Ken Kesey and his band of Merry Pranksters had their acid test, and Scott Vaccaro and his Captain Lawrence boys have theirs too. Taking place at a number of better beer establishments in the region, The Captain Lawrence Acid Test offers up three pale ales of increasing hoppiness: The India Pale Ale, the Imperial IPA and the Seeking Alpha mega-monster Triple IPA.
Brewers measure a beer’s bitterness on the International Bittering Units (IBU) scale. The IPA weighs in around 65, the Imperial IPA at 90, and the Seeking Alpha—an 11% alcohol, twice dry-hopped colossus—hits the full 100 in the IBU scale. The three-beer flight allows sippers and samplers to note the escalating acidity on their taste buds, and vote for their favorite of the trio. Craft beer purveyors participating in the merriment include Bierkraft and Brouwerij Lane in Brooklyn, Bronx Beer Hall and Beer Table in Grand Central Terminal.
“The Acid Test is a way for people to taste their way up the scale,” says Scott. “It’s also a way for people to taste some special beers alongside the beers that are more everyday ones.”
Speaking of special beers, some Golden Delicious is stewing in apple brandy barrels, and Scott and the guys will put the dry-hopped tripel ale in four-packs for the first time in the fall. The brew, also weighing in at 11% ABV, has only been available in hefty 750 ml bottles in the past. “Eleven percent is a big commitment,” says Scott. “This is a better way to offer a beer that strong.”
Ideal as an aperitif, the Golden Delicious features notes of vanilla, tropical fruit and green apples.
Captain Lawrence aims to put a different specialty brew in four-packs each quarter of this year; the Golden Delicious follows the Frost Monster imperial stout and Seeking Alpha.
Those double-digits uber-brews are not for everyone; sometimes you just want a refreshing Kolsch or plain old Pale Ale without the India or Imperial or Triple prefix. All will be available when the signature Captain Lawrence Pig Roast goes down Saturday, May 17. Last year’s, the first for the brewery in Elmsford, took place on a steamy June day. This year’s will be cooler in every respect, with music from Evan Watson, Rebecca Haviland and others, pigs on the barbie, lots of beer, samples of the “287” Captain Lawrence/Still the One whiskey, and cornhole and bocce for your other hand.
“I think the weather will be better,” says Scott. “It was a little warm last year.”
And speaking of al fresco sipping, once we get past Tuesday’s last blast of winter, we’ll hopefully catch a break in the weather and be out on the patio again. Scott mentions a “beautification plan” for the outdoor space—canals, gondolas, a reimagined Venetian cityscape right here in Elmsford.
OK, maybe not something that dramatic, but the guys at the brewery are planting fresh shrubs and other assorted flora, cleaning up the area, and making it that much more inviting on which to sip the Liquid Gold, the Sun Block, and others that go well with spring and summer sun.
“We can’t wait for the damn weather to get warm,” says Scott. “I’m sure you can’t either.”
–Michael Malone (

Captain Lawrence Brewing, at 444 Saw Mill River Road in Elmsford, is open Wednesday through Friday (4-8 p.m.), Saturday (12-6 p.m.) and Sunday (12-5). The author is paid by Captain Lawrence, partially in India Pale Ale.

The “Notes From the Tasting Room” book is available at the brewery and on Amazon: