There’s a new watering hole in the Saint John area. Foghorn Brewing Company just opened its doors as Rothesay’s newest – and first – craft brewery.
Featuring everything we’ve come to love about craft breweries, Foghorn Brewing is no exception – there’s a roll-up garage door, industrial vibe and the malty smell of fermenting grains. Located in a newly constructed building conveniently also housing a Crossfit gym (so you can have a couple pints and then work it off, or vice versa), the bar is the first thing you see when you step through the doors – that and a working antique payphone donated by owner Steve Russell’s aunt.
There’s seating for approximately 25 on bright red chairs around wooden tables. Red lanterns and festive string lighting make Foghorn an inviting place to pull up a chair.
And then there’s the beer. Brewmaster and co-owner Andrew Estabrooks has worked his magic on five brews in preparation for Foghorn’s opening, three of which will be brewery staples. On tap is a British Golden Ale, a piney IPA in the spirit of Red Racer and a Dry Irish Stout, known affectionately at the brewery as Brian. And just because they had lots of time to brew while waiting out the bureaucratic process, there’ll also be a Session IPA and a Winter Warmer made with Crosby’s molasses. They also plan to use one tap to feature a local cider and another for a craft brew collaboration.
As Brewmaster, Estabrooks has worked with and consulted for numerous breweries, Picaroons, TrailWay, Graystone and Petit-Sault to name a few. He’s got the brewing chops to make Foghorn a major contender on the increasingly crowded craft brewing scene. But it’s not always easy coming up with fresh ideas in an exploding industry.
“Filling the niche is definitely a game that’s played. For consumers and for ourselves as well. You tend to brew ones that you’d want to take home and drink” says Estabrooks.
On why he decided to open a brewery in Rothesay, Russell says he never thought of opening a business anywhere else. Born and raised in the area, Russell says they’ve had tremendous support from the local community. “And on top of it, the business case was sound. There was a niche going unfilled here…I thought Rothesay deserved its own craft brewery“. He also points out that locally made products is what consumers want. “They want to be able to shake the hand of the person that made it“.
That doesn’t mean it’s been easy. Since putting pen to paper on a business plan nearly three years ago, Russell admits it’s been a slow and challenging process. But overall he’s thrilled with the finished product and anxious to start selling beer.
Foghorn is hoping to use local ingredients as much as possible, for convenience as much as conscience. The majority of their hops comes from local growers, except for specialty types they ship in. And Russell says they’d like to collaborate with other local businesses in the future. So keep an eye out for something yummy featuring Foghorn’s neighbour, Java Moose.
When asked if they have any plans to expand into bottling or canning, both Estabrooks and Russell are hesitant. They appreciate being able to control the product from start to finish, insuring the quality, and putting the extra effort into getting the products directly to the customers. Says Estabrooks, “It’s way easier to lose customers than it is to gain them back“.
Foghorn Brewing Company products will be available at 47 Clark Road in Rothesay starting Friday, November 18th at 10:00am and on tap at several bars and restaurants in the Greater Saint John Area.