Italy/USA: Fernet-Branca now also served as a beer

Fratelli Branca Distillerie fromMilan/Italy has announced a partnership with Chicago based botanical brewery Forbidden Root to produce a herb beer based on the famous Italian digestif Fernet Branca.

In order to keep Fernet Branca’s traditional recipe secret, the new beer called Fernetic uses only 20 herbs instead of the original 27. The ingredients list consist of herbs from 4 different continents like aloe from South Africa, gentian from France, rhubarb from China, chamomile from Italy and galangal from India. Still, the black ale with 8.4 percent ABV resembles in taste and color very much the popular Italian amaro.

For Forbidden Root’s head brewer BJ Pichman the product development was a challenge: “We were working with a nearly 175-year-old recipe, a body of very distinct flavors and a bitterness factor that is not usually present in beers. Our team really enjoyed the creative challenge of working to make a delicious, uncommon beer while keeping true to the flavors and history of the Fernet-Branca recipe.”

Fernet Branca is a brand of amaro, or bitter herbal liqueur. It was invented by "self-taught apothecary" Bernardino Branca in 1845 and was originally marketed as a medicine, specifically as an anti-choleric. This was also the case in the United States, especially during prohibition, when Fernet Branca became popular because it was still available as opposed to other alcoholic drinks. Nowadys the drink is served in different ways.

“In English speaking countries, it is usually a shot or a ginger beer cocktail. In Europe, it’s usually consumed as a digestif. Nordic countries often have it as a morning drink, sipping Fernet Branca with breakfast” says Edoardo Branca, sixth generation descendant of the Italian Branca family, who still run the family owned company.  Edoardo Branca has recently moved to the United States to promote the famous drink. The cooperation with Forbidden Root is now one way to make this Italian heritage better known in the new world.

Inaugural tasting for Frenetic will take place on January 19 at Forbidden Root in Chicago. Distribution will start in February in Illinois, Massachusetts, Florida, Rhode Island and Ohio.

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