The Capitol Cider House is the newest cidery to Washington, D.C. Serving house ciders in addition to guest ciders, mead, wine and beer, Capitol Cider House focuses on locally produced food and beverages. Founder Jared Fackrell and his wife, Emily, moved to the United States capital 10 years ago and are parents of three young boys. Fackrell takes great pride in his establishment being both family-friendly and providing an educational cider scene for the District’s young professionals. The North Columbia: GoldRush is the first in his 10-product pommeau project, the first pommeau-style cider in D.C.’s modern history.
Q: Why does Capitol Cider House try to source everything within 200 miles from the Capitol Building?
A: My wife and I belonged to a CSA [community supported agriculture program] for several years in Upper Marlboro [Maryland], so it’s only a dozen miles out of the city. Seeing where [the produce] is grown, going out to pick it, makes sense because we process all our food onsite. That sort of sparked the local idea. In such a traditional culinary apple growing region — the Shenandoah Valley and Adams County, Pennsylvania — it’s not easy sourcing cider apples but a lot of ciders we curate are from within 100 miles. I wanted to focus on fruit that was grown here and not shipped from the West Coast.
Q: If you could pick any apples to be bountiful, locally grown varieties, which would you choose?
A: I think the selection of apples is far diminished in terms of the more tannic varietals and cultivars. There just isn’t a huge amount of supply and that’s a challenge. There are still lots of examples of heirloom apples around here, and if I could pick off a list of the world’s “best cider apples” I would. There are a lot of folks planting. I think going back to Thomas Jefferson’s mix of Esopus Spitzenburg, Harrison, Hewes Crab — just are really, really wonderful for balanced, structured cider. Those would be the top three.
Q: Can you tell us about the pommeau you’re making?
A: It’s the first product of its kind made in the city and we dispense it out of a five-gallon barrel in the back bar. When we first opened, we made a blend of six different apple varieties from the Shenandoah Valley. That was wild fermented then the distiller took it from 7 percent ABV to 74 percent ABV. That was then blended back with fresh GoldRush juice to be 15 percent ABV. The North Columbia brand of pommeau is the only distributed product of Capitol Cider House. We now have nine different apple varieties in a mixture of three different types of locally sourced [oak casks]. Bourbon, rye and some other barrels, all from Virginia distilleries. The apples grow throughout the 200-mile radius, mostly in Virginia and Pennsylvania.
This article originally ran in the print Vol. 13 of Cidercraft magazine. For the full story and more like it, click here.