1st Annual Chicagoland Beer Festival Awards

1st Annual Chicagoland Beer Festival Awards, presented by BeerDownload and Chicago Beer Geeks (CBG’s version here).

The Categories:

Best for Beer Noobs
Chicago Beer Fest at Union Station
Held twice this year, 3/31/12 and 10/6/2012
Organized by Drink Eat Play

Best for Beer Geeks
Festival of Barrel Aged Beers (10th Anniversary)
At the Bridgeport Art Center on 11/17/12
Organized by the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild

Best for Hooking Up
Beer Hoptacular
At the Chicago Riverfront Theater on 11/10/12
Organized by Jam Productions

Best Charity Festival:
At Carmichael’s Steakhouse – Warehouse on 9/14/12
Organized by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

Best Neighborhood Festival
Oak Park Microbrew Review
Marion Street in Downtown Oak Park on 8/18/12
Organized by Seven Generations Ahead

Best Members Only Festival
Chicago Beer Society Picnic
Super secret location on super secret date (not really)
Organized by the Chicago Beer Society

Best Festival You Didn’t Remember Afterward
Brew Ho Ho
Secret event location (yes really) on 1/21/12
Organized by Chef Won Kim

Best Bar-specific Festival
Belgian Fest
At Goose Island Clybourn on 9/9/12
Honorable Mention: The Village Tap – Local Tap Takeover 9/6/12

Best New Festival
The Mash Tun Festival
Bridgeport Art Center – held twice – 5/19/12 and 10/5/12
Organized by Maria’s Packaged Goods & Community Bar

Best Series Event/Festival:
Tap This
At Fischman Liquors – Thursday Nights, Summer 2012

Honorable Mentions

*) Best One Time Only Event/Festival
Revolution Brewing – Kedzie Brewery Grand Opening
Chicago Craft Beer Week Closing Party – 5/25/12

**) Best Outdoor Garden/Cocktail party without cocktails, just beer
Beer Under Glass
Chicago Craft Beer Week Opening Party – 5/17/12
The Garfield Park Conservatory


Episode 153 – Smuttynose – Zinneke Imperial Stout vs Harpoon – Leviathan Imperial IPA

Special Guest: Nkosi White from Chicago Beer Geeks. The Chicagoland Beer Festival Awards. Full awards list here.


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Episode 153

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Episode 152 – Rogue – Morimoto Black Obi Soba Ale vs Goose Island – Bourbon County Coffee

What really is a craft brewery? The Brewers Association blacklists a number of brewers as being “non-traditional” – August Schell responds forcefully. BA removes original list, replaces it with this. Also – we sample Kona beers. Another blind tasting episode.


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Episode 152

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Episode 151 – Anchorage – Bitter Monk vs The Bruery – White Oak

Special Guest: Katie Kadlec. Westvleteren XII being sold…in the US?!? Reyes Beverage buys Windy City Distribution.


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Episode 151

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Episode 150 – Two Brothers – Northwind vs Speakeasy – Double Daddy

Special Guests: Jim and Russ Klisch from Lakefront Brewery. We talk with the brothers about the brewery’s 25 year history, and how they fit into the larger history of the craft beer scene.   Other topics include discussion of trademark law and craft beer (no more Cascadian Dark Ale?), the state of beer today, and what’s coming up for Lakefront in the future.


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Episode 150

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Episode 149 – Russian River Brewing Company – Consecration vs Rogue – Morimoto Obi Soba Ale

Were you at Zwanze day? Off Color Brewing. Beery places in Austin. The CBS Fall Tasting. Volunteers at fests?

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Episode 149

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Episode 148 – Great Divide – Rumble IPA vs Aecht Schlenkerla – Eiche Doppelbock

Happy Thanksgiving BeerDownload Fans. Thank you very much for listening every week.

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Episode 148

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The problem with online beer sales

Chicago Beer Society (CBS) member Win Schaeffer recently posted the following message to the CBS email list:

Amazon Wine in operation – Can Amazon Beer be close behind?


Here is Steve’s perhaps somewhat lengthy response, which was discussed on episode 147:

While Amazon may well choose to sell beer too at some point, it will be problematic for the same reason that all online beer sales are: beer’s cost to weight ratio is too low, because after all, beer is mostly water.

In wine, the pricing per bottle is high enough to make shipping it practical. This is not the case for most beer, and shipping 24 twelve ounce bottles even a short distance typically costs more than 50% of the retail cost of relatively pricey craft beer.The story starts to change when you look at bombers, which pack a much higher cost per ounce. However, it is still somewhat expensive to ship, and availability starts to become a big issue. Amazon would be plagued by the same issue sites like Beerjobber are now, namely, the only beers breweries will make available to them are beers they’re having a hard time selling enough of thorough traditional channels: overpriced bombers.

