Capital Ale House
Taps: 48 / Bottles: 200
Cask: Y / Beer-to-Go: Y
Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 87 | Reviews: 83 | Show All Ratings:
4.55/5 rDev +4.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4 | $$
This is the place i first learned how to appreciate beer.
A handful of years ago, I was working for a company that owned a subsidiary in Richmond. I would be down there for about a week out of every month and needed some good food, drink and entertainment. I stumbled across an add for this in one of those touristy hotel guides.
I was amazed at the quantity of beers available... approx. 50 taps, multiple casks, 200+ bottles. I was comfortable in the atmosphere... classic dark wood comfort and nice touch with the ice rail for show. The food was excellent... quasi-german. And the crowd... tourist friendly as most people i came across were not locals.
The first time i walked in, i thought Abita Purple Haze was the pinnacle of good beer. Wheat?! Raspberrys?! But by the time i experienced a tasting of Samichlaus (when it was still one of the rareset beers to find in the world), i was hooked. After a few months i was made aware of the many different styles, tastes, ingerdients by the helpful bartenders and excellent beer menu with full descriptions.
I'm extremely happy i found this place as i do not know if i would have appreciated beer in the manner i do now without it. And im extremely greatful that my company always reimbursed me!
07-21-2009 15:16:12 | More by rfgetz
4.58/5 rDev +5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$
We've been to this downtown location of the Capital Ale House a couple of times now and everyone so far has been a great experience. All though its downtown, the attached parking garage makes parking a breeze (and it's free on the weekends). While much smaller than the Glen Allen location, this only enhances it's classy and intimate feel, as does the copious amounts of wood, metal fixtures, and low lighting. You also can't forget their "award winning" bathrooms and the adjoining music hall. One fo these days, we'll see a show there. Our most recent visit was during their 10am Sunday brunch and it was great. Just us, some fantastic breakfast (we split a Chorizo sausage omelet), great beers and soft jazz music playing. A perfect Sunday morning! They even threw in some complimentary scones for us, including chocolate peanut butter and pureed raspberry dipping sauces. We've only sat at the bar during our visits and always get an outstanding bartender that is very friendly and knowledgeable and willing to talk all kinds of beer with us.
The beer selection as always is excellent. 28 taps upstairs, 16 downstairs, 2 on the hand pump (from which usually always flows something from a local VA brewer) and a fantastic bottle list that is featured in a very classy looking presentation in coolers behind the bar. Their selection includes a diverse choice of top shelf American Craft, local VA Craft, and solid Import choices of beer. I must also note that they've now started to laminate their famous "beer menu" so no more staring at unsightly beer stains on them. This is just a fantastic location and probably our favorite of the chain. We love the intimate feel, friendly staff, and exemplary beer selection here, and now after finally visiting during Sunday AM brunch, we have a favorite time to visit as well. A must hit if your in the Richmond area.
03-05-2008 14:52:12 | More by Kegatron
3.98/5 rDev -8.7%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3 | $$$
Well, I had occasion to revisit the downtown CAH this past week and think it's time I give this one another shot. I left the original review notes below, as our first visit didn't leave much of an impression. I was more pleased by far with this visit...
There is a very long bar when you walk in and it has that gimmick manufactured ice thing that you see at Red Square...a Russian-themed martini bar @ Mandalay Bay in Vegas. Nice touch to keep your beer cold...if you need to keep your beer cold. Good woodwork in here. Music isn't bad. I was in here on a Monday so it quickly crowded up for $1 burgers. Clientele was a little mixed - not a lot of beer intelligentsia here. It would be nice to see such a well-regarded place more actively educate, 'cause I saw a lot of people ordering a lot of crap. But that's not their job, so no beef here; it sort of detracts from the experience sometimes, though.
Pretty hard to knock the quality of beer here. Something for everyone. Lots of taps, even more bottles. Only beef is that the head on pours are a little bigger than usual - 1 to 1 1/2 inches depending on the size. If there's no retention it's easy to feel like you've gotten boned on the pour.
Service this round was friendly, effective and knowledgable. This was the biggest plus from our visit (of course, it was the item with the most room for improvement). I appreciated honesty when discussing beers I wasn't familiar with and didn't have a chance to research; our bartender steered me away from a clunker or 2, which I was happy about.
The only food I had was one huge flippin' pretzel. Mustard sauce had a lot of sweetness to it. Baking that much dough left it slightly greasy, but overall it was tasty.
Seems like prices trend a little higher now than I remember. By no means a deal-breaker; it may be perception because a lot of bottles here retail in stores for $10+ so even with a standard 2x markup or so that tag will look crazy on a menu. Drafts weren't as bad, but maybe a little pricey.
