Forbidden Root, Chicago’s own botanic brewing company, is set to open its brewpub at 1746 W. Chicago Ave., in the former Hub Theater in West Town, on February 18, 2016. The brewpub will pour Forbidden Root’s line of botanic brews including its flagship Forbidden Root, Sublime GingerShady Character and WPA, as well as seasonals like its Heavy Petal (the first in its Divine Mud cacao series), the forthcoming Hive Minded honey series and many more newly crafted beers. In addition, the brewpub will be making elixirs, allowing guests to experiment with flavoring syrups that can be added to some of Forbidden Root's beers or sodas.
“We hope our pub serves as a focal point for our neighborhood," says founder and rootmaster Robert Finkel. "West Town and the surrounding community have been so warm and welcoming to us since the very beginning. We created this brewpub to serve as a showcase for our beers. We plan to innovate and get feedback from our customers as we continue to create unique, delicious and all-natural beer. We will provide our guests with a comfortable and unique experience and bring the community together for a meal, snack and to drink some great beer.”
The food menu created by Chef Dan Weiland, formerly of Trencherman, Blackbird, Avec, Isabella’s Estiatorio and Custom House Tavern, will consist of ‘American Rustic’ fare that emphasizes and complements the flavors in Forbidden Root’s beers. Some highlighted dishes include: fried giardiniere with black garlic ranch; charred carrots with curry yogurt, pistachios and preserved kumquats; Forbidden Root cured lamb jerky; and toasted malt rubbed hanger steak with onion crème and potato pancake.
“Forbidden Root’s approach to brewing parallels my philosophy of cooking,” says executive chef Dan Weiland. “We source only the best ingredients and respect tradition to implement our unique and diverse style. When creating this menu, I didn’t want a dish to mirror a beer, but highlight it. With both heavy and light items on the menu, there truly is something for everyone, anytime of day, for any mood.”
The brewpub, designed as a comfortable space with a farmhouse feel, is housed in a landmark 1909 movie theatre, will be open for dinner seven days a week and will add lunch in the near future. Forbidden Root also has plans to host special events including beer dinners and tastings.
“I am excited to share this menu designed to pair with and highlight our beers,” says director of restaurant operations and general manager Terry Kane. “We have put a lot of thought and planning into making sure that the beer brings out the best in the food and the food brings out the best in the beer.”
Guests can purchase a double steel walled, vacuum sealed 64 ounce growler for just $35 or a 32 ounce version (howler) for just $25 at the brewpub. Forbidden Root is a benefit corporation with all profits from each growler sold will going directly to the Green City Market. Forbidden Root will use a state of the art double growler filler, which keeps beer fresher longer, to fill the growlers. In addition, the retail store will sell both glass and metal growlers, bottle openers, glassware and, of course, 4-packs and cases. All profits from non-consumable items will be donated to the Green City Market.
The brewery itself will be equipped with full computer automation, which will make brewing more precise and repeatable. There will also be two flavor infusers—one on the brewing side and one on the fermenting side—each custom designed for Forbidden Root by its brewhouse manufacturer DME. This will be used to extract the maximum flavor from the unusual and often expensive ingredients the brewery uses, from nuts to spices, flowers roots and more.
“It will be great to have our hands on this small but powerful system,” says alchemist Randy Mosher, “We’ve had a ton of ideas kicking around in our heads and it will be exciting to brew them and get them to the public in our own facility and,eventually, to a few select locations elsewhere. We intend to use this brewery as an engine for our creative development, to brew beers that flow with the seasons and above all to see where this botanic beer idea takes us.”
In addition, a “Rootmaster” laboratory will be on display on the mezzanine where the Forbidden Root team will be concocting beer flavors, elixirs and other unique, flavor-driven products. Scheduled tours of the brewery will be offered at least once a week.
“We are striving to give our customers a unique and surprising experience,” says head brewer BJ Pichman. “By touring our facility and walking guests through our process step-by-step, from picking out the ingredients to deciding on the beer to making the beer, we are giving them a first-hand insight into our methods. We love sharing what we do with the people who have made us a successful botanic brewery.”
Forbidden Root is the one of the first commercial botanic breweries in the country and aims to bring the rich American tradition of brewing with natural ingredients into the modern craft brewing scene. Sourcing sustainable ingredients when possible, Forbidden Root’s mission is to provide a unique fermented beverage experience by designing brews around ingredients that are not usually found in beer.
At opening, the brewpub will be open seven days a week from 4 p.m.-midnight with the kitchen closing at 10 p.m. Hours will extend after opening. For more information, visit Forbidden Root’s website