Most major cities have different sections or neighborhoods that make them unique and distinguishable from other parts of the city and Providence is no different. First and foremost there is Downtown, with its iconic Superman building, artistic venues like Providence Performing Arts and Trinity Rep, and where you can find the oldest indoor mall in America, The Arcade. Then there is the Eastside, home to higher education institutions Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design. It is also one of the oldest parts of the city, with historic homes and streets that date back to the very early beginnings of Rhode Island. And, of course, another recognizable part of Providence is the Federal Hill neighborhood. Known as the Little Italy of RI, this is where you will find a variety of Italian restaurants, pastry shops and little markets (and an area with some historic organized crime connections). If you stray from Atwells Ave and make your way towards the “West Side,” near Westminster Street and featuring a funkier side to the city, you will find the state’s newest microbrewery, Long Live Beerworks. The latest addition to the local craft beer community has come out of the gate firing on all cylinders and is looking forward to welcoming people to come by and try some of the city’s newest brews.
For many home brewers, their hope one day is to take their passion and turn it into a career and Armando DeDona is one of the fortunate ones to take that opportunity and make it into a reality. As the owner/headbrewer puts it, “I had been interested in starting my own business for a long time. I wanted the opportunity to be really creative with my passion (specifically beer).” When it comes to his love for brewing, one can tell that he is very enthusiastic about his craft. “I like the creative process, plus, I enjoy working on something that is solely for enjoyment. At the end of the day, I get to share that enjoyment with my customers.” This also carries over into the recipes and beers themselves too. “A lot of the beers I have on tap are recipes from my home brew past. The cask conditioned beers I feature every Friday is based on whatever is conditioning in the fermenters, and I build upon those recipes and craft them into something different. They can be inspired by anything really, what I see in season at the market, a song I’m digging, etc. At the end of the day, I want to have fun.” Early on it seems like this combination of creativity and fun has easily transitioned into a solid variety of beers for visitors to come in and enjoy.
Since opening its doors only nine months ago, Long Live Beerworks has been keeping a constant rotation of brews available on draft. This is done on purpose, as Armando puts it, it is “mostly to exercise my need for a creative outlet and variety.” Some of the beers that have been brewed/featured at the brewery include Lonely Weekend, which is an IPA brewed with Idaho 7 and Citra hops. There is Coarse Grind, a stout made with an expresso blend from local coffee roasters, Dave’s Coffee. You might also come across ‘Lil Sippy, described as a refreshing, dry hopped, session ale. Rounding it out is Heck Hound, a smoky red ale. “I’m really digging smoked beers right now. The smoked characteristics appeal to me because of the close connection with food (which can elevate a good beer)” Armando shared. He added, “I recently re-brewed Heck Hound with a little bit of modification in that I pushed the smokiness. This beer serves a more niche palette and often surprises our customers.” While smoky flavored beers might not be up every beer drinker’s alley, there seems to be no shortage of unique and flavorful crafted brews to choose from.
While Armando and Long Live Beerworks might be the newest addition to the RI craft beer community, he finds himself in good company when it comes to one interesting aspect of producing beer in our state and that is brewery space. From the location to physical building size, Armando shared some insight with me, saying, “My brewery is tiny. I have to constantly shuffle around equipment/materials. I can’t work in the brewery when the tasting room is open. I have the fortune of tall ceilings and living close to the brewery, so I can be creative with storage.” While this might sound like a struggle, there is also a positive flipside. “I sacrificed space for being in the city where I live. I didn’t want to necessarily be a destination brewery (although we regularly have people who are traveling through). A lot of my customers live in the neighborhood and can literally walk to our brewery for a tasting or growler fill.” For a smaller, yet creative and welcoming space, Long Live has been getting some positive feedback since its doors opened to the public. “I have really good customers. The tasting room is supposed to be inclusive, so I don’t just get beer geeks, but a range of folks who are interested in our local product. I’m humbled by the overall positivity and support we get from the folks who frequent us.” This neighborhood brewery, like any other, thrives off of support from regulars and visitors who come by to experience a well-crafted local brew.
It is great to see new breweries open their doors here in RI and add to an already diverse and ever growing industry. Long Live is fresh on the scene and is embracing its current situation, but also mindful and optimistic about the future. Armando stated that, “In the short term I want to expand our hours, grow our tasting room staff, and become more accessible to consumers. I’ll be starting limited distribution soon as well. I’d love to add bottles/cans to the mix, but that will come down the line.” And for the long term goals? “I’d like to purchase my own building in Providence and expand our production a bit, without losing our connection as a community brewery.” From taking a passion, turning it into a reality and building towards the future, Armando and his Long Live Beerworks have officially joined the ranks here in the local craft beer community. I’d like to take a moment to thank Armando for taking the time to share with me his experiences, vision and details about his life as a brewer here in the West End of the capital city. On behalf of Prost Providence, I raise my glass and Prost Long Live Beerworks!
(Go check out Long Live Beerwork’s website (www.longlivebeerworks.com) to find out more about the brewery, what’s currently available on draft and upcoming events. You can also find them on Twitter (@LongLiveBeerRI) and on Instagram (@longlivebeerworks) for new beer releases and even more up to date brewery information.)