All in all, it's a decent stop. For those working in the financial district, it's a great happy hour outlet.
B / 3.64
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 4 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4.5 - $$
This place has potential. The bar is absolutely beautiful and the selection is vast, but the place just screams "corporate!" This outweighs everything. Excellent selection and what they had was very good. I found the service to be thoroughly unpassionate about beer and would have gotten more insight from the dishwasher at Applebees. Maybe it was time of day (midafternoon on holiday weekend when we were in town) and there may be more knowledge during prime time, but I didn't see it. Great beer list, no soul.
Reviewed on: 02-12-2008 13:33:12
08-22-2009 16:08:13 | More by IBUnit63
3.95/5 rDev -9.4%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4 | $$$$
Had lunch here on a cold winter day.
Remarkable selection of tap and bottled beers. About 30 draft beers with a good selection of Virginia and Atlantic Coast brewers.
Also imports and cask ale. Over 100 bottles available including Belgians, British and west coast choices.
Everything is high priced. A "full sized" pint was from $5.50 to $8.00 depending on the beer. Bottles were also expensive including up to $10 for some Belgians. Food was also kind of over-priced but pretty tasty. I had the Weiner-wurst with kraut, roht-kohl and kartoffeln salat (German stuff) that was really good and about the most fairly priced item on the lunch menu ($9).
Service was prompt and friendly and included some free samples and decent beer knowledge.
Atmosphere was kind of weird. Located in an old, remodeled downtown storefront with a long oak bar. Touches of victorian (the oak booth seating) and urban (back-lit glass blocks, halogen lights) that don't mix very well. Kind of dark, no TV's blaring (thankfully) and only some adult contemporary music. Maybe it's better at happy hour but I didn't feel like I fit in here.
My first ever trip to Richmond and I felt compelled to visit this place. However, it doesn't compare very well to a lot of other saloons I've been to.
01-21-2011 20:58:25 | More by joedon
4.28/5 rDev -1.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4 | $$
In town for a wedding, I was pushing for Richbrau or Legends at night but was told we were going to another "bar". So I was pleasantly surprised as this place turned out to be pretty damn good. Big long bar runs long the left side of the place and there is also a back room and a downstairs with a serious dart section and 2nd smaller bar. I was amazed by the "ice trough" that ran through the middle of the main bar! Keeps your beer cold (if you wish) down to the last drop. The selection here is huge, I mean almost too big. I had a tremendously hard time deciding what to order first. The paper beer menu was about 15 pages long. Back in the fall they were doing an Oktoberfest special where you got to keep one of those monster size glasses with a Paulaner logo. Only complaint is it seems only one employee knew anything about beer. I ordered a Hacker Okto and got...Hefe? I had watched him pour from the Hacker tap so I told him I think there was something wrong, but he just blew me off. It wasnt until I watched him pour about 20 more cloudy orange pints (clearly not the Okto) that a waitress came up to say other people were complaining. Turned out they had Paulaner Hefe on the Hacker line. Oh well, the place is still a no brainer if you're in Richmond. Check it out.
02-06-2007 21:38:48 | More by lehows
4.65/5 rDev +6.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4
Thanks to fellow BA DrewS for an excellent recommendation!
My BA friend AKSmokedPorter tried this place last night and I was immensely impressed. Located in downtown Richmond, this new beer bar offered an excellent selection of 30+ tap beers. The variety of the tap beers is what knocks your socks off: 2 barley wines, several pale ales, seasonals, etc. -- and all from 30 different breweries. But wait! There's more...a *LOT* more. Try 150+ bottled beers more. From all over. A 4-page menu of bottled beers. A nice feature of this menu is that they listed the beers according to style, including the brewer and location. In addition, the beers we had were served in appropriate glasses for the type. Another nice touch.
Our waitress was one of the bartenders covering the floor for a while and she was very knowledgeable about the beers they had to offer. When she discovered that we knew what we wanted to try and were (fairly) seasoned beer drinkers, she asked our opinion of some of the beers and what we'd like to see on tap. In listening to her talk to the tables around us, you clearly understood that the beer experience is what the owners are impressing on the customer. By getting an idea of what the patrons like or would like to try, the waitresses and waiters are able to make an informed suggestion as to what to offer.
The food menu was quite lengthy as well. I only had an appetizer and a burger, but there was a great selection available. I would like to try a dinner and see how it goes.
