Forager Brewery & Capra Nera Creamery (2017 program, 2018 calendar)

Austin Jevne, founder and head brewer at Forager Brewery in Rochester, believes ‘there’s a beer out there for everyone’ and is doing his best to play matchmaker. Since opening in September 2015, Forager’s already brewed over one hundred different beers. Forager’s also much more than a brewery though – it’s a dynamic brew pub, boasting a coffee shop, homesteading store, live music six nights a week, and a full-service kitchen whose unique emphasis is not only on local foods, but local foraged foods.

Ramps, fiddlehead ferns, assorted mushrooms, fruit – you name it, they’ll feature it. Sometimes Minnesota foragers stop in with their finds; other times Forager staff gather it themselves. Generally you’ll find the hyper-seasonal, short-lived treasures featured in a daily pizza or salad special, or at a Forager pop-up dinner. General Manager Chris Pickett remarks, “There are so many places you can go for an average experience. We strive to be different, up our game, and let our chefs put their signature on things.”

They’ve also been encouraging Minnesota Farmers Union member Katie Bonow, a grass-fed goat farmer from Capra Nera Creamery in Altura, to put her signature on things. She’s working on a beer-washed goat cheese especially for Forager. Katie’s journey into artisanal goat cheese began at age twelve with her first goat Blossom. It was Blossom’s excess goat milk that led to Katie experimenting with making her first cheeses. Then Katie traveled to Italy for her Italian Studies major in college and found herself actively working on farms there, learning the ins and outs of grass-fed goat cheese, which inspired her farming style today. “I saw what’s possible with grass-fed animals while in Italy,” she says.

Contadina, the Italian word for “female farmer,” is Katie’s main and most popular cheese: a mild, non-funky cheese she describes as a cross between cheddar and parmesan. For the record, Katie does sometimes speak Italian to her goats. “But they don’t listen to me any better that way!” she laughs.