Monday, August 13, 2012

Notes From the Captain Lawrence Tasting Room, Vol. 24


The Captain’s Log
The back to school ads are starting to run, pre-season football is underway, and the TV networks are beginning to hype their new fall shows.
Is it too early to start thinking about autumn, and all of its tasty trappings?
It’s never too early. The Captain Lawrence Pumpkin Ale is bottled and on the trucks, and is being stocked at a market or beer distributor near you as we speak. You can sample the Pumpkin Ale in the tasting room as soon as this weekend. “The packaging looks amazing and, even better, the beer tastes great,” says Captain Lawrence owner Scott Vaccaro. “It’s got some malty hints and pumpkin pie spice. For me, some pumpkin ales are way overspiced. But this is delicate and drinkable.”
 Since it’s difficult growing thousands of pumpkins in Elmsford, New York, Captain Lawrence sourced pumpkin puree—4,000 pounds of it—from All Puree in Newburgh, New York.
On a smaller scale, the experimental brewhouse that brought you boutique batches such as High & Dry Rye Saison and Chico Loco Wit keeps humming. Next up is “6 and Change,” a black India Pale Ale marking Captain Lawrence’s sixth…and change…anniversary, and Scott Tobin’s dry hopped cream ale that features, for the first time since Scott Vaccaro was brewing beer at home, fresh hops grown from his childhood home on Captain Lawrence Drive in South Salem.
Also in the works—a peat smoked amber ale featuring wildflower honey, and dry hopped with hops and heather, from resident guitar slinger Evan Watson (“an ode to Scotland,” Evan says), and a German-style alt-bier from Chris Rome. “It’s the same hybrid yeast as a Kolsch,” explains Scott. “It’s lager-like, with the fruitiness of an ale.”
The pilot system is a hit with Captain Lawrence staffers and samplers alike, and will continue to produce creative concoctions. “Whenever we have time and empty tanks, we’ll crank beer out of that system,” says Scott. “We’re having such fun with it.”
And if you’ve been around the tasting room on recent Thursday evenings, you may have noticed that the brewery is selling 12-ounce cups of beloved beers such as Ginger Man Ale, St. Vincent’s Dubbel, Limone Luppola and, of course, flagship Freshchester Pale Ale, until 9 p.m. Since we’re all a little giddy after the Olympics, tasting room manager Aaron Pozit has been organizing beer-friendly competitions ranging from Trivia Night to Bocce to Cornhole. (If you don’t know what Cornhole is, ask someone from south of the Mason-Dixon.) A few more events, and we may have a beer-cathlon on our hands.
“Aaron’s done a tremendous job, showing us what we can do with the new space,” says Scott. “It’s been a lot of fun in the tasting room, and why shouldn’t it be fun when it’s beer?”
For his part, Scott has been turning up at the various beer festivals along the East Coast, showing off Captain Lawrence beer, and tipping a few with some pals in the brewing crowd. “It’s always good to see old friends,” he says. “We’re in our breweries all the time—the only time we get to see each other is at these festivals.” 
—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 pale ale, for “Notes From the Tasting Room.”


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