14 Apr Notes From the Tasting Room, Vol. 101
Brews Travelers’ Year of Beer
For most everyone in the tasting room—and particularly on the patio on this don’t-forget-the-sunscreen kind of day—it is simply a perfect Sunday: A few locally brewed craft beer samples and lots of laughs with friends before the work week starts.
For Brandon Wurtz and Michael Roberts of Dallas, the work week can wait…and wait…and wait.
Visiting the Captain Lawrence tasting room on a 75 degree Sunday, the two are about a third of the way through a year spent visiting breweries around the nation, visiting all 48 continental states, sipping brew in as many breweries as they can get to, and writing about their experiences (exbeeriences?) at BrewsTravelers365.com. To date, Brandon and Michael—who look the part in beards and beer t-shirts—have visited 126 breweries in 15 states, and written about over a hundred. “We look for what is unique, what the scene is,” says Brandon.
They’re shooting for 365 breweries in 365 days. Highlights thus far?
“Oh, man, that’s tough,” says Brandon as he shakes his head.
Michael, who quit his job in merchandising to make the trek, gives it a shot. “The people,” he says. “Every single person we’ve met on the trip has been overwhelmingly kind and cool.”
Captain Lawrence offers “one of the coolest setups I’ve seen,” says Michael. “Chill, open, everyone hanging out.”
From here, they are on to Connecticut (Two Roads Brewing, Back East Brewing), then back to Westchester (Peekskill Brewery) before heading west.
But first, there is the 4 p.m. tour. A foursome from Poughkeepsie already had their own; Billy Kistner won a private tour in a raffle at a pub called Schatzi’s that was hosting a Captain Lawrence tap takeover. Each beer you bought spelled another raffle ticket.
“He bought so many beers he had to win,” says pal Tony Paonessa.
It wasn’t hard to get Tony, Billy’s sister Andrea and friend Tom Kinsley on board for the schlep south. “I said, ‘Sunday? Beer?’” Billy says. “They said, ‘Sure.’”
The foursome agrees that the tour was way more informative than another they recently took in Brooklyn. Talk turns to the “overexposed” hipster scene in that borough, which includes people naming their kid Brooklyn.
“My kid’s gonna be named Elmsford,” says Andrea as she enjoys a Fiona Irish red ale.
The mood is ebullient inside and particularly out. Village Dog sells barbecue grub out of a tent, but Shane and Honore Adams of Hawthorne will do their own ‘cue at home. Shane likes the hoppy Captain’s Reserve Imperial IPA, while Honore prefers to tone down the hops, opting for the flagship Freshchester Pale Ale.
“It was such a long and hard winter,” says Shane of their decision to pop in. “We had cabin fever. When we saw the opportunity to come out, we took it.”
Honore plans to fill up the growler with the Pale Ale, then they’ll head home to get the barbecue cranked. Shane says he uses it year-round, but tonight will be special. “It’s the first time we get to go outside and enjoy a meal,” he says.
Patio seats are hard to come by. There must be close to 140 characters out and about–fitting, because Emily Santis of Long Island City works at Twitter, where her duties include stocking up the office fridge with Captain Lawrence, including the summery wheat beer Sun Block. “We drink a lot of beer,” she says.
She, Justin Barros of Bronxville, Kwasi Osae-Kwapong of White Plains and Lisa Raho of Tuckahoe did some hiking up by Bear Mountain, then decided to cap off a postcard-perfect spring day with a few beer samples. “This is a nice hidden gem in Westchester,” says Kwasi.
He swears by the Belgians and sips a Liquid Gold, as does Lisa. Justin’s Sun Block is “perfect on a nice, warm spring day.” Emily has the small-batch Fiona. “It goes down easy, it’s smooth, it’s delicious,” she says. “I like her.”
Meanwhile, the Brews Travelers Brandon and Michael are making mental notes for their Captain Lawrence review. They’ve seen the brewery on a particularly special day: under a big, bright sun after a harsh winter.
Brandon says you can’t go wrong with a year spent visiting breweries. “I’ve never not had a good time,” he says, “or not met someone new, at a brewery.”