A Chat With James Warner Of Brookland Based City-State Brewing Company

James Warner

Step inside the ground floor of James Warner’s Brookland home and you’ll find yourself inside the current headquarters of City-State Brewing Company. Inspired by his love of beer (both drinking it and brewing it), Warner is hard at work founding a beer line – and a brewery – that celebrates the history and spirit of the District of Columbia.

We sat down with Warner in his office/brewing den for a chat about City-State Brewing Company: its origins, its aspirations, and its potential future as a brick-and-mortar brewery.

Where did your interest in brewing beer come from?

I always loved cooking and being in the kitchen, and I always had a thing for beer. I went to college in Scotland from 1994 to 1997, and the beer culture there really inspired me. It wasn’t like anything I’d found here in the United States. When I moved to D.C. in 2007, I got some brewing equipment someone was giving away, and a buddy and I went and made a batch of beer. From the time I made that first batch, I was obsessed. We were two total amateurs making a bucket of beer on a front porch – and we came out with something that tasted good and made people happy when we shared it with them.

What made you want to start your own brewery in D.C.?

After 17 years of public service, I wanted more control of my life and my future. I realized that D.C. was a place where it was relatively easy to become an entrepreneur, and watching DC Brau and 3 Stars succeed gave me the confidence to start a brewery of my own. Then the idea for City-State started to hatch. D.C. is one of the best places to be in the alcohol business in the country. You’re allowed to self-distribute your beer, and if you sign up with a distributor, it’s not exclusive. D.C. really gives you that freedom.

 How did you get started building up City-State Brewing Company?

In 2014, I left government to devote myself full-time to building up the brewery. I’d never tried to start a business before, so I spend a lot of time just going out there talking to everyone I could and making connections to great people in the industry. I had money from the sale of a house on Sherman Avenue and put as much as I could into the project. I took a short apprenticeship at Glacier Brewing in Polson, Montana. I waited tables at Churchkey to learn what they were doing with beer, both in terms of the selection and the education of their servers and customers. In 2015, I got a job with Legends, one of the region’s leading craft beer distribution companies.

 What’s your beer portfolio like?

Our beers are meant to be for everyone, not just people who know they like craft beer. We want to make beautiful, wonderful beers for everyone in the city. We’re planning to launch with a portfolio of five beers to offer people a range of tastes and characteristics. There’s Holy Go-Go, an abbey dubbel that’s our strongest beer; the Brookland, a tart saison; Equal Marriage, a dark wheat beer with notes of clove, banana, and cocoa; the Self-Determinator, a German-style lager; and our 8 Wards Independent Pale Ale, brewed with an ingredient for each of D.C.’s wards.

What’s the current status of City-State Brewing Company?

We’ve got just over half of the money I set out to raise, and that’s enough to put down a deposit on a location and on the brewing equipment (once we have the space). Every six weeks or so, I try to host tasting events for current and potential investors. Right now, we’re in talks with a landlord on a location in the District. The biggest question we get every time I make a pitch: Where will the brewery be and when will it open? Right now, the goal is to be open or almost finished with construction by December 2018. We’re still accepting investors, so if you want to be a part of City-State, please get in touch!

 Learn more about City-State Brewing Company at citystatebrewing.com

RIA Porchfest – Save The Date And Call For Volunteers, Performers And Hosts

Image courtesy of Rhode Island Avenue Main Street

Porch Fest is an annual event organized by the good folks at Rhode Island Ave NE Main Street. The event transforms neighborhood porches and stoops into stages for an afternoon of free performances and community based fun. This year’s Porch Fest will be taking place Saturday April 14 from 2-6 pm . If  you are, or know of any performers, they are currently lining up participants as well as folks willing to lend their porch and volunteers. From the Porch Fest page:

Registration for Performers, Porch Owners and Volunteers is NOW OPEN!


District Space Offers Neighbors A Discount On Upcoming Pop-Up Event

Previous Event at District Space

Brooklanders who haven’t had the chance to check out District Space yet have an extra incentive to do so, a 15% discount off of their upcoming event starting this weekend. The pop up event from 1 Ounce or 2 Cocktail Club will run this and next weekend and the discount applies to the earlier (6PM-8PM) seatings on Friday, 1/19 and Friday, 1/26.  Owner Elan Bar told us “I’d love it if we could get more neighborhood folks through the door. If readers put “BROOKLANDFAM” in the notes section on the checkout page, they’ll receive a refund 15% of their total ticket purchase within 24-hours.” Reserve your spot via the event page here. Now, about the pop event itself, it is:

…a custom-crafted cocktail experience, featuring 5 original drinks with a light bite food accompaniment prepared by Chef Johanna Hellrigl (Johanna’s Table and XII by Johanna).

