Posts Tagged With: Captain Lawrence

Two Stouts, a King, a Monk, a Stone and Three Philosophers

No, they did *not* all walk into a bar.

Actually, I suppose they did.

Bells ExpeditionBells Expedition Stout

We start with an opaque black glassful with a brief brown head. From a foot away the aroma reminds me of chocolate milk. Moving closer it delivers massive malt and a roasty earthiness with a hint of brandy. The flavor leads with roasty malt and hints of charred oak, but this needs to warm up about 10 degrees . . . okay, now it’s richer and deeper with more balanced malt, and that touch of chocolate is back, lingering into a very smooth finish with just a hint of spicy hops. 10.5% ABV

Captain Frost MonsterCaptain Lawrence Frost Monster

In honor of April snow, a winter creature visits. Almost opaque dark brown with a brief brown head ringing the glass. The aroma is of spicy hops, cake malt, roast grain and a vanilla hint. Medium to full in body, the flavor reminds me of bitter Mexican chocolate with roastiness like lightly scorched grain. There is substantial bitterness on the finish, along with hops and very dark malt. 12% ABV, 65 IBU

Konig Ludwig Weissbier HellKonig Ludwig Weissbier

Once reserved for the royal family, “Royal Bavarian Hefe-Weizen,” this pours a cloudy golden straw with a moderate bubbly white head. This German style features a yeasty aroma of stone fruit rather than the banana of the Belgian equivalent. That aroma concludes with a little burst of noble hops. The fruit gets stronger on the palate, moving into biscuit malt with a touch of caramel. The finish is very crisp with a clear hop note to tie it all together. 5.5% ABV.

Spencer2Spencer Trappist Ale

The only American Trappist ale–the only one brewed outside Western Europe–the label says “Pair with Family and Friends.” It is apricot gold with a generous buttermilk-colored head and lots of effervescence. The nose gives biscuit and cake malt with slight stone fruit and light earthy hops. The flavor leads with crisp apple and good malt, continuing into a malt and stone fruit finish. This seems like the Trappist single that only the monks get in Europe, rather than the Trappist dubbels and triples (and occasional quads) that are exported to the U.S. 6.5% ABV

021416_EnjByUNFILTERED_22ozR2Stone Enjoy By 02.14.16

No, these are old notes, not an old bottle! An unfiltered IPA, it’s effervescent, hazy gold with a generous yellowish head. Very distinct hop aroma–showing I don’t know my hops–all hop, pine & citrus. Ah, from the website I see that there are twelve different varieties of hops! No wonder I couldn’t identify them! It then gives a creamy mouthfeel with leading sweetness, then the hops come in with great flavor. The malt emerges and carries the flavor into a balanced hoppy finish. 9.4% ABV 90 IBU

ommThreePhilosophersOmmegang Three Philosophers

Deep amber in the glass with a moderate orangey head. The nose is super malty with quiet stone fruit and a little hop zing. This is followed by a delicious caramel or toffee mouthful, wine-like with an undertone of peach or apricot. It has a very smooth finish of hops and malt and fruit. Outstanding! 9.7% ABV

Image couresy of Stone Brewing Co.
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Attack of the Pumpkins! (Part 1)

Pumpkins! Quite a crop!

Pumpkin Crop

Yes, I grumbled because pumpkin beers were flooding the shelves in July. I was delaying the inevitable. Yes, for a while I focused on Oktoberfest Bier (and enjoyed them very much, thank you). But now Oktoberfest is over, it’s the same month as Halloween, and it’s time to give in to the pumpkin tide. As a bonus, these are very much to the liking of my family, where there is not a hop-head among them.

Captain Lawrence Pumpkin AleCaptain Lawrence Pumpkin Ale

Captain Lawrence says, “this is the perfect beer to drink as the weather starts to turn a bit cooler.” Yes, there’s good reason to wait until after July! Medium amber with a tight off white head. A light malty aroma comes with just a hint of squash and then some spice. The palette is crisp and again lightly malty. There is not much pumpkin at all, but rather a good ale with a hint of pumpkin, a refreshing beer. 5% ABV, 20 IBU, setting the stylistic pattern of minimal hops. This brewery is in Elmsford, NY.

