Forager Brewing Company, located just northwest of downtown Rochester, Minnesota, is the perfect place for a plate and a pint. Despite being a city of only slightly over 100,000 people, Rochester has a strong restaurant scene and a number of local craft breweries, given the fact it is home to the Mayo Clinic, America’s top hospital and healthcare destination for medical tourists from all over the world. If you ever find yourself in Rochester, make sure to check out Forager–they have a great menu (I’d recommend the Bacon Flight, Cuban sandwich, or one of their wood-fired pizzas) and a constantly rotating selection of unique, great-tasting beers.
Forager isn’t the place to go if you always want to always drink the same beer, and it doesn’t try to be. Forager rewards those who are willing to search for something new and try something unique. The brewery actually takes its name from the verb “forage,” which its website prominently defines as “to wander or go in search of provisions; to search about; seek; rummage; hunt.” The name certainly describes the restaurant attached to the brewery, which offers an eclectic environment that includes a local art gallery, a locally sourced coffee shop and pop-up kitchen, and a dining area with long tables designed to stimulate conversations among strangers, couches, a fireplace, and decorations made from reclaimed barn wood. However, most importantly, the brewery’s name drives its brewing philosophy. The ingredients used in Forager’s small-batch, craft brews are “foraged” from the Rochester region in southeastern Minnesota. In addition to locally sourcing hops, fruits, herbs, flowers, mushrooms, and spices, the brewery actually contracts with local farms to supply ingredients not typically found in Minnesota. Austin Jevne, the head brewmaster, is quoted on the website, saying “I believe there’s a beer for everyone. I hope Forager can be a place where people can come in search of something they’re not going to have or find elsewhere.”
Therefore, when you drink a brew from Forager, you can guarantee you’re tasting something unique, and purely Minnesotan. Pudding Goggles definitely falls into that category. The menu classifies it as a Coconut & Cinnamon Imperial Porter, and claims that the beer will “remind you of drinking the milk out of a bowl of cinnamon toast crunch, mixed with cocoa pebbles.” Though a fan of The Big Lebowski, I try not to mix alcohol with dairy flavors, but given that it’s winter and I prefer drinking darker beers in colder weather, I decided to give Pudding Goggles a try. I’m happy I did.
Pudding Goggles has a sweet, pleasant smell, stemming from the cinnamon and coconut flavors, though I also detected a hint of chocolate and honey. I found the smell to be similar to an Almond Joy, which coincidentally is one of my favorite candies. I was happy they served it in a Snifter glass, because it allowed me to really experience the aroma, which added to the taste. The beer is dark, as you’d expect from an Imperial Porter, and has a tan head. Pudding Goggles is a thick beer that coats your mouth with the flavor (I can see the comparison to drinking milk), which has a sweet beginning from the coconut, chocolate, and honey, but fades to a spicy, cinnamon aftertaste, leaving a pleasant, tingling, slightly bitter mouthfeel. Forager packs quite a punch as well, with a 10.3% ABV.
In researching the beer and brewery, I found it interesting that Forager uses a unique brewing process to produce their imperial style beers. They use a special mashing technique which allows them to extract two different runnings of wort (a liquid drain from mash used to create fermented beer). The first running of wort is rich in sugar and creates sweeter, less hoppy beers, like Pudding Goggles. To top it off, the imperial ales are aged in honey soaked bourbon barrels that Forager receives from Turkey Hill Apiary, a local honey producer.
In the end, if you’re a fan of local, craft breweries, you can’t go wrong with Forager. From the beer, to the food, to the restaurant’s atmosphere, art, and music, it offers a taste that’s purely local and represents the best of the Rochester region in southeastern Minnesota. Hurry in to try Pudding Goggles before the batch runs out!
Aroma – 10/10
Appearance – 8/10
Taste – 9/10
Palate – 8/10
Overall – 35/40
Beer Stats – 10.3% ABV, 24 IBU