Forbidden Root
Forbidden Root - Chicago

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Forbidden Root - Chicago
Illinois, United States
Herb and Spice Beer
3.69 | pDev: 12.47%
Mar 24, 2019
Jun 08, 2014
Notes: In times long past, Root Beer was something far Nobler. It was more compelling than todays' faint shadow, brewed like real beer, using roots and herbs wrested from the earth.

Forbidden Root returns to that lost era. Malt and a pinch of hops are topped by a generous dollop of botanic ingredients which includes: wintergreen, vanilla, cassia cinnamon, fennel, nutmeg, cardamom, black pepper, ginger, clove, star anise, tarragon, basil, capsicum, patchouli, sandalwood, balsam of Peru, licorice root, yerba santa, cocoa, molasses and finally aged with oak to round off the flavor. As a result, the rich complexity and a long clean taste tells you this is not a soda, but traditional brew that is a delicious window into another age.

Forbidden Root is splendid with full-flavored or spicy foods from Yankee pot roast to Kansas City-style ribs to California tri-tip on the grill.

Recent ratings and reviews. | Log in to view more ratings + sorting options.
Photo of GuyFawkes
Reviewed by GuyFawkes from Illinois

3.75/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75
2014 vintage; drank 6/6/14 @ Fischman's.

Ruddy brown hue.

Minimal cream head; almost no lace.

Root beer & ginger nose.

Medium thin mouthfeel.

Root beer & fresh ginger up front; a dry, ESB-like finish.

Interesting enough.
Mar 24, 2019
Photo of Beginner2
Reviewed by Beginner2 from Illinois

3.64/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75
From the tap in the restaurant...
After not having root beer soda for at least this entire century, I am glad I finally had alcoholic root beer. Very complex flavors, mostly generated by many different spices backed up by malt. Glad this was not too sweet, mostly herbal. This much more of a personalized interpretation of the traditional drink than a syrupy, mass market product.

3/7/17 re-taste, slightly reduced in re-rating
From the bottle in a bar... Tonight, this really Looks more like cola. Smells are mostly herbs. In the Taste, I'm finding less malt than I really want right now and this really should be paired with strong foods and I'm done eating. Overall I like Forbidden Root and its experimentation with botanicals to bring them back into brewing tradition. But like all experiments, the conditions (and pairings) need to be right. They were not tonight.
Aug 28, 2016
Rated: 3.82 by HabaJohn from Illinois

Jul 23, 2016
Rated: 3.68 by Gkruszewski from New York

Jul 20, 2016
Photo of GrumpyGas
Reviewed by GrumpyGas from Illinois

3.87/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75
12oz bottle poured into a pint glass.
Cloudy brown body with no head is a little disappointing. There are some rising tiny bubbles but low carbonation seems wrong. I am unfamiliar with the original root beer, but my flavour experience (A&W, Dad's, and Schweppe's) are way higher in carbonation.
Aroma is a very fresh and forward spice that favorably reminds me of a root beer. The flavor matches and some additional, and unfortunately medicinal, flavor is present.
Mouthfeel is an expected, and pleasant, medium thickness.
Jun 22, 2016
Photo of smcolw
Reviewed by smcolw from Massachusetts

3.8/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
Looks like a root beer. No head nor any lace. The liquid is neutral brown and clear.

Smells like a straight up root beer -- lots of vanilla and "root" (birch & sassafras?) aromas.

Creamier than a typical root beer and much richer as well. The finish is closer to the traditional, with perhaps a little more spice bite. I think this is a cross between a novelty and an actual new and viable beer style. Leans sweet, naturally. Overall, I think it is true to its roots (pun intended). The brewer had produced what was intended and has done it well.
May 07, 2016
Photo of mfnmbvp
Reviewed by mfnmbvp from Illinois

3.62/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5
12 oz. bottle, no bottled on date present. Acquired a single bottle of this stuff at the local bottle shop; my second beer from Forbidden Root, their flagship take on traditional old world style root beer. "Oak-aged beer brewed with vanilla & natural flavors" per the label. Forbidden Root has an intriguing premise to taking on this style, I'm excited to try it.

Poured into a miniature snifter.

A - A thin light brown pour with hints of red when held to the light. About one finger of thin fizzy tan head that falls to a ring. A bit of a thin looking appearance; semi-translucent. Leaves no real lacing to speak of.

S - A pleasant and intriguing aroma: notes of vanilla, sassafras, and wintergreen all come through very nicely and authentically. Notes of licorice, anise, cinnamon, but there are many other herbs and spices that don't make it through on the nose.

