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Capital Ale House
Taps: 48 / Bottles: 200
Cask: Y / Beer-to-Go: Y
$$$ - a bit pricey
[ Bar, Eatery ]
623 E Main St
phone: (804) 780-2537
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vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 2 | selection: 4 | $$$
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Beer menu is outdated.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: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4 | $$
Was here over the weekend for dinner. They advertised a "Firkin Friday", but when I asked the hostess what was on the firkin, she says "Hmmm, I'm not sure, I could ask the bartender"...never mind, I'll do it....but first I order the food. I ask the waitress, "What's on the Firkin"...response? Not sure. OK, to the bar...."What's the Firkin?" "Oh, we haven't done that in several months." HELLO???
Anyway, the selections they had were pretty good, and local. Weyerbacher Pale Ale on the cask, and about 25 other drafts. Decent selection of bottles as well. The rest of the area, being in the financial district of Richmond, seems pretty dead after 5pm.
07-04-2011 23:23:25 |
More by PudTinkler
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | $$$
My wife and I sat at the bar and enjoyed a couple of nightcaps before heading back to our hotel after a fun but hot day of doing some of the Richmond tourist stops -- FIne Arts Museum (surprisingly good) and Tredegar Iron Works and Museum (also a pleasant surprise).
Took quite awhile to find something for my wife as she tends to like anything from amber to stout without much bitterness -- not a real popular range this day and age. We did finally settle on the Legend Brown Ale, which was not as good as we remembered.
On the other hand, I was lucky enough to settle close to Belgian Independence Day, and they had several very good Belgian options. I selected the Ommegang Independence Saison ($5 for 12oz goblet) and was blown away. Nice service and good attentiveness from the bar staff, although I could tell the upstairs group wanted to keep us upstairs for tips. After enjoying the peppery Ommegang offering, I had a large Ballast Point Sculpin IPA which rang up as $10.50. Pretty steep but not ungodly I guess for 20oz.
The atmosphere was a bit muted for about 10PM on Saturday night. It is summertime I guess. They had about 30 taps upstairs, and the bar staff wouldn't even float me a clue as to the downstairs menu.
Not a bad stop although I'll have to admit their selection, while good, was not as good as folks have reviewed. My local Mellow Mushroom carries as good a selection any day of the week.
08-05-2011 03:43:06 |
More by argock
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5 | $$
My numbers may be low, and I will explain.
--edit to change some things I got wrong--
First off, Did I like it? YES, I did. There are just a lot of buts.
So just read my buts as buts and I think it will all make sense.
We got there after buying out half of once upon a vine on our first VA beer run trip, hopefully first of many. It was a tad busy, being a weekend and all, but we found the seating we were craving at the bar.
First weird stuff was that the menu was printed that day (or was it the day before?) I think that day. But half of it was wrong, some stuff had blown (thats fine, cant blame the bar) but some of the stuff when we asked was just wrong.
as in, big handful of the beers on the menu were not there, and a few that were there were not on the menu.
This would have been NO problem, IF we had either of the 2 bartenders willing to tell us about these changes. Instead of being told about all the changes, we had to pry it out of the 2 of them over the next couple hours that we sat there by ordering something then them not having then saying OH, then asking what they did have and they would mention 1 new beer per atempt to order 1 beer they didnt have, thus the service went on all night this way
2nd service gripe. Busy when we got there.. kinda.. it did take a bit long to get anything done for us. So what, I can live with that, I know what its like to serve tables.. it happens. BUT as the night went on and the bar and seats thinned out.. but our service stayed just as bad, that does not work, I have many examples but will skip them.
The beer selection had a handful of "new" things to me, simply cause stone or dfh and the likes on tap is nothing I can get here, a rare selection for what we can get.. and they had a little less of the rare stuff than I had hoped.
quality. good, they have the nice cooler stripe on the bar, to set your proper clean glassware on. clean neat place.. not the type pub where you feel the bar matron may have spit polished your cup.
food we got a small app. of fries and 4 kinds of a mayo/ranch based tasting dip, 1 spicy, 1 herb filled, one creamy... and what was that 4th one?? I do not recall.
it was a tasty snack to have with beer.
value, Yes, I gave it the reasonable stamp, it is on par with most any bar you would go to that is not a cheers ( where everybody knows your name, and is always glad you came so they can step out from behinde the bar to drink a beer with you)
I really like the option to buy small or large beers on tap, that was for tasting purpose.
