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Capital Ale House
Taps: 48 / Bottles: 200
Cask: Y / Beer-to-Go: Y
$$$ - a bit pricey
[ Bar, Eatery ]
623 E Main St
phone: (804) 780-2537
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4 | $$
Was here over the weekend for dinner. They advertised a "Firkin Friday", but when I asked the hostess what was on the firkin, she says "Hmmm, I'm not sure, I could ask the bartender"...never mind, I'll do it....but first I order the food. I ask the waitress, "What's on the Firkin"...response? Not sure. OK, to the bar...."What's the Firkin?" "Oh, we haven't done that in several months." HELLO???
Anyway, the selections they had were pretty good, and local. Weyerbacher Pale Ale on the cask, and about 25 other drafts. Decent selection of bottles as well. The rest of the area, being in the financial district of Richmond, seems pretty dead after 5pm.
07-04-2011 23:23:25 |
More by PudTinkler
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4 | $$$$
Had lunch here on a cold winter day.
Remarkable selection of tap and bottled beers. About 30 draft beers with a good selection of Virginia and Atlantic Coast brewers.
Also imports and cask ale. Over 100 bottles available including Belgians, British and west coast choices.
Everything is high priced. A "full sized" pint was from $5.50 to $8.00 depending on the beer. Bottles were also expensive including up to $10 for some Belgians. Food was also kind of over-priced but pretty tasty. I had the Weiner-wurst with kraut, roht-kohl and kartoffeln salat (German stuff) that was really good and about the most fairly priced item on the lunch menu ($9).
Service was prompt and friendly and included some free samples and decent beer knowledge.
Atmosphere was kind of weird. Located in an old, remodeled downtown storefront with a long oak bar. Touches of victorian (the oak booth seating) and urban (back-lit glass blocks, halogen lights) that don't mix very well. Kind of dark, no TV's blaring (thankfully) and only some adult contemporary music. Maybe it's better at happy hour but I didn't feel like I fit in here.
My first ever trip to Richmond and I felt compelled to visit this place. However, it doesn't compare very well to a lot of other saloons I've been to.
01-21-2011 20:58:25 |
More by joedon
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 2 | selection: 4 | $$$
My wife and I stayed at a hotel in Downtown Richmond and this bar was a five-minute walk from there. Nice touch, but downtown in this place is absolutely dead. Easily the saddest center city ever, worse than Detroit.
The place looks like a small-town steakhouse that has faded and needs a renovation, both physical and mental. On a Thursday night, the bar is animated but not crowded. Bartender, however, cannot keep up. Takes forever to get stuff. Everyone looks confused, tired, unhappy. They're busier counting money and closing tabs than serving, and it's only 10pm!
After said bartender takes about four hours to bring two waters, I yell at him, he looks at me confused and we leave for the cool downstairs bar where the nice guy behind the bar has got a full brain and is not running around like a headless, sweaty chicken.
This bartender downstairs really saved the day and night with his cool attitude, friendliness and funny stories. But alas, he cannot save this place from getting a bad score on service.
Beer menu is outdated. On the cover it says, "December 10", I visited on December 9 and inside it said "December 3". Stone Lucky Bastard? Nope. Williamsburg Drake Ale on tap? Nope. On a bottle perhaps? NO! Nice job, everyone. I order three beers and you got NONE of them. Fuck You.
The bar and booth upstairs are whatever, not much class, could be anything. The downstairs area is much better, with a jukebox and darts and young college kids.
Selection... they say they have 30 taps upstairs and 16 downstairs. But who knows? Menus are a MESS! Nice choice of locals, Williamsburg, Starr Hill, Olde Richmond (got the O.R. IPA and a growler of it, delicious!) Some stuff I've never seen, like Epic Brewing in Utah. Also some Belgians and Euros, plus Stone, Oskar... good solid selection, not mind-blowing but good.
Huge selection of bottled beer to go, at absurdly inflated markups. Prices are HIGH in general, even more so for a small dead town like Richmond. The small 12-oz glass is $4-$5, and the large 22-oz is $6-$8.50. Do we really need 22 ounces of beer?? Growlers are $15-$25, plus five for the jug.
If you're at a downtown hotel or whatever, check this place out. There's pretty much nothing else around. And if you live in Richmond, then, well... sorry.
12-12-2010 06:01:25 |
More by DoubleSimcoe
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 2.5 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5 | $$$
Good atmosphere. The place definitely gives the impression of being a "nice establishment." I usually prefer the booths to the bar, which rarely has much open space. What the bar does have, though, is an ice bar. Very nice for keeping the drink cold, though mine is rarely in front of me for long enough to necessitate it.
