Capital Ale House

Not Rated.
Capital Ale HouseCapital Ale House
BA SCORE
96
world-class

114 Ratings
Ratings: 114
Reviews: 86
rAvg: 4.32
pDev: n/a
Taps: 48
Bottles: 200
Cask: Y
[ Bar, Eatery ]

623 E Main St
Richmond, Virginia, 23219-2405
United States
phone: (804) 780-2537

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap 

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Place added by: JAGMAN

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Ratings: 114 | Reviews: 86
Reviews by Zraly:
Photo of Zraly
4.03/5  rDev -6.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

I've been visiting Capital Ale House in downtown since I interviewed for my PhD at VCU a few years back. It was actually a "positive" when I was rating my preferences for graduate school! Granted, it was a secondary factor...but a factor nonetheless. "Can I get good beer here and have a reasonable place to chill?"

And for those purposes...CAH is great. It has decent food (the sandwiches & frittes pose as great pub food), a great selection of beer on tap, and the atmosphere, in general, is pleasant.

I go to CAH at least a few times a month. With my class demands decreasing, and my reading & writing demands increasing, I might haunt this place more often in the coming years. My last visit, this past Thursday, I had a Corsendonk Christmas ale (on tap) and my girlfriend had a Stone Smoked Porter (on tap). Both were very tasty and were served in the appropriate glasses.

I find the beer selection to be appropriate and of high quality. There is always a nice mix of import and American micros on tap. Sundays are a great day to try some of the American micros on tap; a pint of any American micro is only $2. "Steal the glass" night occurs on Wednesdays. For the most part, this is a respectful, beer-positive atmosphere that has good spirit in supporting beer appreciation.

As for the food, I've had the opportunity to sample most of the sandwiches on the menu and I can attest that they are good portions and are of good quality. When I am feeling "meat", the Cuban is rather satisfying. Also, for you veggies, the black bean burger is great (although quite messy). I've also had a few of the dinner entrees. The Waterzooi mer du Nord is quite tasty, as is the fish and greens. The fish for the fish and greens selection is typically something along the lines of salmon or talapia.


A few small caveats about CAH:

1. The service has odds of being hit or miss. There are a few servers who have been there since I can remember and they are great. They are conversant on beer and beer style. They are prompt and courteous. I always enjoy myself whenever I have one of the "seasoned veterans" as my server. However, it is the restaurant business and there is always employee turnover. It's inevitable. And often times the newbies do a fine job, considering. On occassion, though, I expect to be ignored and for my service to be shoddy. So again, this is an acknowledgment that, like other restaurants, CAH suffers from some staffing issues and it sometimes shows in the service received by patrons.

2. The list of available bottles is really just a list of bottled beer that CAH had in stock at some point in the recent past. I tend to avoid the bottle list most of the time. There is usually plenty of good stuff on tap to hold my interest. My girlfriend sometimes orders off of the bottle list and is usually disappointed. This past visit she asked for a Bell's Cherry Stout. They were, of course, out.

3. In general, the atmosphere is cozy and inviting. Sometimes, though, tables near the bar can get a bit smokey. This is Virginia, afterall.

The downtown location is expanding. They are adding a Beer Garden that is projected, I think, to open later next year. There is now plenty parking in the parking garage that is connected to CAH. No more searching for a spot in downtown.

I think that CAH is a quality restaurant/beer bar. There is some room for improvement, but nothing that should dissuade a person from paying a visit to this establishment. Come for the good beer and decent atmosphere. You'll hopefully find some delicious beer to make your visit worth the trip.

More User Reviews:
Photo of Waltbabylove
4.76/5  rDev +10.2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

Great local brews, all your faves, plus some gems.

Photo of arizcards
4.29/5  rDev -0.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.25

Just visited earlier today with Da Boss.

Vibe was good, fairly empty on a late Thursday afternoon. Good tunes being played, zydeco, blues provided a nice atmosphere.

Quality of the beer and food was good. There were a lot of top notch world classics here to go with solid regional beers.

Service was solid, not too tough with a small crowd to deal with.

Selection was pretty top notch as there were 40-60 draft brews to pick from and mayb 100 bottle selections.

