After months of preparation, BabyCat Brewery is nearly ready to open its garage door to the Kensington community in early November.
The opening of the brewery at 10241 Kensington Parkway, which was formerly an auto repair shop, has been in the works for 18 months, but has long been a pursuit of founder Sam Mussomeli, who said he started considering the idea seriously about three and a half years ago.
Mussomeli said the brewery’s name was inspired by his cat Alice, a.k.a, “Baby Cat.”
“I started brewing about a decade ago and was in an apartment on Battery Lane [in Bethesda] and my wife and I have a very small cat that never really grew, her name is Alice. Her nickname is Baby Cat,” he said. “She was always hidden until the first day I started brewing beer and she came out and she sat with me in my kitchen for 10 hours straight. From there after, she came out and sat with me for every brew day. So she became the supervisor of me and it became BabyCat Brewery.”
The feline’s face is featured in a mural on the side of the business. Mussomeli said the mural is also part of his efforts to connect with and highlight local artists. The mural was painted by Washington, D.C. area mural artist, Nicole Bourgea, her Instagram handle.
The brewery is located near the CSX and MARC train tracks, so there are some aspects of the space that pay homage to that. Above the bar in the center of the brewery are lights that were retired from an old train station and the footrest in front of the bar is made of retired train tracks.
The BabyCat team is comprised of Mussomeli, co-founder Terence Redmond, business manager Kerry Pratt and head brewer Philip Zanello. Mussomeli and Redmond have known each other for about a decade, Redmond had worked previously worked alongside Pratt and the founding duo discovered Zanello through the hiring process while searching to fill the head brewer position.
The brewery is planning to offer its classic brews including Catnip Bender, Black Cat and On the Prowl.
“We want to start with those. We don’t want to do any, like, gimmicky, super-fruited – we’re going to go through what we want to brew,” said Zanello, who is from Brazil and has been brewing professionally for about a decade.
Although Zanello and Mussomeli have been brewing for years, the particular BabyCat brews will be sold for the first time when the brewery opens, according to Redmond.
Mussomeli said the Kensington neighborhood was the perfect place for the business.
“You weren’t allowed to manufacture alcohol in Kensington until 2019,” he said. “From the Prohibition, it was one of the towns deemed permanently dry.”
All four members of the management team live within 10 minutes of the brewery so it’s important to them to have the space not only as team members but also as residents, they said.
“We like to say Kensington is a small community that doesn’t have a community meeting place and we want to create that,” Redmond said. “We want to create a community brewery that brings together local musicians, artists, the community in general and create a place that’s outside of politics, work and just a space where people can come together and relax.”
The brewery will feature an outdoor patio with picnic tables, fire pits and a lawn area for lawn games and for families to spread blankets. Although the brewery doesn’t sell food, people will be able to buy food from a restaurant, Dish & Dram, next door to the brewery and a catering business, Talia’s catering will provide sandwiches for purchase and they will rotate food trucks on the weekend, according to Redmond.