The food is decent enough. There are a few items that stand out, such as the burger sandwiched between two grilled cheeses. On average, the food is pretty pricey, with one notable exception: dollar burger night. You can get huge thick burgers at $1 a pop, but at the cost of slow service due to the place being packed to the brim with college kids. I say "slow service" but really I mean "slowER service." When in booths, I always have an empty glass sitting in front of me for at least 5 minutes before its replacement arrives. At the bar, you're lucky to get noticed at all without shouting or some equally awkward display. Service aside, the beer is where this place shines. Huge selection from all over the country and abroad. The rotating tap upstairs and in the downstairs gameroom always has a great selection. A lot of people complain about the price here, but if you look close there are a lot of great values. The beer is always served with a perfect amount of head. They give you your money's worth. The events here are worth coming too as well. Dollar burger night, VA beer night, Steal the Glass, American Micro Saturday, etc etc. Overall a good place, marred slightly by subpar service and somewhat high prices.
10-29-2010 00:20:00 |
More by TJBAIHWL
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5 | $$
Atmosphere really depends on the day and if there is an event. at least with the Midlothian location which i frequent often. Tuesdays steal the glass night is a good time to run into brewery reps or distributor reps. most other nights its a mix of BMC drinkers, beer geeks, and just casual diners.
Quality is something that depends on what you are going for, if your going for beer then food its amazing quality, if its food then beer things can some times be lacking.
Service is yet another variable to which at least my frequent location is quite a variable, if your show on a Monday and get seated you can get iffy service. your best bet for the best service, and a little conversation is sit at the bar.
Selection is never been an issue, 80 on tap and most of the time over 300 in bottle not including typical BMC offerings which are not "out for display" like the other craft and foreign beers.
Food i just recently started working my way through the menu the burgers are awesome, especially the grilled cheese cheeseburger. the German fare is great. i would also recommend the Belgian style mussels.
Value is great beers are for the most part priced good for eating in. prices to go are ridiculously high and should only be bought if there are no other options.
09-03-2010 07:22:48 |
More by rootbeerman
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$
During a recent long weekend in the Confederate Capital, I spent much time here - three days, three visits. This, the original Main Street location, is very similar to the one in Fredericksburg (See My Review), the only other CAH I have visited. It is a large establishment; the main room, modernistic yet dimly lit, consists of a long mahogany bar that runs its length. Opposite the bar, and along the wall, are the booths, which provide patrons a more private venue for quaffing the 30+ draft beers. Apparently, there is another bar downstairs with later hours. (I did not venture here.) A music hall is adjacent.
As mentioned, CAH Richmond offers 30 rotating taps that run the usual style gamut. Many beers, such as Legend and Starr Hill, are regionally brewed - and, needless to say, hard to find outside the state. Like all Beer Advocates, I always appreciate, and support, the local stuff. The bottle menu was extensive and well considered. The service was excellent on each one of my visits; the servers (Mary, Brochelle and Diane) were professional, efficient and beer-wise. (The same applied to the Fredericksburg site.)
I thought the food (3 lunches, anyway) filling and satisfying. You cannot go wrong with Belgian-style frites accompanied by spicy mayonnaise - c'mon, does anyone use catsup anymore!! Try to stop by on Saturdays, when CAH celebrates "domestic" micros with some pints going for $2.00. A nice price. A really nice place. The best beer bar in Richmond.
08-24-2010 16:15:08 |
More by jjboesen
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4 | $$$
Capital Ale is the best and only true "Beer Bar" in Richmond. With an extremely wide selection of beers, everyone will be able to find something they like. I was hesitant to list this as $$$ because it's relatively reasonable, but some beers are really up there in price.
Atmosphere - The atmosphere is generally welcoming. Unfortunately, if you show up at the wrong time - the busiest hours - you will find yourself waiting for a while. Luckily, you can always hit up the bar while you wait. It's non-smoking and has multiple floors and an outdoor patio. The bar also has a strip of ice on it to keep your beer cold. I personally really like this feature and I usually try to find out from the bartenders who zambonies it on a regular basis.
Quality - The quality of the beers is always excellent. They keep so much beer on tap, that you get a wide variety of fresh beer. They also have rows and rows of bottles, which I've never had a problem with.
Service - The service can be slow at times due to the volume of people. The wait staff is friendly and usually less knowledgeable about beers than the bartenders. The bartenders are also generally friendly and most have a basic to moderate knowledge of beer and can help you make a beer selection. Unfortunately, they are always busy. It can be challenging to get their attention at times due to the crowds. However, most of the bartenders I've dealt with will usually let you taste a beer or two before you make any decisions. You can usually tell which bartenders know the most about beers, so I always recommend seeking them out for recommendations.