Food was very good, I had the gyro burger which was unique but very good and Da Boss had the fish tacos that were solid.

Overall somewhat expensive beer wise but the "mid-major" dishes were reasonably priced. Definitely would go back again.

Photo of uvachief
3.95/5  rDev -8.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.25 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Capital Ale has a great selection and variety of beers at most places. The food is very good as well. The atmosphere can be great and some places even have live music. Sounds perfect right? Well..not so fast. My biggest gripe with this chain has always been service. I use to work across the street from the one in downtown Richmond. Clients wanted to go to lunch there. We could never get in and out in under 90 minutes and it was usually a lot closer to 2 hours. Service at night wasn't much better. The bar can be extremely crowded and the beertenders can get overwhelmed. Most are very knowledgeable. They have a 1/2 price growler night. Well worth trying but bring your patience when you go.

Photo of CraftBeerMe
4.38/5  rDev +1.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4.5

Since I reviewed Mekong and Legend, it's only fair I review Cap Ale...

They have a rustic meets modern beer hall theme that fits well with the downtown location, and the city of Richmond as whole. The atmosphere does get a bit confused during the concerts in the adjacent concert hall room - it's odd to hear a metal band through the wall while the house PA is playing their lighter mix.

Unless it's burger night (Monday), you can expect good service by a usually knowledgeable staff that enjoys the beer they're serving. Most of the waitstaff also are able to offer pairing suggestions as well - a big plus for me.

The beer selection is fairly large, though split - they offer the lesser rotating drafts and their bottle selection upstairs, they stick the more rotating taps downstairs in the gameroom/beer garden. The only drawback I've seen is that when they kick a keg, sometimes they forget to tell the servers they're out (since the menus are printed for the month, it'd be hard to change them regularly) until after an order is placed.

The food is your standard American gastropub menu with burgers being the featured item. On regular nights, they cook them to your specifications, and throw down with some frites and one of their 4 flavored mayos. Also, the Bavarian pretzel is definitely worth a trip by itself.

Burger night is unto itself - usually there's a large rush of people during normal dinner hours, and the kitchen is cooking to order instead of specifications to get them out. However, servers generally still give good service.

Big plus of this place is the gameroom/beer garden - it has a few dartboards with the proper spacing and scorekeeping setup, plus a pooltable and some other games too. The outdoor beer garden is awesome if you like being outside and having a nice space in a city to hang out with your friends and have a few beers.

Photo of tabascosigned
4.06/5  rDev -6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4

I've been here so many times for lunch; no complaints. The problem is the downtown set up and overcrowding factor and extremely slow to almost non existent service. But, it's almost understandable because of the atmosphere. If I were to give this place an honest review for dinner drinking time, it would be very low. But, this will be a lunch review.

Easy to get a table or bar seats for miles and miles. Good food...great black bean burger, great fish n chips, decent beef burgers. Service is good at lunch. Ordered a GKnight can and it's always great when the servers immediately know and compliment your selection (not too many people reference GKnight here in VA). Plenty on tap...plenty plenty...and oh so so much bottled. They still had some 120 min, but prices on "those beers" are a bit high.

Either way, the downtown location is great for lunch and the south-side location is, so I hear, great whenever.

PS...had a great value on a local brewery's release of an ipa that same day with snifters and a growler, but that was at dinner and the overall experience was not good.
This is strictly a lunch review only.

Photo of McBraniel
4.25/5  rDev -1.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4

A massive selection of beer on rotating taps. The food is pretty good, and the prices are reasonable. My wife actually doesn't mind going with me, which is a big plus. Another go-to here in Richmond. Highly recommended. There are multiple locations throughout the greater Richmond area. The downtown location might have the best atmosphere, while the one in Innsbrook has even more beers on tap

Photo of triwolf
3.63/5  rDev -16%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3 | food: 4

First let me start off by saying the Ale House is definitely worth going to. They have the best pretzel I've ever tasted in my life and the burger & sandwiches are all good. The beer menu is very extensive with lots of local selections. HOWEVER, after being there once a week for almost two months, I've noticed that they are ALWAYS out of multiple selections off the draft menu. I don't buy the excuse of 'well we've got so many on tap it's hard to keep them in stock'. I've been to places with a much wider selection that do a much better job of maintaining their menu. And most of the stafff seems to be caught off guard when they realize they're out. Causing you to wait over and over again while your server goes back and forth looking for what's available. So go, but makes sure you have a lineup of what you're looking for to save yourself some time.

