Capitol City Brewing, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2012, begins the new year with its brew crew in a state of flux.
Mike McCarthy, Cap City’s director of brewing operations, handed in his resignation three weeks ago after completing his final assignment (a German-style pilsener), announcing that “it was time to move on.”
Travis Tedrow, his second in command, was saying his goodbyes last week in preparation for a move to the Gordon Biersch brewpub slated to open near Nationals Park. He’ll be supervising the installation of the 15-barrel brewhouse and expects the new Biersch branch to be operating in time for the Craft Brewers Conference in March and the Nats’s home opener in April.
“I think this will happen sooner than any of the other projects,” he adds, referring to several other breweries (Bluejacket, Right Proper Brewpub, the new Bardo) in the planning stages for the District.
McCarthy, who departs Cap City after nearly 11 years, says he’s looking to “pick up a few stints” at area brewpubs while he mulls over his long-range plans. He wants to remain in the craft brewing industry and says that ownership in a brewery is the next step in his career.
But that won’t necessarily be in the D.C. area. “Washington is a great beer town, but it’s becoming saturated,” he says. “I don’t know if it’s enough just to make good beer anymore.”
Citing the “transient” nature of the city, he worries about the local beer market revolving around a “flavor of the month.”
“People want Bell’s, they get it, then they move on to something else,” he cites as an example. “I don’t fear for DC Brau or Port City, they’re already established, but I am concerned about the new guys coming in.”
“There’s a lot of opportunity in the world, and I want to find my place in it,” he adds.
While Capitol City advertises online for a new head brewer, assistant brewers Matt Ryan and Bobby Bump will hold down the fort. Look for an unfiltered extra pale ale; a new, aggressively hopped version of the IPA brewed for 901 Restaurant and Bar; and a Belgian-style tripel to kick off 2013.
“They’re not going to have any issues pumping beer out,” assured Tedrow before his departure.