Notes From the Captain Lawrence Tasting Room

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Speaking Their Love For Small-Batch Brews

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You never forget your first.

Sinead Cremins has been to about a hundred breweries. But Captain Lawrence was the first, and therefore holds a special place in her heart. “It opened my eyes to the craft beer world,” she says with an ebullient smile.

She and Adina Sheopaul, both from the Bronx, are here to sample some beer—the more esoteric the better for Sinead. “The normal beers, you can get anywhere, anytime,” she says. “The pilot system beers are exclusive—they make it worthwhile to come here.”

Today, it’s the Unspoken Love; it sounds like an R&B track, but it’s actually a chocolate stout bursting with raspberry, which the Captain Lawrence menu calls “a perfect pairing with any E.L. James erotic novel.” (Uh, who writes this stuff??) For her part, Adina has the Sveikata, a pretty unique small-batch choice too; it’s a Lithuanian-style beer, produced from malt formed into loaves, then baked in a pizza oven.

“Whenever we’re both free, Sinead says, hey—let’s go to a brewery,” says Adina. “I like to tag along with her.”

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It’s a good day for tagging along–a post-holidays, not yet Super Bowl, dead time of year, kind of day. Fittingly, Mark Sinnis and his “825” band, playing their black-hearted, Cash-ian “cemetery and western”, crank out the tunes from the indoor beer garden.

Kevin and Sarah Page of Tuxedo Park made their way in after visiting friends in White Plains, and are savoring a couple brews resting atop their barrel. Kevin is an avid home brewer, mentioning creating an all-grain take on Pliney the Younger, the wildly popular double IPA from Russian River Brewing in California. His brewing equipment is starting to accumulate. “You should see our apartment,” says Sarah.

She’s got the Palate Shifter while Kevin digs the Unspoken Love. “I like the sweetness,” he says. “I typically don’t like fruit in my beer, but this is good.”

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At a nearby barrel, Jeffrey and Kevin Brinkerhoff of New Jersey look like a couple right tackles, but shrug with indifference when the day’s NFL playoffs are mentioned. Kevin’s “Replacements” hoodie refers not to the cheesy Keanu Reeves football movie, but to the iconoclastic Twin Cities punk band.

“We were looking for something to do, and we like breweries,” says Kevin.

“We’ve had a ton of Captain Lawrence, and wanted to try it here,” adds Jeffrey.

They’re sampling the Sveikata, which Kevin describes as “bready, almost saison-like.”

Jeffrey sees a positive trend emerging amidst the hop-heavy beers that have dominated the craft revolution. “It’s a breath of fresh air to see quality lower-ABV [alcohol by volume]beers,” he says.

Captain Lawrence is the first stop on a mini brewery tour; next up for the Brinkerhoff brothers is Rushing Duck in Chester, NY. “Usually we spend Sundays with our parents,” says Kevin. “We had a freebie today.”

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A few barrels away, there’s similar indifference to the NFL action happening in Denver and in Carolina. The folks in the tasting room would rather be sampling craft beer, noshing on meat and cheese plates and conversing. “I don’t even know who’s playing,” says Jeff Spolono of New Rochelle.

Jeff has the Palate Shifter imperial IPA, a piney and citrusy hop-monster. Friend Alison Liberati of White Plains sips the moderately malty, medium-hoppy Freshchester Pale Ale. Justin Banks of Hastings started with the Freshchester, then switched to the Effortless session IPA. “I’m working my way up,” he says.

Justin is recently back from a snowboarding excursion in Park City, Utah. “I’m just trying to keep the vacation going,” he says.

It’s the first time at Captain Lawrence for he and for Jeff. “I like the atmosphere, I like the beer, I like the music,” Jeff says.

Alison, on the other hand, has been visiting for years. “I hadn’t gone in a while,” she says. “It’s cold out; I figured, why not enjoy a few beers inside?”

—Michael Malone (malone5a@yahoo.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.

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