Over the weekend, the owner of Rehoboth’s newest brewery woke up to a phone call he never expected to get. Anawan Brewing Company went up in flames early Saturday morning, burning down all the hard work and dedication of Steffen Johnson in just minutes. It was a huge loss to not only Johnson but also to his team and the community.

Steffen Johnson has dreamed of owning his own brewery since he left the army in 2014. He got his own brew kit and the love of the industry blossomed from there.

“We formed the LLC in 2017, but we didn’t find a suitable location that we wanted to call home until 2019,” said Johnson. “In 2021, we opened for ‘beer to go’ can sales, and then in November of 2021, we started soft openings in the taproom.

In that short period of time, Anawan Brewing Co. was getting incredible feedback from the community, and Johnson’s goal of being a local watering hole was coming true.

WBSM-AM/AM 1420 logo
Get our free mobile app

“From the beginning, we always planned on having a place for the community to have a place to go to, to meet up for different things,” said Johnson. “We were bringing in food trucks to support local, we had planned on doing stuff with local animal shelters…we wanted a communal space.”

While everything seemed to be on the upswing, it all came crashing down last weekend.

“I got a call around 5 am (on Saturday) that there had been a fire. I jumped in my car, and I was one of the first people on scene beside the fire department,” said Johnson. “I walked up and there were still little fires going on everywhere. It was as surreal as it is right now. It doesn’t seem real.”

Johnson’s dream was engulfed in flames. The fire is currently under investigation by the Rehoboth Fire Department.

As far as what is next for Johnson and Anawan Brewing Company, it is too soon to tell.

“There are a lot of unknowns right now, I’m still trying to process everything,” said Johnson.

But one thing is clear: The community is fully behind Anawan.

A fundraiser was started to rebuild the brewery and in less than a week, it has accumulated more than 20,000 dollars. Even other breweries in the area have donated to help Johnson and his team rise from the ashes.

“The brewing community, the local community, everyone…has been mind-blowing, to be honest with you,” said Johnson. “Narragansett Brewing Company will be doing a fundraising night on Monday (February 21st) where 100% of proceeds with go to us…It’s just amazing.”

The blaze may have taken away the brewery (for now), but it has not taken away Johnson’s hope.

While Johnson and his crew continue to process Saturday’s tragic event, I have a feeling this isn’t the last of Anawan Brewing Company.

This Rhode Island Winery Will Take You to the British Countryside

The feel of an English country getaway is so much closer than you think. A new Rhode Island winery will make you feel like you've gone back in time and across the pond bringing Downton Abbey vibes so close to the SouthCoast.

More From WBSM-AM/AM 1420