Botanical brews at Forbidden Root in Ukrainian Village

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Hungry Hound: Forbidden Root (WLS)

Chicago has seen a surge of brewpubs over the past few years, but nothing quite like a new concept in Ukrainian Village. And the kitchen is also getting into the act, getting much more creative than just pretzels and french fries.

The industrial vibe inside Forbidden Root - a massive brewpub in a former movie theater in Ukrainian Village - is really centered around one idea: botanic beers. That is, beers made from nature's gifts.

"Incorporating flowers and spices and herbs; anything you can imagine that comes from the ground pretty much," said Chef Dan Weiland.

And while there are nearly a dozen varieties here, all brewed right in back, the restaurant also pushes boundaries. A fancy "beer snacks" menu includes smoked pecans and spiced pistachios; an aged cheddar-beer cheese spread and a sleeve of Ritz crackers; even 'nduja sausage with pickled mustard seeds and toast, and some unusual popcorn.

"It's a little bit more than just popcorn, we use coconut oil, gochugaru chile which is like a Korean chile, salt and sugar," he said. "We've got lamb jerky, which is cured in the Forbidden Root beer, along with some of the same spices it's made with."

Duck is dry-aged for two weeks, then cooked until crisp.

"It's cooked in its own fat, heated up in the pan until it's nice and crispy..." said Weiland.

Then served over a stew containing marrow beans and 'nduja - a spicy Calabrian sausage, before being topped with citrus breadcrumbs. Even the hummus plate is unique, featuring cranberry beans rather than the usual garbanzos.

"Cranberry beans really delicious really nutty. Really beautiful bean actually as well. But it's got your traditional ingredients, your tahini, garlic, lemon, olive oil, cumin, pomegranate seeds, parsley, sumac," he said.

In a nutshell, Weiland's philosophy is pretty simple.

"Food that pairs well with beer."

Now Forbidden Root will always have at least two or three different breweries as guests here on tap, but you're gonna want to come in and check out the beers they're actually producing right here on the premises. At least 10 right now; working up to about a dozen different beers on tap in the coming weeks.

Forbidden Root Brewery and Brewpub
1746 W. Chicago Ave.

EXTRA COURSE VIDEO: Steve Dolinsky and the head brewer at Forbidden Root talk about their five most popular beers on tap
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