Jared Fackrell really likes cider. I mean, apples are definitely his thing. The 32-year old former Navy officer has been brewing his own cider at home for years, and with the changes to the brewery laws in DC, he recently decided to take his passion to a new level and open a cider house and restaurant in Petworth. The new place is called Capitol Cider House and will be located at 3930 Georgia Avenue NW, beneath the Fahrenheit apartment building.
The new bar and restaurant will offer 12 taps showcasing ciders produced specifically within 200 miles of the Capitol Building -- hence the O in the name Capitol Cider House. (Fun fact, capitol only has an O when it refers to the building). Behind the bar, Jared says they will offer cider options on 10 of the taps, including ciders from local and other regional breweries, with 2 taps reserved for beer, mead and other local brews, along with a wine list. Some of the ciders available at Capitol Cider House will be produced on site by Jared and his team. Figure most of the cider will have an average ABV in the high single to low double digits, Jared said. (I was lucky enough to get a taste of a cherry apple cider recently, and it was awesome -- and 11% alcohol.)
Nothing they'll offer will come from concentrate, Jared said. "I want to show Washington that cider is a versatile drink that doesn’t have to be too sweet. Not all cider is full of sugar. A good cider has a lot more similarities to a nice wine than some of the stuff you can find in grocery stores.”
True to its name and unlike other cider bars in the city, Capitol Cider House will focus exclusively on ciders produced in the mid-Atlantic region. “We’re bringing in cider from Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania,” Jared said. “We’re right in the middle of a huge apple-growing region, so there’s no reason to look farther than our close neighbors for excellent cider. We want to showcase the products made in our backyard.”
Look for a food menu that spotlights gluten-free items (cider is gluten free, by the way). "We're working with a handful of Union Kitchen start-ups that'll complement our offerings, and we're very open to neighborhood feedback as to what folks want," Jared said.
The restaurant is starting from scratch, literally. The space beneath the Fahrenheit building is an empty concrete shell, with only the electrical and plumbing lines. There's a lot to do, and Jared has been working with firm Arium AE, came up with a design that creates a comfortable and inviting interior, as well as giving space for a large bar, a private meeting room (known as a "Brewer's table" that seats 6-8), seating for 80 people, a kitchen and space to brew onsite. Look for aged and reclaimed wood throughout the interior, polished concrete floors and barn doors closing off the Brewer's table area.
The space along Georgia Avenue and Shepherd Street is all windows on both sides, giving a great view into, and from, the restaurant. Some of the windows will be covered to protect the fermenting vessels from light, heat and oxidation, which are a threat to the integrity and fermentation process, Jared said.
They'll be hand-pressing apples and fermenting the cider right inside the restaurant, with the aging barrels visible. They also plan to donate all pomace, the spent apple byproduct of pressing, to local family farms for animal feed and composting.
When completed, inside you'll find enough high top and regular tables for 80 people, along with 15-20 bar seats. Jared said they are planning on having outdoor seating to accommodate 24 people on a patio area, with landscaping made up of local vegetation. You can walk from the taproom through the brewing production space and out onto a pet- and kid-friendly patio (assuming the DC Council overturns the idiotic ban on no pets on patios). They're even planning on some games like shuffleboard inside. You'll also find high chairs and a changing table in the bathrooms -- Jared said that as a parent, he understands the need.
You'll also be able to take growlettes home -- 32 ounce containers of their cider. (Again, highly recommending the cherry apple cider!) "We also plan on having live music at the restaurant, driven by what folks want." And if you live in the Fahrenheit, Jared said they're planning on giving residents a discount.
Jared is also pretty excited about helping to teach customers about cider. He'll be holding events and classes to teach people about the cider-making process, as well as hosting regional cider makers for themed tastings. “We want this to be a neighborhood spot, an easy place for folks to gather with their families and have a good time,” Jared said.
Of course, the next question is when does Capitol Cider House open? "Hopefully the beginning half of 2018," Jared said, "depending on permitting/construction timelines, of course."
Petworth News will follow up before it opens to give readers a sneak peek inside (and I'm trying to get my hands on more cider before then).
Capitol Cider House
3930 Georgia Avenue NW