Ambitious beer startup City-State Brewing Co. is ready to unveil its much-anticipated Edgewood facility situated right off the popular Metropolitan Branch Trail. The 13,000-square-foot microbrewery and taproom (705 Edgewood Street NE), almost six years in the making, comes from neighborhood resident and former congressional aide James Warner.
The new brewery opens on Friday, June 4, with seven beers — all D.C.-themed — on tap to start: 8 Wards Independent (pale ale); Equal Marriage (dark wheat); Blossom (kolsch); Red Bud (hibiscus kolsch); Featherduster (hazy ale); Trainspotter Green Bullet (pub ale); and NEDC (pale ale).
Hours to start are 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday to Friday and starting at 10 a.m. on weekends (until 11 p.m. on Saturday and 10 p.m. on Sunday). City-State will operate until 1 a.m. during its opening weekend.
Like the brews, City-State’s setup also pays homage to D.C. A wall of framed, colorful posters honoring neighborhoods across all four quadrants welcome guests upon entry. Buy a rolled-up version from local artist Anthony Dihle and get a free beer.
Non-alcoholic drinks made on-site including iced mint tea and oolong teas, club soda, and locally-roasted Swing’s cold brew coffee.
Warner, who worked on climate change issues and energy policy on the Hill, encourages eco-friendly transit to and from his new brewery. DDOT will install 19 bike racks out front along the trail, and the brewery is also located within walking distance of Metro’s Rhode Island and Brookland stops. A sprawling patio will come to life later this month with tables and easy access off the trail.
The “Trainspotter” pub ale in particular pays homage to City-State’s direct views of Amtrak and Metro cars whizzing by. Its 1996 cult classic namesake, Trainspotting, was released while Warner was a student at Scotland’s University of St. Andrews.
“There are people who are actually train spotters — birders, but for trains. It’s an obsessive hobby and thought it’s a fun name for a beer,” says Warner, whose love for craft beers also started while he was in college.
Along with home brewing for years, his industry experience includes working as a server at Churchkey and handling sales for a major beer distributor.
Now Warner is brewing his own product. Production occurs across two interconnected brewhouses — a 20-barrel system for larger batches and a smaller five-barrel brewhouse devoted to experimental brews. Breweries, beverage manufacturers, restaurants, and bars can contract out the smaller system to customize their own private labels.
“This is only 10 kegs at a time, so it’s much less risk,” he says. Special brews for weddings and events on-site are also on tap.
A 25-barrel system is an aggressive size for an inaugural brewery. By comparison, well-known D.C. brewer DC Brau Brewing Company has made a name for itself using a 15-barrel system.
The finished space has some similarly scrappy DIY elements. A chalkboard sourced from an abandoned school next door gets a new 21-and-up life, lined with purple LED lights and spelling out selections behind a walk-up tap system. Rows of picnic tables shellacked in bright orange hail from the legendary beer state of Bavaria. City-State found a woman in Wisconsin who imports and sells them via Etsy.
Aside from the beer, Warner’s personal favorite feature of the brewery is Killer Queen. Billed as the world’s only 10-player arcade game, he remembers first playing it at a NYC video game exhibit with his nephew a decade ago. “I was blown away,” he says. Fortuitously, shuttered D.C. sports bar Penn Social had one that’s been sitting in a warehouse for a year.
“I have had lots of highs and lows in here. I’ve been thinking about this [game] for years — when we found out we were going to have it I was so excited,” he says.