As has been discussed on this list previously, bombers are typically a lousy value on an ounce for ounce basis compared to 12 ounce bottles, even when the exact same beer is in the bottle (Lagunitas – Little Sumpin’ Wild, Goose Island – Bourbon County Stout 2009 are two examples that jump to mind). This is odd, considering the normal model in food is larger package = less cost per unit weight, but that’s a tangential topic.  Don’t get me wrong, some large bottle format beers are worth every penny, but these tend to be unusual beers with costly processes involved in their creation (read barrel aged beers and sours). If you’re paying $10 for a large bottle of standard IPA or stout, you’re almost certainly not getting a good value.

This is the core of the Amazon (and online sales of beer generally) Beer problem: the beers that would be worth ordering online will almost certainly not be available there. Beers that command a high enough price point to be worth shipping to an individual (BA and sour) are already in short supply, and there’s no reason for a brewery to give Amazon a cut of the profits on such beers, when they can keep them all for themselves, or share them with their wholesaler and retailer partners, who move the bread and butter beers for them.

Perhaps as breweries ramp up their capacity to make more and more of these high value added beers that can reasonably demand high price points, this dynamic will change. Until then, any Amazon Beer type service will be necessarily tilted towards heavily overpriced large format bottles of beer, and won’t be particularly compelling to the savvy craft beer consumer.

Steve Mastny
Program Director and Co-host of BeerDownload

P.S.  It occurs to me that some new commercial brewers reading this post might take exception to my characterization of large format bottles that are not barrel aged or sour as overpriced. It may well be that to pay for the capital costs of starting a new brewery, selling large format bottles that for whatever reason command a higher price point is the only practical strategy. This is fine, I’m just not sure this is a sustainable strategy in the long term, when there are many other better established breweries out there making beer that is every bit as good and selling it for substantially cheaper. Time will tell I suppose.


Episode 147 – Sam Adams – Chocolate Bock vs Russian River – Blind Pig

Coverage of the Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beers (fobab). John Hall steps down from Goose Island. Strange Brew mess. Future of Marijuana beer? Beer sales on Amazon? Alesmith special releases.

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Episode 147

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Fobab 2012 Results

These are the results of the 2012 Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beers competition, the 10th anniversary of the event, held on November 17th, 2012. The event is run by the Illinois Craft Brewer’s Guild and held this year at the Bridgeport art Center – Skyline Loft in Chicago. The National Wood Aged Beer Competition is judged by a panel of industry experts prior to the public sessions. Each beer is judged on the basis of how that underlying style reflects the expression of wood and/or barrel character. Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals are awarded in 10 categories as well as “best of show.”

Category 1: Classic Porter/Stout – 12 entries

#1 – Oakshire Brewing – Bourbon Stout
#2 – Goose Island Clybourn Brewpub – Pretty Brown Eyes
#3 – Lakefront Brewery – Rye Barrel Aged Fuel Coffee Stout

Category 2: Strong porter/Stout – 21 entries

#1 – Goose Island Brewing Company – Bourbon County Stout
#2 – Haymarket Pub & Brewery – Indignant
#3 – Haymarket Pub & Brewery – Acrimonious

Category 3: Barleywine/Wheatwine – 16 entries

#1 – Goose Island Wrigleyville Brewpub – Fertile Crescent
#2 – Goose Island – King Henry
#3 – Central Waters Brewing Company – Bourbon Barrel Barleywine

Category 4: Classic Styles (not higher than 7% abv) – 11 entries

#1 – Sun King Brewing Company – Afternoon Delight
#2 – Grand Teton Brewing Company – Barrel-Aged Grand Saison
#3 – Atlas Brewing Company – Oak-Aged Monadnock Rye Ale

Category 5: Strong/Double/Imperial pale Beer – 21 entries

#1 – Cigar City – Humidor IPA
#2 – Solemn Oath Brewery – Ultramegahighfrequency
#3 – Shoreline Brewery – Rillo Rye P.A.

Category 6: Strong/Double/Imperial Dark Beer – 24 entries

#1 – Flossmoor Station Brewing Company – Imperial Schwartz
#2 – Sun King Brewing Company – Pappy Fog
#3 – New Holland Brewing Company – Charkoota Rye

Category 7: Fruit Beer – 14 entries

#1 – Goose Island Brewing Company – Cherry Rye Bourbon County Stout
#2 – Three Floyds Brewing Company – Ronaldo
#3 – Solemn Oath Brewery – Radth

Category 8: Experimental Beer – 18 entries

#1 – The Lost Abbey – Track #8
#2 – Perennial Artisan Ales – Barrel Aged Abraxas
#3 – The Lost Abbey – track #10

Category 9:  Wild Beer – 9 entries

#1 – Flossmoor Station – .357 Brett
#2 – New Belgium Brewing Company – Biere de Peach Barrel
#3 – Goose Island Brewing Company – Madam rose

Category 10: Wild Acidic Beer – 27 entries

#1 – The Lost Abbey – Track#9
#2 – Bear Republic Brewing Company – Cuvee de Bubba
#3 – New Belgium Brewing Company – Eric’s Ale

Best Of Show

#1 – Goose Island Brewing Company – Cherry Rye Bourbon County Stout
#2 – The Lost Abbey – Track #8

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