Don’t Fumble the Freshchester!
It was a tough decision—park yourself in front of the television watch the Giants and the Jets, or venture over to Captain Lawrence, where you can’t watch the game, at least for now, but sample lines were non-existent, conversation was lively, and the beer was/is really tasty. In retrospect, both teams were on the ass end of unsightly scorelines, so maybe it wasn’t the best day to place your bet on football viewing.
Simon Ellis of Katonah, seated on the patio on a sparkling Sunday with his wife Debbie and daughter Kate, is a huge fan of football—the no-hands kind played in his homeland across the Atlantic. Simon’s favorite soccer club is West Ham, which is off to an inauspicious start this season.
“I’m also a fair weather fan of the Jets and Mets,” Simon says of two teams where the weather isn’t fair all that often. “You can see what kinds of teams I support.”
Simon can’t lay claim to the most celebrated retirement of last week—that would have to go to Mariano Rivera—but he did hang up the spikes after 32 years in Hertz Rent-a-Car’s real estate department, and got a proper party in his honor. “Most of his retirement gifts were related to West Ham or beer,” says Debbie.
The best of the baubles is a growler commissioned by other daughter Heather’s boyfriend, who painstakingly found the perfect kind of ceramic to hold beer, and had the British flag emblazoned on the jug. “I’m inordinately proud of it,” says Simon of his “virgin” growler.
Post-retirement plans include “world travel,” he says. “And visiting Captain Lawrence more regularly,” adds Debbie.
Inside, where Sublime’s funky “What I Got” sounds, well, sublime, Neal and Suzanne Verdolino of Lindenhurst, New York may become regular visitors too. Their day is about apples and apps—they were picking apples at Stuart’s Farm in Somers, before Suzanne dialed up Untappd, the virtual beer-sharing mobile app, found Captain Lawrence not all that far away, and the Verdolinos—frequent brewery visitors out on the Island—had the rest of their afternoon set.
Neal has a football on his A&F t-shirt. Suzanne rocks a Love Pink “Tailgate with Me” Jets shirt and is following her fantasy team on the smartphone; they plan to listen to the Jets on the car ride home. She discovered Captain Lawrence’s wheat ale Sun Block over the summer, “fell in love,” she says, and hoped to visit Captain Lawrence soon.
Neal is enjoying the Brown Bird Ale and Suzanne loves the Pumpkin Ale. “Fantastic,” she says. “Not too strong, not too weak, not too watery.”
They also dug the Limone Luppolo. “You can tell they put their heart into it,” Suzanne says. “If I lived closer, we’d be here all the time.”
There is a flatscreen TV on the side of the bar, but it’s not working; it resembles an eye watching the behavior at the bar. Doorman Dennis Vaccaro walks with a limp, which he attributes to a hangover. He’s the proud owner of the Quote of the Month, which is written on the board behind the bar: “Natty Ice? Now that’s a man’s beer!”
Jean and Cara Bontiffe of New Rochelle are there for beer, not football. She runs the local microbrew site Craftchester.com, and cites Captain Lawrence for “selecting very good hops” for its brews. She prefers the Liquid Gold, while her husband is partial to the Imperial IPA (his shirt, on the other hand, has the Freshchester Pale Ale on it).
They’ll watch the Jets later on—“I need to see them win a championship before I die,” says Jean—and will toast the Hudson Valley’s craft beer boom until then. “All the competition makes everything better,” Jean says. “The breweries all try to one-up each other, and it works out better for the consumer.”
Back at the Ellis party, Simon has finally decided what to fill his virgin growler with: the India Pale Ale. He trudges inside, where beertender Jack Reilly admires the 64 oz. work of art, gets the back story, and celebrates his role in the growler’s young history. “I’m the first!” he howls. “Yeah, baby!”
Simon is stocking up for a big night of television that does not include football—American or English. “Two (season 2) episodes of Breaking Bad and one of Homeland,” he says. “We know how to have a good time.”
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.