Defiant Headless HorsemanDefiant Headless Horseman

A glass of dark pumpkin-y amber with a medium creamy head, this comes from Pearl River, NY. Pumpkin leads the aroma with a little shot of hops and bakery malt. There’s a tiny metallic note. After the aroma, the spicy flavor surprises, carried on a bed of malt. The pumpkin comes back on the finish, mixed now with the spices. There is more going on than the Captain Lawrence. 5.5% ABV

Schlafley Pumpkin AleSchlafly Pumpkin Ale

From St. Louis, this was a favorite with my friends, and with me. Pours chestnut with a brief bubbly off white head. Pumpkin pie nose! Absolutely! The flavor continues the pie and brings in bready malt (the crust?) and a little shot of spicy hops to join the cinnamon, nutmeg & clove. There is great balance among the spices as one then another stands out. Then comes a long spicy finish with that sweet pumpkin. 8.0% ABV, 16 IBU

Harpoon Imperial PumpkinHarpoon Imperial Pumpkin

This stout is an almost opaque cola brown with a brief tan head. There is a shot of pumpkin aroma as soon as the cap comes off, then it gets relatively mild with restrained nutmeg and perhaps butternut squash. No, it’s pumpkin: “We had some fresh pumpkin puree leftover from a recent brew of our UFO Pumpkin…” The flavor is richly spiced and lightly pumpkined with roasty dark malts coming almost to dominate. The finish says stout first, then nutmeg & cinnamon like a spice cookie, and only mild pumpkin. 10.5% ABV

WeyerbacherWeyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale

They say “we set out to make a bold monument for The King of the Pumpkins!” This comes from Allentown, PA, chestnut in the glass with a brief off-tan head. Lots of pumpkin aroma arrives with spices in the background and a layer of warming malt. The flavor delivers spice and pumpkin together, and more pumpkin than pie, it’s not as sweet as some. There’s cinnamon & nutmeg & cloves–like many pumpkin ales–but Weyerbacher gives a little something extra with cardamon. The finish starts with malt and pumpkin but it’s the spices that linger through a long finish. Very good. 8.0% ABV, IBU 21

KukaLabelKuka Pumpkin Dubbel

From the Andean Brewing Company, Blauvelt NY, this fills the glass with deep amber with a moderate bubbly off white head. There’s a nose of musty fermented pumpkin and spices. Their beers are unique, featuring maca root in the recipe. This stands out among the pumpkins with a strong fermenting fruit flavor over medium dark malt. It’s almost a sour, and is only barely to my taste. Wraps up with malt and raisin. 6.5% ABV

Shipyard PumpkinheadShipyard Pumpkinhead

This was served at Growler & Gill in a glass rimmed with sugar & cinnamon, as appropriate as rimming margaritas with salt, and what does Shipyard write about it? “A seasonal favorite! Try Pumpkinhead with a shot of spiced rum or in a pint glass rimmed with sugar and cinnamon.” This pours amber with a light off white head, followed by a nose of pumpkin & malt & spice. The flavor delivers more spice than pumpkin with medium bakery/cara malt. It has a light body not quite watery. The finish is quite light with pumpkin & malt and lasts for a little while. I may have to look for some spiced rum! 4.5% ABV.

Flying Dog The Gourd StandardFlying Dog The Gourd Standard

Fills the glass with pretty copper and a generous lemon chiffon head. Pumpkin pie spiced with hops gives a nice big aroma. The flavor starts more melon than gourd with malt and pie spices and hops in the background. The hops emerge on the finish making this a nice variant on the less hoppy pumpkins. 6.7% ABV, breaking the mold at 60 IBU.

