Last week, Capitol City Brewing Company announced that Kristi Mathews Griner will take the reins as its new Director of Brewing Operations. With 25 years of restaurant experience, Griner began her brewing career in 2007 at Hops Grill and Brewery. Since then, she’s received the 2009 AB Vickers Scholarship for the Concise Course in Brewing Technology at the Siebel Institute of Technology, completed Siebel's Draft Master program, and served as Vintage 50’s head brewer.
Starting February 15, she will “oversee all beer production for both the Shirlington and DC locations as well as recipe development, public outreach, customer relations and management for the annual Mid-Atlantic Oktoberfest Beer Festival”. DC Beer recently had the chance to speak with Griner about her vision for Cap City, the distinction between DC and VA drinkers, and her “little schemes” for CCBC.
First and foremost, let’s talk beer. Griner doesn’t plan to wipe the slate clean; instead, the “four core beers will remain the same”, at least until she’s brewed a few batches and identified what changes, if any, she’d like to make. The rest of the roster is up for grabs and Griner has some big plans. She’s looking to start brewing lagers (“they are quite fun and I really enjoy keeping one on rotation”), as well as Belgians, a doppelbock (“a favorite of mine”), and even some recipes that premiered at Vintage 50.
All of that brewing will take place in Shirlington: the current set-up has it that both venues are supplied by the brewhouse in VA, which gets fired up 3 to 4 times a week. But that doesn’t mean that there’s just one approach to the consuming public: the DC crowd is more tourist-heavy and, as Griner admits, “tourists will probably be easier to please than the locals”. That said, she’s not sleeping on the growing sophistication of the drinking public. She appreciates the “new beer energy in the DMV scene right now and I want us to tap into that”, calling this “a point of new beginning” for Cap City.
Griner is busting with ideas for that new beginning. Given her experience in the food business, she’ll be working with the kitchen to “start coordinating menus and making it more beer forward”; look for beer dinners in the not-too-distant future. She’s also reaching out to “some of the new places in town and discussing collaboration beers”; these days, there are more and more area brewers to partner with. Griner is a strong supporter of women in beer – she was one of the brewers who crafted Pretty in Pink, the Lost Rhino/ Hardywood/ Bluejacket/ V50 collaboration beer now on sale in NoVA and Richmond – and hopes that “down the road…a chapter of the Barley's Angels [will be] operating out of CCBC. Beer is a woman's heritage and I really want more of us involved in drinking and making it.”
Even though it’s clear how much she’s “looking forward to getting in [Cap City] and knocking out our first brew”, Griner hasn’t been idly awaiting her first day. In fact, once she’s up and brewing at CCBC, you’ll see her beer coming out of 3 different breweries at once: she’d been filling in at Hops while they waited for their new brewer to arrive while simultaneously heading up V50. It makes for long hours, but it sounds like she wouldn’t give up a single brew day. She says, “As to philosophy? Words like JOY and DELIGHT come to mind. I am having the best time imaginable in the Land of Beer and everyone should be having this much fun, too!”