Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Notes From the Captain Lawrence Tasting Room, Vol. 22 " An En-Lightning Evening, and a Very Good Cause"


The band was playing “Blister in the Sun”, which had everyone at the brewery up on their feet. But perhaps a song with a bit more rain/thunder/lightning imagery—“Let It Rain”, or “Riders on the Storm”, for starters—would’ve been more appropriate.

The band was Scarsdale’s own Del Bocas—yes, the name comes from Jerry’s parents’ Florida retirement community on Seinfeld—and the setting was the Captain Lawrence brewery in Elmsford.

The event was the appropriately titled Tap Into a Cure—the Westchester and Fairfield chapter of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation’s summer fundraiser--featuring vittles from Gail Patrick’s Café in Chappaqua, schwag from the WPLJ Party Patrol, wine from Long Island’s Lenz vineyards, and of course lots of Captain Lawrence—Freshchester Pale Ale, Captain’s Reserve, Ginger Man Ale, rookie sensation Chico Loco—on tap.

There was also a heated beer pong tournament, though the bocce was shelved due to severe weather.

And severe it was: brutal heat giving way to torrential rain, thunder and lightning, and much of the New York area learning the meteorological term “derecho” for the first time.

Nicole Habif of Norwalk took a pass on the beer pong. “I don’t want to show everyone up,” she says with a sly smile. “Plus, I’m more of a flip-cup person.”

She occupies her hands instead with a Ginger Man Ale: “Delicious…crisp and refreshing,” Nicole says.

Across the tasting room, the Pankow sisters of Scarsdale—Juliana, Alexis and Emily—boogey to the band as proud parents Bill and Susan look on. Alexis suffers from colitis, and the family is there to show their support. Alexis mentions speaking to young females who’ve been recently diagnosed, and helping them realize they can live a relatively normal life with proper treatment.

“I know a lot of people suffer more than I do on a daily basis,” she says.

Beer—even the expertly brewed craft variety—is on the no-go list when the disease is flaring up. Thankful for a symptom-free night, Alexis is happily sipping the Liquid Gold. Sister Emily points out what she calls the irony of holding a Crohn’s & Colitis an event in a brewery. “It’s like having a diabetes fundraiser in Dylan’s Candy Shop,” she quips.

The Del Bocas, set up in the brewery, are comprised of middle aged men and a younger woman, who singlehandedly ups the band’s attractiveness quotient considerably. She’s got lyric sheets laid across a case of Captain Lawrence, and Alanis Morissette’s moody mezzo soprano down pat. The loading ramp behind them is open to the night air, and the songs are punctuated by flashes of lightning and rumbles of thunder.

The Boca bunch rips into “867-5309.” Most in the crowd seem to remember the track, and sway accordingly.

Kathy Hennings, a criminal lawyer from White Plains, has shown up to show support for C&C research. She’s witnessed the insidious effect the diseases have on individuals. “So many people suffer, and they really don’t even know what it is,” she says. “When it’s active, it can affect every aspect of someone’s life.”

As 10 p.m. nears, beer pong bragging rights have been claimed, and the Del Bocas wind down. The band plays regularly at Vintage in White Plains, while guitarist Dan Groner says the brewery setting is a first for the band--and the most unique place they’ve played. “All of us have day jobs,” Dan says. “Even if we wish this was our day job.”

Dan’s children, Stefanie and Adam, have come out to watch Dad tap his inner Clapton. Stefanie, a journalism student at Northwestern, is enjoying the Imperial IPA as much as she dug the Del Bocas. (“I like the fruity notes,” she says, and yes—she’s 21.)

“When I see how excited they are, how their faces light up, it’s real special for me,” Stefanie says. “It’s nice to see that you can enjoy your day job, and rock out in your night job.”

Finally, the storm has moved on. Kathy Hennings hoists her Liquid Gold to the slowly settling nighttime sky. “Good beer, good music, a good cause,” she says. “What better way to spend a Thursday night?”

—Michael Malone (malone5a@yahoo.com)

Captain Lawrence Brewing, at 444 Saw Mill River Road in Elmsford, is open Tuesday through Friday (retail 2-7 p.m., samples 4-7 p.m.); and Saturday, with retail and samples 12-6 p.m., and brewery tours on the hour, starting at 1. The author is paid by Captain Lawrence, partially in beer, for “Notes From the Tasting Room.”

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