The Captain’s Log: Elmsford to Ireland, and Vice Versa
What do you get when you pair up a revered global whiskey brand and a treasured local craft brewery?
The Trans-Atlantic Imperial Red Ale, that’s what. Scott Vaccaro, Captain Lawrence founder, was invited to the Jameson Whiskey distillery in Midleton, Ireland—one of five U.S. breweries represented at the famed distillery. In exchange, a half dozen Jameson barrels were shipped to Elmsford to harbor the malty, rich and hearty Trans-Atlantic Red brew. Scott Tobin, Captain Lawrence brewhouse manager, made the trip as well. “I had to bring an Irishman just to be let into the country,” quips Scott Vaccaro.
The guests got “free reign” in the distillery, says Scott, to see how Jameson selects its raw materials, and how the top-notch whiskey is produced, start to finish. “It was quite an immersive, very insightful trip,” says Scott.
For those of us who did not get to make the trip, the Jameson folks shot a fun short video, with some cool aerial footage of Captain Lawrence, here.
There may be some more history being made in the brewery. The Effortless Grapefruit IPA, a follow-up to the way-popular Citrus King small-batch brew, looks as though it will be moving on up to the major leagues–sold around the region as a six-pack. “It tastes absolutely fabulous,” says Scott. Scott adds that he’s “seriously considering” putting the Effortless Grapefruit in cans, making the beer well-suited for the golf course, the beach and other outdoor, on-the-go settings. If it comes to fruition, it would represent Captain Lawrence’s first canned beer.
Of course, bottles are still going strong at the brewery. The Fermento Funk Factory, as the new aging facility adjacent to the brewery is known, produced its first beer on the corking and caging line, as the barrel aged Frost Monster–the imperious beast spending alone time in apple brandy barrels–is being put in 375 ml bottles, and will be available next month. The deep, dark imperial stout is a fearsome tasting room favorite.
And here’s a new word for you to learn: Foudre. Captain Lawrence now has six of these massive aging casks on site. Four of them recently arriving from Napa, the oak barrels have an opening on top for adding fruit or other flavor enhancers; one’s got 800 pounds of strawberry in the mix, another has a thousand pounds of apricot. Before long, they’ll produce some beloved sour ales, such as the Cuvee de Castleton, Rosso e Marrone, and ones for the new Hudson Valley Harvest Sour Ale line.
Speaking of sours, Sour’d in September event is coming up September 19. Some 40 breweries spanning the nation, including Smuttynose, Peekskill and Troegs, will be showcasing their finest sour brews—those tart, tangy, often fruity and typically barrel aged beers. “They’re definitely not the average, everyday beer by any means,” says Scott.
There will be a giant tent in the parking lot, and part of the brewery will be open for sampling sours as well.
Sours are not for everyone, and there’s the usual eclectic lineup of traditional beers on tap in the tasting room–from standards like the Captain’s Kolsch and Hop Commander IPA, to pilot-system short-timers such as the dark ale Sisyphus’ Smile and passion fruit brew Passion of Perrone.
The pilot system is actually backlogged for the first time, says Scott, with small-batch concoctions waiting their turn in the 12-tap lineup. “Justin Sturges has been really cranking out the beers since he was put in charge of the pilot system,” Scott says. “We’re super-excited about what he’s doing.”
—Michael Malone (email@example.com)
Captain Lawrence Brewing, at 444 Saw Mill River Road in Elmsford, is open Wednesday through Sunday. The author is paid by Captain Lawrence, partially in India Pale Ale, for “Notes From the Tasting Room.”