For this edition, the nice boys want to show that you don’t have to choose between having great beer and great cocktails. Featuring local Flying Dog beers, these aren’t “beer cocktails”; these are cocktails that highlight how beer can be incorporated thoughtfully and tastefully (pun intended!) into mixed drinks. From fortified beer to warm you on a blustery winter evening, to stout beer turned into a cordial as an homage, the drinks will both delight and force you to rethink even a basic boilermaker.

District Space is located at 3522 12th Street NE. Keep up with them via their Twitter feed and Facebook page.

Langdon Dog Park Meeting – Get Involved!

Logo Courtesy Of Langdon Dog Park Association

Brookland dog lovers are lucky to have Langdon Dog Park so close to our neighborhood. While it is one of the largest dog parks in DC, users complain that  they often find the park empty. This sort of negates one of the benefits of bringing your pooch to the park, the social interaction that well-adjusted dogs need. My opinion is that the only way to resolve this is for folks to get involved. Now is the perfect time as the Langdon Dog Park Association is having their first membership meeting of 2018. From a community message:

If you’re a dog owner or friend of dogs, please join the Langdon Dog Park Association on Monday, January 22nd at 7 p.m. at Woodridge Library for our first meeting of the year. We’ll be discussing key priorities for 2018 to continue maintaining and improving our Ward 5 dog park. We’ll also be looking for new members and leaders for the year.

Who: Anyone who is interested in helping to maintain Langdon Dog Park as a resource for Ward 5 Dog owners and dog lovers
What: Meeting of the Langdon Dog Park Association, the “friends of” group charged with maintaining Langdon Dog Park
When: Monday, January 22nd, 7 p.m.
Where: Woodridge Library

See you there!


Edgewood Recreation Center Groundbreaking This Saturday

This Saturday January 20th there will be a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Edgewood Recreation Center at 1:30 pm. You can RSVP for the event here.

Potential features of the center include a rooftop urban farm, new multi-purpose athletic field, new outdoor athletic courts, and new playground spaces. There will also be some ecological features such as erosion control management and urban forest renewal. The project should be completed in spring 2019 and is located at  3rd Street NE & Evarts Street, NE.

What’s New In Hyattsville And Mt. Rainier’s Restaurant And Brew/Distiller Scene

Singer Building development project in Mount Rainier, image courtesy of the Menkiti Group

Sometimes, yes, you actually have to leave Brookland. And if you have recently gone eastbound down Rhode Island Avenue and into Maryland, it is hard not to notice a flurry of new activity, including arts, restaurants, shops and large residential buildings under construction. One example is the Singer Building at the traffic circle in Mount Rainier which will bring new retail, restaurant, and residential space. While many of us already know about long time businesses such as Franklins and some of the newer stores like the Yes! Organics, we thought readers would appreciate a rundown of some of the new restaurants and breweries/distilleries open or planned for the nearby Rt.1/Rhode Island Avenue corridor.  Also, big shout out to the Hyattsville Wire, a blog that covers  the happenings up and down the Route 1  corridor, check them out if you want to keep up with what is going on.

  • Pizza Paradiso opened in Hyattsville over the summer. This the fourth location in the DC area for this small local chain. It seats 60 inside and has a nice outdoor patio for 18 outside.  I have heard that the pizza is really good from a few people and that there is a nice selection of draft beers. (4800 Rhode Island Ave, Hyattsville, MD.)
  • Sangfroid Distilling is a distillery coming to downtown Hyattsville sometime this year. They will make fruit brandies, whiskey and the classic Dutch version of gin, called genever. They will offer samples several days a week in their tasting room, which will feature a garage-style door for those nice weather days. Check out more details in this Hyattsville Wire post.
  • Streetcar 82 Brewing Company is a Belgian-inspired brewery coming to Hyattsville, very close to the Pizza Paradiso. Owned by three graduates of Gallaudet University who have been home brewing for years, a primary focus of theirs is to foster and contribute to the tight-knit communities around them. They signed their lease over the summer and in November their build out plans were approved, so hopefully they will open soon. (4824 Rhode Island Avenue, Hyattsville, MD.)
  • Maryland Meadworks plans to “produce and sell the highest-quality, best-tasting mead (honey-wine) possible utilizing natural processes and local ingredients”. They plan to offer mead tastings onsite as well as for sale at local retailers and on tap at local bars and restaurants. They should be opening in a few months. For more info, check out this interview the Hyattsville Wire did with Ken Carter, owner of Maryland Meadworks. (Located next to Shortcake Bakery at 4700 Rhode Island Avenue, Hyattsville MD.)
  • Pennyroyal Station restaurant will bring a 1940’s inspired vintage vibe combined with modern touches and will be located in Mount Rainier’s Singer Building development mentioned above. The restaurant is from the same folks behind popular DC spots Bar Pilar and Cafe Saint-Ex, and was listed as one the DC area’s most anticipated restaurants by EaterDC. Hopefully the restaurant will open soon, they recently hosted a 3-course sneak peek event. (3310 Rhode Island Avenue, Mount Rainier, Md.)

