- Style: Wheat Ale
- ABV: 3.8% Halla-freaking-lula
- Ease to locate: Most craft beer stores around the Chicagoland area. Sold in 4 packs. Here's the link to their Beer Menu Page
- Color: Gold with amber and orange undertones. Slightly hazy with visible carbonation.
- Head: Easy two finger of tight, off white foam which falls fast. Leaves a cluster of soapy, spotty, pretty as a picture lacing
- Aroma: Keylime, hints of black pepper, lemon, honey and the tang of fermented wheat
- Mouthfeel: Medium body with a bit of creaminess from the wheat ale base. I really, really, REALLY wish it had been dryer
- Finish: Short but with a nice acidity on the tail that dropped off at the end to a rounded, flabby feeling
- Food Friendly?: Depends. I like wheat ales with a variety of meals, but the distinct key lime, black pepper and honeybush character does limit this one. Forbidden Root suggests pairing it with New Orleans inspired foods such as gumbo and po'boys. I also recommend drinking it with a vegetarian inspired dish, such as vegetarian chili or butternut squash soup.
Apple user's link: And he's STILL not a Ginger. Just old(er)
The world can only handle so much IPA and bourbon barreled everything. At least, that's how it seems to feel some days. Every time I turn around, there seems to be a new one. Don't get me wrong, I love a well done IPA or bourbon barreled anything as much as the next person. It just that I'd like a bit more, shall we say, variety from certain breweries out there. Which is why I was excited to find Forbidden Root's four packs at my local craft store. Forbidden Root is a relatively new Chicago brewery who has only just begun to bottle their beers. On their website , they refer to themselves as crafters of "botanical beverages" and focus on brewing beers using natural products such as roots, herbs, honeys and bark. Yes, I want to drink a beer brewed from bark. I didn't actually realize this longing until the opportunity to do so was presented to me, but now? Yes. I want one. Desperately. However, this time I decided to go with their light, spicier, more sublime offering instead.
My Sublime Ginger poured a golden amber liquid with subtle orange tones around the edges. It was hazy and juicy looking but easily visible carbonation rising through the ale. A two finger head of just off white, tightly packed bubbles formed from the initial pour, which settled nicely to a half finger's worth of head for a majority of the drink. The foam left behind some gorgeous lacing; spotty and soapy clusters that clung to all sides of the glass. It was a pretty, photogenic sort of beer and I'll admit, I wasn't expecting that at all. The first scent to hit me was the key lime note. The very distinct key lime note. The "Oh yeah. It's brewed with key lime JUICE" note. There was a gentle spice character of black pepper layered under the key lime as well as a hit of lemon citrus, the anticipated tang of fermented wheat and a mellow sort of sweetness of the herb honeybush. I couldn't locate any ginger on the nose at all. The taste was also dominated by the key lime note and was backed up by the brightness of the lemon, spiciness of the black pepper and sweetness of the honeybush (is it just me who thinks "Honey Bush don't caaaarrreeee" every time I hear that name? Really?) I was able to make out the promised ginger quality here, however. It was subtle and a very welcome addition. I found that the ginger sliced off some of the sharp edges I was experiencing from the abundance of the key lime taste. The mouthfeel was firmly medium and a bit creamy. I also personally found the finish of the beer a bit lacking for my taste. There was a nice acidity on the front of the finish, but it dropped off quickly to a flatness that I found lacking. It was round and almost flabby to me as it ended. Basically, I wanted, no, I longed for a drier mouthfeel and finish. Now, I really dislike people who insist on reviewing the beers in their heads instead of the beers in their glasses and I am under them impression that the good brewers of Forbidden Root produced the less than dry beer that they intended to. But I would have enjoyed my pour a lot more if it had left me with a dry crispness begging me to take another sip.
When I think "food beer" I tend to think of the art of pairing food with beer. Forbidden Root Brewery, however, takes a slightly different track with their conception of food beer. The process of brewing beer with items foraged from nature, such as herbs, spices, tree bark (yeah, I cant get off the whole tree bark thing. It both fascinates and repels me. Much like Katy Perry songs and any TV show involving ghost hunters.) Sublime Ginger was brewed with fresh key lime juice, ginger, honeybush (don't caaarrreeee.... really? Still just me?) and lemon myrtle. New Zealand Motueka hops and their subtle spiciness and citric aroma layers so well with the malt profile (caramel, lager, flaked wheat and honey malts.) Forbidden Root's website suggests pairing this beer with Cajan/New Orleans inspired foods and the more I consider this, the more I like it. The disappointing finish that I spoke about earlier might just be the key to serving this ale alongside a spicy Bowl of Shrimp & Sausage Gumbo. The flatness that I complained about could tame the heat of the peppers and Creole seasoning that might fight a more citrus, heavier hopped beer. Personally, I wanted to try Sublime Ginger with a vegetable heavy dish, such as steaming bowl of Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili With Sweet Potatoes. The key lime citric sweetness and spicy ginger notes will marry well with the hearty but slightly sweet character of the sweet potatoes. Sublime Ginger is one of those beers that I want to experiment with more before making any final judgements on. I opened a second bottle after my initial one to let the Down the Hatch family give it a try. Results were mixed, but those who liked it, enjoyed it even more with a plate of food. Sublime Ginger strikes me as a well constructed and deliberately thought out beer. I love that Forbidden Root has embraced such a character driven, unique mode of brewing by harkening back in history and utilizing a more natural ingredient approach to crafting it's beer. Plus, I got to discover exactly what a honeybush is and that it may or may not care (it doesn't.)