Labor Day weekend—summer’s last hurrah (except for that scheduling quirk which, to many local parents’ dismay, pushes the start of school back a week), and likely the last shot at the shore, beachfront beers and burgers, and other sun-and-sand pastimes. Yet with gray skies and rain throughout the weekend, many were more than happy to spend the weekend locally, with visits to their favorite Westchester spots.
Such as Captain Lawrence brewery. “I don’t want to sit in a Labor Day traffic jam with the sad people—the end of summer rental people,” says Jim Gilroy of Pleasantville.
He and pal Mark Orwoll, the latter sporting a Hawaiian shirt adorned with surfboards and wood-paneled station wagons that did its best to brighten the gloomy weather, are sitting on the patio, admiring the whiskey barrel Adirondack chairs beneath them, and unwinding after the laborious task of filling up growlers—a pair of imperial IPAs for Mark, the Limone Luppolo and Freshchester Pale Ale for Jim.
“This guy has bought more growlers than anybody in Westchester history,” remarks Mark, with a proud nod toward his pal.
Speaking of Labor Day traffic, a gaggle of New York sightseers got a taste of it while en route to the brewery. Part of a Hudson River Valley Ramble excursion group, the friends, including Joanne Stanton and Paula Ryan of Beacon and Beth Akers of New York City, are fresh off a visit to Kykuit—the stunning Rockefeller estate in Sleepy Hollow. “It was the most amazing tour,” says Joanne, who obviously paid attention, because she shares that “Kykuit” is Dutch for “elevated land.” “Absolutely beautiful.”
They planned to visit the brewery next: “One tour deserves another,” notes their pal Billy.
Things got rocky after that. They headed east on 287, blew past their exit, kept going—and ended up in Stamford, Connecticut, because everyone wants a piece of traffic-choked I-95 in lower Connecticut during a holiday weekend. Reversing their course, the luckless travelers landed in New Rochelle. Only then did the GPS apps come out. “Three smartphones without a clue,” quips Billy as he sips the Imperial IPA.
Mercifully, they made it to 444 Saw Mill River Road. “The food is excellent, the beer is real good,” says Joanne, who prefers Pumpkin Ale. “We’ll be back…and now we know where to go.”
Elsewhere on the patio, old friends Elio Pezzulo of Thornwood, Bill Lalljie of Ardsley by way of British Guyana, and Jack Duchshaneck of White Plains are discussing “chicks,” says Jack, and golf, and beer, while mercilessly teasing each other over samples. They’re ribbing Bill for turning down an invite from his landlady to go on a cruise this weekend to hang out with them. They’re teasing Jack for being a “semi-important” figure in around town. They’re busting on Elio for his taste in football teams. “I’ll root for the Jets,” he says with a shrug. “I love how bad they are.”
Jack grows hops in his back yard and brews beer when he’s harvested enough. Elio and Bill are old friends from the county’s department of consumer protection. They’re filling up their growlers, and enjoying cold ale on a hot day, along with some chops-busting taken to an Olympian level. They insist I give a shout-out to their friend Richard in Thailand, so there it is.
“It’s nice and relaxing here,” says Bill.
“He doesn’t get out much,” says Jack.
Back on the Adirondack chairs, Mark and Jim are comparing and contrasting Captain Lawrence’s Pleasantville days with the present. Mark notes the ambience in the very early days, and salutes affable Aussie Craig behind the taps. “Great guy, one of my favorite characters,” he says, while lamenting Craig’s recently “committing matrimony.”
He notes that Jim does not like the brewery’s newish chips-for-beer system, which Jim takes pains to clarify. “I don’t hate the chips,” counters Jim. “I hate a lack of chips.”
They laugh and sip, and would prefer to be nowhere else for the day. “The gravel back yard at Captain Lawrence,” says Mark, “is as much vacation as I could ask for.”