We like to think of Captain Lawrence as our own local Westchester thing; when it picks up a gold medal at the Great American Beer Fest, well, we all feel a certain bit of pride in the honor. Yet the Captain is, increasingly, being sampled/shared/enjoyed by people well beyond county limits, as was in evidence at the brewery on a gorgeous–then cloudy, then, for a short spell, drizzly, before becoming gorgeous again–afternoon.
So who reads the writing on a beer label? Bob and Karen Lawrence of Montvale, New Jersey, who so enjoyed a sixer of Captain Lawrence from Stew Leonard’s that they perused the label, saw that the brewery was just over the Tappan Zee, and decided to make a day of it—Bob’s 91 year old dad, Joe, in tow.
Joe’s grandfather was a real Captain Lawrence, commandeering a boat as an oysterman. Joe sips the Pale Ale as Bob and Karen nip at the hops monster Imperial IPA. “We saw that Captain Lawrence was close,” says Bob. “The weather is great, so we figured it was a good day to go.”
Ah, the weather. Sunny and glorious, and darn near 70 in the sun. The patio is host to a game of bocce, a heated cornhole contest, a table of pals playing cards. Those clouds off in the distance, well…they wouldn’t dare spoil the mood, would they?
The Lawrences have been to their share of breweries: Fat Tire, New Belgium, Dogfish Head. Now they can cross their namesake brewery off the list. Next up on their sample checklist? “Winter Ale,” says Karen.
A barrel away, Catherine O’Hara of Astoria and Brett Lewisof Bethpage, Long Island, tried Captain Lawrence at a restaurant in Sunnyside, Queens, and also discovered that the brewery wasn’t all that far away. “We said, that sounds like a good drive—we can make it,” says Brett.
He sips the India Pale Ale while Catherine, who sports a mellifluous Irish accent, enjoys the Imperial IPA. “Citrusy, a good aroma,” she notes.
Catherine calls the tasting room “laid back,” while Brett sees it as “blue collar”, as in, down to earth. “It seemed like something good to try this weekend,” Catherine says. “We’re glad it’s so close—and it’s such a nice day.”
Alas, the nice day is threatened by an ominous mob of black clouds moving across the sky. The Village Dog ladies look warily at the sky, and a few drops of rain even fall. The patio chock full of optimists, no one budges.
The card game goes on. It’s a game called “Cards Against Humanity” that Jessica Jaser of Milford, Connecticut says was left at her house after a Memorial Day party. “A Party Game For Horrible People,” reads the writing on the box. The friends describe it as “offensive”, “vulgar” and “politically incorrect.”
Sounds like a lot more fun than gin rummy.
How did this gaggle of Connecticut friends end up at Captain Lawrence? Stephanie Montini of South Norwalk tried Captain Lawrence in Barcelona—the Spanish restaurant in Norwalk, that is, that hosted the four-course beer dinner, which included grilled shrimp with Liquid Gold and smoked short ribs with Smoked Porter, October 23. “Best $45 I ever spent,” says Stephanie, who had never heard of the brewery before. “Divine intervention led us to this picnic table.”
As the card game winds down, Taylor Lewis of Orange, Connecticut is the champ—presumably deemed most horrible, though she seems perfectly pleasant.
“We’ll be back again,” says Jessica.
Others came from even farther away. Sam Baker is an Englishman, though he lives in Harlem. He finds the Fall Back small-batch brew to his liking; after all, it’s an English mild ale. “I thought, this is nice. This is comforting,” he says.
And Laura Daviscame all the way from Los Angeles—homesick for a bit of Captain Lawrence after moving west. She’s making short work of Tarrytown pal Stephanie Dodd in cornhole, as Justin Badger keeps score—and enjoys a rum barrel-aged Smoke From the Oak. “We’re playing some cornhole, and feeling pretty good right now,” Laura says, Liquid Gold in one hand, beanbag in the other.
The raindrops were an empty threat; it’s sunny and gorgeous again, the final Saturday before the clocks make like that English mild ale and fall back. Justin says they are making the most of the favorable temps before the winter chill. “There’s only so long you can play cornhole,” he says.
Captain Lawrence Brewing, at 444 Saw Mill River Road in Elmsford, is open Wednesday through Friday, with weekend brewery tours on the hour, starting at 1. The author is paid by Captain Lawrence, partially in Freshchester Pale Ale.
The “Notes From the Captain Lawrence Tasting Room” books are for sale at the brewery, at Village Bookstore in Pleasantville, and on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Notes-From-Captain-Lawrence-Tasting/dp/0985632844/