When it opened for business in 2015, Forager Brewery immediately began making a name for itself by incorporating wild, foraged ingredients into not only its beer but also into the food coming out of its kitchen. In fact, the Rochester, Minn.-based brewery’s name comes from the verb forage, which is defined “(to) search widely for food or provisions.”
While the brewery has recently hit the national scene with releases like Nillerzzzzz, a 14 percent ABV bourbon and rye barrel-aged imperial stout blend conditioned on vanilla beans and Breakfast Nook, a 12 percent ABV rye, bourbon and honey barrel-blended imperial porter conditioned on toasted coconut, maple, coffee, roasted cocoa nibs, vanilla beans and cinnamon, one of its first well-known releases was actually a porter that has not been aged in any types of barrels at all.
Coming in at 10.3 percent ABV, Pudding Goggles is what the brewery describes as an “imperial pastry porter” that has been conditioned on cocoa nibs, “heaps” of house-roasted coconut, cinnamon and vanilla. It was first released in early 2017 and thus far has only been available on draft and occasionally in crowlers, which is how my sample came to me.
Pudding Goggles pours both thick and black, with a finger and a half of mocha-colored head that dissipates very quickly, leaving a thin ring behind that sticks around for quite a while. The aroma from the glass is a combination of oatmeal, maple syrup sweetness, vanilla, espresso beans, wood and very slight coconut.
The first sip is sweet on my palate with vanilla beans easily the dominant flavor, followed by maple syrup, coconut and slightly bitter dark cocoa powder. The finish is a combination of coffee bitterness and cinnamon—it reminds me of cinnamon coffee cake—both of which go a long way to balancing the that threatens to overtake the profile at certain points. While the mouthfeel is a bit thinner than I expected considering how viscous it looked when it was poured into the glass, it is not thin enough to be anywhere close to an issue and the carbonation level is on the low side of average.