Johnny C is more than a beer name. It’s the beginning of Forager Brewing Co.’s saga.
It’s the reason the brewpub exists.
After leaving his job to explore Europe, Forager head brewer and co-owner Austin Jevne didn’t know what he was going to do.
Then he received a message while in Italy. Jon Carisch wanted Jevne to be his beer guy at the Thirsty Belgian, a local Rochester eatery that could trick you into thinking you’re in Belgium. And he accepted.
“They allowed me to taste homebrew with other homebrewers, and it was a great opportunity to get my product out to people who I thought might like it,” Jevne recalls.
Carisch ended up introducing Jevne, and his beer, to Annie Henderson, also a Forager co-founder and active owner who pitches in where needed at the brewpub.
And the rest, if you’ve seen the flowing tap handles, inhaled freshly baked pizza crust, and heard the twang of guitars on a weekday evening, is history.
As a thank you for the introduction, Johnny C (also written in the brewpub as Johnny C’s; the menu name differs from what’s written on the chalkboard) was born.
Jevne wanted to make a beer the Belgian beer enthusiast (Carisch’s mother is from Belgium, the reason for his strong connection to its beer) would enjoy.
Jon, or “Johnny C as everyone calls him,” asked for a cross between a Belgian style amber ale and Maredsous Tripel.
What Forager came up with was a Belgian Dubbel. It featured a dark brown color and off-white head with a spicy, earthy character — thanks to local buckwheat honey — on top of a sweet caramel biscuit base laced with dried dark fruits. You could take a deep breath before each sip to become intoxicated with Belgian bread aromas, dancing hand in hand with raisin and plum.
But, to fit Forager’s theme of constantly tweaking and changing beer recipes, Johnny C has since evolved (hence the past tense above).
What is on tap right now is an oak fermented Belgian style abbey dubbel. Now a wave of sweet banana covered in caramel hits the palate — never in a cloying manner. The faintest touch of oak resides in the aroma, and comes out to play briefly in the finish, adding a nice bit of depth.
After one sip you may mistake your location for Belgium.
“This beer is just an ode to where Forager came from,” Jevne explains. “Without the job at Thirsty Belgian, I don’t think this place would ever have existed.”
And for that, we raise a glass to Johnny C.