City-State Brewing Co. Has a Can-Do Attitude: Husband-wife team is all about celebrating life in the District

This article first published on Eater Washington DC on April 21, 2017

If they’re going to pour their life savings into opening a brewery anyway, City-State Brewing Co. co-founders James Warner and Kim Carnahan figure they might as well build something to grow into.

 “To go as big as you can from the start can set you up for success in the future,” is how Warner explained his desire to start with a 30-barrel system — by comparison, DC Brau Brewing Company has built up its presence with a 15-barrel system; a new 30-barrel brewhouse is in the works — outright. The aspiring entrepreneurs are looking for a 10,000-square-foot facility (Ivy City, Edgewood, and Anacostia are all on their short list) able to accommodate a production brewery, taproom and beer garden.

In addition to being a supportive spouse — “James is so ecstatic when he’s making beer,” she told Eater — Carnahan, who works for the State Department, said the pair crunched the numbers and remain confident there’s still money to be made in craft brewing.

A former congressional aide (Warner said he and Carnahan met while working on climate change issues and energy policy), Warner has been home brewing for years. He’s also spent time within the industry, having worked as a server at ChurchKey, and currently handling sales for a major beer distributor.

 He noted that some of the products bookmarked for the City-State launch are literal labors of love. “Some of these recipes started life getting ready for our wedding in 2013,” he said. (Their theme was “celebrating D.C.”)

Core City-State beers

  • Holy Go-Go: Abbey Dubbel brewed with grains of paradise from West Africa and sugar from Latin America as an homage to the city’s musical history
  • Eight Wards Independent Pale Ale: expected to feature an ingredient representative of each part of the District
  • The Brookland: saison
  • Equal Marriage: dark wheat beer
  • Self-Determinator: German-style lager

“Each beer will tell the story of D.C. in a different way,” Warner said of his portfolio of beverages.

Warner and Carnahan are working with Nick Freshman, a hospitality vet who last fall launched strategic consulting firm Mothersauce Partners, to find investors for the ambitious project. The goal, Warner said, is to have the taps flowing at City-State by summer (or fall) of 2018.

“We think there’s plenty of room in D.C. still,” Warner said of the local beer scene.

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