Photo of mchunt25
4.78/5  rDev +10.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

I have to stop at Capital Ale House every time I'm in Richmond. They have a great selection of beer and their food is pretty good. The servers have a vast knowledge of the beer they serve, and being new to beer and wanting to expand my tastes, this was extremely helpful for me. I was able to tell them what I've had and liked, and they were able to give me suggestions for something new but not overwhelming in flavor.

My only gripe is that their service can be rather slow on occasion. I waited almost 30 minutes on an order of calamari, but I can honestly say that it was worth it.

Overall, great place with a great atmosphere. Can't wait to go back again.

Photo of Crazyale
4.35/5  rDev +0.7%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Not much I can say that hasn't been said already. In addition to the beer, the menu has quite a few options, and the food is delicious. My wife and I both had burgers the other night, and they were outstanding. I also appreciate the fact that they update their beer menu online each week, so you can study it before going in.

I went on a recent Monday night, and the atmosphere was quite good. It was relatively full, but we were sat immediately, so it wasn't too crowded or too empty. Very relaxed atmosphere with good service. Great place to unwind with some amazing beers after a hard day at work.

Photo of jayfro70
4.95/5  rDev +14.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

This is my go-to beer location in Richmond. Not only do they have the best selection, but they also host the best events and have some pretty darn good food too. The bartenders are not your average college-kid-working-for-rent/beer money. These guys and girls are super-knowlegable. They know their beers. And after a few visits, they'll remember your name and even your preferences. The lack of TVs in the bar is sometimes criticized, but the fact that it forces patrons to engage in conversation with each other and their bartenders is certainly not a bad thing. And whether you're looking for your favorite microbrew or a rarity, you will be able to find it all. In a city that is becoming increasingly beer-centric, Capital Alehouse remains at the top.

Photo of rhartogsq
4.25/5  rDev -1.6%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5

Stopped there for lunch in the middle of a five hour road trip, so I could only enjoy one beer.
Their beer selection was really good. Cigar City, DFH, Legend, Bell's, Port City, Ommegang, Brooklyn, Avery, just to name a few.
The fact that you can get growler fills there of anything on tap is a huge bonus. DFH doesn't allow you to get a growler of Burton Baton at their brew-pub, however, it was advertised at Capital Ale House that you could.
Our server was new and a bit slow.
The food was pretty good. I could have ordered a ton of different items, but went with the Schnitzel sandwich. My traveling partner had a great looking bacon cheeseburger. If you are in Richmond, you must go here.
I didn't like that it was pretty dark inside, especially on a nice sunny day.

Photo of antique
3.8/5  rDev -12%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5

Capital Ale House is but a few miles walk/drive from the VCU Campus, downtown, and so it's common to head there with friends when you have a little extra money to throw around on good beer.

It's a nice place, though often crowded, with a solid, moderately dim atmosphere and a very nice bar with a dry ice surface. The game room downstairs and the band room to the side are the best places in places in the restaurant itself, versus the main area near the bar.

If a band is playing, it can get kind of noisy, so prepare for that. They have a large selection of rotating taps and will serve you growlers of many of the tapped beers as well, which is a plus. They have over 200, maybe more beers to choose from, all of them pretty well-priced overall (though a few are bizarrely expensive).

The service is adequate and often very personable, but it often takes a long time to get your beer and I've had a few come out at room temperature, to my disappointment. If you sit at the bar your drinks will come very quickly and the bartenders I've experienced really know their stuff.

My one MAJOR gripe is how the restaurant serves beer, with most being available in "small" or "large" variants for what they have on tap. The small is something like 10 or maybe 12oz, while the large is more like 22. The prices are usually fine, but because of this you'll often find your beer served to you in a weird small-or-large glass that often doesn't suit the style you ordered. So you might get your beer with no head whatsoever, or things like this. For a restaurant that prides itself on beer this seems a bit bewildering to me.

