Building a strong Foundation: John Bonney talks about the brewing biz

I’ve been blessed to have celebrated July 4th sixty times. There, now you know my age. On the birth of our nation this year, just the other day, my husband and I got up way too early to travel to Thomaston, Maine to watch the parade and have lunch with an artist cousin who bought a summer home right on the main street.

But Miss Crabby Appleton was made happier because her nice husband had bought her a large coffee before getting on the road. And the almost ninety-minute trip from Waterville was made much more enjoyable because I had an appointment for an early morning phone call to one of Maine’s newer brewers, John Bonney, co-founder and owner with Joel Mahaffey of Foundation Brewing Company in Portland.

Joel Mahaffey & John Bonney of Foundation Brewing Company

(Above photo of Joel Mahaffey and John Bonney used with their permission).

We had met John and Joel last winter, when we took part in a Maine Brew Bus tour of several new breweries in southern Maine. In addition to Banded Horn in Biddeford, we trekked around a small industrial park way out in the Riverton section of Portland to celebrate the launching of Foundation, as well as Bissell Brothers and Austin Street.

Catching up with John on July Fourth, I found him at the brewery, hard at work. I asked him how business was going since their opening a few months ago. I was amazed by how young his voice sounds. I’m amazed by how fast time flies these years, and how young everyone sounds except me. I’m happy the Millenials are running things now, at least will be soon.

“The biggest change,” he says, “is that something that was only a goal a short time ago is now a reality. You make plans, and when you really get into it, there’s a big difference.”

“How so?” I ask.

“We knew this intellectually,” John says, “but we really learned that when you are brewing, or doing some other task around the brewery, that you can’t leave until it’s done. So if it’s eight or nine at night, and you’re still in the middle of some process, you know you are staying late.”

Thinking there might be some really new gadget these young guys are using to keep them on task, I ask, “Is there a software that helps you stay organized?”

“We mostly use Google calendar,” he says. “It helps us coordinate our schedules. It’s only Joel and me here in the brewery, so we have to work hard to know what the other is doing or scheduled to do to keep things flowing smoothly. We can share the calendar and see who has what going on. That helps.” And it helps me to know that I don’t have to find something newer than Google calendar.


As for the beers John says, “We are staying with our two beers, Eddy and Blaze for awhile, although we do have a summer saison called Wanderlust. Eddy and Blaze are examples of what we are about as a brewery. The 5 % ABV (alcohol by volume) makes Blaze easy to drink and you can have a couple with dinner because they are low in alcohol. We’ll definitely expand the list in the future.” (Note, the brewery does offer seasonal and small-batch brews at different times).

Brewers’ descriptions (taken from Foundation’s website): 

Eddy is a farmhouse style ale, traditionally known as a Saison. Bright and lively, this beer is dry, light in body and color, but not in taste. 5%

Blaze is a farmhouse IPA, brewed with our house yeast, resulting in a harmony of yeast and hop driven flavors. 6.2%

Wanderlust #1 has a fresh aroma, reminiscent of peach and tropical fruit, and a juicy flavor highlighted by peach, mango and pine. The finish is crisp, dry, with a hint of sweet cereal grains, making it perfect for the spring we’ve been waiting so long for.

Joel and John met at Central Street Market in Bangor and began home-brewing together. “We make a good team, because Joel is more intuitive and my background is in biochemistry, so it’s a great combination for recipe development. Trained as a medical doctor, and once practicing in Waterville, John’s career shift is a serious one. He tells me, “I’m no longer practicing as a family physician. We’ve moved down here and I’m consulting so I can dedicate myself to the company.”

“Are you going to be able to get away today and enjoy the holiday?” I ask. I can hear a slight chuckle. “No. I’m here for the day. Got a lot to do.”

We say goodbye and I smile, and sip the coffee that will wake me up by the time we arrive at the parade route. I tell my husband, “What a nice young guy. That’s what the spirit of the 4th of July means to me. Hard work, dedication and working to be self-sufficient.” Among many other things.

Get yourselves to Portland and taste some of Foundation’s great beer and bring a growler home.

Scout out their website:

1 Industrial Way, #5

Portland, Maine

207 370-8187



Kate Cone

About Kate Cone

Kate Cone has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, is a freelance writer and the author of "What's Brewing in New England: A Guide to Brewpubs and Microbreweries," published by Downeast Publications in 1997 and completely updated in 2016. She has been a foodie since age 8, when her dad taught her how to make coffee and an omelet, lifelong skills for happy eating.