Yes, there’s more where these came from. After all, we haven’t touched the Dogfish, and we haven’t touched the superstars Pumking and Warlock. These will be along as soon as my liver recovers.

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Salute Captain Lawrence

Captain Lawrence Brewing

It’s not every brewery that is named for a street, but this name comes from Captain Lawrence Drive, and Owner/Brewer Scott Vaccaro’s journey went from South Salem to UC Davis and back, by way of Sierra Nevada. The tasting room is open, noisy, and friendly with a mix of high-top bar tables, picnic tables, and folks standing around barrels to sip or quaff. On Good Friday, only pizza was available, but how many places have a pizza with Brussel Sprouts? Not for me, but very creative. I was here on a Friday, but tours are available on Saturday and Sunday.

Palette ShifterThis isn’t a full review because it’s based on 3 or 4 ounce tastes, rather than full portions.

We led off with Helles Hot, a simple, crisp, refreshing pale lager. A nice blend of malts leads the way. One could have quite a few of these as a session. This would be very good with simple fare, light cheese up to bratwurst. 4.5% ABV

Liquid Gold is a fine entry point for those who like Belgian ales. This is a nice golden ale with spice and orange over clean malt, with a hint of herbs that must come from the hops, but the hops remain in the background. Deceptive 6.5 % ABV.

Spring Buzz is another very clean lager in the Kolsch style, hints of honey, totally restrained hops and clear malt. I must say that Captain Lawrence does the clean German styles just as well as they do the hop-forward or hop-hammer stlyes. 6.5% ABV, even more deceptive than the Liquid Gold.

Effortless Session IPA is just that, emphasizing moderate citrusy hops over light malt. One could drink quite a few of these as a very satisfactory session. The aroma is really nice, moderate citrus, then more grapefruit comes in on the flavor. Mosaic and Palisade hops, and at this stage of my development I’m not sure which is which. 4.5% ABV

Captain’s Kolsch is another clean and crisp lager with little hop bitterness over a touch of fruit and solid bready malt. That malt persists from nose to finish, and maybe a touch more hops than the Spring Buzz. Here we have a flagship brew, very reliable. 5% ABV

Hop Commander IPA emphasizes dry hopping for extra aroma, and it really pays off with citrus, leading right into a grapefruit note on the palette. The bitterness is very restrained, almost restrained enough for those who don’t like hops (which usually means they don’t like the bitterness.) 6.5% ABV

Unfiltered Seeking Alpha with Cascade Hops and Pineapple. This was a cask ale, room temperature and thus deliberately flat. It was cloudy and looked like apricot nectar, and perhaps because of that appearance it seemed to have a nectar quality though it was not, in fact, sweet and nectary. Still, the consistency was creamy and mouth filling. Here’s a triple IPA where the hops end up quite restrained. This was the most interesting brew of a very interesting set. I guess this one is experimental and does not yet have its own name.

Palate Shifter IPA pours pale gold with a foamy 1/4″ head. Nose of medium cat-pee hops leaning to the herbal over bready malt, growing quickly as the beer warms from refrigerator temperature. Fills the mouth with malt-ball malt and bread, moderate herbal hop flavor. The finish is more malt than hop, lingering for a couple of minutes. The glass is heavily laced as the level goes down. This is a transitional hop between the entry drug and hophead levels. I had this one in the tasting room and then again when I got home. 9% ABV

Smoke Up Smoked Porter, pours very dark, basically black, with a very light smoky nose. There’s no bacon on the nose, but I can sense it on the palette, and it fills the mouth with roasty malt. This would be a good pairing with hearty food. 6.5% ABV

Seeking Alpha labelSeeking Alpha Triple IPA I had the cask unfiltered pineapple version at the brewery, and the bottled version at home. Pours light amber with twice the head of the Palate Shifter and sustained by the swift-rising bubbles. The nose has a piney, barnyard layer of hops over light malt. Effervescent, palatte-coating dry molasses, if such a thing can exist. The flavor is not heavily hopped, mostly a light but solid maltiness. The restrained bitterness lingers through a long finish. This 11% ABV is truly deceptive and could knock you on your ass if you’re not aware. Generally, all of Captain Lawrence is deceptive in terms of alcohol content, with a smoothness that masks the alcohol content. This is perfect for a relatively short session!

