The historic relevance of the city of Pawtucket in Rhode Island’s state history dates itself back to the 18th century when it made a name for itself nationwide as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. Most famously known for Slater Mill, America’s first water powered cotton spinning mill, the city played an integral part in one of our nation’s most well-known time periods. Fast forward to present day where Pawtucket is now gaining attention for a completely different industry: craft beer. One of the breweries making a name for itself and helping to build up the beer scene in the city, as well as throughout the state, is the Foolproof Brewing Company. Founder and President Nick Garrison oversees day to day operations of the brewery which likes to pair beer with life experiences, two things that seem to go hand in hand with one another. From their core lineup to exciting new additions and a continuously growing operation, Foolproof has been working to establish a name for themselves in RI and beyond.
I actually remember walking through the brewery doors on the first Saturday they opened for a tour and tasting, only knowing a limited amount about Foolproof and their beers. Now, as I sit down to chat with Nick, I come to find out that the gift of his first home brewing kit years earlier in December 2007, was what started his hobby and quickly turned it into a passion. As he jokingly told me, “two plastic buckets changed my life.” After plenty of homebrewed batches (including all the beer for his own wedding), countless hours spent studying not only the art of brewing but also the business side of running such an operation, and finally finding a home in Pawtucket, Foolproof opened its doors for business in 2012. With so much going on from day one up to the present, Nick finds it important to take time and reflect back, “Even when you are bogged down with the day to day stuff, it’s interesting to stop and think back about the past. We are currently in our third expansion and have recently increased the size of our tasting room. Where we are at now is just scratching the surface.” With increases in production to meet the growing demand for their beers, it proves that craft beer drinkers are hooked on what is being brewed in, ironically enough, a Pawtucket industrial park.
When it comes to the brewery, Nick says “Our core brands drive us (the two main sellers are Barstool and Backyahd), but experimental stuff is fun to brew too. It’s all about striking a balance, we brew what we are passionate about.” Foolproof currently has a very diverse lineup of beers to choose from and range from Barstool (their American golden ale), to their newest release, Queen of the Yahd (a raspberry IPA). “We look at what we want to brew and then look at tying it into the experience while also trying to play off the brand itself.” This approach has led to the introduction and positive reception of such beers as Peanut Butter Raincloud (a unique adaption of their Raincloud porter) or King of the Yahd (an imperial version of their Backyahd IPA). The brewery has also worked on mixing in some seasonal releases as well. One of those is the Augtoberfest, a festbier annually released each fall in conjunction with an Oktoberfest inspired event held at the brewery. The other is Shuckolate, a chocolate oyster stout released around Valentine’s Day. This was Foolproof’s first collaboration beer, partnering with locals Walrus & Carpenter Oysters and Garrison Confections, to incorporate two natural aphrodisiacs into one craft brew. It is a fun and unique approach to producing their diverse lineup that plays into an array of experiences, emotions, and ultimately the enjoyment of the beers themselves.
For Nick, there is a good feeling about the current status of Foolproof. “We are happy about our large distribution footprint but also enjoy exclusive brewery releases and events as well. For me, the exciting thing is to visit new places and see our beers for sale while also enjoying the reception of our newer offerings (such as the Peanut Butter Raincloud).” The brewery is happy to call Pawtucket home and there is plenty of room for change and growth when it comes to craft beer in Rhode Island. As Nick explained, “Carrying local beer on draft or in cans and bottles is important and is part of a cultural change to support local. It’s frustrating going out and not seeing RI beers on draft but with a thriving local culinary and food scene, new and upcoming restaurateurs are seeing the value in craft and, specifically, local beers.” The addition of more local events such as brewfests and tastings continue to enhance awareness and draw attention to what is going on and being offered right here in our state, including brands like Foolproof.
As it is with many local craft breweries, Foolproof aspires to one day become not only a nationally but also internationally distributed and recognized brewery. At the same time, they continue to embrace and promote their current operation and bring new awareness to the brewery. The focus is to center not only on tours and tastings, but also the events and experiences around their beers such as Barrel Reserve night, haunted brewery tours around Halloween, their Augtoberfest celebration and, most recently, the Shuckolate Soiree just to name a few. The Pawtucket based brewery definitely has a lot going on, with the hopes of attracting more new faces and regulars alike to come by, enjoy some beer, and see for themselves what new and exciting things Foolproof currently has to offer. With that having been said, I’d like to thank Nick not only for the brewery’s offerings to the craft beer scene here in RI but also for his time and contributions to this post. On behalf of Prost Providence, I raise my glass and Prost Foolproof Brewing!
(Check out Foolproof’s website (www.foolproofbrewing.com) for details about their beers, tour & tasting times, as well as upcoming events. You can also find them on Twitter (@FoolproofBrew) and Instagram (@foolproofbrew) for even more content and updates.)