The Captain’s Log: New Year’s, New Beers
The final tally is just…about…in. As the year comes to a close, Captain Lawrence has produced nearly 20,000 barrels of beer in 2013—that’s close to 40,000 kegs, and a whopping 35% increase over 2012, its first full year in Elmsford. Going a bit further back, Captain Lawrence brewed 8,800 barrels in 2011. “That’s a big jump in two years,” says owner Scott Vaccaro.
The Captain seeks to smash that record in 2014, while continuing to create some of the funkiest and most acclaimed beers around. A 35-barrel batch of Hops ‘N Roses—the sour ale that took a gold medal at the Great American Beer Fest this past fall—is headed into oak barrels, and will be ready for summer. And while it’s another six weeks or so before pitchers and catchers turn up at spring training, here’s another sign that winter won’t last forever—the Winter Ale supply is winding down, and the Sun Block is ready to take its place. Look for Sun Block—the hoppy wheat ale that goes so well with barbecues and beaches—in February.
Scott says Sun Block’s robust profile makes it more than a summer beer. “I think it’s a great year-round drinking beer,” he says. “It tastes just as good in February as it does in August.”
After the runaway success of the imperial stout Frost Monster—the first pilot system brew to make it to 12-ounce bottle big leagues—Captain Lawrence is set to tackle its next quarterly four-pack release: the triple IPA known as Seeking Alpha. The uber-hopped brew has been through a few test batches, and soon will be ready for bottles. It’s 11% ABV and a 100 on the IBU (International Bitterness Unit) scale.
“Super hoppy, super strong, over the top everything,” is how Scott describes it.
Having that much malt and sugar in the mix makes it difficult to “dry out” the beer, he adds. “But after Frost Monster, we’re confident we can do that,” notes Scott.
It’s going to be a busy 2014 for Westchester’s favorite brewery. Four new staff hires are coming on board, including new faces in sales and quality control, and the expansion throughout central and southern Jersey starts in February. The beloved rookie India Pale Ale is headed for the 12-pack.
The brewing elves at Captain Lawrence created a stunning 46 small-batch beers this year, including the malty Young Wolfington brown saison, the Snickelfritz pilsner-lager and the Knickerhopper dry-hopped ale, among many others (most named for their dogs or cats). Expect more in 2014. “We look to best that in calendar ’14,” says Scott. “If you haven’t made it into the tasting room this year, you’re missing out in a world of flavor.”
Finally, he and everyone at the brewery thank the thousands of guests who’ve poured into the tasting room, only to have the beertenders pour them a sample or two, in 2013. After all, without all of you, none of those 20,000 barrels get produced. “A big thank you to our patrons,” says Scott, “who continue to let me have the greatest job on earth.”
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.
The “Notes From the Tasting Room” book is available at the brewery and on Amazon.