I loved the old rasputian on cask, WONDERFUL! also had some of the bear rep. on tap that was good.
All my crap I just sprayed can be summed up with this.
IF you go near richmond and you are a beer drinker, GO to the CAH and have a few. and you will enjoy it! It would be dumb to not go, I will go back if I get to go on another run, and I hope I will be able to change some scores.
08-04-2006 15:22:37 |
More by AndoBrew
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3 | food: 4 | $$
First let me start off by saying the Ale House is definitely worth going to. They have the best pretzel I've ever tasted in my life and the burger & sandwiches are all good. The beer menu is very extensive with lots of local selections. HOWEVER, after being there once a week for almost two months, I've noticed that they are ALWAYS out of multiple selections off the draft menu. I don't buy the excuse of 'well we've got so many on tap it's hard to keep them in stock'. I've been to places with a much wider selection that do a much better job of maintaining their menu. And most of the stafff seems to be caught off guard when they realize they're out. Causing you to wait over and over again while your server goes back and forth looking for what's available. So go, but makes sure you have a lineup of what you're looking for to save yourself some time.
10-13-2012 00:50:24 |
More by triwolf
vibe: 3 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4 | $$$
Convenient downtown location. Weekly events make this a great place to go. On Monday, burgers are $1 and Wednesday is Steal The Glass Night. The food is generally overpriced other than Monday’s burgers, but the beer selection is quite vast. The seasonal beer selection is good, but it runs out quick. There are always two beers on cask, but they don't rotate all that often. Steal the glass is an easy way to build up a nice collection of glassware. Its typically just pint glasses, but the occasional belgian glasses show up every few weeks.
06-27-2006 20:15:18 |
More by maniac
vibe: 3 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$
This place is like 2 bars in one. First there's the upstairs bar/restaurant w/30 taps. Then there's the downstairs gameroom w/an additional 16 taps.
I thought the upstairs was rather quiet & bland for a Friday night, w/people mostly keeping to themselves. The gameroom was a bit more lively & also led to beautiful backyard area, complete w/a fountain & growing hop vines along the back wall.
The service was a mixed bag, w/each bar having one friendly bartender & one that seemed to be wanting to be anywhere but serving customers.
The food was standard pub fare w/a bit of German flare. I played it safe & had a burger which was sufficient. Prices for both the food & beer were quite reasonable.
While the draught selection didn't seem too exciting on this particular evening, the bottle selection is extensive & made the visit worthwhile w/over 200 mostly American craft beers to choose from. Their bottle selection was also available to go w/prices below what they would be if you had them there which I thought was nice.
Overall, this bar didn't have much for excitement in terms of atmosphere, but the extensive selection made for a nice time.
10-24-2011 07:33:08 |
More by TmoNyc
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 2.5 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5 | $$$
Good atmosphere. The place definitely gives the impression of being a "nice establishment." I usually prefer the booths to the bar, which rarely has much open space. What the bar does have, though, is an ice bar. Very nice for keeping the drink cold, though mine is rarely in front of me for long enough to necessitate it.
The food is decent enough. There are a few items that stand out, such as the burger sandwiched between two grilled cheeses. On average, the food is pretty pricey, with one notable exception: dollar burger night. You can get huge thick burgers at $1 a pop, but at the cost of slow service due to the place being packed to the brim with college kids. I say "slow service" but really I mean "slowER service." When in booths, I always have an empty glass sitting in front of me for at least 5 minutes before its replacement arrives. At the bar, you're lucky to get noticed at all without shouting or some equally awkward display. Service aside, the beer is where this place shines. Huge selection from all over the country and abroad. The rotating tap upstairs and in the downstairs gameroom always has a great selection. A lot of people complain about the price here, but if you look close there are a lot of great values. The beer is always served with a perfect amount of head. They give you your money's worth. The events here are worth coming too as well. Dollar burger night, VA beer night, Steal the Glass, American Micro Saturday, etc etc. Overall a good place, marred slightly by subpar service and somewhat high prices.
