Monday, November 10, 2008

Capital Ale House

Like just about everyone in Fredericksburg, we were excited about the opening of the Capital Ale House last week. We stopped in for a pre-football game dinner on Friday night. We figured that at 5:30, the place wouldn’t be crowded, but we were wrong. We had to wait about 30 minutes for a table, but the nice thing about this place is that the wait is downright pleasant, with a huge selection of beers to sample and some comfy sitting areas to relax in.

Make no mistake, the attraction here is really the beer. They have an interesting food menu, and our dinners were good, but not particularly inspiring. The beer menu, on the other hand, is very impressive. They have 50+ beers on tap, and hundreds more by the bottle. I’ve just started enjoying microbrews and artisan beers in the last couple of years (after 30+ years of drinking mostly Miller Lite...are you beer enthusiasts squirming?). This has been mostly due to the urging of my daughter, who lives in the shadow of the Brooklyn Brewery and Brooklyn’s Bierkraft. And I admit I still am kind of a lightweight, preferring mellower, sweeter amber ales and brown ales to the hoppy or bitter IPAs and stouts. So I won’t attempt to review the beer...I will leave that to local blogger Musings Over a Pint.

This place is shaping up to be a Fredericksburg hotspot (hmm, how often do you hear “Fredericksburg” and “hotspot” in the same sentence?). I’m not sure if the novelty will wear off, but for now, the place is really hopping all evening. I have to say it—it’s a bona fide scene. And it’s also the kind of place where you could comfortably hang out all evening, nursing a beer or two with a friend, without being rushed off.

The renovation of the space is very well done. Lots of sleek surfaces and trendy light fixtures give the space a contemporary vibe, but the wooden tables, vintage postcard art and rustic beamed ceiling keep the space feeling warm and pubby.

The service was fine, but I was particularly impressed by the management on Friday night. While we waited, a manager gave us a tour of the place, including the downstairs room for rent (starting in January) that seats 35. Another manager helped with our dinner order to keep things moving.

After learning that Capital Ale House serves reduced priced beers on Sundays, we made a point of stopping back in after visiting the downtown shops during the Holiday Open House. Again, the place was filled, with not a single space available at the bar, so we enjoyed our beer in the dart room, furnished with a trio of cushy leather couches. We managed to sample 5 beers in total this weekend: Breckenridge 471 Double IPA, Rogue Dead Guy Ale, Magic Hat #9 (with its odd, perfumey taste), Bell’s Amber Ale and Starr Hill Amber Ale.

Some of the taps:

The bar area, with Jetsons' lighting and rustic beams:

Our dinner, a Maytag burger (bleu cheese) and a vegetarian panini, with what they call Belgian-style fried potatoes, or frittes, but are really just French fries served with mayo. Whatever you call them, the plate needed a few more.


Anonymous said...

I heard there were no TVs? Not exactly convenient for wanting to go down there to catch a game. Are they putting them in at a later time?

Merry N said...

I don't know, but I hope not. There are other sports bars around. I like the atmosphere of this place without the distraction of TVs. Here's the number from their website if you want to give them a call and ask: 371-2337

Anonymous said...

this is so exciting!

recommendations for you: allagash white, anderson valley's winter solstice, brooklyn brown or blond bock

if dad is feeling ambitious: dogfish 90 minute (even i'm too big a baby for the 120), ommegang quadrupel, and anything from rogue-- i see chipotle and hazelnut on the list but they have a juniper beer that might pop up. and my bakeoff cupcakes were made with their mocha porter!

Merry N said...

Thanks for the recommendations! If you're interested, this can be the first stop from the train station. Tuesday nights are "steal the glass" nights...if you order the beer du jour, you get to keep the souvenir glass while supplies last.

Russell said...

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