In 1992 the District of Columbia had gone 36 years without a brewery. Capitol City Brewing on 11th and H Northwest changed that. In 2003 brewing operations moved to the Shirlington neighborhood of Arlington. Today Cap City’s Shirlington location, where all their beer is brewed, is papered over.
“After 22 years of proudly serving Northern Virginia, we have had to make the difficult decision to close this location. We thank you for your tremendous support and loyalty over the years and for that we are truly grateful. Please visit us at our Downtown location (at 11th and H St NW) to enjoy our award-winning beers, great food and friendly service,” reads a post on the Capitol CIty Facebook page.
Shirlington employees were, per ARLnow, not told of the decision to close, and we have confirmed that staff at the DC location were also caught off guard.
The brewery boasts an impressive list of alumni/ae, Mad Fox’s Bill Madden; Ocelot’s Mike McCarthy, who will be moving on to open a brewery in Winchester; Caboose’s Leon Harris; and Kristi Mathews Griner, who won a silver medal for Amber Waves in the American Red/Amber category at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival. Yet that beer, along with flagships largely unchanged in years (a porter, a Kolsch-style ale, and a pale ale) did not generate buzz and word of mouth in an increasingly crowded local brewing scene. Capitol City is perhaps best known not for beer, but for hosting an outdoor Oktoberfest every fall.
However, not only does the the DC location remain open, but the Shirlington brewing facility will continue to make beer for it. We have heard from a reliable source in the company that two different entities hold licenses in Shirlington, so while the restaurant and brewpub has closed, the brewery itself remains in operation. Whether this is a cost-effective use of the space in heavily trafficked Shirlington remains to be seen.
In terms of retail, selling beer directly to customers, Capitol City is the second brewery to close in Northern Virginia, which lost Woodbridge’s Heroic Aleworks earlier this year.