochle Porter – 6.7%
Prairie Madness – American IPA with Centennial and Ahtanum; 7%
ABV Recommends: Winner of the last gold American IPA before Hazy IPA became a category, Prairie Madness is the pick. You can’t beat gold!
Treasure Trove: Any Vlads. Honestly surprised one of their Vlad Imperial Stouts isn’t on the list. It’s their playground stout, with barrel-aging and a ton of variants around.
Kishwaukee Brewing Co – Woodstock, IL
Baltic Porter – 8.2%
Brown – 6.8%
Doppelbock – 8%
Oktoberfest – 6.7%
Saison – 5.6%
ABV Recommends: Having never had anything from this brewery before, I’m inclined to reach for either the Baltic Porter or Saison. But that’s me!
Maplewood Brewing Company – Chicago, IL
Double Charlatan – DDH Double IPA with Citra, Centennial, Columbus, and Amarillo; 8%
Fat Pug – Oatmeal Milk Stout; 5.9%
Festbier – Oktoberfest; 6%
Fizzle Drizzle Cherry Limeade – Fruited Sour with cherries and lime; 8.5%
Moon Fruit – DDH Hazy Double IPA with Galaxy, Citra, and Mosaic; 8%
ABV Recommends: While I’m close to recommending the Fizzle, Double Charlatan keeps it bitter and fruity, scratching that West Coast IPA itch. You won’t be dissapointed.
Treasure Trove: Any Cuppa. Cuppa is their Imperial Stout that’s been barrel-aged (including in Pappy Van Winkle barrels!) and adjuncted all over the place. It’s thick and chocolatey and definitely a choice pick if they bring it.
Midwest Coast – Chicago, IL
English Sporting Beer – ESB; 5.3%
Oktoberfest – 5.8%
West Town Brown – Brown Ale; 5.3%
ABV Recommends: A good ESB is hard to come by, and even harder to find a GABF medal winner. Grab the 2020 Bronze English Sporting Beer and leave bitter.
MORE Brewing – Huntley, IL
Barrel-Aged Henna: Birthday – Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout with Coconut, Pecans, Vanilla, & Cocoa Nibs; 15%
Henna: Hazelnut Latte – Imperial Stout with Hazelnut, Coffee, & Vanilla; 14%
Javalin – Coffee Blonde Ale; 6%
Morever – Hazy DDH IPA with Citra, Motueka, and Simcoe; 6.5%
Watermelon Chula – Gose with watermelon; 6.5%
ABV Recommends: Difficult decision here. Even though the Morever won our blind More vs. Phase Three show, I’m guessing it’ll hang around and be pouring a while. The Barrel-Aged Henna: Birthday, however, probably won’t be and it tastes like liquid chocolate cake. Get the Birthday and come back later for the Morever!
Treasure Trove: Mehndi. An exquisitely blended BA Imperial Stout that routinely gives off decadent chocolates and fruit notes (depending on which barrel was used in aging it). This is being greedy though because they’re pour list is banging already.
Noon Whistle – Lombard, IL
Bruski – Czech Pilsner; 4.6%
Cozmo – American Pale Ale with Falconer’s Flight; 5%
Frothie – American Light Lager; 4.7%
Fuzzy Smack – Berliner Weisse with peach; 4.6%
Hop Prism Blue – American IPA with Simcoe and Mosaic; 7.3%
Leisel Weapon -Hefeweizen; 5.2%
Squishy Gummy – Hazy IPA with Citra, Mosaic, and Simcoe; 7.1%
ABV Recommends: While their Smack series is great, go with the medal winner in Leisel Weapon. Big mouthfeel and copious banana notes.
Treasure Trove: Bernie, their milk stout, combines a nice roasty character with a healthy amount of chocolate and a nice lactose-assisted mouthfeel. If the Imperial BA one is there, it’s close to BCBS in terms of flavor.
Old Irving Brewing – Chicago, IL
Barrel Aged Gammelhjarted – Blend of Barrel-Aged Barleywine aged in maple and port barrels and Barrel-Aged Krampus Imperial Milk Stout aged in rum barrels; 13%
Beezer – Hazy IPA with Citra and Mosaic; 6.9%
Double Beezer – Hazy Double IPA with Citra and Mosaic; 8.5%
Scentinel – IPA with Citra, Mosaic, and Centennial; 7%
‘Til Death – German Pilsner; 4.9%
ABV Recommends: Staying at the booth. I initially picked 3 as my top choices – Scentinel, BA Gammelhjarted, and the “You heard it here first” gold medal-winning Beezer. If I had to pick one, it’d be the wholly unique and smooth BA Gammelhjarted because you’re not getting that anywhere else. But depending on what you’re feeling when you get to the booth, any of the three are choice.
Treaure Trove: See that BA Gammelhjarted blend? Krampus, their barrel-aged imperial milk stout, has become a staple during the barrel-aged Chicago winters. Big barrel, chocolate and vanilla can’t be beat. If they bring that in just pitch a tent and order some food at the booth.
