Captain Lawrence's Tasting Room

Michael Donato, August 27, 2013

A few weekends back I had the pleasure of finally visiting Captain Lawrence's Tasting Room in Westchester, NY with a couple of friends. It was a good time, with many good beers.

Captain Lawrence is located on route 9A in Elmsford, NY, behind a building and through a Budget truck rental parking lot. It's not the most obvious of locations, but it's easy enough to get to once you figure it out. They've got an indoor tasting room with barrels to put beer on, and a bar at the end that sells bottles, glasses, samples and merchandise and plenty of room to stand around and taste beer. Outdoors they have a bunch of picnic tables and a spot for food vendors to set up. There are games you can rent from the brewery as well, frisbee-golf, cornhole, and bocce among them. They've got hourly tours, which I passed on this time. I find brewery tours are often very repetitive and I've been on so many at this point that I don't usually bother.

Captain Lawrence operates their tasting room a little bit differently than others. They have a regular beer menu with plastic cups and bottles, as well as four-ounce samples. The samples are operated on a token system, currently $10 for 12 poker chips where each sample is one chip, and you need to purchase a $2 tasting glass for them to pour into. Captain Lawrence actually has 12 taps available, so the dozen chips makes sense, but beyond the initial exposure you might be better off just buying cups of the beers you like.  Although the tokens do get you tastes of the three-to-four pilot batch beers they have available and you can always come back and try something new.

The beer I most wanted to try was tapped out, the Monkey Madness, a Belgian-style golden ale with mango puree. Instead, I sampled the newly released Pumpkin Ale, the California Commons style Breslin, the Imperial IPA, The Kolsch, Chico's Pilsner, and the smoked porter. The pumpkin is hoppier than most you'll have, and I enjoyed it in part because I enjoy hops. The bitterness helps the pumpkin spices not be overly cloying. My wife thought the smoked porter reminded her too much of sausage, though she's enjoyed a good smoked porter in the past. It definitely had a strong aroma, and the smoke was probably too much of the flavor instead of a complement to a good porter. I really enjoyed the Imperial IPA, it was crisp and well-balanced, it only suffers here because it's a Double IPA and the replacement level is so high.  The Breslin was very drinkable, even if that's not particularly my favorite style, but it didn't really stand out in any noticable way.







Captain's Reserve Imperial IPA

Imperial / Double IPA




Captain's Kölsch





Smoked Porter

American Porter




Golden Delicious

Belgian Tripel




Pumpkin Ale

Pumpkin/Yam Beer




California Common



Chico's Pilsner




I also had one glass of beer, because it was a bottled beer and wasn't available to sample. That beer was the Golden Delicious, an American Tripel, dry-hopped with Amarillo hops and aged in Apple Brandy barrels from one of this country's oldest distilleries. This was my favorite beer of the afternoon. Where some strong Belgian styles, particularly ones aged in liquor barrels, taste strongly of alcohol the Golden Delicious tastes of rich syrupy apple cider. It's a rich and complex flavor, but it's also lovely and perfect for a summer evening. It poured a little fizzy and I could've easily quaffed the whole bottle given the opportunity. 

Tasting rooms are great places. Even if part of your group hasn't met another part of your group previously the introduction of multiple samples of different styles of lovingly crafted beer is a great way to spark conversation and apprecation of beer. Before you know it everything will devolve into a Mystery Science Theater 3000 lovefest.