Good news Fernet-Branca fans: Forbidden Roots, a Chicago craft brewery, is releasing a Fernet-inspired imperial black ale called Fernetic that tastes like everyone’s favorite ultra-bitter liqueur. The bad news? If you live in the Fernet-loving city of San Francisco, where 70 percent of Fernet consumption takes place, you’re going to have to travel to Chicago to get a bottle.
The beer is a mix of 20 herbs that mimic the flavor of Fernet, which has 27 herbs. The Italian distillery worked closely with the brewery to ensure the taste was just right. A 50 case limited release of the product will debut on January 19. The cocktailization of craft beer is in full swing.
“During the past 10 or 15 years, beer had changed a lot, and the beer consumer has changed a lot,” Edoardo Branca, from Fernet-Branca, which is still family owned, told the Chicago Tribune. “Now they want more flavors and complexity, and they’re more interested in something like this.”
Fernet has become a cult hit in America in recent years. It was first developed in 1845 for medicinal purposes. It was purported to cure cramps and hangovers, and to this day it’s not uncommon for people with hangovers to order a caffè corretto con Fernet in Italy. Maybe it’s just the hair of the dog that cures the hangover, but Fernet-Branca was considered medicinal enough to be kept off the banned list during Prohibition.
“I couldn’t think of a collaboration that better defines, and amplifies to the world, who we are and what we like doing,” Robert Finkel, Forbidden Roots founder, told Brewbound. “We are never going to make money on this. We are in this because artists like to be seen and enjoyed, and part of this is art. We are brand building.”
The final taste was decided over a two hour tasting with Branca and BJ Pichman, the head brewer at Forbidden Root. According to the Tribune, three base beers — Founders Brewing Porter, Evil Twin’s Even More Jesus imperial stout, and Tripel Karmeliet — were mixed with a long list of herbs including chamomile, saffron, myrrh, flowers, orange, cinnamon, cardamom, star anise, wormwood, peppermint and linden flowers.
The result is reportedly a beer bitter enough to rep the iconic Fernet-Branca logo, but easy drinking enough to down a 22-ounce bottle. Book your plane ticket now, folks.