Today we’re launching a new series: “Get To Know Your Brewer” [we’ll also be talking with other folks from the beer industry]. Let us know who you would like to see profiled!
Since November 2011, eight breweries have opened in Rhode Island [we’re counting stand-alone beer-making spaces — we haven’t forgotten Revival and Brutopia]. But the big beer boom has yet to reach the capital city. That will change in the fall, when Armando DeDona welcomes the first visitors to Long Live Beerworks on 425 West Fountain St [the former home of an auto repair shop]. Last week he got the green light from the Zoning Board of Review [see details below], so to mark that milestone, we asked the brewmaster about the path that led him to Long Live.
“I grew up in New Haven, Connecticut. My buddy Paco started going to school in Providence and after visiting a few times I fell in love. After my wife finished college, we moved to Providence and we are still here 10 years later.
“I started homebrewing in 2001 from a kit my sister bought me. It came with ingredients for two beers, a blonde and a red ale. The red ale had an infection and the blonde was a bottle bomb. I kept pushing forward and never looked back. A decade later, I was a founding member of the Rhode Island Brewing Society and have been an active member ever since. In 2013 I wanted to open up a brewery, so I set out to find a partner but I couldn’t find anyone who was on the same page. Undeterred, I signed up for the three-month course in British brewing at Brewlab in Sunderland, UK. It was great. The school is a brewery and I also worked in a different brewery every week. I absolutely love the British beer culture. If there is a beer on cask in a bar I will drink that beer first.”
Has Long Live cleared all the red tape/bureaucratic hurdles?
“I currently feel like a red tape mummy, but I passed my first hurdle. I was granted my special use permit to have a microbrewery in a commercial zone. Before the recent zoning change a microbrewery could only be in a manufacturing zone. Everyone I talked to and worked with from every government level has been great.” [DeDona had hoped to introduce his beers at the Rhode Island Brew Fest in July 2014, but the approval process always takes longer than expected.]
“I couldn’t be more thrilled about the location — I’m a West Sider — and there’s something exciting about being able to visit a brewery on foot [or, ahem, being able to walk to work]. I also hope to contribute to an already very active food community we have here in Providence by focusing early efforts on take-away growlers and bottles.
“I’m starting off with a seven-barrel system. My mission is simple — to create great beer for our state — with a focus on providing for the West End neighborhood of Providence. I’m going to have ever-changing varieties of hop-forward beers [rather than focus on a few staples], in part to provide the community with the opportunity to experience new flavor profiles, and because I love experimenting. In addition, the brewery is planning to have tastings of real cask-conditioned ales. As with most beer endeavors, this is a true passion project.”
Given the trademark battles that are prevalent in the industry [which affected Foolproof, Grey Sail, and Crooked Current], have you cleared the use of “Beerworks,” which is the surname of the Massachusetts brewpub chain?
“I was granted approval for publication via the United States Patent and Trademark Office for my trademark for ‘Long Live’ with a disclaimer for ‘Beerworks.’ No entity can trademark Beerworks because it is too generic and describes the trade process…I think there are around 14 breweries with Beerworks in their name.” [Yep, we Googled: there are Beer Works/Beerworks in Charleston, SC, Mill Valley, CA, Austin, TX, Buffalo, NY, Carbondale, CO, Dover, NH…]
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The addition of Long Live to the ever-growing list of Rhode Island breweries ties in with our other occasional series, “Ask Bottles & Cans!” Amy Goins asked, “When are Rhode Island’s breweries going to get their collective act together and create a brewery challenge/passport program like Vermont’s? I have visited almost all of the breweries and brewpubs in RI but would gladly hit up each place again for a chance at free swag.”
The Rhode Island Brewers Guild has been kicking around the notion of creating a RI Beer Trail/Brewery Challenge/Passport but, as of this writing, your warm weather visits to the beermakers will be swag-free. Which is unfortunate, since the program boosts tourism/breweries’ profiles/etc. — and is just plain fun. In Massachusetts, which is divided into five regions, participants get a “Drink Local“ T-shirt for completing one area and a set of MA beer gear if they get their passport stamped by all of the breweries on the map [there were 47 on the 2014 edition]. A T-shirt would be plenty o’ swag as a reward for traversing our tiny state! Here’s hoping the RIBG moves this project to the front burner and we can all be sporting our own “Drink Local“ T-shirts soon.