Nevertheless, they have a pretty fantastic selection and if you request proper glassware (or, again, order bottles or exclusively at the bar) they're usually more than happy to accommodate your choices.

The food is pretty pricey, but there are some well-priced and very yummy things to have as well (splitting mussels and beer with a friend is pretty divine, and on Mondays [I believe it is] they have cheap burger nights, which are also good for a group).

Overall it's a fine place to visit maybe twice a month if you have the money to deal with some of the pricier problems, but it's not quite the go-to craft beer hangout one would hope for, living so close to it.

If you're going for the beer alone it's definitely recommended that you just sit at the bar for a much quicker and higher quality time.

Photo of rudolphjacksonm
4.35/5  rDev +0.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 5

A - Nice and clean establishment with friendly and knowledgeable staff. Music isn't too loud and you can have a good conversation easily with friends. Cap Ale (as we call it) excels providing the right environment to have good food and good beer together. 4.0

Q - Great place with great beer. Gotta love the chilled rail on the bar to keep your drink nice and cool. 4.0

S - Service is good, staff are friendly and they know quite a lot about the huge beer menu, so if you're stumped feel free to ask them. 4.0

Se - The beer menu at Cap Ale is godly. I have no idea how many beers there are...but it's so many that I could probably go there for a year and still have things left to try. 5.0

F - Food is unbelievable. The Smokehouse Burger is probably the most delicious thing I've ever tasted, and the fritas (french fries) are amazing. They come with four hand-made dips that beat regular 'ol ketchup by a long shot. 5.0

V - A little pricey for what you get, but you have to keep in mind that you're paying for quality over quantity. With that in mind I've always left happy. $$$

Photo of TmoNyc
3.75/5  rDev -13.2%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

This place is like 2 bars in one. First there's the upstairs bar/restaurant w/30 taps. Then there's the downstairs gameroom w/an additional 16 taps.

I thought the upstairs was rather quiet & bland for a Friday night, w/people mostly keeping to themselves. The gameroom was a bit more lively & also led to beautiful backyard area, complete w/a fountain & growing hop vines along the back wall.

The service was a mixed bag, w/each bar having one friendly bartender & one that seemed to be wanting to be anywhere but serving customers.

The food was standard pub fare w/a bit of German flare. I played it safe & had a burger which was sufficient. Prices for both the food & beer were quite reasonable.

While the draught selection didn't seem too exciting on this particular evening, the bottle selection is extensive & made the visit worthwhile w/over 200 mostly American craft beers to choose from. Their bottle selection was also available to go w/prices below what they would be if you had them there which I thought was nice.

Overall, this bar didn't have much for excitement in terms of atmosphere, but the extensive selection made for a nice time.

Photo of nandemo1
4.65/5  rDev +7.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

I've always been a big fan of Capital Ale. They have done a great job furthering the cause of craft brewing here in Virginia.

For the downtown location, I find the atmosphere to be decent, usually a good mix of people out fot the evening and beer geeks getting their fix. It's been kinda quiet the last couple of times I've been, on a Thursday and a Sunday night. The glass refrigerators, huge tap wall and ice rail on the bar are all great.

Service at this location has always been good. The bar staff know their stuff on beer and are willing to help out and dole out samples.

The food is good, but standard American fare. I've had problems with burgers being overdone, but it is hard to find a place that will do a burger right these days.

Selection is impressive, but my only beef is that the beer menus are consistently out of date and incorrect. I can't count the number of times I've walked in and received a beer menu that is two weeks beyond the "end date" featured at the top. This is a problem with all their locations though.

Photo of argock
3.5/5  rDev -19%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5

My wife and I sat at the bar and enjoyed a couple of nightcaps before heading back to our hotel after a fun but hot day of doing some of the Richmond tourist stops -- FIne Arts Museum (surprisingly good) and Tredegar Iron Works and Museum (also a pleasant surprise).

Took quite awhile to find something for my wife as she tends to like anything from amber to stout without much bitterness -- not a real popular range this day and age. We did finally settle on the Legend Brown Ale, which was not as good as we remembered.

