Nello Ferrara, the man who invented Red Hots, Atomic FireBalls and Lemonheads, died last Friday at the age of 93/ You can toast his sweet tooth and his legacy today at the Yak & Yeti Restaurant and Brewery at 7803 Ralston Road in Arvada, where brewmaster Adam Draeger will tap Cinnamon Love Wheat, a beer made with four pounds of Red Hots.
The timing is a coincidence: Draeger, a cinnamon aficionado, has made the beer before, along with one using Atomic Fireballs, and he brewed this batch weeks ago.
"When I was a homebrewer, I liked to compare cinnamon to Red Hot cinnamon beers," he says. This one has a little bit of spiciness to it, but tastes more like Dentyne gum than an Atomic Fireball. Its most noticeable attribute is its color, however. "It's bright red," Draegar points out. "Brewing it strips the dye right off the candies and puts it into the beer."
Ferrara was the chairman of the Ferrara Pan Candy Company in Chicago, which still makes Red Hots and numerous other candies. He invented his signature candies in the 1950s and '60s. Read his in-depth obituary on the Chicago Sun-Times website.
Draegar hadn't heard about Ferrara's death, but he agrees that Cinnamon Love Wheat can now serve as a tribute to the inventor.
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The beer goes on tap at 4 p.m. There is only a half a barrel of the beer, but Draegar says it may last through the week, and he will save some for Valentine's Day as well.