Foolproof Brewing: Life Experiences + Beer = A Foolproof Combo

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.)

Whaler’s Brewing: A Good Time Being Brewed in South County

When you think of Rhode Island’s South County region, you most likely think of summertime trips to the beach, clam cakes & chowder from one of the local clam shacks or maybe the fishing and lobster boats pulling into and out of the harbor on a daily basis. But in addition to all those things, you should definitely add local microbrewery to the list. Make your way down to Wakefield, more specifically the old Palisades Mill building, where tucked away down a small flight of stairs you will find the home of Whaler’s Brewing Company. Founded in 2014, this newer brewery run by Andy Tran, Wes Staschke and Josh Dunlap is a place that welcomes visitors to come kick back, relax and have a good time, all while enjoying a diverse and well-crafted selection of top notch beers.

Before I had the chance to sit down with the three creative minds behind Whalers, I had found my way here with friends more than a few times during the summer months, after a day at the beach or just to hang out and enjoy some really good beers. After talking to Andy, Wes and Josh it was evident that there is a lot of passion, creativity and hard work that goes into their beers, along with a strong sense of pride representing their roots and commitment to establishing their brewery here in RI. As Andy told me, “a large majority of the brewery is personally funded. It means something to us knowing we did this with funds out of our own pockets… right down to the pocket lint.” As some people may or may not know, the group utilized a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the opening of the brewery and, as Josh mentioned, “even if the Kickstarter we initially set up didn’t work out, we had to try and were still going to go forward regardless.” (Interesting note: there were 3 previous RI brewery Kickstarter projects that failed to meet their goal… Whalers not only was the first to meet theirs, they also exceeded expectations.)

When it comes to being in RI and having the brewery established here, all three of the guys are excited about the present and optimistic about the future. As Josh simply put it, “This is a great place to brew beer, period!” And the hope is that with some changes and amendments to current beer laws in RI there will be more room for growth and potential, especially when it comes to taproom sales. As it currently stands, growler fills are available at the brewery, keg distribution has been making its way throughout the state to various bars and, most recently, two of the Whalers beers have been bottled and can be purchased at various liquor stores in RI. “East Coast IPA has gotten some great traction, while the Hazelnut Stout has really gotten a great response as well,” said Wes. “The goal is to add to the current offerings along with the release of an American pale ale sometime in the Spring.” Andy also confirmed that, “our focus is on the RI market first and foremost.” With all of them mentioning that potential growth and distribution into nearby Connecticut and Massachusetts is something they would ultimately like to accomplish one day in the future as well.

The three man team behind the brewery is hard working trio. Andy is the “man behind the scenes,” being a jack of all trades and handling anything from administrative duties to helping  build  the Whalers brand, all while bringing engineering experience and know-how to the table. With Josh and Wes being the head brew masters, it makes Whalers unique in the sense that they have two different perspectives when it comes to brewing, which gives them the opportunity to provide visitors to the brewery the ability to sample and drink a variety of beers that anyone can enjoy. “I’m more into wheat and saison style beers and Josh is more into complex and big beers,” said Wes. “We ultimately want to try to brew something for everyone.” Josh added, “the main goal is to keep it fun.” The ability to have fun and brew a variety of beers presents the opportunity to experiment and expand upon their current offerings. One of which is a new series being added under the Whalers brand, Stone & Steel. This  series will be limited (brewery released) bomber bottles that will vary from barrel aged to sour styles, with three initial new varieties already in the works. It sounds like a great new addition that certainly broadens the brewery’s portfolio and lineup as well as giving fans of Whalers something exciting  to look forward to.

Even though the South County region might be viewed at times as a seasonal RI destination area, Whalers is a place worth visiting year round. While currently in an expansion/renovation stage, the brewery is the type of place where they welcome you to come grab a flight of beer, maybe shoot some pool or play a couple games of corn hole, and enjoy yourself in a laid back setting amongst friends. “Beer should be for everyone,” a statement that couldn’t be truer or more evident when you have a chance to spend some time at the brewery, drink the beers, and learn what Whalers is all about. On that note I’d like to thank Andy, Wes and Josh for their time and insight, and more specifically for their beers and contribution to the RI craft beer community. On behalf of Prost Providence, I raise my glass and Prost Whalers Brewing!

 

(Be sure to check out their website (http://www.whalersbrewing.com) for more information about the beers, the brewery and what’s going on, as well as their Twitter (@WhalersBrewing) and Instagram (@whalersbrewing) for more info and updates)

RI Brewfest – Four Years Young & Stronger Than Ever

Back when I was first getting my feet wet in those early college days of exploring craft beer, I remember attending my first ever major sampling/tasting event…The Great International Beer Festival (held at the Providence Convention Center). At the time, this was the major craft beer event in the little state of Rhode Island. As the years have passed, new festivals have been popping up across the state, offering craft beer enthusiasts and novices alike the opportunity to sample the ever growing selection of local craft brews as well as recognized national brands. One such local festival, in only its fourth year I might add, has made a name for itself and seems to only get bigger and better each year and is known as the RI Winter Brewfest.

The festival itself, held at the Pawtucket Armory, brings together all of the state’s breweries, as well as a solid mix of microbreweries from the East Coast to the West Coast. With two sessions being offered (each being sold out year after year), it is easy to see how popular this event has become, with the obvious focal point being the wide array and amazing variety of different beers to sample and enjoy. From a more local perspective, what I really love about the RI Brewfest is that it gives attendees the chance to meet the brewers behind the brands. It is an opportunity to interact with the people responsible for that fresh pint at the local bar, that 4 pack or 6 pack you grab at the liquor store, or that growler you go get filled up for the weekend or get together with family and friends. It brings an even greater sense of appreciation for beers being brewed right here in our state.

Of course such a great day of sampling and discussing beer would not be possible if not for such a creative, passionate, hard working group of people. Matthew Gray, President of Gray Matter Marketing, and the team behind the RI Brewfest do a fantastic job of not only promoting the festival but also setting it up and organizing it in such a way that attendees are able to make the most out of their afternoon or evening full of craft beer enjoyment. Also, add on to the fact that the festival actually pays the breweries for the beers they supply and with each ticket sold, a portion of the proceeds is donated to the Rhode Island Brewers Guild…another win-win situation, especially for the RI craft beer scene. It is a festival like this that really brings together a community of beer enthusiasts while also doing a great job of showcasing and supporting local  breweries and providing a diverse selection of other brands for everyone’s overall enjoyment. RI Brewfest might still be in its “early years” as a festival but that doesn’t seem to be slowing it down from gaining more and more interest each year. Be sure to check out their website: www.ribrewfest.com for information about the festival, and interviews with some of the local brewers and also follow them on Twitter (@RIBrewFest) for even more content, insight and updates.

Thank you and cheers to RI Brewfest for another successful and enjoyable festival. I’m already looking forward to the next one. On behalf of Prost Providence, I raise my glass and Prost RI Brewfest!