The District of Columbia legalized brewpubs in 1991. The first brewpub in the city since Prohibition opened the following year: Capitol City Brewing Company. Like Albert Carry, Christian Heurich and Robert Portner before him, founder David von Storch does more than just brewing. He has a diversified lifestyle business called Urban Adventures Companies, from the Bang hair cutting salons to the high-end VIDA Fitness gyms.
Capitol City opened at 1100 New York Avenue NW, a site that is still serving up the suds, though that location stopped brewing in 2003, instead sourcing the beer from its Shirlington brewpub. Bill Madden, a storied figure in Washington brewing history, designed the glassy, sunlight-drenched brewhouse at Shirlington that is still in use today. Capitol City once had a brewpub in the Post Office Museum near Union Station.
Kristi Griner is Capitol City’s brewer. Much of her career was spent in the restaurant industry before turning to brewing. She started as a brewer with Hops Restaurant Bar & Brewery in Potomac Yards, a 7-barrel operation, in 2007, and then attended a brewing program in Chicago before a stint at Vintage 50 in Leesburg and ultimately landing the Capitol City brewmaster position in February 2013. She runs a 2,500-barrel-a-year operation with big plans to expand into the basement and to offer more packaged products, such as cans and bottles.
There are four flagships always on tap: Kolsch (spelled without the umlaut), which is by far their biggest seller, thanks to Bill Madden establishing its popularity in the early 1990s); Pale Rider; Amber Waves; and Prohibition Porter. Cap City usually has seven to ten beers on tap, and Griner strives to keep an IPA and a wheat beer on hand and often has a lager style as well. The style is eclectically American.
“I really like kitchen-sink beers,” she said—the kind of beer that pulls from the spices, coffee, malt and yeast and whatever else she has on hand. “I don’t want to put anything in my beer I can’t eat.” Then she has to put a name to the beer. “That’s where I put my literature degree to work on something clever.” (See? Literature degrees are useful.)
“The good news is that we have been around for twenty-one years and ridden through at least two economic downturns, so we are confident that we will be a survivor when the next wave of challenges comes to the local craft brewing scene,” said founder David von Storch. “Obviously it’s built to last,” added Griner. “Cap City has maintained and done well for itself.”
Our dedicated brewers identify and use only the finest quality hops, fresh yeast, and select malt to brew many of our great ales and lagers. Our Great Signature and Core brews you can have all year round, plus Great Seasonal brews which brings flavors and styles from across the world. Our Great Seasonal beers bring English, Belgian, and German style brews right here to the USA. With our Signature/ Core brews and our Seasonal brews we will have at least 7-8 Great Beers on tap all year round.