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FOOD + DRINK

Fernet-Branca + Forbidden Root's "Fernetic" Beer

A limited-edition release deconstructing the herbs from the Italian digestif's family recipe

by David Graver
on 11 January 2017

As breweries have grown more exploratory, many curious products have hit the shelves in recent years—some poor, some excellent and the bulk somewhere in-between. With the announcement of Fernetic, however, one can't help but be excited. Here, Chicago's first-ever botanic brewery and restaurant, Forbidden Root, partnered with the classic Italian digestif brand Fernet-Branca. Forbidden Root deconstructed the historic amaro recipe—digging into its 27 botanicals—and created an 8.4% ABV craft beer unlike any other. Ingredients generally uncommon to beer—from wormwood and rhubarb root to chamomile and saffron—play their part in a product that strives to invoke both a complex, high-quality beer and the amaro.

Both brands had been interested in exploration and collaboration, but chance played its part. “Fernet-Branca's rep was at the bar with Edoardo Branca [a sixth generation Branca family member who manages parent company Fratelli Branca's business in America] drinking flights of our beer," Robert Finkel, owner and rootmaster of Forbidden Root explains to CH. "I sat down with Edoardo, and it was as if we were soul mates in natural flavordom. Botanics are in his family blood since 1845—so we spent an hour in the Rootmaster area smelling spices and talking. It felt so natural to bring up the idea of collaborating, so I asked on the spot, and he didn't hesitate." After much maceration, tinkering and flavor developments, the final product balances spice and bitterness, but it's defined by a creamy middle and woody finish. Understandably, it's something we are quite excited to get our hands on.

Fernetic will be released on 19 January at Forbidden Root, 1746 W Chicago Ave, Chicago. A launch party for those of legal drinking age is open to the public, with registration required, and will commence at 6PM. 22 ounce wax-dipped bottles will retail for $15. At the moment, it will only be available in Chicago though further distribution may be considered.

Images courtesy of BJ Pichman

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