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Capitol City Brewery

Submitted by on March 10, 2010 – 9:20 AMNo Comment
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1100 New York Ave.
Washington, DC

Hours of Operation: Mon. – Thur. 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 a.m.
Fri. – Sat. 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 a.m.
Sun. 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Best time to visit: After work and weekends

There’s something to be said for finding house-brewed tap beer in the heart of a metropolis. Given that craft-brewing is still shy of the mainstream, and the space required to brew beer in appreciable quantities, and the cost of said space in said heart of said metropolis, one must first of all be grateful for the entrepreneurial initiative that makes the urban brew-pub happen. So if the old-timey comfort of the neighborhood bar must be sacrificed for a more angular, sterile, and general-public-friendly atmosphere to bring in the clientele, at least you can still go in and enjoy the fruits of the brewers’ labors.

To be fair, the Capitol City Brewery has three locations, and only the downtown branch – where the rent is highest – is polished to such a high gloss. The fact that the huge space is always crowded means they must be doing something right, and, again, there is nothing wrong with the beer.

Once you get over the cavernous interior and take a seat, you’ll be faced with an ever-changing selection of hoppy and malty favorites. The Capitol Kölsch looks pale and weak, but is anything but. Its crisp flavor hints at surprising wine overtones. The Amber Waves Ale is a respectable IPA. The Prohibition Porter tastes more like a Rauchbier than a Porter, but its smokiness is subtle, not overpowering. Each beer has something to offer, and it is worth grabbing a five-beer sampler for less than six bucks.

There are too many windows and too much headroom to feel intimate and familiar, but the bar area stands somewhat isolated from the sprawling dining room. Facing into the bar will block out the distractions of countless couples and groups swarming in for dinner and happy hour, and allow you to focus on the appreciation of the brewmaster’s artistry.

Consider Capitol City’s downtown venue as an experiment: can craft-beer exist outside the dark and wooden pub? Despite its bright lights and high ceiling, Capitol City does not produce soulless, plastic beer. On a bright street corner in DC, there is good beer to be found.

Pros: Beer made on the premises; wide selection; good specials.

Cons: Non-brewpub ambience

Rating: 3.5 out of 5