A taste of cider: opening night at Capitol Cider House

Capitol Cider House is holding court on the corner of Shepherd and Georgia Avenue.

Capitol Cider House opened officially on Saturday, July 21st, and threw a party on Friday the 20th to get things started. For the benefit of the community, I tried almost all the ciders available on the tap, and after wobbling my way home in good humor, thought I'd share my thoughts on Petworth's latest bar and hang out.

It's a great spot. The cider is light, with flavors that run from slightly sweet to extra dry. You’ll find CCH’s own cider on tap 1 which clocks in at 8.5% APV, and mixes three different apples with quince. The other nine ciders on tap are from cideries around the DMV, including Happy Trees from ANXO, while two other taps offer a mead that has a slight dusty flavor, and a beer from DC Brau. 

You can order a can or bottle of beer from a number of different local breweries, a glass or bottle of wine, and a wide selection of ciders also in a bottle. You can also pick up a flight of ciders to get a taste of different flavors -- and then pick your favorite.

My first flight of the evening... the numbers refer to the tap the pours come from  (in this case, three ciders and a mead). If you don't want to pick, the bar staff are willing to recommend ciders to try in the flights.

Food is a secondary item here as it’s not a dinner joint, per se, but what they offer is tasty. There’s veggie, sausage and turkey rotis from Short Eats for $7 each, which I’m on record as loving, and small orders of four empanadas for $8 from M’panadas (and in four different flavors, they’re quite good). 

Inside, there is seating for about 50, with tables outside for 20 or so (along Shepherd Street, not Georgia Ave). Outdoors actually makes for a nice space, especially if the weather cooperates, but since there's no table service currently, you'll have to order at the bar and bring your drinks and food out with you. I can see this being a hard spot to grab an open seat on nice evenings.

If conversations aren’t your thing or you're on a first date and feeling nervous, you’ll find a selection of games that make hanging out at the handmade, reclaimed wood tables a lot of fun. Whether you want to try to sink your friend’s battleship, connect four or play a game of cards, you’ll find some fun things to do. Little ones even have an activity table to occupy them while they drink the non-alcoholic cider or fruit drinks.

A shuffleboard table is on the way -- it was delayed by the vendor a few weeks.

I started the night with a glass of the Cap Cider House + Distillery Lane Quincy, which was the only cider made by owner Jared Fackrell available that night. Then I tried a flight of four ciders. At 5.5% to 9% APV, they deliver a buzz. 

I was a fan of the Winchester 522 with the black currants flavor (had a stronger berry aroma than taste) and the Potters Grapefruit Hibiscus cider, which offers a slightly sour flavor and is really quite good (and 9% APV). A whiskey fan, I was hoping for a more noticeable whiskey rye flavor in the barrel-aged Distillery Lane Rio cider, but enjoyed it nonetheless. The Supreme Core Midlanticky offers lemon, milk sugar and sea salt, and had the strongest "raw apple" flavor of all the ciders I tried. 

Apples waiting for a new life as a great cider.

What you won't see when you come here is cider being made, only consumed. You can see the cider fermenting and tons of apples waiting (if you can find Jared, try asking for a tour!), but the DC health code means processing and pressing the apples has to be done when customers aren't around. The bar is closed on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in order to press apples and make cider. They're open Thursday through Sunday.

There's something for everyone here, so if cider isn't your thing, no worries, there's plenty to pick from. If you do like cider, you'll be pretty happy to pull up a chair.

Capitol Cider House
3930 Georgia Avenue NW

  • Monday-Wednesday: Closed (making cider!)
  • Thursday-Friday: 4pm-10pm
  • Saturday-Sunday: 11am-10pm

A great opening night.