Forager Brewery beer will soon be hitting retail shelves and regional bar and restaurant taps — sort of.
Forager co-owners Annie Henderson and Austin Jevne are establishing Humble Forager Brewery, a production arm of their original Rochester Brewery.
The Rochester brewpub will remain open and continue to produce beer, said Jevne, head brewer.
“Nothing will change there,” Jevne said. “We’ll be able to focus on our barrel-aged program and sour blends.”
Humble Forager beers will be brewed at Octopi Brewing Co. in Madison, Wis. They will be on tap and available as four packs of 16-ounce cans. Those will be available in Minnesota, Wisconsin and eventually Georgia, Florida and Michigan, where market research shows interest in the style of beers Humble Forager will produce, Henderson said.
Jevne said interest has grown to have Forage beer on tap or on retail shelves. Under Minnesota law, a brewpub like Forager can serve its own beer as well as operate a full bar. However, brewpubs are not allowed to distribute or package their beer except for on-site growlers, crowlers or 750ml bottle sales for off-site consumption only.
“Instead of trying to fight those rules, we decided to come up with our own solution,” Henderson said.
That means Jevne and Henderson had to establish a separate business in order to distribute. Jevne said having his flagship beer recipes in distribution and hearing a growing demand to carry Forager Beer prompted the business move.
“It was kind of a thing more demanded by our customers, and I was kind of humbled by that,” Jevne said.
Octopi Brewing is a 50-barrel brewery that also contract brews beers for Mikerphone Brewery, of Elk Grove Village, Ill., and produces Oceanside, Calif., brewery, Horus Aged Ales’ young ales line.
Wisconsin-based Pequod Distribution, which plans to expand into Minnesota next year, will distribute the Forager brews, Jevne said.
Forager brewpub will have to buy the Octopi-produced beers through a third party in order to serve them there. Being able to brew the beers in big batches will help keep production costs low and the beer will be priced similar to what’s produced in Rochester now, Jevne and Henderson said.
“Once you go up to a larger scale, a lot of the ingredient costs become more affordable,” he said.
The three beers to be produced at Octopi will be:
Elevated Perspective — a rotating series of hazy double IPAs.
Coastal Sunshine — a fruited sour ale series.
Gypsy Outpost — A series of pastry imperial stouts and porters.
The three-barrel system at the brewpub in Rochester will become a pilot system for experimental and unique beers and will shift focus to developing sour blends and barrel-aged beers. Two of Forager’s barrel-aged beers —vanilla been-rested Nillerzzzzz and imperial porter Breakfast Nook — hold the two highest average ratings on Beer Advocate’s list of Minnesota beers. Jevne said Forager will continue to release three barrel-aged beers a year and that crowlers and bottles of some Rochester-produced beer will still be available at the brewpub.