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Thirsty Thursday: Foolproof Brewing Company’s The Depths

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Photo By Ed Miller

Welcome to Thirsty Thursday, a weekly column where we pick a beer from our fridge and review it, because in a world where two new breweries launch every single week, sometimes we need some help sifting through all of the hops.

I recently went to the beer store with the intention of finding something I’ve never heard of from a brewery I’ve never heard of – and that is no easy task, since I’ve done this column for close to two years now.  Well, I hit the jackpot since some of the shelves were getting replenished and I walked out of there eager to try a beer from a state that’s not really highlighted in my area.  It could be because Rhode Island is among the smallest states, population-wise, in the country or just because there’s not a ton of breweries distributing from the New England state.  So, when I saw the colorful label of Foolproof Brewing Company’s The Depths, I immediately grabbed it.

Founded back in 2012 – originally as Hijinx Brewing Company – by Nick Garrison, Foolproof brews on a 30-barrel system, with the ability to produce 10,000 barrels of beer annually, making it the state’s fifth largest independent craft brewer. Garrison began as an avid homebrewer and decided to turn his dream into a reality.  Within four years, Foolproof opened and became part of Pawtucket, Rhode Island’s beer landscape – a town that boasts more breweries than anywhere in the state.  But due to an oversaturated market, Garrison recently announced plans to sell Foolproof after seven years.

Armed with 10 year-round beers, including The Depths, Foolproof also offers more than a dozen limited beers, like its Lab Series – all of which are released in cans.  The Depths is a Double India Pale Ale that comes in at 8.0 percent ABV and is the sibling beer to the brewery’s popular Grotto IPA.  While the ingredients for it aren’t specifically listed, Foolproof touts that lupulin powder “showcases the aggressive aromatics and bold flavors” while a grain and malt bill helps to back it all up.

I’ll be honest, my eyes were drawn to this beer because of the label. It’s eye-catching and probably the biggest reason as to why this four-pack of pounders made the trip home with me.  The label is teal-themed, looking like the bottom of the ocean floor, and features an anchor, plant life and several clownfish – like the title character from Finding Nemo – swimming around the bottom.  There’s a description of the contents, with the ABV, however there’s unfortunately no listing of the hops used.

When I popped it open, I decided to take a massive whiff after I poured it.  Perhaps my favorite part of this brew, it poured a hazy golden orange color, with a wealth of off-white head, looking exactly what you want a DIPA to look like.  I would say there was easily three fingers worth and it managed to dissipate nicely as I consumed it, while the overall carbonation proved to be well above average. It definitely looked good in my teku glass and is a beer that’s perfect to show off on social media. 

Once it was poured, it was time to get the full aroma of The Depths.  I noticed a somewhat potent fruit smell, with citrus fruits like tangerine and peach immediately coming to the forefront of my nose.  I also got a little boozy note, which worried me a little about the upcoming taste, since the aroma is usually a good indicator.

That boozy flavor proved to be the downfall for this brew, however.  Upon my first sip, it was apparent that booziness was overpowering the rest of the flavor profile.  Sure, there were notes of grass and citrus in there, along with an underlying dankness, but it just got lost in the mix.  It honestly tasted more along the lines of a Triple IPA or a Quadruple IPA, without as strong of an ABV, and it simply wasn’t a flavor I loved.  I struggled to sip through the end of it and found the drinkability to be extremely lackluster.  Was this just a beer that didn’t adhere to my taste preferences, or was it something that wasn’t executed well?  I believe it may be just a little bit of both.

I wouldn’t mind giving Foolproof a second chance and trying something a little toned down, or a completely different style, that features a crushability along with an immense flavor, like the brewery’s Lager or Farmhouse Ale.  The creativity appears to be there, it just might need to be salvaged from the bottom of the ocean.

When I went on to BeerAdvocate to see the ratings for The Depths, I was surprised to see that the site gave it an 89 and that it had an average score of 3.9 based on 25 reviews.  After much deliberation, and two separate glasses, I would give this beer a 5.2 out of 10.  The label is mostly great, the pour was equally as great, the nose was solid, but it just lost me on the taste. While this isn’t far away from being a complex beer, the excessive booze flavor just ruined it for me when it came to enjoying the citrus and other flavors that would’ve shined through and very possibly made The Depth delicious.

Stay tuned next week, because I might try something from your favorite brewery.