Pollyanna – Lemont, IL
Frühauf – Märzen; 5.4%
Humpenscrump – Hefeweizen; 5.2%
Lite Thinking – American Light Lager; 4.7%
Pollyanna Pils – German Pils; 5.4%
The Full Lemonty – Golden Ale; 5%
ABV Recommends: The table is heavy with GABF medals here. Both Frühauf and Lite Thinking have the hardware, but Lite Thinking’s a two-time winner (2019 Gold and 2020 Bronze). Who am I to say pick anything but the two-time winner?
Treasure Trove: Their fun Imperial Milk Stout Fun Size does all the candy bars, but even the base is full of candy-like chocolate. Grab a few in prep for Halloween if it’s there.
Revolution – Chicago, IL
Coconut Deth – Barrel-aged Imperial Oatmeal Stout; 15%
Freedom Lemonade – Fruited Sour; 4.5%
Oktoberfest – Märzen; 5.7%
Thundertaker (2022) – Imperial Rye Stout; 16.2%
ABV Recommends: Another booth to camp out at. While Coconut Deth brings the chocolate and coconut you want in a BA stout and Freedom Lemonade is absolutely delicious, go with Thundertaker, their collab with Binny’s that was extremely limited in Chicago. The rye barrels meld well with the base stout and barrel, producing an easy drinking 16.2% beer.
Treasure Trove: Normally I’d say any other Deep Wood beers (their barrel-aged series of beers), but Revolution just released an amazing Caramel Popcorn Ale (Brown Ale) in collaboration with Garrett’s Popcorn. If that shows up, grab that 7% Brown Ale first and then enjoy the deep end.
Short Fuse – Schiller Park, IL
Dark Gourd – ale with coffee and pumpkin puree; 5.5%
Golden Age – Saison; 6.2%
Last Stand – Roggenbier; 4.5%
Spring Thaw – Maibock; 7.2%
Strange Design – Fruited Sour; 5.5%
Tropical Hurt Locker – Sour with raspberries and passionfruit; 5.5%
Vocal Jam – Sour with boysenberry, blueberry and coffee; 5.5%
ABV Recommends: The 2021 GABF Mid-Size Brewery of the Year is now pouring at the fest, bringing both of their silver medal winning beers from last year. While Tropical Hurt Locker is a good choice, I’m intrigued by Vocal Jam and would most likely choose that. A coffee fruited sour is usually risky but there’s some hardware to back it up.
Tangled Roots – Oswego, IL
Blueberry YUM – Hazy IPA with Bravo, Comet, and Rakau; 6.3%
Intercontinental Pilsner – German Pilsner; 4%
Mr. Tangerine Man
Subject to Change – Hazy IPA with Mosaic and El Dorado; 6.5%
Sunkissed Blonde Ale – Blonde Ale with blackberry, lime peel and lime puree; 5.2%
ABV Recommends: An interesting fruit combination and a 2021 Bronze medal? Sign me up for the Sunkissed Blonde Ale!
Tighthead – Mundelein, IL
Bear’s Choice – American IPA with Mosaic; 6.3%
Boxcar Porter – Porter; 5.6%
Five Eyes – Honey Ale; 5.5%
Longsnapper IPA – American IPA with Columbus, Cascade and Centennial; 6%
Scarlet Fire – Irish Red Ale; 5.6%
ABV Recommends: Some interesting options here. Scarlet Fire has medaled (2018 Gold), Bear’s Choice might be a S.M.a.S.H. beer, and Longsnapper has a very interesting story behind it (along with being a West Coast IPA). While I don’t usually go against the medal, I’ll pick the Longsnapper, a collaboartion with the longest tenured Chicago Bears player, longsnapper Patrick Mannelly (which oddly enough isn’t called Bear’s Choice.)
El Zacaton – Imperial stout with almond flour, cacao nibs, cinnamon sticks, vanilla beans, ancho chilies, guajillo chilies, habanero chilies, and cherrywood; 12%
Fresh IIPA One Hop Mosaic – Double IPA with Mosaic; 8.5%
Le Grande Monde – 2021-6 – Barrel-Aged Wild Ale with raspberries and habanero; 6.5%
Milk of the Murder Hornet – DDH Milkshake IPA with Galaxy; 8.5%
No Regrets – American Wild Ale with lime and dry-hopped with Mosaic; 5.5%
ABV Recommends: If this list is wholly accurate, El Zacaton is where you go, especially if you’re fond of Abraxas, Hunahpu’s or other Mexican Hot Chocolate beers. But if the Milk of the Murder Hornet is the strawberry one, that gets my absolute highest recommendation. Strawberry and vanilla with a little hop bitterness makes that one of the best milkshake IPAs I’ve ever had.
Treasure Trove: Une Annee’s other half – Hubbard’s Cave, focused more on stouts and IPAs – actually has more at the fest than the namesake. You’re looking for any of the barrel-aged Hubbard’s Cave stouts here, as they will do exactly whatever the bottle says (so the pancake one? Yeah, maple syrup and chocolate all day.) The barrel-aging cuts some of that sweetness so bottom’s up!