The Captain’s Log: Sour Power!
Not yet three years since moving to a roomy new brewing facility in Elmsford, Captain Lawrence is expanding further. The brewery will be taking over the adjacent 4,800 square feet currently occupied by an HVAC outfit, says owner Scott Vaccaro, on top of the 19,000 square feet Captain Lawrence currently operates in. The expansion should be completed early in ’15, and will enable the Captain to produce more beer—and its beloved sour beers in particular.
The space will allow for storage of as many as 500 oak barrels and a second bottling line. Captain Lawrence’s sour ales, such as the Cuvee and the Hops N’ Roses, are currently bottled and labeled by hand. “It takes an enormous amount of time and manpower to get through a decent amount of beer,” says Scott. “This will allow us to do a lot more beer—to really expand production.”
The brewery is also designing special packaging for the sours, which typically leave the tasting room in drab cardboard boxes. The new sour beer wing will also allow for corking and caging of bottles.
Scott is currently sourcing equipment for the extra space. “I wish we could’ve had it running in time for the sour festival,” he says, referring to Sour’d in September.
On September 13, Captain Lawrence hosts 20 breweries, including Peekskill Brewery, Newburgh Brewing Company, Bell’s Brewing and Great South Bay Brewery, bringing their best sour beers to Elmsford. (Brewed with wild yeasts, sours offer a funky and tart flavor that beer connoisseurs adore, while other palates may wonder what the fuss is about.) Only 400 tickets are available for Sour’d, and go on sale online July 15 at 9 a.m.
Here’s something that will be ready for the September 13 event—a Captain Lawrence sour ale fruited with Italian plums and aged for “many, many, many months,” says Scott, in oak. The plums come from the regional grocery chain/craft beer haven DeCicco’s that often partners with Captain Lawrence on unique specialty beers. “Whenever they have something interesting, they let us know about it,” says Scott.
Just 30-40 cases will be produced. Scott says the plum brew will be “tart, tangy, delicious.”
The DeCicco’s outlet in Brewster is hosting a Captain Lawrence event July 26, featuring an assortment of CL brews for the tasting.
The brewing quarters isn’t the only thing that’s expanding. Captain Lawrence got permission to significantly extend the outdoor patio, and will begin construction on it in the next few weeks. “We’re doubling the square footage of our outdoor enjoyment area,” he says. “It will definitely be a big plus.”
Even if you don’t go for the sours, there’s always a wide range of colorful beers coming out of Captain Lawrence’s experimental pilot system. In fact, 36 small-batch beers—IPAs, lagers, stouts, ales–have been produced so far this year, including the 100% Brettanomyces yeast concoction known as Red Herring. On its heels is another 100% Brettanomyces brew in the tank now that Scott calls a “funky golden ale.” (Brettanomyces, imparting a complex, Belgian-style flavor in the beer, is Greek for “British fungus.”)
“We’re shooting for 70 pilot-system beers this year and it looks like we’re gonna break it,” says Scott. “If you haven’t been to the tasting room lately, there’s a lot of stuff going on.”
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.