FRESH FARE Foolproof's cans are on the way.
It's a fairly common path in the beer industry: a passion for beer leads to homebrewing, which leads to making the leap to dreaming about opening a brewery. That's the path that Nick Garrison, the president and founder of Foolproof Brewing Company, set off on four years ago.
"[I] brewed all of the beer for my own wedding back in 2008," Nick says. "During our honeymoon, [my wife Sarah] and I were enjoying a beer outdoors at a nice brewpub in Quebec City. She turned to me and said, 'How cool would it be to own a place like this ourselves?' It was at that exact moment that I knew I was going to open a brewery." (Nick worked in marketing communications in the aerospace industry and left that job last April.)
Four years of business plans, financing, location scouting, equipment-purchasing and -installing, licensing, and an 11th-hour name change followed (in the wake of the Grey Sail/Full Sail trademark dispute, the High Jinx name was dropped; there is a brewing company in Allentown, PA called HiJinx). But on December 28, the dream became a reality: the first kegs were out the door of their space in Pawtucket and Foolproof's beer was flowing from local taps a few days into the New Year (they already have 40 accounts).
The ambitious and accomplished folks at Foolproof — Garrison, brewmaster Damase Olsson, who worked at Pennichuck in New Hampshire and Wormtown in Worcester, and sales manager Kyle Pauly, who did stints with Ithaca Beer and Berkshire Brewing — are aiming high. They're on track for producing 2500 barrels (one barrel = 31 gallons) in their first year, and have room for expansion. They bought an automated canning line that can pump out a case a minute, and started putting their beers in elegantly designed (by RISD grad Liz Weinberg) cans and unique cardboard boxes on Monday (they should hit the shelves in the next week or two).
Oh yeah, the beer. None of this would matter if the product wasn't good, but the Foolproof beers are very good indeed. We headed to Grotto Ave to take the tour and tastes of their offerings (Friday at 4 and 5 pm, Saturday from 12-3 pm, $10 for three sizable pours and a pint glass). Dammy does a brief but thorough Making of Beer 101 lesson, and Nick guides you through the space where the magic happens, explaining the brewing process, dropping a sweet Breaking Bad reference, making a case for beer's complexity trumping wine, and proselytizing for why packaged beer is better in cans. Before, during, and after, you get to savor their exceptional fare. Barstool is a sessionable and supremely well-balanced golden ale (4.5% ABV); the Backyahd IPA (6%) is a generously-hopped delight; and Raincloud is a robust porter (6.5%) with delicious layers of flavor. We also got a sample of Revery, a hefty (10.7%) and savory Russian imperial stout.
Foolproof's slogan is "Your Life. Your Beer." Their brews are definitely enriching the local beer landscape.