Monday, August 19, 2013

Brewery Tour #21 - Foolproof Brewing Company

On a 98 degree day, with a real feel of approximately 163 degrees, we made the questionable decision to forgo the beach (or any other sensible activity to stay cool) and instead visit a hot brewery with no AC. Coincidentally, the name of that brewery is “Foolproof”.

Or is that ironic?

Actually, it’s both.

Based in Pawtucket Rhode Island, Foolproof Brewing began business in 2010. They believe in “experienced-based brewing”. Their three primary beers are intended to pay tribute to three different sacred beer drinking experiences. They claim these three experiences are, 1 – “watching baseball” (agreed), 2 – “relaxing indoors on a rainy day” (sounds nice, but a sacred beer drinking experience it is not), or 3 – shooting the breeze at your local watering hole (inarguable).

Foolproof’s name up until their official opening was High Jinx Brewing. A bit late in the game they discovered that name was already under copyright by a winery. Humorously, Foolproof already had pint glasses produced with “High Jinx Brewing” printed on them. At the time of our visit, they were selling off the stockpile High Jinx pint glasses at a discount.

When you visit the brewery you pay $10. That money gets you three tasting tokens, a tour, and either one Foolproof pint glass or two High Jinx pint glasses to walk away with. Otherwise, pay and extra $2 and you may take home a beautiful Foolproof-branded tulip glass (I’m a sucker for tulip glasses so guess which option I took).

Your three tasting tokens can be used towards any of their three flagship beers, or a specialty beer they happen to have recently bottled. During our visit, the specialty beers were a farmhouse saison, and a Russian imperial stout. If you go with someone, play it smart and use your tokens so that both you and your friend/spouse can try all the beers available and share each other’s samples. Don’t worry, samples sizes at Foolproof are generous and easy to share.

The flagship beers that match the previously mentioned life experiences are “Backyahd” (IPA), “Raincloud” (porter), and “Barstool” (golden/blonde ale). Use your marbles to figure out which beer serves which experience.
The Backyard IPA (no typo – I refuse to use the idiotic accent-based spelling going forward) will not wow you. It’s another run-of-the-mill east coast style IPA with prominent bitterness, earthy hop aggression, mild citrus hop notes, and heavy carbonation. It's satisfactory, but doesn't fit our tastes for an IPA to seek out. 
Barstool is a 4.5% ABV session ale with no errors that’s easy to throw back. Its flavor won’t turn heads. Mild on all fronts, it fits warm weather well and can easily satisfy the general public. 

I had high hopes for the Raincloud porter because I read a handful of positive remarks from fellow beer geeks. It draws good ratings among beer fans, so if you like porters, stouts, and other malt-heavy styles, give it a shot. I found it a bit thin, soapy, and lacking that comfort that a good porter provide. But I’ve learned to never write off a beer until I've had it twice, for multiple reasons. So I still look forward to trying Raincloud again.

The saison/farmhouse ale we tasted is called La Ferme Urbaine (meaning “the urban farm”). If you shy away from French pronunciations (me too), you can simply ask for “the saison” and avoid embarrassment. This beer was the highlight of our tasting. Although it uses mainly German hops and grains, the flavor matches the Belgian saison style well. It’s hazy, with notes of banana, pepper, lemon, and it finishes very dry (as a saison should).

Our last pour was “Reverie,” a Russian imperial stout. We thought it was decent, yet not as assertive as we like our RIS’s. It was oddly non-filling and easier to drink than a typical RIS. Theoretically, a beer’s drinkability score should never be dinged for being too easy to drink. But as many fans of Russian imperial stouts will say, the style is most fun when big, bold, and complex. Reverie tasted neither big or bold, and its flavor depth was a touch shallow. With that said, it was well balanced, tasty enough, and nicely approachable for the style. If Reverie was available at an economical cost in 6 packs, I’d say it’s an excellent weeknight RIS, but as it’s only available in uneconomical 22oz. bottles, its competition on the shelf is far stronger and I would be hard pressed to reach for this one over other 22 oz. options.

The tour itself is not a quick pass through the brewing area. It’s one hour long. Your tour guide explains the brand’s story, the history for each style they brew, and every step of the brewing process. But it’s not a tedious hour, the guides show clear passion for what they do and are genuinely excited to inform you.

Their flagship beers are packaged in cans and available in six-packs. I quite like their designs, frankly. Your tour guide will go into detail as to why they favor cans over bottles. As you may or may not already know, cans are great for blocking beer’s enemies (sunlight and oxygen), and obviously don’t break like glass when dropped.

Despite our belief that Foolproof’s beers generally won’t wow people, they’re all agreeable and have their place. I would never turn one down if offered by a friend, even if because I unabashedly love the can artwork.

A visit is recommended if you have time to kill in Pawtucket. The tasting room is modern and friendly. Parking is easy. And despite having to pay $10, your money goes a long way at Foolproof. Just be smarter than we were, visit when it’s not so hot out that you could sauté quahogs on your car’s hood. 

Foolproof Brewing Company
241 Grotto Ave
Pawtucket, RI, 02860
(401) 721-5970


Saturdays at 1:00, 2:00, 3:00, and 4:00 p.m. (with the exception of major holiday weekends and severe weather). Tours are limited to the first 25 people.

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