T - Very unique and interesting, I will say that. Definitely deviates from the nose, however - not so much vanilla / mint forward, more of an earthy, herbal, leafy, twiggy flavor. Notes of vanilla, licorice, caramel, mild black pepper, and twigs & leaves. The botanicals / roots used here are definitely on unique display, but there are plenty of ingredients that don't make the cut. Flavors from the oak only come through very faintly on the finish.

M - Feel is smooth & creamy, fluid and easy-drinking, with good carbonation. Not sticky or overly sweet / sugary like other cheap hard root beers, and for that I applaud this effort.

Overall, a unique and interesting take on the hard root beer style, and a very interesting brew from Forbidden Root. I definitely look forward to trying more from this brewery, and perhaps further examples of this innovative take on hard root beer. Perhaps an Imperial Forbidden Root would be in order?

Forbidden Root -----3.5/5
Mar 30, 2016
Rated: 3.5 by acurtis from New Jersey

Feb 18, 2016
Rated: 3.75 by duceswild from Heard & McDonald Islands

Feb 13, 2016
Rated: 3.1 by oriolesfan4 from Maryland

Feb 11, 2016
Rated: 4 by mklisz from New Hampshire

Feb 08, 2016
Rated: 3.54 by jbaker67 from Pennsylvania

Feb 08, 2016
Rated: 3.5 by devilfluff from New Jersey

Feb 08, 2016
Rated: 3 by Elicoleman from Colorado

Dec 21, 2015
Photo of TMoney2591
Reviewed by TMoney2591 from Illinois

3.05/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75
Served in a pint glass.

I dig the notion behind Forbidden Root, what with the emphasis on novel botanical additions and whatnot, so I figured I'd finally dip my toe into their catalog with their "root beer". It pours a dark sienna topped by a three-quarter-finger cap of tan foam. The nose is a waft of old-fashioned root beer, highlighting mint, light molasses, rich caramel, light black pepper, and licorice. The taste, sadly, does not follow through on this early promise, instead leaning toward notes of slightly watery-cola, licorice, light rye bread, mild nutmeg, and a bit of wet twig. This ain't like any root beer I've ever had, and any "beer" character beyond that is also muddled at best, lost at worst. The body is a light medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a rather liquid feel. Overall, this take on the root beer formula just fell flat for me. I will admit my predilection for sweetness in my root beers, but it isn't just an inherent lack of sweetness that torpedoes this particular beer. The flavors that are present seem out of whack and watered-down (certainly not helped by the thin-ish body), and the otherwise welcome "natural" feel of the flavors and ingredients take away from any notion of root beer likely to be held these days. Perhaps this is a decent version of an old-style recipe, but it's also possible that such recipes fell out of favor for a reason.
Dec 14, 2015
Photo of bnes09
Reviewed by bnes09 from Illinois

3.55/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5
Smells like root beer. Taste is dry overall with strong notes of licorice and vanilla. Very herbal. Malty feel, dry finish. No hop character. Not bad. At least a breathe of fresh air from the sweet hard root beers.
Oct 30, 2015
Rated: 3.5 by MattMorin from Illinois

Oct 28, 2015
Rated: 3.92 by stompilator from Texas

Oct 23, 2015
Rated: 3 by Kubrickx from Illinois

Aug 08, 2015
Rated: 3.15 by Lukebell15 from Texas

Jul 13, 2015
Photo of fosters9
Rated by fosters9 from New York

3/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3
Tasted watered down a bit
Jul 05, 2015
Rated: 4.5 by ChicagoShakeAndBake26 from Illinois

Jul 03, 2015
Rated: 3.3 by mendvicdog from Maryland

May 28, 2015
Photo of NSXAG
Rated by NSXAG from Arizona

3/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3
Adult Root Beer is better...
May 16, 2015
Photo of robgutie
Rated by robgutie from Illinois

3.99/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75
Unique herbal essence of root beer. No sweetness or carbonation bite.
May 08, 2015
Rated: 4.25 by DbbC from Illinois

Apr 19, 2015
Rated: 3.89 by JeltMaaj from Illinois

Apr 19, 2015
Rated: 3.5 by Eaglefan344 from Missouri

Apr 12, 2015
Rated: 3.85 by woodchip from North Carolina

Apr 10, 2015
Rated: 3.66 by Bunuelian from Minnesota

Mar 18, 2015
Photo of Jugs_McGhee
Reviewed by Jugs_McGhee from Louisiana

3.61/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5
Reviewed live at low altitude in Austin, TX, as a root beer/herbed beer per the label.

