The Captain’s Log: Zero to 60 in 12 Months
It’s been just a year since the first bottles of Captain Lawrence India Pale Ale came rolling down the line, and the beer is already the No. 2 seller, ahead of mainstays such as Captain’s Kolsch and Liquid Gold. The brewery is rewarding the IPA’s rookie of the year status with its own 12-pack—the boxes are in, they look very cool, and fans of the hoppy, hearty brew can find it in Whole Foods, DeCicco’s and select grocery stores in mid February.
Captain Lawrence has sold 16.9 ounce bottles of the Captain’s Reserve Imperial IPA in 12-packs, but this is the first traditional 12-pack in the brewery’s history. “The IPA has been picking up steam, so it’s a natural one for a pack that allows people to bring more than six home at a time,” says Scott Vaccaro.
(Captain Lawrence’s top seller remains the flagship, Freshchester Pale Ale.)
Fans of hoppy beers have a blessedly wide array of choices available to them these days, and Scott says the Captain Lawrence IPA stands out because of its unique blend of Yakima Valley hops, including the star performers Centennial and Citra that give it that uniquely piney, citrusy vibe. “All brewers are like chefs, experimenting in the kitchen,” he says. “Not everyone puts together the same combination, and we think we hit on something good.”
The creamy, chocolatey Knifey Moloko milk stout, which garnered the most votes in the 12-beer Hop Bowl last week, shows that not everyone is going for the hoppy beers these days. Scott says he loves beertender Rob Catalano’s concoction—“the beautiful coffee, chocolate and malty flavors went perfectly together,” he notes—but admits he thought Matt Levy’s double IPA RIPA’s Revenge would bag the most votes among the dozen small-batch offerings in the running.
The Knifey Moloko—the “droogs” in Anthony Burgess’s trippy A Clockwork Orange novel quaffed Knifey Molokos before taking part in a bit of the ultraviolence—has earned a return engagement, coming back in a seven-barrel batch. “It may be perfect for St. Patrick’s Day,” says Scott.
Speaking of dark, very dark beers, another hit out of the experimental brewhouse, Scott’s own Six N’ Change black IPA, has also earned a second act. Scott says it has “graduated” from the small-batch pilot system to the production plant and a 40-barrel batch is in the works. “It was a big hit in the tasting room,” says Scott, “so we thought, why not put it on a bigger stage?”
Local consumers of craft beer can expect lots of experimental brews out of 444 Saw Mill River Road this year. The pilot system that brought you the King Zythos saison, Schwarzer Hund black lager, Limerance weiss, Chico pilsner, Young Wolfington ale, and many other colorfully named, inventively brewed beers, will aim to crank out no fewer than 60 one of a kind, tasting room-only beers in 2014.
“I challenged (brew house manager) Scott Tobin to produce 60 this year,” says Scott. “He’s gonna make it happen.”
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.