Brookland Neighborhood Civic Association Membership Drive

When I first moved to Brookland I started attending Brookland Neighborhood Civic Association (BNCA) meetings. Over the years I have found my membership to be rewarding for multiple reasons – I have met a lot of  great neighbors, gotten involved in community events and stayed abreast of neighborhood developments, not bad for $10 a year! BNCA memberships are based on the calendar year, so now is the time to renew or begin your membership.

The next BNCA meeting will be on Tuesday, January 16th at 7:00 pm at Brookland Middle School (1150 Michigan Ave NE). Topics will include Opportunities for Tutoring, Bluebird Sky Yoga, Community Health Concerns, Air Quality and Traffic Issues and others. Need more info?  BNCA President Dan Schramm put together the FAQs below so folks could understand more about what they do.

Who Are We?

BNCA is, well, … you! We are a grassroots organization run by volunteers. Our members are primarily residents of the community as well as some local businesses. All of our current officers are residents. We exist solely to advance the interests of the Brookland community in Northeast Washington, DC.

We are only as strong as the level of support we receive from the community. We seek a broad base of membership to ensure we accurately and successfully represent the community – especially when it comes to the many complex and challenging issues we face.

Aren’t you a Homeowners Association or Some Kind of Exclusive Club?

Absolutely not! We strive to be as diverse and inclusive an organization as possible. All residents and businesses within Brookland are urged to become members. Whether your family has been here for four generations or just moved in last week, you deserve to have a voice in your community. We are not an HOA (a common misconception about civic associations). DC’s neighborhoods have a rich tradition of civic associations operating at the grassroots to advance community interests. You can read more about our history  here.

You do not have to be a member to attend BNCA’s monthly meetings. All are welcome. And if you do not live or do business in Brookland, you can still become an associate member.

What has BNCA done for Brookland lately?

I’m glad you asked! Here are just a few of our recent accomplishments:

  • Re-established truck restrictions on several residential streets; continue to work with DDOT and MPD on reducing heavy truck traffic and other traffic issues
  • Submitted detailed proposed amendments to the DC Comprehensive Plan to protect and enhance Brookland’s historical character and charm
  • Held the 10th Annual Great Brookland Yard Sale in May 2017 – with close to 100 locations!
  • Partnered with the Park Service to clean-up and maintain Ft. Bunker Hill Park – we usually hold 2 clean-up events each year
  • Obtained enhanced public safety measures from DC government along the Metro Branch Trail and other locations
  • Helped obtain interim historical preservation status for the Harewood Gatehouse.
  • Submitted numerous letters of support for local organizations, property owners, and businesses, like Dance Place, Brookland’s Finest, San Antonio Bar and Grill, and others. Check out our reading room for more.
  • Engaged with developers to ensure sensitive and appropriate development in Brookland – we fight for environmental protection, inclusive/affordable housing, traffic mitigation, historical preservation, and a safe and walkable community
  • Donated to local service organizations (another $200 in gifts for residents of the Stoddard Baptist Global Care this holiday season!)
  • Provided urgent notifications to members when needed – such as DC’s authorization of prepayment of 2018 property taxes at the end of 2017

How is BNCA Funded?

We are almost entirely funded through the $10 annual membership dues. This allows us to stay independent and focused on serving the community. But it also explains why having strong membership is so important to the organization. With your membership, you help support all of the good things we do listed above!

Who Runs the BNCA?

BNCA has a president and six other officers, with annual elections held at the February monthly meeting (coming up soon! Only members in good standing 30 days prior to the election may vote). We also strongly encourage members to take on leadership for specific projects. Simply come talk to us if you have an idea to make Brookland better and we’ll see what we can do to support it!

