Forbidden Root, West Town

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CHICAGO | Forbidden Root West Town is one of the most unique breweries we’ve ever visited, and if you take a look at the “Beer” section of this website you’ll see that we’ve visited plenty over the years. What makes Chicago’s first “botanic brewery” so unique, is that the beers are inspired by botanicals – that is, plant based ingredients like roots, stems, foliage, flowers, berries, vanilla beans, cocoa beans. It’s the kind of thing that’s popular in gin and other spirits, but no so much in beer.

Forbidden Root’s ‘Rootmaster’ Robert Finkel has literally thousands of botanicals in his collection, and uses them to concoct some delicious and unique beers. The process of creating a new beer doesn’t start with the beer style, rather with a particular botanical or flavour. That’s what forms the basis of research in trying to figure out how to best use the flavour in a beer. The style of beer is secondary to the flavour being sought. Across the draft list you’ll find beer like ‘Cherrytree Amaro’, an Old Ale with Amaro, cherry stems, almonds, fruit, citrus and spice, and ‘Heavy Petal’, an Imperial Stout with Magnolia, roasted pecans, and pure West African Chocolate.

For non beer drinkers, a selection of wines and spirits are available, along with a number of tasty cocktails adopt the same philosophy towards botanicals as the beer. Food wise, the menu is, as expected, in step with the overarching philosophy of Forbidden Root, and designed to compliment the beer and botanicals. Head chef Dan Weiland (Trencherman, Blackbird) has a wealth of experience behind him and, since moving into the kitchen at Forbidden Root, has become bolder with experimenting with beer and food. More so than most places that serve ‘food designed to work well with beer’, you should make an effort to talk to the staff here and order food that matches your beers, or vice versa. Malted hanger steak, for example, is rubbed down with the toasted malt used in some of the beers, while cherry amaro ale pairs with 12-day dry aged duck breast to bring out a range of flavours in both the beer and duck.

As for the taproom itself, it’s an open, farmhouse-like former theatre that’s dominated by the large four sided bar in the center. Botanicals in jars line the rear wall, and large glass windows provide a view to the brewery out back. Staff are well trained in what the brewery does, and will happily explain any of the beers on offer, and help you put together a tasting paddle if you want to try a few things. Whenever we try a new brewery we usually grab a tasting paddle and move on, but at Forbidden Root we stayed on to try even more things – the beers here really are unlike anything you’ve tried before, and that’s a good thing.

If you decide to buy any merchansidse while you’re here, it’s worth noting that 100% of the profits from the sale non-consumable merchandise currently go to Green City Market, which we think is a nice gesture.

Forbidden Root

1746 W Chicago Avenue
Chicago
Illinois 60622
United States

Telephone: 312 929 2202
E-mail: n/a
Website

Open
Mon – Sun: 11:00am to 12:00am

Forbidden Root Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Paul
Paul
Paul founded The City Lane back in 2009 as a place to share photos of his travels around Europe with friends and family. The City Lane might have changed quite a lot since those early days but one thing that’s remained constant is Paul’s passion for food, travel and culture, and a desire to photograph and write about his experiences. Paul has a strong inquisitive nature that drives him to look beneath the surface in order to discover what really makes a city and its people tick, and what better way to do this than over a good meal or drink, with a city’s locals, at places that people who live in that city actually frequent. Paul is also a co-host of The Brunswick Beer Collective, a podcast that may or may not actually be about beer.

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