On the other hand, I was lucky enough to settle close to Belgian Independence Day, and they had several very good Belgian options. I selected the Ommegang Independence Saison ($5 for 12oz goblet) and was blown away. Nice service and good attentiveness from the bar staff, although I could tell the upstairs group wanted to keep us upstairs for tips. After enjoying the peppery Ommegang offering, I had a large Ballast Point Sculpin IPA which rang up as $10.50. Pretty steep but not ungodly I guess for 20oz.

The atmosphere was a bit muted for about 10PM on Saturday night. It is summertime I guess. They had about 30 taps upstairs, and the bar staff wouldn't even float me a clue as to the downstairs menu.

Not a bad stop although I'll have to admit their selection, while good, was not as good as folks have reviewed. My local Mellow Mushroom carries as good a selection any day of the week.

Photo of PudTinkler
3.43/5  rDev -20.6%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4

Was here over the weekend for dinner. They advertised a "Firkin Friday", but when I asked the hostess what was on the firkin, she says "Hmmm, I'm not sure, I could ask the bartender"...never mind, I'll do it....but first I order the food. I ask the waitress, "What's on the Firkin"...response? Not sure. OK, to the bar...."What's the Firkin?" "Oh, we haven't done that in several months." HELLO???

Anyway, the selections they had were pretty good, and local. Weyerbacher Pale Ale on the cask, and about 25 other drafts. Decent selection of bottles as well. The rest of the area, being in the financial district of Richmond, seems pretty dead after 5pm.

Photo of joedon
3.95/5  rDev -8.6%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Had lunch here on a cold winter day.

Remarkable selection of tap and bottled beers. About 30 draft beers with a good selection of Virginia and Atlantic Coast brewers.
Also imports and cask ale. Over 100 bottles available including Belgians, British and west coast choices.

Everything is high priced. A "full sized" pint was from $5.50 to $8.00 depending on the beer. Bottles were also expensive including up to $10 for some Belgians. Food was also kind of over-priced but pretty tasty. I had the Weiner-wurst with kraut, roht-kohl and kartoffeln salat (German stuff) that was really good and about the most fairly priced item on the lunch menu ($9).

Service was prompt and friendly and included some free samples and decent beer knowledge.

Atmosphere was kind of weird. Located in an old, remodeled downtown storefront with a long oak bar. Touches of victorian (the oak booth seating) and urban (back-lit glass blocks, halogen lights) that don't mix very well. Kind of dark, no TV's blaring (thankfully) and only some adult contemporary music. Maybe it's better at happy hour but I didn't feel like I fit in here.

My first ever trip to Richmond and I felt compelled to visit this place. However, it doesn't compare very well to a lot of other saloons I've been to.

Photo of DoubleSimcoe
3.23/5  rDev -25.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 2 | selection: 4

My wife and I stayed at a hotel in Downtown Richmond and this bar was a five-minute walk from there. Nice touch, but downtown in this place is absolutely dead. Easily the saddest center city ever, worse than Detroit.

The place looks like a small-town steakhouse that has faded and needs a renovation, both physical and mental. On a Thursday night, the bar is animated but not crowded. Bartender, however, cannot keep up. Takes forever to get stuff. Everyone looks confused, tired, unhappy. They're busier counting money and closing tabs than serving, and it's only 10pm!

After said bartender takes about four hours to bring two waters, I yell at him, he looks at me confused and we leave for the cool downstairs bar where the nice guy behind the bar has got a full brain and is not running around like a headless, sweaty chicken.

This bartender downstairs really saved the day and night with his cool attitude, friendliness and funny stories. But alas, he cannot save this place from getting a bad score on service.

Beer menu is outdated. On the cover it says, "December 10", I visited on December 9 and inside it said "December 3". Stone Lucky Bastard? Nope. Williamsburg Drake Ale on tap? Nope. On a bottle perhaps? NO! Nice job, everyone. I order three beers and you got NONE of them. Fuck You.

The bar and booth upstairs are whatever, not much class, could be anything. The downstairs area is much better, with a jukebox and darts and young college kids.

Selection... they say they have 30 taps upstairs and 16 downstairs. But who knows? Menus are a MESS! Nice choice of locals, Williamsburg, Starr Hill, Olde Richmond (got the O.R. IPA and a growler of it, delicious!) Some stuff I've never seen, like Epic Brewing in Utah. Also some Belgians and Euros, plus Stone, Oskar... good solid selection, not mind-blowing but good.

