Notes From the Tasting Room, Vol. 178

Notes From the Tasting Room, Vol. 178

The Captain’s Log: Fruity, Fresh and Funky Brews


Scott Vaccaro, Captain Lawrence founder, spent the past weekend up in Boston for the city’s famed Extreme Beer Festival, bringing some of the Captain’s more extreme brews—the Frost Monster imperial stout, the Rosso e Marrone sour—along to share with brewers and Bostonians alike. Captain Lawrence is usually represented at the festival, but this year is a little different, as the brewery’s beers are now available across the greater Boston market.

“We are for sale there,” says Scott, who also hosted a few Captain Lawrence events at beer bars around town during his visit. “We’ve always sent beer to the festival, but felt like this time, it was important to be there and spend some time with people as they get to know our beers.”

One of the more unique beers that’s been trucked up to Massachusetts—and is available here in New York—is the Hudson Valley Harvest Strawberry sour, the newest installment from Captain Lawrence’s Hudson Valley Harvest series, brews enhanced with fruit from local Hudson Valley farms. Borchert Orchards (try saying that three times after a few Frost Monsters), of Marlboro, New York, supplied hundreds of pounds of fresh, locally grown strawberries for the beer, which is available in 375 ml bottles, with a limited supply on draft in the tasting room.

“It’s got huge strawberry nose, mild strawberry flavor,” says Scott. “It’s a tart, tangy and easy drinking brew.”

Next up in the Hudson Valley Harvest series is an apricot beer, and then a cherry one.

There’s always something new or different or special, or all three, being released at 444 Saw Mill River Road. The beloved Barrel Select Gold, which, true to its name, took home a gold medal at the Great American Beer Fest in 2012, has been brought back. And the Captain’s current seasonal release is a funky hybrid known as the Meltwater IPL—an india pale lager.

“It’s super hoppy, with a lot of mosaic,” says Scott, “and a dark, dank, funky aroma.”

Same as the seasons themselves, the seasonals come out quarterly. It may be hard to imagine in these snowy days of early February, but the next seasonal, the hoppy wheat ale Sun Block, comes out in mid-March. “It will have a little more bite to it this time,” Scott says.

As always, there’s the vast array of pilot system—a.k.a. small batch—brews available in the tasting room. And the room will host regular tap takeovers on a quarterly basis, in which the various staffer-created pilot brews from the current year—the Hopsucker, the Meloncello, the Monty Hall’s Problem—do indeed take over the taps. Visitors can vote on their favorites, giving the beer’s architect bragging rights, and perhaps a chance to bring back the beer for another run.

Beertender Rob Catalano grabbed the takeover honors January 31 for his Knifey Moloko milk stout.

Like a beer Olympics, future tap takeovers will pit the different wings of the brewery, such as the tasting room, packaging department, brewing—against each other. “It’s a little competition,” says Scott. “We’ll highlight the best of the best.”

And several Captain Lawrence beers you’ve grown attached to over the years—the Freshchester Pale Ale, the Kolsch, the IPA—have undergone packaging makeovers that includes new labels and even new names.

“Don’t be alarmed—it’s the same delicious beer you’ve grown to love,” says Scott. “It just has new packaging.”

–Michael Malone ([email protected])