10-29-2010 00:20:00 |
More by TJBAIHWL
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5 | $$$
Capital Ale House is but a few miles walk/drive from the VCU Campus, downtown, and so it's common to head there with friends when you have a little extra money to throw around on good beer.
It's a nice place, though often crowded, with a solid, moderately dim atmosphere and a very nice bar with a dry ice surface. The game room downstairs and the band room to the side are the best places in places in the restaurant itself, versus the main area near the bar.
If a band is playing, it can get kind of noisy, so prepare for that. They have a large selection of rotating taps and will serve you growlers of many of the tapped beers as well, which is a plus. They have over 200, maybe more beers to choose from, all of them pretty well-priced overall (though a few are bizarrely expensive).
The service is adequate and often very personable, but it often takes a long time to get your beer and I've had a few come out at room temperature, to my disappointment. If you sit at the bar your drinks will come very quickly and the bartenders I've experienced really know their stuff.
My one MAJOR gripe is how the restaurant serves beer, with most being available in "small" or "large" variants for what they have on tap. The small is something like 10 or maybe 12oz, while the large is more like 22. The prices are usually fine, but because of this you'll often find your beer served to you in a weird small-or-large glass that often doesn't suit the style you ordered. So you might get your beer with no head whatsoever, or things like this. For a restaurant that prides itself on beer this seems a bit bewildering to me.
Nevertheless, they have a pretty fantastic selection and if you request proper glassware (or, again, order bottles or exclusively at the bar) they're usually more than happy to accommodate your choices.
The food is pretty pricey, but there are some well-priced and very yummy things to have as well (splitting mussels and beer with a friend is pretty divine, and on Mondays [I believe it is] they have cheap burger nights, which are also good for a group).
Overall it's a fine place to visit maybe twice a month if you have the money to deal with some of the pricier problems, but it's not quite the go-to craft beer hangout one would hope for, living so close to it.
If you're going for the beer alone it's definitely recommended that you just sit at the bar for a much quicker and higher quality time.
01-04-2012 15:23:33 |
More by antique
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5 | $$
Stopped in Friday March 28th before the Drive By Trucker show at The National:
Stopped in CAH around 6:00 p.m. and were greeted by a lively bar full of after work happy hour seekers. The space is nicely appointed though narrow. The bar is long with plenty of stools and decent standing areas. Booths and a section of tables are stationed along the right side of the space and in front of the street front window. Adjacent to the bar is the new music hall with live music for happy hour. A decent blues band was cranking out the tunes for the happy hour faithful.
Now to the beers: Very nice tap selection upstairs in the main bar. Not the best I've seen but very good to say the least plus 2 beers on cask. An extensive bottle selection is available as well. I like the way the beer menu is broken down by style and or region (ie..Virginia beers). Had the St. George Porter on cask. The beertender took her time filling the imperial pint glasses to ensure a maximum pour. I really like the St George Porter and on cask its even better. Next, we tried Virginia's newest brewery, Blue Mountain's Pale Ale. Very good APA, wish they would expand distro to NoVa. All beers were in good shape and handle with care in the appropriate glassware. Service at the bar was very good.
Now for the food: This is more of service issue at the front of the house. We had a group of 6. The hostess said it would be 45 minutes which was fine with us since we wanted to hit the bar for a few anyway. Well, after 1.5 hours we finally get a table and its almost time to leave for the show. The hostess said they only had one 6 top to accomodate our group in the whole place !! Why they couldn't put a couple of tables together is beyond me. Food was pretty good. Everyone pretty much ordered sandwiches since we were in a bit of hurry to leave.
Overall, CAH is definitely worth the trip to downtown Richmond. Really good draft and bottle selection and decent food. The bar staff is knowledgeable and knows how to pour a good pint. Food service is spotty at best.
03-31-2008 13:18:53 |
More by SwillBilly
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Capital Ale House in Richmond, VA