Notes From the Tasting Room, Vol. 153

Notes From the Tasting Room, Vol. 153

The Captain’s Log: No Sophomore Slump for Sour’d

54Scott Vaccaro headshot

Summer is just beginning, but at Captain Lawrence, thoughts are jumping to the latter end of the season, when the second annual sour beer festival Sour’d in September takes place. The inaugural event, showcasing the best of the sour ales (they’re not for everyone, but are adored by those with a taste for them), featured 20 breweries, including day-trippers Great South Bay and Peekskill Brewery, and others as far flung as Ballast Point in Southern Cal. This year’s event on September 12 is shooting for double that. “A lot of breweries reached out to us,” says Scott Vaccaro, Captain Lawrence founder. “They heard last year’s event was great and they want to be a part of it.”

The 2015 sour bash will feature food, live music, an extra hour of imbibing, compared to last year’s fest, and an increased number of VIP tickets. CL sours include the Cuvee de Castleton, Rosso e Marrone and Barrel Select, among many others, with several available to take away. Another improvement on last year’s fest: The Fermento Funk Factory, as the Captain’s barrel-aging building expansion is known, will be open to the public. “We’ll let people come in and see how we make sours,” says Scott. “We want to show them what we do.”

The Fermento Funk Factory (patent pending) is key to a new corking and caging operation. First up for a little corking and caging is the Frost Monster, aged in apple brandy barrels. Look for that next month.

But let us not wish the summer away thinking of sour beer festivals. The Pleasantville Music Festival has its 11th running July 11, and Captain Lawrence, long a liquid presence at the event, takes on the full concessions role for the first time. That means greater beer selection, including the Kolsch, Freshchester Pale Ale and Effortless IPA, among others, and one specially brewed for the event, which features the Gin Blossoms, Marshall Crenshaw and G Love and Special Sauce. The as yet unnamed beer will have “a lot of flavor,” says Scott. “It will bring the spirit of the day to a pint of beer.”

Captain Lawrence will be available in a beer garden that has quadrupled in size since its earlier iterations (“freakin’ huge,” says Scott). The event, at Parkway Field in Pleasantville, is a mainstay on the Captain’s calendar; Captain Lawrence of course was hatched on Castleton Street in Pleasantville, a few hundred yards from festival grounds. “We always get excited for the music festival and want to be a part of it,” says Scott.

Captain Lawrence will also lend its festive suds to the SOWE Music Festival, as the Southern Westchester band bacchanalia in Mamaroneck is known. That one, at Harbor Island Park, features David Johansen, Marc Cohn and others September 19.

But for any given Saturday or Sunday, there’s typically live music, and always lots of beer, out on the Captain Lawrence patio. Yesterday was the Father’s Day Tap Takeover in the tasting room, with a public election for the best of a wide array of pilot system brews, such as the dark witte Kirk Lazarus, the Kaboodle dry Irish stout and the St. Vincent’s dubbel abbey ale. The latter is a favorite around this time of year, as it is named for Vincent Vaccaro, who showed the patience of a saint when his son Scott wanted to scrap traditional career plans to make beer.

It is a pilot system beer’s dream to someday earn a more regular spot in the draught lineup alongside the Liquid Gold, Hop Commander IPA and others. It does not happen often, but the Grapefruit IPA is coming back by popular demand. Scott and the boys are brewing 300 kegs of the beer—an extraordinary vote of confidence for a former small-batch beer that debuted last winter. “It made it to the big show,” says Scott. “There was a huge response—people knocked down doors for it.”

The citrusy, 6.2% ABV, big-flavor brew goes perfectly with a lazy summer day.

–Michael Malone ([email protected])