Rochester’s beer and brewery aficionados have had a few weeks to adjust to drinking at home.

Crowlers (25 ounces instead of the more common 32 in other states) and 750 ml bottles can be sold from brewpubs for takeaway. Growlers too. But Forager Brewery has long since moved on from what is a bit of an antiquated to-go method in the helter-skelter world of beer.

For a long time, selling four-packs (or 12-ounce bottles, or pints in any denomination) has been illegal for this state’s breweries.

So what is a Minnesota brewpub to do? Well, Barley Johns Brewpub in the Twin Cities opened a distribution brewery and taproom across the border in Wisconsin. Austin Jevne, Forager’s head brewer, did something similar, co-founding Humble Forager, a Wisconsin brewery. Kind of.

It’s a separate brand created last fall so that Jevne can distribute the beer – hazy IPAs, pastry stouts, and fruited sours, for now – he and Forager are known for (he’s also known for barrel-aged stouts across the country, but I’m unsure that will be a Humble Forager thing due to using a contract brewer).

The beer is contract brewed at Octopi. And while contract brewing has a negative connotation in America thanks to supposed poor quality and the thought that the brewer doesn’t have enough hands-on time with the beer, that isn’t the case with this brand.

The Waunakee, Wis., company, located outside of Madison, has made a name for itself through its Untitled Art brand and contract brewing other beers (including Forager’s Florida Weisse in 2017, a huge hit). Not only is the quality high, but the contract brewery’s brewing capacity is multiple times higher than what Forager can pump out.

But none of this means anything if Forager’s new brand of Humble Forager beer is no good. And while I missed the brand’s debut (and Jevne) in Madison at Garth’s Brew Bar in early March, I was able to visit the craft beer bar that had it on tap and grab some cans the day after.

The beer is very good. With Forager’s reputation and Jevne already plotting on how to improve, it should do well. The market is favoring breweries who sell beer on-site, but distro in beer stores isn’t dead yet. Especially with everyone in lockdown mode due to COVID-19.

Humble Forager’s first release is Elevated Perspective (I like to refer to it as my hiking DIPA, as I’ve been hiking like crazy with it during the lockdown – away from others, of course). The double IPA is made with vic secret, galaxy, and sultana hops, as well as a malt bull including oats and Jevne’s oft used spelt. The beer tastes like a jamboree of fruit flavor. Fresh papaya lends it a tropical feel, with melon, pineapple, and a little bit of earthy spice -- perhaps a subtle black pepper. The mouthfeel is pillowy, and it isn’t turgid, but has the murky haze appearance everyone adores in IPAs today. It’s a good beer.

Even better, Humble Forager can be found in Rochester in addition to the Madison area and other Octopi beer channels. Rochester is typically neglected by breweries in the Twin Cities, so this is another win for Jevne’s new brand.

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Andy’s Liquor: Crossroads, Marketplace, Express, and North locations.

Hyvee Wine and Spirits

Northwest Liquors