What to do with those massive old fermenters clogging up space in your brewery? Scott Vaccaro had one dating back to the Captain Lawrence Brewing launch eight years ago, and this week will put the 1,200 gallon vessel to work in a new role: producing a fermented mash that will then be sent across Rte. 287 to Port Chester—where it will be turned into whiskey at the Still the One distillery.
The name of the whiskey? Fittingly enough, “287”—a joint venture between Captain Lawrence and Still the One.
“We’ve cleaned it up and got it in place, and we’ll fill it this week,” says Scott. “We’ll make good old, American single-malt whiskey.”
The two potent potable producers have been partners in the whiskey operation for about a year, and the first fruits of the venture—a whiskey made from distilled Freshchester Pale Ale—will be available for Christmas. The new batch going into the fermenter this week will feature a different recipe.
Now, back to the beer. The season of Pumpkin Ale is winding down, and another seasonal favorite, the Winter Ale, is on tap for a November 1 release. This year’s Winter Ale features a reformulated recipe that includes the English malt Maris Otter. “We’ve beefed it up to make it richer, with more body,” says Scott. “It’s a lot more sustaining for the winter months.”
The brewery has also conscripted a “hop back” into service—a three-foot long hunk of hardware that looks like an inverted rocket ship. The hop back is designed to hop the heck out of brews—when the wort comes out of the kettle, it’s put through the handy little hop hopper for maximum hoppiness. “It’s another way to get more hop character into the beer,” says Scott.
It was used to enhance the Fall Back English Mild Ale, a pilot system brew piloted by Justin Sturges that features hops grown at J&A Farm in Goshen. It will be unveiled in the tasting room at a special event October 26. “It’s a malty brown ale that’s true to its name—thirst quenching, a low ABV, nice malty character in a tight little body,” says Scott.
That October 26 event is made more special with a pair of author appearances and signings. Joshua Bernstein, one of the best beer writers on the planet (he wrote Brewed Awakening), reads/signs/sells his new book The Complete Beer Course—Boot Camp For Beer Geeks.
And while we only speak in the third person on truly special occasions, Michael Malone will unveil his new Notes From the Captain Lawrence Tasting Room book, showcasing the highlights of his dozens of weekly Captain Lawrence articles, and photos, over the past 18 months, and a foreword from Scott, at the same event.
Finally, Scott returned from The Great American Beer Festival in Denver this past weekend, walking the show floor, enjoying some new brews at Avery Brewing Company and New Belgium Brewing—and claiming a gold medal for the Hops N’ Roses, the sour ale brewed with rose hips, hibiscus and elder flower, in the Experimental Beer category.
“It’s always great to visit the festival and have a few beers with friends I haven’t seen in a while,” says Scott.
 “It’s even sweeter when we come home with a gold medal.”
—Michael Malone (malone5a@yahoo.com)

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.