2 O'Clock Tasting
Forbidden Root Brewery

Remember the good old days when every medicine was some sort of herb and alcohol was a cure-all for health ailments? There's one brewery that's taking the best of those tried-and-true principles and applying them today. Chicago-based Forbidden Root was founded when owner Robert Finkel decided he wanted to start making old-fashioned root beer. Like, with sarsaparilla. And alcohol. His philosophy was grounded in the idea that we need to go back to our roots, utilizing natural, botanical ingredients to craft our beers, reflecting the larger natural world around us.

Since its root beer-fueled inception, the company has grown as a leader in botanic brew reinventions. With everything from bark and blossoms to dandelion and ginger, Forbidden Root brews take the beautifully simple things we find in nature and transform them into boozy and delicious beers.

  1. Sublime Ginger

    3.8% ABV

    Sublime Ginger is exactly what it sounds like. With a slight hazy, honey-lemon body and a small white head comprised of super-fine bubbles, we couldn't help but be transfixed. It gave off an aroma of fancy soap (the kind you'd get at a Hilton or Sheraton), mixed with lemon cookie and dried flowers to give it an herbal kick. Despite the cookie scent, Sublime Ginger wasn't sweet - it turned out to be a sour ginger ale, with a creamy mouth feel and bitter aftertaste. Though not usually a beer-heavy cuisine, his herbal brew would complement sushi superbly.

  2. Forbidden Root

    5.5% ABV

    One might expect Forbidden Root, the brewery's root beer and titular brew, to taste like your standard soda pop. Like all the beers on this list, however, this was nothing short of a botanical experience. The sandalwood color and tight foam head, combined with a spiced root beer smell, conjured images of lush trees and fresh herbs.  The taste followed with a sticky, wintergreen flavor, less sweet than the average root beer. With subtle spices and an oaky, herbal bitterness, this concoction exemplifies this brewery's goal of reinventing the botanic brew.

  3. WPA: Wildflower Pale Ale

    5.6% ABV

    Love is like wildflowers, often found in the most unlikely of places. Strangely enough, this pale ale applies to both sides of the simile, honestly capturing the essence of the free-growing wildflowers in its depths. Immediately we were taken by the clear, sunflower-gold color and frothy off-white foam. The smell was sweet and appropriately floral, though not overwhelmingly so. The light body was perfect for bringing the focus to the variety of wildflowers in this beer.  With marigold, osmanthus, and elderflower blossoms, this beer was floral, dry and well-rounded, with a balanced bitterness.