BOTTLE: Brown glass. Branded pry-off pressure cap. 12 fl oz. Acquired in a trade with the always generous Duff27. Appealing understated label art & design.

Vintage: 2014.

ABV: 5.5%.

Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated. Served cold into a pilsner glass and allowed to warm over the course of consumption.

No bubble show forms as it's poured.

HEAD: Healthy khaki. Has an even consistency, a soft appearance, and plenty of creamy frothiness. Smooth and inviting. Retention is great - ~10+ minutes. Leaves a light coating of lacing as it recedes.

BODY: Dark cola copper-brown. Slightly translucent but nontransparent. No yeast or sediment is visible.

Presentation is clean overall, and less akin to a root beer than something like Not My Father's Root Beer. It's a generally appealing appearance, but has no unique or special characteristics to set it apart from other beers in the style.

AROMA: Sassafras dominates, evoking sarsaparilla and root beer rather vividly. The herbal and spice profile is intricate yet cohesive, boasting varied notes of evergreen, plenty of mint family herbs (including the label's indication of wintergreen), thyme, sage, birch (again, per the label), allspice, cassia, and ginger. I find no clove, anise, fennel, cocoa, molasses, licorice, basil, pepper, et al. Colour me simple, but it smells generally like a root beer. Faint oak can be found in the background only when you know to look for it; it's not so prominent you'd find it blind.

Aromatic intensity: moderate.

In short, it's right on point; root beer through and through with no hop or yeast characteristics.

TASTE: Follows the aroma, with mint dominating the herb profile and vanilla dominating otherwise. Sassafras is prominent, but doesn't dominate like you'd expect. It definitely evokes root beer, but the subtle spice/herb profile is what really sets this apart in its style category. The faint oak ties it together with a natural cohesion, making this a gestalt whole that tastes like more than the sum of its parts. Hints of brown and English malt fill out an already complex flavour profile, and no hops or yeast notes get in the way of the key herb emphasis. It boasts impressive depth of flavour, and has a lingering vanilla aftertaste that makes the flavour duration notable as well. Excellent balance and flavour amplitude. Loving every sip. The birch, vanilla, and faint oak are stand-out characteristics, but the wintergreen & evergreen mint notes are lovely too.

TEXTURE: Aptly smooth and wet, with a perfect medium body and plenty of comforting creaminess. Ideal moderate thickness and slight overcarbonation serve to complement the cola vibe of the brew. Could be softer, sure, but this mouthfeel harmonizes with the taste to elevate this beer.

Not oily, gushed, hot, boozy, astringent, harsh, rough, or scratchy. Avoids the syrupy sticky feel that ruins other stabs at this style.

OVERALL: This isn't just an alcoholic root beer; it's an intricate deliberate balanced blend of spices and herbs that elevates it beyond the gimmick/novelty brew it could be. Effortlessly drinkable and a brew I'd absolutely return to in the future. A stand-out beer in its category. I need to try more from this brewery. Hat tip to the cats at Forbidden Root for a hell of a beer, and a huge thanks to Duff27 for the opportunity to try it. A unique treat that will impress the discerning drinker.

Mar 08, 2015
Rated: 3.82 by Norseman from Illinois

Mar 06, 2015
Photo of Kmlund
Reviewed by Kmlund from Massachusetts

2.78/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5
Looked and smelled good like a flavorful root beer. did not follow through in the flavor. No sweetness, very dry. Had a weird watery, bitter, and medicinal quality.
Mar 05, 2015
Rated: 3.25 by brandoman63 from Illinois

Feb 25, 2015
Photo of CharlesOtte3
Rated by CharlesOtte3

4.74/5  rDev +28.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75
Smells like root beer but not sweet or syrupy. Great with food, especially pizza.
Feb 20, 2015
Photo of dividedsky13
Reviewed by dividedsky13 from Illinois

4.67/5  rDev +26.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
Tried this at a friend's house and it was one of the most unique beers I've ever tried and honestly, one of the best tasting beers I've ever had! I'm a huge stout and porter fan and was blown away by how unique it tasted. I will definitely be buying this again as soon as I can find it.
Feb 14, 2015
Rated: 3.79 by dannycohen62 from Illinois

Feb 12, 2015
Rated: 3.76 by enelson from Illinois

Feb 12, 2015
Rated: 3.77 by scruffwhor from Illinois

Feb 07, 2015
Rated: 3.69 by ldhughes3 from Louisiana

Feb 07, 2015
Forbidden Root from Forbidden Root - Chicago
Beer rating: 84 out of 100 with 57 ratings