The Captain’s Log: Mass. Appeal
It’s 300 miles from Philadelphia to Boston, and with any luck, you’ll be able to enjoy a Captain Lawrence in both cities—and all in between—some time next year. Captain Lawrence plans to debut in the Philly market in January, a big step for a local New York brewery that only arrived in greater New Jersey just over a year ago. And owner Scott Vaccaro was in Boston late last week, meeting with distributors and working through the steps to get Captain Lawrence—the India Pale Ale, the Kolsch, the Liquid Gold—into the land of David Ortiz, Dropkick Murphys and duck boats.
Scott is “hopeful” Captain Lawrence will arrive in the Boston market in 2015. “We’re excited to spread our wings a little more,” he says.
Closer to home and sooner on the calendar, Captain Lawrence will be flowing freely at the Pleasantville Music Fest July 12. The organizers will announce the talent lineup June 4; past performers include Jakob Dylan, Rusted Root, Joan Osborne and loads of hungry young bands you never heard of.
It’s a really relaxed vibe all day long in Pleasantville, and it’s a special gig for Captain Lawrence, which of course was hatched in the village in 2006—a few hundred feed from the Parkway Field venue. “The fact that they invite us even after we sadly left Pleasantville is hopefully a testament to the relationship we built,” says Scott. “Pleasantville will forever be our first home.”
One perk of the new home in Elmsford is the experimental brewhouse. Late last week, Justin Sturges and his brother Travis put a quirky new brew in the pilot system tank; the pair is tag-teaming on an India Pale Ale fermented with 100% Brettanomyces yeast. The unique “Brett” strain, favored by the Belgian brewers, makes for a particularly flavorful yet tart beer. “It’s got a ton of super fruity tropical flavors,” says Scott. The hops gives the brew a citrusy profile while the Brett yeast gives it its dryness. “It’s a very different and unique flavor,” Scott says of the “funkified” IPA.
And no beer better sums up the notion of different and unique than sour beers. Calling all sour diehards: Captain Lawrence hosts “Soured in September” this fall, bringing together the finest sour beers from the likes of Troeg’s, Peekskill Brewery, The Bruery of Southern California and many others September 13. “It will be the best of the best of those beers that we love to drink,” says Scott.
Sours, such as the Captain’s own Hops N’ Roses, get their distinctive taste when wild yeast strains are used in the brew; Scott calls them an “extremely complex, a unique style of beer.” These unpredictable beers take forever to brew and occupy lots of real estate in the brewery, often spending extra time in oak barrels.
Unlike, say, the Freshchester Pale Ale, the end result is not for everyone. But for those who enjoy sour beers—mostly seasoned beer connoisseurs and dudes that work in breweries—it’s well worth the wait and the aggravation. “Sour beer fans are a small group,” Scott says, “but a very rabid one.”
All are welcome at Captain Lawrence in September.
—Michael Malone (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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.