The Arctic Monkeys are cranking from the tasting room speakers, but everything else is hazy, hot, and very definitely summer: samples of Captain Lawrence’s crisp wheat ale Sun Block going down way too easily, the smell of meat on the barbecue, the thwack of cornhole bags slapping the boards.
Wait. That’s not true. There’s Pumpkin Ale on the menu!
While some say it’s way too early in the season for pumpkin anything, most at the brewery believe that a good pumpkin-flavored beer can be enjoyed just about any time. Christina Triarsi of Yonkers is on the patio with friends Julissa Eliza of the Bronx and Andrea Alesso of Burlington, New Jersey. Christina was at the brewery in October for the wedding of Caitlin Doody and Joe Mordus (“Awesome”, she says, as if a brewery wedding could be anything but) and had been itching to come back ever since.
Finding Pumpkin Ale, brewed with natural pumpkin puree and spices and weighing in at 5% alcohol by volume, was a “pleasant surprise,” says Christina. “The first thing I said was, is it too early for pumpkin?” she adds. “But it’s never too early for pumpkin.”
One downside of Pumpkin Ale: like those evil back-to-school ads from your childhood, they’re a reminder that summer is not, in fact, endless. Andrea’s summer highlight was a vacation in Arizona. Ever the optimist, Christina’s is “still yet to come.” “I may take my husband to Disney World,” she says.
Inside the brewery, Elizabeth Aloia of Pleasantville and J.R. Viglione of Watertown, Connecticut enjoy a few samples around a barrel. With Elizabeth’s P-ville roots, you might expect it was her idea to visit Captain Lawrence. Not true.
“He’s obsessed with going to breweries,” says Elizabeth as she nods toward J.R., who nods back happily. They’ve been to Brooklyn Brewery, to Thomas Hooker and Two Roads in Connecticut, and several others. J.R. says Captain Lawrence’s outdoor space stands out among the many he’s visited. “It’s the first time I’ve seen that kind of thing,” he says.
J.R. samples the Sun Block. Elizabeth has the Pumpkin. “If people want it, they shouldn’t have to wait until fall,” she says.
It’s a sentiment shared by Ismael Martin of Pittsburgh. He’s enjoying a few brews with his old Stanford University pal Jason Torres of Yonkers. “I like beer, but I’d never been to a brewery,” he says.
Ismael, a southern California native, is bonding fast with a glass of Pumpkin Ale. “I love pumpkin--anything pumpkin,” he says. “Jack in the Box pumpkin milkshakes…”
Jason, who represents Captain Lawrence as part of its Brew Crew beer-tastings team, is going for the funky wild rice beer known as Sake Bomb. Brewed with white wine yeast, it’s very much an experimental brew. “I have to give it a few more tries,” he says.
For Ismael, Pumpkin Ale—or pumpkin milkshakes, for that matter—are like stuffing: too good to limit to Thanksgiving season. “You rave about stuffing for one day, then you don’t eat it for the rest of the year,” he says.
Jason’s summer highlight was watching the World Cup—particularly those noon kickoffs that went so well with lunch in Manhattan pubs. Asked about his highlight, Ismael simply raises his glass and smiles. “I’m done with Jack in the Box milkshakes,” he adds. “I have pumpkin beer.”
Back outside, the sun is shining. Abigail and Paris Hall, and their adorable baby, are relaxing with friend Julia Moran; all live in Tarrytown. Julia was here once before, when she was pregnant. She’s in full-sample mode today: The trio is enjoying the summer lager Mellow Gold, the amber Ginger Man Ale, the Sake Bomb.
Like Ismael, Paris’s summer highlight is, well, taking place right now. “Days like these, where you don’t have responsibilities, you don’t have to be somewhere,” he says. “It’s nice to leave your apartment and be here in five minutes.”
Abigail nods. Baby Hall giggles. Julia smiles.
“I totally agree,” says Julia.
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 India Pale Ale.