Tag Archives: micro brewery
Notes From the Captain Lawrence Tasting Room – THE CAPTAIN’S LOG: Benches, Bocce, Beer…Beverage Tax???
THE CAPTAIN’S LOG: Benches, Bocce, Beer…Beverage Tax???
Big things are happening at Captain Lawrence Brewing, says owner Scott Vaccaro, most of them quite good. The four-month-old facility in Elmsford features an expanse of green space (well, greenish, at least), and plans call for benches, tables, and even a bocce court to be set up to enhance your beer sampling. (Bocce, involving heavy wooden balls, an asphalt court and, typically, older Italian men, is an even better partner to beer sampling than softball.)
The building permit for the outdoor space should be in hand this week. Captain Lawrence is also applying for a permit to serve beer outside.
And as you’ve probably noticed if you’ve been in a beer distributor or grocery store or Whole Foods recently, bottles are rolling out of the brewery, and into a retailer near you. Freshchester Pale Ale, Liquid Gold and the Captain’s Kolsch are currently out in six pack form, and Captain Lawrence Brown Ale hits the 12-ounce bottles for the first time this week.
“The bottles have been selling well,” says Scott. “We’re seeing enormous amounts of orders.”
This week should finally see some action in the new facility’s much ballyhooed experimental brewhouse. Finishing touches to the electricity and plumbing are being applied, the new vent stack will break through the roof, and the first brew should be underway this week. “It’s taken longer than expected,” says Scott, “as all good things do.”
The beer blogging community has been abuzz about what Captain Lawrence might stir up in the 15-keg experimental space. Scott isn’t quite sure yet, but says the short list includes offshoots of the Imperial Pale Ale-inspired Drew’s Brew, the black ale Five Years Later and a white or wheat IPA. It’s a game-time decision for the brewery. “Maybe we’ll do all three,” says Scott.
So it’s all smooth sailing for Captain Lawrence? Not so fast. Some onerous legislation has been passed down to craft breweries from Albany. The New York State Supreme Court, ruling on the Shelton vs. NYS Liquor Authority, has lifted a longstanding tax exemption for small brewers. (Shelton Brothers, a Massachusetts beer importer, is no stranger to litigation. It had previously sued the NY State Liquor Authority over some off-color Christmas beers, including a winter porter called Santa’s Butt, that the Liquor Authority sought to keep off New York shelves, believing Santa’s Butt was being marketed to minors.)
The short of it is, unless the lobbyists and lawyers representing New York’s growing craft brewing community can pull off a Hail Mary, it will be a lot more expensive for small breweries—those brewing 6.2 million gallons or less per year, such as Captain Lawrence–to brew and distribute their beers, and probably more expensive for people to enjoy these beers too.
Scott says the new law would mean close to $100,000 in extra fees for Captain Lawrence per year. “The New York State brewing industry is doing really well,” he says. “This is a great way to stop it.”
So if you happen to be chatting up your local elected official, you might mention this egregious new legislation to them.
You might also invite them down to the brewery for a locally brewed Pale Ale, Family Meal or Smoked Porter—as well as a game of bocce.
Captain Lawrence Brewing, at 444 Saw Mill River Parkway in Elmsford, is open Tuesday through Friday (retail 2-7 p.m., and samples 4-7 p.m.); and Saturday, with retail and samples 12-6 p.m., and brewery tours at 1, 2 and 3 p.m. The author is paid by Captain Lawrence, partially in beer, for “Notes From the Tasting Room.”
Thefirst organized baseball game is believed to have been played in Hoboken onJune 1, 1846, so it stands to reason that the first beer enjoyed at a ballgamehappened right around June 1, 1846 as well.
Indeed,baseball and beer—bad hops and good hops–have a long and loving relationship.My earliest memory of the two intermingled was at Shea Stadium, when I was eyelevel to the turnstile. Seconds before measuring myself against that steely foe,I saw a feat of ingenuity that has stayed with me for decades: A few cases ofbeer, trussed up like a shipwreck diver’s booty, hoisted from one scraggly guyat street level to his friends, who pulled the rope while hanging over thoseold Shea ramps, a hundred feet above. Based on the way the Mets played thatday, the cases of Meister Brau may have been for the players.
Baseballis on the brain in the Captain Lawrence tasting room a few days before OpeningDay proper. There are scores of Yankee fans, of course, expecting nothing lessthan the annual late October showdown, while appreciating what might be MarianoRivera’s last hurrah. There are some diehard Met fans, hoping for a pleasantsurprise. “Madoff’s gone,” says Kevin Raum of Valhalla. “I’m optimistic.”
There’sa Phillie fan, and even a few Red Sox rooters. (Keep in mind, the Red Sox’historic collapse last fall was a rare example of beer and baseball not going together well.) Jessica Young,a Vermont native visiting the tasting room from her home in Harlem, has the Bostonbaseball mindset pegged. “They’ll make us think they’re doing well,” she says.“They won’t.”
The wetweather has brought Kevin Raum and his buddies to the tasting room. Theirsoftball team—it’s called the Amazin’s, if you’re scoring at home—was topractice in Hawthorne, but ended up hitting the batting cages at Sportime USA.As they could practically smell the hops wafting up Rte. 9A from the brewery, theAmazin’s’ spring training was cut short.
MikeForde of Valhalla sheds a little light on why baseball and beer go so damn welltogether. “You’re outside for three or four hours, it’s a 70 degree day,” hesays. “It’s like a barbecue and beer—baseball and beer just go hand in hand.”
Othersoffer up a variety of reasons. The peanuts and Cracker Jacks, as immortalizedin our national pastime’s national anthem, practically beg for a tasty brew. Thepace–or lack thereof, to those who simply don’t get baseball–of the game. Andas baseball is a kissing cousin of softball, the rare sport you can actuallyplay with a beer in your hand, softball’s social tendencies carry over to its morehardcore sibling.
Jessica,husband Tim and baby Riley are enjoying, respectively, a Kolsh, a Family Meal,and milk. She offers a novel reason for ordering up a ballpark brew: “It’s somuch fun to hail the beer vendor.”
RyanCollins of Valhalla and Chris Pozzi of Yorktown Heights had the routine downfor years—at least until advanced adulthood kicked in: Stock up on CaptainLawrence growlers at the old Pleasantville site on Saturday, and show up earlyat Yankee Stadium Sunday. They’d enjoy burgers, marinated steak, and barbecuechicken, along with Freshchester Pale Ale and Brown Ale (“It’s a long day ifyou start with Imperial IPA,” says Collins), with 30 of their best buds.
“We’d savethe crappy domestic beer for after the game,” says Collins.
Whilefew in the room disputed the baseball-beer bond, some felt that excellent beergoes well with most any activity. “There’s no event that beer can’t participatein,” says Kerry Walsh of Pearl River with a smile.
“Ifthere’s beer there,” Walsh quips, “I’d probably go.”
Captain Lawrence isopen Tuesday through Friday (retail 2-7 p.m., and samples 4-7 p.m.); andSaturday, with retail and samples 12-6 p.m., and brewery tours at 1, 2 and 3p.m.
The author is paid byCaptain Lawrence, partially in beer, for “Notes From the Tasting Room.”