Foolproof Brewing Company Joins RI Beer Scene
Saturday, April 06, 2013
Since Nick Garrison got a brewing kit from his parents for Christmas and brewed the beer for his own wedding, he’s had a passion for brewing, a passion that has led to the birth of Providence’s hot new brewery: Foolproof Brewing Company.
GolocalProv took time to speak to Nick Garrison, the founder and owner of Foolproof Brewing Company, and and their professional brewmaster, Damase Olsson.
Could you explain your brewing process?
Nick Garrison: We approach brewing a bit differently at Foolproof. Before we even start talking about ingredients, flavors, and beer styles, we look at life experiences. We actually brew our beers with specific activities in mind. The names of each of our brews reflect these sacred beer drinking experiences.
We're basically trying to get people to think about and treat beer as more than just an alcoholic beverage, but instead as an experience that should be savored and enjoyed.
I truly believe that we as beer drinkers consciously (or subconsciously) associate beers with various experiences, weather, places, moods, and activities. At Foolproof, we really wanted to take that concept to the next level, and that's how we developed our philosophy of experience-based brewing.
We treat each of our beers as a tribute to a specific experience, and we encourage our friends and fans to go out and create their own experience. I love the idea of somebody picking up a six pack of our beer and taking it camping, heading to the beach, or maybe just staying at home on a rainy day and then sharing that experience with us.
Are there any traditions, or special styles you follow?
Damase Olsson: I do try to use only malt, water, hops and yeast in my recipes. I will also add various other things such as vanilla or honey if that is a flavor I am looking for in the beer. As for styles, I tend to brew mostly ales (as opposed to lagers), as ales will ferment more quickly (two weeks as opposed to five to six weeks), though I do enjoy brewing good lagers when I get the chance and time in the brewery permits. One style I have consistently brewed is a Russian Imperial Stout, so maybe that would be my special style.
A secret recipe?
Olsson: Now that would be a secret, wouldn't it? But in reality, I have no secret recipes, as each brewer can take the same ingredients and have a slightly different flavor, depending on their brewhouse. After all, with only four ingredients, it is tough to have secrets.
How long have you been brewing beer? Have you hit any road bumps or accidents along the way?
Olsson: I have been brewing non-professionally since 1993 and professionally since 2006. I haven't had any real bumps or accidents along the way, professionally at least. As a home brewer, I have made my fair share of mistakes, one of which was dropping a batch down a flight of stairs. Glass carboys will always lose a battle with a cement floor.
Garrison: I've been brewing for about five years and have been running a brewery for less than three months. It was certainly a challenge pulling this whole crazy idea together. It took me four years to take Foolproof from a dream to reality, and we definitely hit some bumps along the way. Financing, equipment, licensing, branding issues...you name it. Every new brewery faces an uphill battle, but I think we've done a great job working through all of the hurdles.
I've dumped my fair share of homebrew (things don't always work out as planned!), but as Damase [Olsson] mentioned, we can proudly say that we haven't had to dump any beer down the drain yet at Foolproof. I think it's a testament to Damase's talent as a brewmaster.
What made you decide to start brewing beer?
Olsson: I enjoyed the flavors of craft beer (though it was called microbrew back then), and I had the opportunity to take a weekend course taught by URI professors when I was living in Narragansett, so I decided to give it a go. Been giving it a go ever since.
Garrison: I received my first home brewing kit as a Christmas gift from my parents. I never thought that two plastic buckets could actually change my life. Within a year of picking up homebrewing as a hobby (ok, borderline obsession), I knew this was what I had to do with my life.
What does beer mean to you?
Olsson: They say beer is what started civilization, and I tend to believe that. Beer is the great equalizer. Every society has had a grain-based beverage, whether it be from corn, wheat, sorghum, or barley. Beer is consumed by folks in every level of society, so if civilization began with beer, every society has had some form of beer, and every strata of society drinks beer. I guess you could say that beer is what keeps the world humming. Or, to paraphrase Groucho Marx, "Sometimes a beer is just a drink."
Garrison: Working at a brewery for a living, beer is obviously a very important part of my life. In fact, it changed my life. To me, when enjoyed responsibly, beer is something that brings together family and friends, and ultimately, we drink beer because it's fun. I really wanted the Foolproof brand to reflect that idea – good beer is something that will always bring people together.
Pairing Your Brews
In the mood for getting together with friends for a BBQ? Backyard will match the friendly, smokey atmosphere. Olsson gives us the inside scoop on how to pair Foolproof with your experience, and what to pair it with to make your taste buds tingle:
Barstool – something light in flavor, so it will not overwhelm the beer. Some folks have had it with sushi and loved it. So I would definitely say fish, chicken (not BBQ'ed but baked or lightly grilled), or even a salad.
Backyard – Now there is a BBQ beer, so something more robust, and spicy. Mexican would also work well with this beer.
Raincloud – The roasty flavors remind me of a nice roast, beef, or pork, which would all work very well with this beer.
Revery – I am going out on a limb here, but a French vanilla ice cream beer float works very well. But if you do not want to put ice cream in your beer, you can have it on the side, on top of a warm brownie.
Bringing in a Local Taste
The local brewery hopes to get even more local in the next year, looking to use Rhode Island hops in some of their batches. Currently, the brewery uses hops from all over the world. “We have hops from the Czech Republic, England, Germany, and the Northwest of the United States,” Damase says. “We hope to be using Rhode Island hops next year in some of our batches.”
Try a Taste
Get down and check out the brewery for yourself, see the brewing process, and try the beer a tour Fridays and Saturdays for $10. You can grab a taste of the golden drink at any of these locations.
Foolproof Brewing Company, 241 Grotto Avenue, Pawtucket. Click here to visit the website and for more information.
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