Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Notes From the Captain Lawrence Tasting Room The Captain’s Log: Mo’ Better Brews

Having been a good boy all year, Captain Lawrence got some rather large presents from Santa this past holiday season. There’s a new bottling line that it picked up from the Prospero folks in Pleasantville that more than doubles the production of the old one. There’s a new 160 barrel fermenter that you may have seen gracing the brewery floor—no idea how Santa got that massive silver tank down the chimney--and a 160 barrel bright beer tank, where your beer goes after primary fermentation to mature and get carbonated. A second 160 barrel fermenter is set to arrive in the spring.

“It’s all designed to keep the beer flowing,” says Scott Vaccaro, Captain Lawrence founder.

The brewery packaged up its old bottling line and shipped it off Lincoln, Nebraska, where young Zipline Brewing will put it to good use. “I hope they package many, many more bottles with it,” says Scott.

Captain Lawrence cranked out around 22,000 barrels of beer in 2014—that’s about 44,000 kegs--up 20% from what it did in 2013. With all the new gear, 2015 might surpass 25,000 barrels.

But it’s not just about making more beer—it’s about making better beer too. Toward that end, Captain Lawrence is taking over some of the neighboring space at its Elmsford home in February. Besides adding capacity for some 400 oak barrels to age those funky sour beers, along with a separate bottling line for corking and caging the specialty brews, the expanded space will triple the Captain’s quality control operation. That will include a sensory panel, which means different flights of, say, the Freshchester Pale Ale, can be sampled for taste and consistency batch to batch.

“It’s more formalized—we won’t just be tasting it out of the tank,” says Scott.

Besides the everyday brews such as Smoked Porter, Hop Commander IPA and Brown Bird Ale, Captain Lawrence produced 70 small-batch beers out of its pilot system—those staffer-created, tasting room only creations, often with peculiar names, that give the brewery much of its quirky personality. Scott plans to surpass that total in 2015.

More people up and down the coast will get to enjoy Captain Lawrence in 2015. Scott and the boys are shipping more beer down to Philadelphia, including the IPA and the Liquid Gold, and the Washington, DC metro may be the next major market to conquer. “We’re gonna go down there and check it out,” says Scott.

Closer to home, the Captain Lawrence Brew Crew will be pouring a special cask ale at the Big Brew NY Festival in White Plains February 7.

We all know those New Year’s resolutions are easy to break, but Scott says he’s wholly committed to his. “Make more beer,” he says. “And make better beer.”

—Michael Malone (malone5a@yahoo.com)

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. 
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