Selection - The selection is amazing. This is by far the largest beer selection in Richmond. The beer menu is like 8 pages long. Unfortunately, the menu is usually out of date, which can lead to some disappointments. However, they have such an extensive amount of beers on tap and racks of bottles that you're sure to find something you like.
Food - For me, the food at Capital Ale is an afterthought. I am usually there to taste whatever's new on tap and fill my belly with some delicious beer. I recommend eating light and drinking heavily here. The Bavarian Pretzel is enormous and will feed two nicely. You won't be disappointed if you order it, trust me. The entrees are decent and nothing really stands out.
Value - Capital Ale is somewhere between $$$ and $$. They have some very high end beers that cost over $10, but they also have a lot of steals on their menu. I find whatever's on tap to usually be the best value. Food entrees are pricier than I'd like, but not much exceeds the $17 mark. They also have weekly specials. They have $1 burgers one day and steal the glass another. I find the burger deal to be great, but expect crowds, whereas the steal the glass isn't anything special considering they tack on a couple extra bucks for the glass... so you're not so much stealing it as paying for it.
Overall - Overall Capital Ale is a great place to go. Their beer selection is far and away the best in Richmond. The atmosphere is nice and the bartenders are knowledgeable and friendly. The selection is so vast that every kind of beer drinker will be satisfied. The food is good, but not special, and it can be pricey if you order some of the "higher end" beers. Overall, I'd say any trip to Capital Ale is a good one. If you like good beer and you're in Richmond, you should definitely try this place, you'll love it.
05-20-2010 18:54:42 |
More by bgildea
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5 | $$$$
Based on a previous visit to their other location and the tap list on their website, I was very excited to visit the downtown location. Unfortunately, my visit turned into a disappointment.
I was pretty surprised and excited to see Three Floyds Alpha King and Robert the Bruce listed on their website's tap list. I didn't see it listed in the bar so I asked the bartender. She said she'd never seen Three Floyds in VA and seemed to think I was crazy. I told her it was listed on their website and she again seemed to think I was crazy.
So I asked for a local IPA on the menu she explained that I was looking at the wrong floor. She added that the beer menu was out of date and said I should probably tell her what I was looking for and she would tell me what they had.
I went with a Ruination IPA. It was nice and fresh but it was a bit pricy at $6.94 for a 12oz glass.
I felt like this visit was a waste but I want to put that aside and give this place a fair assessment. The Capital Ale House has a great atmosphere and a serious commitment to craft beer. By my count, they had 26 on tap upstairs and 14 downstairs. And they had many bottles beyond that.
I'll certainly visit again on another trip to Richmond and hopefully with a different set of expectations, I'll walk away with a better impression of the place.
03-21-2010 12:09:10 |
More by GJ40
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4 | $$$
My boyfriend and I were unexpectedly stuck in Richmond one afternoon, and grousing about where we were ever going to find a bite to eat until we drove by this place. Awesome beer karma!
The selection is truly impressive--they were undergoing renovation when we were there, so only a small subset was actually available, but I was grateful for that because it made the choosing easier! I really like the fact that they support their local brewers in addition to great beers from across the world. We had an awesome lineup of hoppy beers (Nectar IPA, St. George IPA, Gemini Southern Tier, and a Nugget Nectar) with a delicious pretzel with mustard. My boyfriend liked his fish and chips, I was underwhelmed by my polish platter, and the desserts (we had the apple pie) were amazing--solid pub food if a bit pricy for what it is.
Our service was friendly and seemed knowledgeable, for what that's worth. The vibe is a little well-lit! and clean! for a beer bar, but hey, it's nice to have a place you could take the whole family to enjoy beer without having to apologize.
03-21-2010 11:46:39 |
More by lstokes
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4 | $$
it is pricey but you get an incredible selection and high quality brews
read below to help keep $ in your pocket:
since new year rolled in the best time to visit is on sat afternoon. you can get a pint of very high quality american micro for 2 or 3 bucks (depending on your selection). i will miss the sunday time frame for this activity but , alas, the country is in a mood for "change" eh? be careful for what you ask for i say.
the service is highly variable, but genrally good. they are knowledgable but i don't really want a whole lot of advice in picking a beer.
for snacking get the mussels.
the window seats are sunny and fun for people watching.
01-07-2010 00:41:43 |
More by hedonist
Capital Ale House in Richmond, VA