Huge selection of bottled beer to go, at absurdly inflated markups. Prices are HIGH in general, even more so for a small dead town like Richmond. The small 12-oz glass is $4-$5, and the large 22-oz is $6-$8.50. Do we really need 22 ounces of beer?? Growlers are $15-$25, plus five for the jug.

If you're at a downtown hotel or whatever, check this place out. There's pretty much nothing else around. And if you live in Richmond, then, well... sorry.

Photo of TJBAIHWL
3.78/5  rDev -12.5%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 2.5 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5

Good atmosphere. The place definitely gives the impression of being a "nice establishment." I usually prefer the booths to the bar, which rarely has much open space. What the bar does have, though, is an ice bar. Very nice for keeping the drink cold, though mine is rarely in front of me for long enough to necessitate it.
The food is decent enough. There are a few items that stand out, such as the burger sandwiched between two grilled cheeses. On average, the food is pretty pricey, with one notable exception: dollar burger night. You can get huge thick burgers at $1 a pop, but at the cost of slow service due to the place being packed to the brim with college kids. I say "slow service" but really I mean "slowER service." When in booths, I always have an empty glass sitting in front of me for at least 5 minutes before its replacement arrives. At the bar, you're lucky to get noticed at all without shouting or some equally awkward display. Service aside, the beer is where this place shines. Huge selection from all over the country and abroad. The rotating tap upstairs and in the downstairs gameroom always has a great selection. A lot of people complain about the price here, but if you look close there are a lot of great values. The beer is always served with a perfect amount of head. They give you your money's worth. The events here are worth coming too as well. Dollar burger night, VA beer night, Steal the Glass, American Micro Saturday, etc etc. Overall a good place, marred slightly by subpar service and somewhat high prices.

Photo of rootbeerman
4.63/5  rDev +7.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Atmosphere really depends on the day and if there is an event. at least with the Midlothian location which i frequent often. Tuesdays steal the glass night is a good time to run into brewery reps or distributor reps. most other nights its a mix of BMC drinkers, beer geeks, and just casual diners.

Quality is something that depends on what you are going for, if your going for beer then food its amazing quality, if its food then beer things can some times be lacking.

Service is yet another variable to which at least my frequent location is quite a variable, if your show on a Monday and get seated you can get iffy service. your best bet for the best service, and a little conversation is sit at the bar.

Selection is never been an issue, 80 on tap and most of the time over 300 in bottle not including typical BMC offerings which are not "out for display" like the other craft and foreign beers.

Food i just recently started working my way through the menu the burgers are awesome, especially the grilled cheese cheeseburger. the German fare is great. i would also recommend the Belgian style mussels.

Value is great beers are for the most part priced good for eating in. prices to go are ridiculously high and should only be bought if there are no other options.

Photo of jjboesen
4.25/5  rDev -1.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

During a recent long weekend in the Confederate Capital, I spent much time here - three days, three visits. This, the original Main Street location, is very similar to the one in Fredericksburg (See My Review), the only other CAH I have visited. It is a large establishment; the main room, modernistic yet dimly lit, consists of a long mahogany bar that runs its length. Opposite the bar, and along the wall, are the booths, which provide patrons a more private venue for quaffing the 30+ draft beers. Apparently, there is another bar downstairs with later hours. (I did not venture here.) A music hall is adjacent.

As mentioned, CAH Richmond offers 30 rotating taps that run the usual style gamut. Many beers, such as Legend and Starr Hill, are regionally brewed - and, needless to say, hard to find outside the state. Like all Beer Advocates, I always appreciate, and support, the local stuff. The bottle menu was extensive and well considered. The service was excellent on each one of my visits; the servers (Mary, Brochelle and Diane) were professional, efficient and beer-wise. (The same applied to the Fredericksburg site.)

I thought the food (3 lunches, anyway) filling and satisfying. You cannot go wrong with Belgian-style frites accompanied by spicy mayonnaise - c'mon, does anyone use catsup anymore!! Try to stop by on Saturdays, when CAH celebrates "domestic" micros with some pints going for $2.00. A nice price. A really nice place. The best beer bar in Richmond.