The atmosphere was pretty good, too. There is a downstairs (game room, I think?) that I didn't get to see, as well as a back room that might be a little quieter than where we were (closer to the bar). I guess my only complaint about the physical location would be the smoke. I hate cigarette smoke and the non-smoking area is right next to the bar/smoking area. Perhaps if the back room is non-smoking and we had sat there, it might have been better. The waitress also said to avoid this place on the weekend if smoke isn't your thing. Given that we live in a tobacco state, a "non-smoking restaraunt" is probably too much to ask for.
Overall, I was very pleased with the experience. The owners have done a great job of offering a huge variety of beers and have a very well-trained staff to make the most of your beer-sampling experience. I would highly recommend this place if you are ever in town or if you live in Richmond.
01-28-2003 07:48:56 | More by OldFrothingSlosh
4.63/5 rDev +6.2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4 | $$
Cask ales brought me to Richmond's Capital Ale House.
A rainy first day of spring kept us indoors and after a visit to Richmond's Air Museum we drove downtown to find a parking spot near the entrance of one of my favorite spots on the east coast.
Our waitress was quick and thourough and easy to talk about beer with. A well poured Starr Hill cask IPA "Stinky" was soon out our booth and our well prepared food ( Crab meat BLT's and fries $10.99 Caesar Salad 6.99 Appetizers are in the same price range and the Brewer's Platter $20 will serve a small group) A second glass with # 9 Magic Hat and a third of New River Pale Ale and two rounds (10 shots) of tasters from the taps and we were considering staying untill the downstairs game room opend so we could try a couple from their taps.
More than a half dozen nearby downtown hotels are nearby and the Quality Inn and Suites on 200 E. Cary has a special rate when you mention the Capital Ale House as we were about to leave the rain stopped and by the time we arrived at our room sun was shinning.
Plan on a little work to find parking if you drive directly to the down town location bring your lap top WiFi certified at both down town and the Innsbrook location. Sat & Sun Brunch until 3 pm.
03-26-2006 22:26:02 | More by karst
4.83/5 rDev +10.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5 | $$
Stopped in for dinner and a few brews on our way out of town on Easter Sunday. The atmosphere was far more fancy than anything like this in NC such as Flying Saucer. The quality was exceptional especially with 2 beers on Cask at all times. The waitress was very friendly and helpful, the only setback was that we were not able to order beer that was available in the downstairs gameroom. The selection was exceptional. To our luck, Sunday is their pint night and a wide selection of draft beers were either 2 or 3 dollars. I was able to try Stoudt's Imperial IPA for only 2 bucks! The food was very tasty as well. I loved the ability to order bottled beer to go at a 25% discount of their in-bar price, especially since they still had Stone Old Guardian, which Once Upon a Vine had sold out of. This will certainly be a regular stop while passing through town, especially on Sundays.
04-12-2007 15:46:39 | More by atsprings
4.78/5 rDev +9.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4 | $$
Absolutely best selection in the area. The Innsbrook location has 40+ taps at 3 bars, uincluding a smokefree bar. Pretty decent food, steaks are good. Good staff are trained on beer and can reccomend decently. Even mixed drinks are good here, though its hard to pull away from the selection of beer. Prices are a little steep but its still within decent range. Good deals on certian nights with the dollar burgers, steal the mug night, and dollar wings. If you have a choice between the downtown location and innsbrook, heres the diff.
Downtown, less taps. Better atmosphere, downstairs bar and pool area are comfortable. Seems like staff here are more seasoned in their beer knowledge. The original.
Innsbrook: Lots more taps. Little more stuffy atmosphere, yuppie like. Little more area to sit. Slighly less expensive since its out of city limits and doesnt have meal tax added on.
Addition: They now have on Sundays American beers for 2.00. Yes thats any beer from America for 2.00.... except for a few like DFH Raison D'Etere which was ... 3.00!! ha ha...
03-09-2005 19:11:45 | More by nriech
4.64/5 rDev +6.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | $$$
I stopped in here to check out the palce and ended up sharing several beers with some friends. The atmosphere is very chil, speakeasy type, with a nice location right downtown.
The bartender started of by asking all 4 of us what we liked in a beer. The beer snob in me (I try to control this) almsot let out a dry, condescending chuckle, but the bartender was comlpetely sincere, helpful and respectful. By the end of the afternoon he had won all of us over with his excellent recommendations and honest advice. The 'ice bar' adds a pretty cool touch (strip of ice that run along the bar that you can chill your drink on). I had an Alpha Klaus and some other graet brews I'd never tried, and had a wonderful experience.
01-09-2008 16:49:41 | More by sinistrsam
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Capital Ale House in Richmond, VA
96 out of 100 based on 87 user ratings.