Our current Board is:
President: Daniel Schramm
Vice-president: Brian Stevens
Treasurer: Clyde Blassengale
Communications Director: Elise Scott
Recording Secretary: Lamont Bessick
Membership Coordinator: Theresa Fleming
Member At-Large: Ian MacFarlane

How is BNCA Organized?

We are registered as a non-profit organization under the laws of the District of Columbia (though we are not a 501(c)(3) for federal tax purposes). We are organized under a Constitution and By-Laws which provide for monthly membership meetings (except in August and December), voting procedures for passing resolutions and taking other significant actions, and procedures for elections.

When Does BNCA Meet?

We generally meet on the third Tuesday of every month at 7 pm. Location is usually at the Brooks Mansion (901 Newton Street NE), unless otherwise announced. The board also meets monthly.

How Do I Become A Member Again?

It’s easy, and just $10/year! The best way is to do it online here – this sets up automatic renewal (though you can cancel at any time). You can also sign-up in person at one of our meetings or other events.

Catholic University Announces Spring Arts Performance Line Up

The popular Washington International Piano Series returns to Catholic University this spring. Image courtesy of CUA’s School of Music

From time to time we post about the cultural goings on at Catholic University. It really is a great source of nearby entertainment at super-reasonable prices. This spring the university will present a program of events with something for everyone from opera and musicals to plays, orchestra recitals and collaborations with other institutions. From the CUA website:

The Department of Drama will stage premiere productions of two original student-written plays, as well as a special engagement of the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, Our Town.

Students from the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music will also have much to offer, including the spring musical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, the opera Le Nozze di Figaro, and a one-night-only concert in collaboration with Arena Stage commemorating Leonard Bernstein at 100.

Check out the full line up of events here.

Free Seminar: Understanding The Brick And Masonry Of Your Home

We thought a lot of readers would be interested in this seminar coming up on Saturday January 20th. Check out the details at the event page here. Note: while this event is free, there are limited spots, so please register ahead of time here. Also, while it is sponsored by popular non-profit Community Forklift, the actual event is at W.S. Jenks and Son Hardware, 910 Blandensburg Rd. NE

Real Estate Watch: Recent Brookland Home Sales

We can’t believe it has been a year since our last a real-estate check in! How time flies when you are busy writing about new restaurants, pop-up developments and events with moon bounces. The last time we checked in with Brookland’s real estate market, we were still amazed that houses were selling at, or near, the $1 million mark. By now, this price range has become much more frequent, although what you get for your money in terms of home and property size seems like much more than other DC neighborhoods. From what we can tell, about 336 homes in the 20017 area code sold in the last 12 months. So, without further ado, here are some of the 2017 home sales that caught our eye:

4235 South Dakota Ave and its waterfall
  • 1249 Lawrence St NE sold for $1,139,990. Sigh…so dreamy. This 6 bed, 4.5 bath house has an amazing wrap-around porch, which I am sure is only made more enjoyable by the gorgeous mature trees lining the 1200 block of Lawrence.
  • I don’t usually salivate over other people’s homes. But the house at 4235 South Dakota Avenue NE really looks like something special. Unfortunately for me, it sold for $1,025,000, putting it about $600,000 over of my price range…anyway…this 3 bed, 2.5 bath is very drool-worthy for those of us who appreciate a modern aesthetic combined with light-filled rooms.
  • One side of this new duplex rowhouse at 1012 Irving St NE sold for $989,000. Neighbors with good memories may remember that one small older home at the back of this lot burned down 8 (?) years ago and was removed a few years later. It’s nice to see that this lot has since been transformed into this new duplex development. The 4 bed, 3.5 bath home looks really well done and modern.
  • The house at 3630 13th St NE sold for $984,500. Packed with a lot of original charm, this 6 bed, 4.5 bath also came with a lot of nice modern touches, a variety of nice outdoor spaces and big rooms.
  • The unique home at 1352 Newton NE sold for $883,250 over the summer. This 4 bed, 4 bath house has one of those enormous Brookland backyards that landscaping dreams are made of, and what looks like a rental unit or in-law suit on the lower level, nice.
  • 1525 Kearny has a deep front yard and mature trees that give it a nice curb appeal. The 3 bed and 2.5 bath house sold for $850,000 and has some nice rustic touches like the brick fireplace, but what sets it apart is the enormous yard complete with a huge deck, bonus shed and lots of parking.

Welcome to Brookland, new neighbors!