Rob Astorino showed some bite in the first county executive debate with Noam Bramson October 2, and he likes his beer to bare some teeth as well. Westchester’s highest ranking official knows his India Pale Ale from his Pale Ale, and enjoys the IPA—“a beer with a little bite,” he says–the most.

“I don’t want to say I’m a beer snob, but I’ve come to enjoy beer,” Rob says over a glass of the IPA in the Captain Lawrence tasting room. “No disrespect to the major breweries, but I’m more of a craft beer guy. That’s why I love Captain Lawrence.”

Naturally, the county exec will say nice things about one of Westchester’s most identifiable brands, but Rob seems genuine in his affinity for Captain Lawrence. “When I’m out to dinner, I always ask, do you have Captain Lawrence?” he says. “Honest to God, I always do. I have a healthy appreciation for what is produced here.”

In case you’ve overlooked the ubiquitous blue ASTORINO signs in your neighbor’s yard, Rob, a Hawthorne resident, is up for re-election next month, and is viewed as something of a rising star in the Republican party beyond Westchester. He singled out Captain Lawrence in his April State of the County speech for producing a world-class product within county borders. “Scott [Vaccaro] could’ve chosen to be anywhere, but he chose to grow and expand here in Westchester,” Rob says. “It’s an example for other businesses.”

Captain Lawrence founder Scott Vaccaro and County Executive Rob Astorino
A former radio broadcaster, Rob appears relaxed and in the moment–chatting with brewery visitors on his way in and his way out, despite several post-5 p.m. engagements that await. He discusses beer with some authority, likening Captain Lawrence to Samuel Adams 20 years ago (“a real legitimate chance of being a regional and national brand,” he says), and noting how he enjoys sampling local craft beers—Harpoon, Dogfish Head, Blue Point—when he’s traveling.

One outlier from the hoppy list is Guinness. “I don’t normally drink stout, but I do enjoy it in Ireland,” says Rob, who got married on the Emerald Isle a dozen years ago.

Speaking of tourism, he sees Captain Lawrence as a significant draw for visitors under the county’s Meet Me in Westchester marketing campaign. “You can have a taste of local beer, then go to [Rockefeller estate] Kykuit—or Yonkers Raceway,” he says. “It’s a stop along the way, no question about it.”

Astorino has ambitious plans for a second term, including creating a “biotech village” along Grasslands Road, bringing Playland Park into the current century (“restaurants, a field house, a water park,” he enthuses), and continuing to create new jobs while keeping the tax levy in check. He’s also pleased to see the county’s craft breweries, including Peekskill Brewery and Yonkers Brewing Co., take off.  

Being county exec doesn’t allow for much downtime, but Rob, the father of three, does get a breather at home every now and then—and offers a peek at how he might spend it. “There’s nothing like a Captain Lawrence IPA and a football game on a Sunday,” he says before heading out to his next engagement.

—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 Freshchester Pale Ale.