Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Notes From the Captain Lawrence Tasting Room: Finding ‘Gold’ in the Gray, Or, Drinkin’ With Lincoln

Rain.

Miserable, cold, plans-crushing, muck-making rain, falling in silvery sheets all week.

Not much to do on a day like this, except grab some friends and find a warm, dry place to hang. Such as Captain Lawrence.

Ryan O’Keefe of New Fairfield, Connecticut, chooses to look on the bright side. “I’m glad it slowed down a bit,” he says, “so the Saw Mill won’t flood.”

Ryan and Mike Galella of Yonkers have indeed found some fun indoor stuff to do—climbing the faux rocks at The Cliffs in Valhalla, then retiring for a few samples at the brewery. Mike is intrigued by a new small-batch pale ale called Sea Nymph. “Very interesting,” he says. “It’s got kind of sweet thing, kind of a sour thing going on.”

Mike works outside at times, setting up sound systems. The rain is no damn fun. “It just sucks,” he says.

His tattoo captures the mood: It’s a one eyed caricature in an Abe Lincoln stovepipe hat and beard, wielding a club. “Ogreham Lincoln,” explains Mike.

Across the room, it’s Matt Somerville of Orange, Connecticut’s first time at the brewery, and the visit has only gotten better. “I got to the parking lot and thought, ehhh,” he says. (Note: the once muddy brewery lot along Clearbrook was recently paved. Matt should’ve seen it before.). “But we walked in, and it was, Nice!”

He’s got the Liquid Gold. “Very drinkable,” says Matt of the Belgian-style ale. “I would not think it’s 6.5% ABV.”

Pal Juan Cabrera is, like many in the tasting room, enjoying the Pumpkin Ale while it lasts. “I just love pumpkin flavors,” he says. “Fall is my favorite season, probably because of pumpkin.”

The guys are taking the foul weather in stride. “If it was great weather, we’d be outside,” says Matt. 
“The weather is bad, so we’re inside.”

“Drinking at Captain Lawrence,” adds Juan, “is not too bad.”

With the patio a no-go, the tasting room is filling up. One group has spread out the board game Cranium across a table. At another, a toddler stacks Dad’s beer chips like a seasoned gambler. People sample the offerings from the new menu from the good folks of Birdsall House, including housemade meatball & cheese panini and a puree butternut squash soup.

Clearly people did not have their fill of pumpkin flavors at Thanksgiving. Mike Bailey of Little Ferry, New Jersey and Jillian Turcott of Woodcliff Lake are happy to find Pumpkin Ale on tap. It had run out during their last visit to the brewery, though they were pleased to find it on draft at the restaurant they visited after Captain Lawrence. Mike says most pumpkin ales taste like pumpkin pie, while the Captain Lawrence brew is more of a pumpkin spice thing. “I love all types of pumpkin,” he says.

The pair has returned a few times since they first visited Captain Lawrence a couple months before. It seemed like the perfect thing to do today. “I hate the rain,” says Mike. “But I don’t mind being here.”

“Same,” adds Jillian with a smile.

The 2 p.m. tour winds down and the tourists hit the tasting room for a well deserved sample, be it the Captain’s Reserve double IPA, the Smoked Porter, the new Kolsch called Tis the Season. Sarah O’Mealia, Kate Saksik and Emily Cleghorn, along with Emily’s 2 ½ year old Madeline, hopped in a Zip Car van with their husbands in Manhattan and made a day of it. The IPA known as Hop Commander is a “table favorite,” says Sarah. “I’m not crazy about hoppy beers,” she says, “but this one mellows out fast.”

Emily’s husband grew up in Belgium, which prompted her to try the Belgian-style Liquid Gold.

As their husbands—friends from Columbia Business School—order a fresh round, they agree that there are worse ways to spend a gray and wet day. “Bars get so crowded,” says Emily. “Here, you can talk.”

As Madeline climbs all over her, she adds, “It’s laid back--and it’s family friendly.”

--Michael Malone (malone5a@yahoo.com)

The author is paid by Captain Lawrence, partially in pale ale.


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