Saturday, September 28, 2013

Notes From The Tasting Room: Captain Lawrence Brewing Company

So I just went down to Captain Lawrence's tasting room for the second time ever, and figured I'd share my experience with y'all here at ABA. For those that don't know, Captain Lawrence is basically New York's rising star brewing company. Sure, we have Saranac upstate and Brooklyn Brewery, which produces such monumental beers like their Black Chocolate Stout and their Monster Ale barley-wine style ale. But the brewery I care most about in New York is right in my backyard in Elmsford: Captain Lawrence.

A few of their standby beers include a German-style Kolsch, their Freshchester Pale Ale, and Liquid Gold - a Belgian-style ale. But they've been branching out since their start in Pleasantville, NY. Now they do six-packs, have a cozy tasting room, and do specialty beers that are nothing to sneer at.

The experience at their tasting room is great. The decor is very rustic: big ol' aging barrels sitting around for you to stand at and set your samples or 12-ounce glasses on, and a corner with a few bar tables with stools at them. The bar features two 12-tap towers: one for samples and one for filling growlers and 12-ounce glasses with their delicious ales. The process of getting samples has been upgraded since I last went. Instead of just paying $2 for a sample glass and having all the samples you want for that price, they give you 12 tokens for $10. 12 samples for $10 is not a bad deal, all things considered. The sample glasses are about 4-5 ounces, so you're getting a solid drink per token.

Today I sampled 4 brews of theirs. I skipped over their old faithfuls (sorry old faithfuls, I love you but I've had plenty of you) and went for some of their test batch beers and specialties.

First I sampled their Imperial IPA, which was grand. Imperial IPAs tend to be high in ABV and sometimes let that high amount of alcohol slip through into the taste. Not this one! The citrus hop taste was off the charts! It packed such a strong hoppy punch that I had to take a second to really let the flavor sink in. It was quite the intense experience.

Next I had their experimental King Zythos Saison, which was, oddly enough, a brown saison. Saisons are usually light in color and rather floral and citrusy, but light. This one, however, had a nice nutty tone to it which was complimented by earthy malts. It was still light, as a good saison should be, but it was different and I commend the Captain for his experimentation in saisons.

The third sample I had was another experimental batch: Young Wolfington. I liked this beer because it was very different. It was a brown ale, but it lacked hoppy character. Granted, it may end up having more of a hop presence if it's ever bottled, but it was all malt at this stage. To be honest, I thought that was cool. There were roasty, nutty, and light chocolatey notes to the beer and the body was nice and creamy. I didn't miss the hops at all.

I finished off my tasting session with their traditional IPA. It was nice and light, but floral with a touch of citrus. It was not overpoweringly citrusy like their Imperial, but it was still a solid IPA. If you're in New York and see it in a store, pick it up to get your first taste of this brewery. They're good at what they do.

To add a cherry to the top of my visit, I decided to check out the single pint-and-a-half bottles they had one sale. I spied one that tickled my fancy for barrel aged beer: Smoke From The Oak Barrel Aged. It's an imperial smoked porter that was aged in rum barrels. I've had stouts and porters and even ales aged in bourbon barrels or oak casks, but never one aged in a rum barrel. So for the steep price of $20 I treated myself to a bottle of the marvelous-sounding stuff.

And that was that. The brewery is damn good and since they've expanded to their new space a few years ago and ramped up production and distribution, they're easily one of New York's most notable breweries. If you ever happen to be in Westchester and have a spare $10, stop by Captain Lawrence and enjoy some damn good samples!


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