Restaurant Review: Capital Ale House

Where in the World - Virginia Breezin'

Beer Lovers' Paradise in Richmond, Virginia at Capital Ale House Restaurant

Capital Ale House InnsbrookMicrobrews have gained an enormous following in the past few years, and Capital Ale House has done their part to spur the appreciation of fine beers in Richmond, Virginia. They have presented to numerous Richmonders and their guests the notion that there is a fine world of quality beer beyond the relatively bland world of macrobrews from Anheuser-Busch, Miller, and Coors.

The vast selection at Capital Ale House of ales, lagers, pilsners, pale ales, India Pale Ales (IPAs), stouts, porters, and Belgians, from the U.S. and abroad, offers something for every palate. Oh, and they also offer seasonals, ambers, strong ales, barleywines, bitters and bocks, browns--and whatever else your taste buds may be calling for. Yes, and they do have wine, mixed drinks, and sodas as well. Oh, and if for some reason you do want Bud or Michelob, they will oblige.

The first Capital Ale House opened in an old, renovated building in downtown Richmond in 2004 with 46 drafts and over 200 bottled beers. Since then, they have expanded to Innsbrook in Richmond's West End (75 drafts and over 300 bottled beers), to Midlothian south of the James River (80 drafts and over 300 bottled beers), and to Fredericksburg, between Richmond and Washington, D.C. (60 drafts and over 300 bottled beers). All locations also offer rotating cask-conditioned ales and beer to go.

I've been a fan of Capital Ale House since the original location in downtown Richmond. Their beer is the tops, with dozens of beers on tap and many more in bottles. The servers are brew-savvy and can help you choose a beer to fit your tastes.

I was bothered for a long time that their food did not match the quality of the beer. I had several friends who didn't want to go there--they aren't beer nuts and couldn't stomach the food. However, my latest experience makes me believe that the Capital Ale House owners and management have finally heard customers' suggestions and have listened!

The burgers used to be mediocre, especially on dollar burger night, but this time we both agreed they were thick and tasty. Their burger selection has improved, too, and my Baja Burger, with cheese, black bean dip, roasted corn salsa, and fresh avocado slices was hearty, a great combination of flavors and textures melding together. It definitely did not need ketchup. Their new three-potato salad on the side was imaginative and light, without an overwhelming dressing to overpower the potatoes.

 

I noticed, in fact, that the entire menu has been modified. Some old favorites still linger, like the chicken tostada, black bean burger, salmon, bratwurst and knackwurst, and stuffed pretzel, and others have been tweaked, like the lamb burger and crab BLT. The new additions will be worth trying as well. The server was raving over the Capital Mac 'n' Cheese, which was alternatively served tonight as Mac 'n' Cheese burger (a burger smothered in the four-cheese dish).

As always, their menu is diverse, with bar favorites like burgers and pretzels (oh, so big!) and wurst, but also with salads and soups, sandwiches, entrees, and pastas. The selections for vegetarians are decent, and the black bean burger is the best veggie burger I've found in Richmond thus far.

As always, the beer was divine! The tops for this hop head was the Oskar Blues Gordon on tap, a hop-laden hit, on the scale between an Double IPA Imperial Amber, from the Colorado microbrewery that has perfected quality beer in a can. I also had the Lost Coast Indica Pale Ale on tap, another hoppy beer with less of an edge, from Eureka, California. The Dixie Blackened Voodoo lager from New Orleans was an appropriate beer from a colorful, creative city: as a dark lager with a hint of stout flavoring, it combines quality styles for a memorable brew that's worth getting again. (The brewery has been around since 1907, demonstrating New Orleans persistence in surviving not only Katrina, but Prohibition!)

Most American restaurants seem slow to realize the importance of offering great beers to go with their food, offering customers' palates fine beverages to keep them happy while waiting for the meal. Not Capital Ale House! 

Be sure to check out the Capital Ale House web site before you plan your visit. There's always something special going on: dollar burger nights on Monday, Steal the Glass Night on Tuesday, Virginia Beer and Wine on Wednesday, Community Chest on Thursday, Firkin Fridays, American Microbrews on Saturday, and Prime Rib Sunday. The downtown location has a music hall, and all locations like to celebrate such events as Karneval, Oktoberfest, and St. Patrick's Day.

Capital Ale House, downtown

623 East Main Street

Richmond, Virginia 23219

804-780-ALES

Capital Ale House, Innsbrook

4024-A Cox Rd

Glen Allen, Virginia 23060

804-780-ALES

Capital Ale House, Midlothian

13831 Village Place Drive

Midlothian, VA 23113

804-780-ALES

Capital Ale House, Fredericksburg

917 Caroline Street 

Fredericksburg, VA 22401

804-780-ALES

540-371-2337

 

Capital Ale House web site

 

Capital Ale House web site: Events, Beer & Food Menus, Music, Contact Info, & More 

 

 

 

 
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