They came from near, and they came from far. They came to celebrate a very special holiday called National IPA Day. That may sound like something Captain Lawrence created to get people out to the tasting room, but it’s real—August 1, National India Pale Ale Day. Google it.
They came out in force, braving a driving rain and iffy parking to sample no fewer than seven Captain Lawrence IPAs—hoppy, hearty, full bodied, delicious brews that include the Captain’s Reserve Imperial IPA, the small batch Matt the R.I.P.A. and the beloved Barn Raiser Triple IPA.
Sharona Daube of Riverdale (if you think there’s a “My Sharona” joke she hasn’t heard, think again) saw mention of National IPA Day festivities on Captain Lawrence’s Facebook page, and her fate was sealed. She grabbed fellow IPA fanatic Josh Kaufman of New Rochelle, and the duo made their way toward Elmsford. “We try a lot of IPAs,” she says, mentioning the Firestone Double Jack and Lagunitas, both of California, among their favorites.
Josh is enjoying Captain Lawrence’s Barn Raiser, which was dry-hopped four times for an intense burst of hoppy flavor. “I’m a big fan of it,” he says. “I wish it was a regular thing.”
George Puccio and Alaina Guadagno of Dumont, New Jersey had been hankering to visit a brewery—some brewery, any brewery--for some time. “We’d been talking about doing a brewery thing for a while,” says George. “We saw Captain Lawrence wasn’t far, just over the bridge.”
They just needed a day to visit. When word of National IPA day came down, they suddenly had one. “It was definitely a selling point,” adds Alaina.
George tends bar at the Grant Street Café over in Jersey, which he says is a mix of townies and, increasingly, hipsters—the latter likely drawn to the Captain’s Kolsch, Stone IPA and other craft brews on tap.
The two have marked up their menu with grades: The Barn Raiser, which raised funds for a new barn at Hemlock Hill Farm in northern Westchester, and the Sun Block wheat IPA have the highest marks. They mention Lagunitas’ A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ (George) and Goose Island (Alaina) among their favorite IPAs, but George’s tastes run wide. “I’m usually a stout guy, but I like Carlsberg too,” he says. “I just like beer, man.”
The Barn Raiser is the hot ticket among the seven IPAs in the tasting room, says beertender Rob Catalano. “People know it’s only around for a short period of time,” he notes.
It is thusly not available for growler fills, a point that nearly broke Mike Villata of Pleasantville’s heart. “I’m devastated,” he said, empty growler yawning next to him. “It almost ruined my birthday.”
Yet nothing gets Mike down. He was the star of “Notes Vol. 44”, when he was handing out stickers that said “Smile” to strangers; he says some 10,000 of his stickers are around the globe, including one on the shell of a turtle in South Africa that someone sent him a photo of. “It’s optimistic vandalism,” says Mike, who nonetheless does not condone the stickering of turtles.
He’s moving on to tie-dyed Smile t-shirts. “Smiles are my artistic outlet,” Mike says with, yes, a smile.
Friend Andrew Garvey of Pleasantville smiles as well. Yet despite the day, he’s drinking a 12-ounce cup of Kolsch. “I like samples of IPAs, but a pint is too much,” he says.
Indeed, not everyone is there for the IPAs. “I didn’t know it was IPA Day,” says Justin Sandomir of Nyack. “I had no idea,” adds his friend Eddie Wilders of Dobbs Ferry, who nonetheless is drinking the Imperial IPA. “It’s what I always start with,” he explains.
The two had planned on coming to the brewery the eve before, but a change of plans pushed them into the IPA Day masses a day later. “I saw the crowd,” says Eddie, “and said, I better find a spot to stand.”
The crowded house is festive. The Cool Beans Coffee IPA and the Belgian IPA are going down easily. Josh Kaufman says National IPA Day ranks up there with the very best holidays of the year. “When IPAs are your favorite beer,” he says, “it’s great to have your favorite brewery do seven of them.”
Captain Lawrence Brewing, at 444 Saw Mill River Road in Elmsford, is open Wednesday through Friday (4-8 p.m.), Saturday (12-6 p.m.) and Sunday (12-5). The author is paid by Captain Lawrence, partially in Freshchester Pale Ale.