The annual Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beers (FoBAB) went down over the past two days in Chicago and no less than five Ohio breweries took home honors from the prestigious festival. For those not in the know FoBAB is dedicated to beers that have either been aged in a wooden barrel or have come into contact with wood at some point during the aging process. With roughly 200 breweries from all over North America participating, it’s the largest festival of its type. At FoBAB you’ll find high abv tipples like stouts, porters, barleywines, and wee heavies, as well as wild ales including brett beers and sour ales. In all there are 11 categories for beer and one for cider, mead and perry.
The medal winning Ohio beers at FoBAB 2019 are as follows:
- Gold: Wolf’s Ridge Brewing– 3-2-1 Double Barrel Dire Wolf (Strong Porter/Stout category)
- Silver: MadTree Brewing– Joon, Chamomile and Elderflower (Specialty/Experimental category)
- Silver: Derive Brewing– It’s Only Dirty Paper (Classic Styles category)
- Bronze: Branch & Bone Artisan Ales– Silence Mill (Wild/Brett category)
- Bronze: Great Lakes Brewing– Barrel Aged Triple Dog Dare (Other Pale Beer category)
A full list of winners can be found at the FoBAB site.
This is not the first medal for Wolf’s Ridge at FoBAB. In 2017 they were honored with a gold medal in the Wild/Brett category for Terre du Sauvage Green. The base beer for this year’s winning entry is their much loved Russian Imperial Stout, Dire Wolf, aged for over a year in Tawny Port barrels and followed by another 8 months in Watershed Nocino Barrels. Prior to being used to mature the black walnut liquor, these barrels were used for aging bourbon, hence the name: 3 spirits, 2 barrels, 1 very special beer. Bottles of 3-2-1 Double Barrel Dire Wolf were released at their Wolfstock Anniversary party back in September. Count yourself lucky if you happened to snag one.
Derive Brewing is easily the least well known of the five breweries to medal at FoBAB. They are a small scale gypsy brewery based out of Columbus. I’ve seen head brewer Peter Steffes behind the bar at North High Brewing on more than one occasion, and the North High website lists Steffes as holding the position of cellarman. Obviously, a good position for honing your barrel aging chops. Unfortunately, I don’t have any information on It’s Only Dirty Paper, their silver medal winning beer, nor can I tell you where you might find a Derive beer. Perhaps a future story on this elusive brewery should be in the cards.
Dayton’s Branch and Bone specializes in sours, saisons and other mixed fermentation beers, often incorporating local ingredients. Silence Mill is a 6% foeder-aged Brett saison featuring local honey. I stopped by their taproom back in September and was really taken by this beer.
Cincinnati’s MadTree and Cleveland’s Great Lakes need no introduction to anyone living in or around Ohio. Joon is an unusual beer, a Kölsch aged in Watershed Bourbon Barrel Gin barrels with juniper berries and ginger. Chamomile and elderflowers are used in the version that medaled at FoBAB. For my money it’s one of the best beers made in the Buckeye state. Great Lakes Barrel aged Tripel Dog Dare is a Belgian triple aged for 6 months in Bourbon Barrels. That’s a combination that can be superlative when done right, as the likes of Allagash and Rockmill have shown in the past.
The coveted Best in Show award went to California’s Bottle Logic for the second straight year. The winning beer, Arcane Rituals, is an English-style Barleywine made from Chevallier Heritage malts and aged in a combination of bourbon, brandy and cognac barrels. Last year’s best in show, Fundamental Observation Imperial Stout, was also crafted by the Anaheim-based Bottle Logic. The runner up, The Lost Abbey’s fruited sour Peach Afternoon, also hails from Southern California.
While not quite matching the 2017 haul of six medals, including 4 golds, this year’s showing is easily the second best showing for Ohio. Prior to 2017 Ohio’s most notable showing at FoBAB was Listermann’s Chickow!, which was selected Best in Show in 2016 and Best in Show Runner up in 2017. Last year two Ohio breweries, Rhinegeist (gold in the Wild/Sour with fruit category for Perpetual Passion) and Dayton Beer Co. (bronze in the Specialty/Experimental category for Deep Sea Diving Sea Salt Stout), were recognized at FoBAB.