Monday, April 20, 2009

Captain Lawrence

49. Captain Lawrence Liquid Gold
Captain Lawrence Brewery (Pleasantville, New York)

Yes, the TONY item is liquid gold beer at Bierkraft, which is in Park Slope, not Pleasantville. But after calling Bierkraft, a boutique beer store that fills growlers and confirming that the liquid gold beer on the list is, in fact, Captain Lawrence liquid gold beer which I had already sampled at PDT and purchased a growler from Whole Foods, I didn’t think that a trip to Bierkraft would suffice the “quest” aspect of the TONY list (Those unfamiliar with a growler should note that it is merely a jug used to transport beer and contains about five bottles). With thirsty bellies and a yearning for adventure, a couple of friends and I made the hour long hike up to Westchester to sample the best of Captain Lawrence straight from the brewery, which is open Friday and Saturday afternoons and is half a mile from the nearest train station.

As we arrive at the parking lot at the commercial warehouse facility we are greeted by several beer fans who have purchased a number of growlers and seemed to be having a pretty good time drinking at the picnic table outside at 3 in the afternoon. The brewery invites guests into two rooms, the tasting room and the brewery. Without a liquor license, the brewery is unable to sell beer for consumption on the company’s premises. However, the tasting room can offer samples of their beers on tap, 2 samples of each of 6-7 the beers at 3oz a sample sounds like a good deal to me.

Liquid Gold: Of all the beers I tasted, this one was clearly my favorite and it’s obvious why this made the TONY list. A balanced, golden ale with a bit of spice and smooth flavor. Thankfully, it is served at a few bars in the city so I won’t have to make the trip again just to get some.

Espresso Stout: A dark, creamy guiness-like beer with a strong coffee flavor. Not really what I’m into but I can certainly appreciate the texture.

Xtra Gold, Pale Ale and IPA: What sticks out most about all of the Captain Lawrence beers is a focus on bringing out the flavor of hops. The pale ales are no different. Both have intense hops flavors with the accompanying bitterness and for a guy that isn’t really big on pale ales, I still found myself going back for that second sample. The Xtra Gold is a trippel ale with a 10% ABV sticker. Less bitterness than the pale ales, but plenty of hops aroma and taste.

Smoke From the Oak: Aged and carbonated using different barrels including wine, rum, bourbon and brandy, Captain Lawrence introduces beers that take on a hybrid characteristic. The seasonal variety offers beer that is aged in barrels that contained Merlot and Pinot Noir. Having trouble deciding between a glass of wine or a beer with dinner? Go for some Smoke from the Oak.

Though I could be quite content just staying in the tasting room all day, after sampling each of the beers, we were given a tour around the brewery by Scott Vaccaro, owner and head brewer of Captain Lawrence. It’s a pretty small operation but it was a great experience to be able to hear about the process and talk about beer.

On the way out, we picked up a number of bottles of the Smoke from the Oak ($10 each) and I grabbed a beer glass ($5) to add to the collection. Perfect trip out of Manhattan on any Saturday afternoon. Can’t wait to see what the rum barrel aged beer will taste like…

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