Bark, stems, flowers, herbs, spices, leaves, roots, and other foraged flavors have long been part of beer. Brewers in early America crafted low-alcohol beverages, infusing them with locally available botanicals like ginger, dandelion, burdock, and horehound.
Unfortunately, by the early twentieth century, botanic brews were largely displaced by carbonated sodas produced industrially without fermentation. We view this early brewing tradition as a springboard for great creativity and exploration. We didn’t invent botanic beer, we simply embraced it.
We love the community, nourishment, and pleasure of sitting down with friends and family at the table, and love the way that great beer can heighten the experience. We believe in the magic of harnessing nature.
At its best, food, drink, and ingredients can capture the essence of a place, time and culture. There is a mysterious complexity to every botanical from its chemistry to its sense of regional terroir to the way it impacts the senses. The American gastronomical landscape offers endless opportunities to tell stories and connect with our land. We're eager to share, hear, and tell those stories.
We want people to drink our craft beer and have a new experience, but we never seek new for new's sake. Our unique approach to brewing means we create beers that embody a concept rather than merely replicate a style. Through that process we can offer the drinker an authentic new experience.
Inspired by forgotten recipes, flavors, and ingredients, every beer starts with a big idea. Then we find the appropriate botanicals and build the beer, layering complexity with subtlety. We go as fresh and local as we can whenever possible. We strive for an integrated whole that doesn’t try too hard to impress. We love approachable and gloriously drinkable beers.
Forbidden Root, the first botanical brewery in Chicago, was founded by Robert Finkel after leaving the world of high-stakes entrepreneurship. His idea to create a true-brewed root beer quickly grew to encompass the broader idea of botanic beers.
On February 18, 2016, our restaurant and brewery opened in Chicago’s West Town neighborhood. More than just a brewpub, we offer fresh and seasonal dishes that highlight our craft beers and elevate the overall dining experience.
In addition to our passion for beer and food, Forbidden Root is passionate about giving back. We are a benefit corporation, meaning that goals other than shareholder value are built into our operating charter. Scroll down to learn more about what this means.
We’re passionate about giving back. As a Benefit Corporation, Forbidden Root has built goals other than shareholder value into its operating charter. Here are some of the ways we’re meeting those goals:
- We donate 100% of our non-consumable merchandise profits to charity. That means every time a Forbidden Root t-shirt, bottle opener, growler container, or other merch item is bought, the profit goes to a good cause. Our current beneficiary is Chicago's Green City Market.
- By donating a portion of our beer and participating in festivals where proceeds benefit charitable organizations, we’re able to put our good brews towards good causes. (There are so many good causes. We wish we could donate to all of them, but due to our limited beer, staff, and time, we cannot fulfill all requests.)
- We feel the love! At our bar, tap 15 is our dedicated Love Handle. We partner with other breweries to get their beer on the Love Handle, and $2 from every glass sold goes to a mutually chosen organization. Some of our partnerships have included:
- Oskar Blues Brewery benefiting AmeriCares
- 4 Hands Brewery benefiting One Tail at a Time
- Solemn Oath Brewery benefiting Girls Who Code
- Left Hand Brewing benefiting National Multiple Sclerosis Society
- Smuttynose Brewing benefiting Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing
- Three Floyds Brewing benefiting Howard Brown Health
- Right Bee Cider benefiting Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
- Firestone Walker Brewing benefiting Semper Fi Foundation
- Half Acre Beer Company benefiting Chicago Rowing Foundation
For us, craft beer and delicious food is all about fostering community, which is why we give back. Here are just a few of the organizations that inspire us and that we support. We encourage you to get to know them if you don’t already: ALS Therapy Development Institute, Chicago Legal Clinic, Chicago Rowing Foundation, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Howard Brown Health, Inspiration Corporation, Lambs Farm, Meals on Wheels, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Safe Humane Chicago, Semper Fi Foundation.