PawPrint Breweryco-owner and head brewer James Kenison’s career switch, after 25 years in the military and more as a K9 officer, is a boon for craft beer fans in Chatfield. The former lawman is opening the city’s first brewery on Friday.

"I mentally was in a position where I was just like, ‘I got to do something else,’" Kenison said. "Twenty-five years of seeing all the negative, always looking over your shoulder, seeing all that bad stuff that we see. It kind of affects you in a way. Mentally and physically I was just like… I gotta go do something else."

That "something else" is a 3,000 square-foot brewery situated in downtown Chatfield (128 Main St. S), easily noticeable on your left when heading south on Highway 52 thanks to the paw print/hop logo. It houses a two-barrel brewing system, five two-barrel, and five one-barrel fermenters.

While it’s a relatively small setup, Kenison says it gives him a chance to really experiment.

On my visit on Jan. 7, I got to try eight of his beers (he has 12 taps available).

New England IPA Bomb Dog has been the top seller so far during soft, random openings for locals, the last of which was on Jan. 18. It has the appearance and mouthfeel you expect from a hazy, with mango and pineapple flavor and a little bit of bitterness. Plus, you can grab a packet of Pop Rocks to have alongside the beer, which is fun, if gimmicky. Rounding out the list are an Irish Red, English stout, lager, IPA, gose, cream ale, and hard seltzer. Most names, like "Nash’s Wet Snout" are either tied to dogs or the military.

"One of my biggest fears is people won’t like the beer," Kenison said. Sure, one of his lagers had to be tweaked after it suffered from being an early batch on a new machine, but he’s brewed another batch with the improved knowledge. And everything else I tried was technically sound, with the hazy IPA really standing out.

Aside from the beer, the space and other details promise to be special.

Kenison’s keeping it a little quiet, but people should be on the lookout for PawPrint’s patio. You can probably put two and two together to figure out what kind of space it will be. Plus, he’s working on a way for patrons to get photos of their pets printed on crowlers of his beer.

But before all of that, Kenison needs to focus on brewing and getting through the winter with a new brewery. His skill is already evident, and it’s very cool to see that he is using local hops from Civil Sass Hops, who has a co-owner with a military background as well.

In fact, in the future, a series of beers called the Thin Line will be brewed and used as a way to raise money for different foundations like fire, EMT, or police, Kenison says.

So while Kenison knew he had to move on from his previous work, he will always have a tie to it in a positive, helpful way through his new endeavor.

{{tncms-inline content="<p>What: PawPrint Brewery</p> <p>When: <a href="https://www.facebook.com/pawprintbrew/" target="_blank">Opening 3-10 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24</a></p> <p>Where: 128 Main St. South, Chatfield</p> <p>Hours: Noon-10 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays; Noon-8 p.m. Sundays. Closed Mondays-Wednesdays for brewing.</p>" id="a1614dee-0d83-43da-868f-055dc9c866d5" style-type="fact" title="If You Go" type="relcontent"}}

What: PawPrint Brewery

When: Opening 3-10 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24

Where: 128 Main St. South, Chatfield

Hours: Noon-10 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays; Noon-8 p.m. Sundays. Closed Mondays-Wednesdays for brewing.