Better with age

Imperial Eclipse Stout from Flossmoor Station Brewing Co. won Best of Show during judging for the first Illinois Brewers Guild Barrel-Aged Brew Fest.

The festival — held April 1 at Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery in Chicago — featured 40 beers from 11 states across the country, indicating growing interest in wood- and barrel-aged beer. The Great American Beer Festival added a category for such beers in 2002, and Chicago’s Rock Bottom won the gold.

The festival itself attracted about 200 beer lovers, and plans are already being made for next year. Flossmoor Station brewer Todd Ashman reported that La Folie from New Belgium Brewing Co. (winner of the Traditional Ales & Lagers judging) was particuarly popular, with 36 bottles disappearing quickly. New Belgium’s beers are not available in Chicago. “When attendees asked ‘Where can we buy it?’ then answering ‘Fort Collins, Colorado’ caused a lot of disappointment,” Ashman said.

Also popular, along with relatively well known and sometimes surprising medal winners, was Fred Miller 1880 Barley Wine. The barley wine, produced at Miller Brewing Co.’s pilot brewery in Milwaukee, was aged two months in bourbon barrels and served in 7-ounce nips.

Category 1: STOUTS
1st Place: Ivan the Terrible Bourbon Imperial Stout, Big Sky Brewing Co., Missoula, Mont.
2nd Place: Imperial Eclipse Stout, Flossmoor Station, Flossmoor, Ill.
3rd Place: Glacier Brewhouse Beam Stout, Glacier Brewhouse, Anchorage, Alaska

Category 2: BARLEY WINES & STRONG ALES
1st Place: Barrel Aged Goliath, BJ