Photo of bgildea
4.53/5  rDev +4.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Capital Ale is the best and only true "Beer Bar" in Richmond. With an extremely wide selection of beers, everyone will be able to find something they like. I was hesitant to list this as $$$ because it's relatively reasonable, but some beers are really up there in price.

Atmosphere - The atmosphere is generally welcoming. Unfortunately, if you show up at the wrong time - the busiest hours - you will find yourself waiting for a while. Luckily, you can always hit up the bar while you wait. It's non-smoking and has multiple floors and an outdoor patio. The bar also has a strip of ice on it to keep your beer cold. I personally really like this feature and I usually try to find out from the bartenders who zambonies it on a regular basis.

Quality - The quality of the beers is always excellent. They keep so much beer on tap, that you get a wide variety of fresh beer. They also have rows and rows of bottles, which I've never had a problem with.

Service - The service can be slow at times due to the volume of people. The wait staff is friendly and usually less knowledgeable about beers than the bartenders. The bartenders are also generally friendly and most have a basic to moderate knowledge of beer and can help you make a beer selection. Unfortunately, they are always busy. It can be challenging to get their attention at times due to the crowds. However, most of the bartenders I've dealt with will usually let you taste a beer or two before you make any decisions. You can usually tell which bartenders know the most about beers, so I always recommend seeking them out for recommendations.

Selection - The selection is amazing. This is by far the largest beer selection in Richmond. The beer menu is like 8 pages long. Unfortunately, the menu is usually out of date, which can lead to some disappointments. However, they have such an extensive amount of beers on tap and racks of bottles that you're sure to find something you like.

Food - For me, the food at Capital Ale is an afterthought. I am usually there to taste whatever's new on tap and fill my belly with some delicious beer. I recommend eating light and drinking heavily here. The Bavarian Pretzel is enormous and will feed two nicely. You won't be disappointed if you order it, trust me. The entrees are decent and nothing really stands out.

Value - Capital Ale is somewhere between $$$ and $$. They have some very high end beers that cost over $10, but they also have a lot of steals on their menu. I find whatever's on tap to usually be the best value. Food entrees are pricier than I'd like, but not much exceeds the $17 mark. They also have weekly specials. They have $1 burgers one day and steal the glass another. I find the burger deal to be great, but expect crowds, whereas the steal the glass isn't anything special considering they tack on a couple extra bucks for the glass... so you're not so much stealing it as paying for it.

Overall - Overall Capital Ale is a great place to go. Their beer selection is far and away the best in Richmond. The atmosphere is nice and the bartenders are knowledgeable and friendly. The selection is so vast that every kind of beer drinker will be satisfied. The food is good, but not special, and it can be pricey if you order some of the "higher end" beers. Overall, I'd say any trip to Capital Ale is a good one. If you like good beer and you're in Richmond, you should definitely try this place, you'll love it.

Photo of GJ40
4.03/5  rDev -6.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5

Based on a previous visit to their other location and the tap list on their website, I was very excited to visit the downtown location. Unfortunately, my visit turned into a disappointment.

I was pretty surprised and excited to see Three Floyds Alpha King and Robert the Bruce listed on their website's tap list. I didn't see it listed in the bar so I asked the bartender. She said she'd never seen Three Floyds in VA and seemed to think I was crazy. I told her it was listed on their website and she again seemed to think I was crazy.

So I asked for a local IPA on the menu she explained that I was looking at the wrong floor. She added that the beer menu was out of date and said I should probably tell her what I was looking for and she would tell me what they had.

I went with a Ruination IPA. It was nice and fresh but it was a bit pricy at $6.94 for a 12oz glass.

I felt like this visit was a waste but I want to put that aside and give this place a fair assessment. The Capital Ale House has a great atmosphere and a serious commitment to craft beer. By my count, they had 26 on tap upstairs and 14 downstairs. And they had many bottles beyond that.

I'll certainly visit again on another trip to Richmond and hopefully with a different set of expectations, I'll walk away with a better impression of the place.

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Capital Ale House in Richmond, VA
96 out of 100 based on 114 ratings.