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Summer Lovin’

By now, my tendencies toward heavy hops and toward Belgian ales must be pretty clear, but I’m happy to explore the summer side of life. The theory is to aim for light, refreshing, and generally lower-alcohol brews that can carry you through the whole barbecue, or the whole warm summer evening. This is the realm traditionally dominated by Milwaukee Yellow Fizz with the funky metallic aftertastes . . . if they have any taste at all. Let’s look at the styles that the adjunct lagers imitate unsuccessfully (though with vast commercial success).
[We could refer back to the Berliner Weisse like Dogfish’s Festina Peche, but we already covered that, not that I would mind another!]
Schlafly Summer Lager. Helles style, meaning very pale indeed. Basic lager with a citrus hint, much higher quality than that stinky yellow stuff. 4.5% ABV and very little hops. Not bad but it reminds me that fundamentally I’m an ale guy. That isn’t true for many of these others.
summer1Anderson Valley Summer Solstice, which they refer to as “cream soda for adults.” Well, I never acquired a taste for cream soda, but I have a taste for this. It pours with a nice frothy head, medium amber and a bit cloudy, delivering caramel in the nose and vivid butterscotch on the palette, 5% ABV. I think this would be a crowd pleaser for the crafty and flavorful enough for all but the diehard hopheads. This is very approachable for those who hate both adjunct beer and hops, and perhaps might be a beer to lure some of the Milwaukee masses to the Craft Side of the Force.

River Horse Summer Blonde. Moving into New Jersey–which I did a long time ago–this gives a quiet head and a pale amber; it’s a smooth summer sipper. At 4.5%, it’s clearly sessionable. There’s a hint of ocean in the nose and on the palette like a distant cousin of an Islay scotch without the peat, and without most of the hops for that matter. Very nice!
Ramstein Blonde Wheat Beer. Staying in New Jersey, from High Point Brewing Company, this is a hefeweizen, 5.5% ABV, pouring a typical hazy wheat yellow with a strong head. Slightly spicy nose, and I guess I’m learning what brewed wheat smells like. On the palette it’s yeasty with a touch of banana, light bodied enough for summer with a bit of fizz. Like most Ramstein beers, I think it can please German purists.

SunBlockCaptain Lawrence Sun Block. Crossing the Hudson to New York, we go further into the wheat style. This has a nice sustained off white head with a bit of hop bite followed by clear orange from those hops. On the palette comes orange peel, then malt and solid grain with a moderate citrusy hop bite. A little pine lingers on the long finish. This is my favorite of the group, but River Horse is gaining on the outside, with Anderson Valley coming on. Mind you, this is the one I bought more of. Twice. And I’m sipping it right now!

Captain Lawrence Golden Delicious, an ale aged in Apple brandy casks. Poured slightly cloudy gold with a foamy head. This gave a cider nose with a hint of brandy, but I knew the brandy was there. On the palette good apple, smooth, a bit of sweetness and a touch of hops on the end, and no question that this had relations with brandy and oak! Very drinkable, but as a trippel style it’s really stretching to call this summery and it probably belongs in the fall with its hefty ABV (at least 10%). I’d drink it anytime, though.

Maredsous Dubbel Belgian abbey ale. A heavy hitter snuck in among the summer crowd. Caramel shading to chocolate over full bodied malt with some Classic Belgian yeast. Maybe a trifle musty…then someone noticed that the bottle says “Best By 02/2011.” So this is 3.5 years past the “best by” date! At 8% abv it survived but must have been much better.

Image courtesy of Captain Lawrence Brewing Company
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