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Capitol City Saison Lillette

Where in Town: Capitol City Brewing Company, 1100 New York Ave. NW

Price: $5.50/12 oz.

Tried and Brew

When it opened in 1992, Capitol City Brewing Company was the first brewpub to operate in the District since Prohibition. For nearly 20 years, it was the only locally owned D.C. establishment with house-made beer. Today, the original downtown location—regularly filled with out-of-towners, office lunchers, and happy hour crowds—and a large brewpub in Shirlington (where beers for both locations are now made) are the last strongholds of a small empire that once reached as far as Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Under the direction of Kristi Mathews Griner, Capitol City continues to produce its signature line of beers—amber, pale ale, porter, and Kölsch, which won a medal at the Virginia Craft Brewers Cup last month. But since she took over last year, I’ve been most excited by her team’s broad range of new year-round and seasonal brews.

La Petite Fille

One of them, Capitol City’s Saison Lillette, is a simple, low-alcohol farmhouse ale created by lead brewer Matt Ryan as a warm weather treat for his daily drinkers. Dashes of coriander and grains of paradise complement the fruit and spice aromas and flavors imparted by its French saison yeast. Czech Saaz and American Cluster hops give Lillette a prickly, bone-dry finish. Ryan describes the beer as blond, effervescent, and small but feisty—just like his daughter, after whom he named it. In time, he’d like to brew a larger, more mature version worthy of her full name, Lillian. Until then, though, look forward to some interesting beers at Capitol City’s annual Oktoberfest celebration in Shirlington on Oct. 4, including a smoked Märzen and pumpkin porter.

Photo by Tammy Tuck