Jared Fackrell is excited to show you what he can do with reclaimed wood, concrete, several dozen tons of apples, an industrial mill and press, and some artisanal recipes. Here's a hint: from the bar's appearance and early cider tastes, he's done a really good job.
I met Jared last Fall as he was taking lease of the retail space below the Fahrenheit building at the corner of Shepherd Street and Georgia Avenue. We walked through the empty storefront, bare concrete walls and floors reflecting the sun light, as Jared explained his vision for the space. The most obvious thing about him as a soon-to-be-new cidery owner and DC restauranteur was his clear passion for cider, and his excitement at taking the risk of opening the Capitol Cider House. As a former Navy lieutenant with a family and a full-time job, this is his first bar and restaurant. He has the benefit of being methodical, well-planned, open to new ideas, and driven to share his passion. He's gone from bare walls and an idea, to a fully built-out restaurant that's almost ready to open.
Fast forward to the Summer of 2018, and the Capitol Cider House is getting ready to open after months and months of hard work, all supervised or done by Jared. His early vision for the space has become real, and it looks like a very welcoming bar to enjoy the literal fruits of his labor.
Inside you'll find a mix between warm wood, a concrete bar and industrial steel, all used to create an inviting atmosphere that will feel even better once full of people. The large mural behind the bar was hand-painted by locally based artists No Kings Collective -- the mural's bright colors complementing the wood, concrete and steel found throughout.
What you'll find when the Capitol Cider House opens are 12 taps behind the bar, offering a constantly rotating selection of ciders and other draughts.
"Ten of the taps will feature a diverse set of ciders," Jared said. "They'll be a mix of artisanal, longer-aged ciders, traditional ciders made with heirloom fruit, and a few craft ciders... modern interpretations infused with various fruit." The other two taps will offer rotating mead and beer.
You'll also be able to get cider in bottles from other cideries around the DC area, as well as well-known beer in bottles and cans, mixed cocktails, liquor from local distilleries, and red and white wines. There will also be organic soda, fresh non-alcoholic cider and other drinks available. But there's no doubt, this place is all about the cider: almost 40 different ciders will make the rounds, as well as 6-7 different beers and meads.
Jared has been working for months to get the Capitol Cider House built out. He's had to deal with the typical drama every new restaurant and bar goes through when trying to open in DC, going one step more to ensure that as one of the few establishments that make their own liquid refreshments, they can make the cider on-site and sell it for in-house consumption and make it available for take-home.
A changing selection of flavors and styles will be the norm, and Jared is planning to offer plenty of chances to try them all out. "We'll be offering flights of our own ciders, along with selections from local cideries, designed to make them accessible to people who don't know cider and give them a chance to try the different styles," he said. "We'll also have 32-ounce growlettes that you can purchase, and then bring the bottle back to refill."
He's entered into a partnership with Distillery Lane Ciderworks from Jefferson, Maryland, to come up with some special blends and to provide some of the apples from their orchard. "They were the first to plant cider apples in the area," Jared said, "and have the most diverse and mature orchard in 200 miles of DC. We're working on a lot of different ideas, like a quince infusion."
He's trying to offer a full-fledged experience with the cider, but also to do that in a measured way. "We'll be pressing fruit only a couple times a month to start out, and we'll increase as time goes on. We'll also be pressing more than apples," he said. "We'll be working with pears, quince and tart cherries in the beginning as well." (I've tried the tart cherry apple cider, and yeah, it's good. I've been bugging Jared to have that ready for opening... there's a growlette of it with my name on it, for sure.)
He'll be milling and pressing apples onsite from Monday through Wednesday when they're closed, using a special mill that he purchased. After the pulp is ground up and pressed, the juice is stored and fermented in huge 275 gallon white IBC totes, where the primary fermentation will happen. Special blends will go into the wooden barrels. A typical pressing can use up to 90 bushels of apples, with each bushel producing 2-4 gallons of juice. That's more than 3,500 lbs of apples.
Jared said he's working on an agreement with the National Zoo to donate the left-over pulp (called pomace) as a supplement to some of the zoo's animals, as well as donating to local farms.
With about 80ish seats (including around 18 outside on a pet-friendly patio), there's plenty of space. Like the large sidewall near the cidery's entrance, the tables and chairs are made with reclaimed wood from a 1920's barn from West Virginia. He worked with Strong Oaks Woodshop in Front Royal to source the wood. The dark colors come from the natural weathering of the wood, and not from staining. "I like that we're reusing something that otherwise might have been lost," Jared said. "With the steel sheeting and concrete, it helps give a rustic, authentic, slightly industrial look."
The "Brewer's Table" off to the right of the bar seats 6-8 in a private setting that can be reserved for meetings or parties (or snagged as "first come, first served" if not reserved), and has a set of rolling barn doors to close it off.
The bathrooms are unisex, and both have changing tables. With two young boys, Jared understands the need for a Petworth restaurant to cater to families.
You'll be able to eat at Capitol Cider House, enjoying a diverse but simple menu of rotis and curry bowls compliments of the extremely delicious local Sri Lankan Short Eats, as well as empanadas from M’panadas, cheese plates, bread and more. Jared said he's open to hearing ideas from the neighborhood.
So when will the Capitol Cider House open?
Jared laughs, "That's the question, right? Soon."
He's waiting the final permits and Certificate of Occupancy from the city, and then will get ready for the opening. I'm going to guess you'll be able to enjoy the cider by the end of July, if not sooner. When they open, look for the initial hours to be Thursday and Fridays, 4pm to 10pm, Saturday and Sunday 11am until 10pm, and closed Monday through Wednesday (to make cider).
Capitol Cider House
3930 Georgia Avenue NW
- Monday-Wednesday: Closed (making cider!)
- Thursday-Friday: 4pm-10pm
- Saturday-Sunday: 11am-10pm