Captain Lawrence Pleasantville Smoked Porter

6.4% ABV poured from a growler

I lied somewhat when I said that the horrid Amstel Light was the only beer available at my aunt and uncle’s place during Father’s Day. There also happened to be a full growler of Captain Lawrence’s delicious smoked porter in the house. Say what? You see, my relatives live in Pleasantville, NY, a little upstate from the city. I’d been a fan of Captain Lawrence’s Liquid Gold for the past year or so, but hadn’t realized that the brewery was located in Pleasantville until just a few weeks ago. Thus, I thought I could kill many birds with one stone (and get plastered before an uncomfortable family gathering) by visiting the brewery early in the afternoon before the Father’s Day festivities. Unfortunately, the place is only open on Fridays and Saturday. Drats.

That greatly disappointed me because the new brewery (only open since 2006) just placed 5th on Beer Advocate‘s top 50 American breweries list. Yet, living just 31.8 miles away from it, I still rarely see their beers any where in Manhattan. In fact, I’m not even positive they bottle their beers. All I have ever discovered is the Liquid Gold on draft which increasingly more and more local bars are stocking. I was tipped off though that their smoked porter was phenomenal so I emailed my uncle early in the week and ask him if he could make a run to the brewery and pick up a few bottles of it for our dinner.

When I arrived at my uncle Les’s house on Sunday he quickly apologized. Seems Captain Lawrence doesn’t sell bottles at their brewery. He regrettably mentioned that all he could secure was a growler of the brew. That merits an apology?! Are you fucking kidding me?! I wanted to hug my uncle. It was one of the greatest things ever purchased for me. My very own growler.

I’ve always wanted my own growler. For those that don’t know (and you can read Beer Advocate’s lengthy and excellent explanation here), a growler is this giant half-gallon (64 ounce) jug, for lack of a better word, that looks like something that should have the label XXX on the side of it. You fill your growler with draught beer fresh from the brewery, greatly serving the beer-guzzler-on-the-go. Finish the half-gallon of beer off, wash out the growler, and then you can return to the brewery where you got it for cheap refills. As far as I know, The Whole Foods Bowery beer room and The Ginger Man are the only places in Manhattan that sell growlers of beer, but I may be wrong.

Look at my growler above. So medieval, so MANLY. Captain Lawrence’s own note on the growler claims “…this is how beer was MEANT to be tasted.” I could not agree more.

Of further amusement, my uncle seems to believe that Captain Lawrence’s brewmaster has like a Monday through Friday day job and then just arrives on Saturday afternoon to brew some WORLD-CLASS beer and shoot the shit with locals in the tasting room. This is clearly not true. In fact, Captain Lawrence’s brewmaster, Scott Vaccaro, majored in Fermentation Sciences in college at the University of California at Davis. Is that not the coolest major in the world?! Thus, the man most certainly knows what he is doing.

Any how, I was ready to crack open my growler and start chugging it with our Father’s Day meal but, unfortunately, or fortunately, my uncle Les noted that I should just take my growler home, claiming the beer looked a little too dark for him to drink and insisting that there’s no reason to open it since I couldn’t finish it all in one sitting…blah blah blah. We may be related but he obviously doesn’t know me that well. I could have finished that growler by myself in a few hours. Heck, I would have liked to have finished the growler in a few hours, washed it clean with hot water and ran back to the brewery for another fill-up before going back to Manhattan.

Any how, I did cart my growler home on the Metro-North. After a day of having it in the fridge, I could resist no long and had to pop the top. Let me firstly state that a growler is goddamn heavy. Luckily I am incredibly buff and an arm wrestling enthusiast but I’m not sure most men have enough strength to even upright the full growler in order to pour it into their pint glass. You should not be ashamed in asking for help.

Pours dark like STP. Smokey, obviously, with tastes of rich chocolate, coffee, creaminess and nutiness. Hints of black licorice which is my favorite part of this beer, making it very unique. Yum. Absolutely delicious.

I’m usually wishy-washy on porters because, though I love the taste of them, they are often avoided by me because after one I feel unable to drink for the rest of the night. They are so hefty and potent. After a single porter, my stomach doesn’t feel like adding any more beer to it while my mouth is so overwhelmed that I can’t drink anything else. But this is a surprisingly drinkable and refreshing smoked porter. Stone is maybe the only other brewery that makes a smoked porter I like as much as this one. The flavor stays in your mouth and your tongue well after you’ve swallowed a gulp. And you do gulp this beer it is so amazing. So complex. Don’t drink this one too cold or you’ll miss out on its subtleties. It can be enjoyed at near room temperature, maybe just a little chilled. A beautiful, unique beer. Not for everybody, not for “amateur” drinkers, but I think this is one most beer enthusiasts will adore.

I can’t wait to hopefully find and try more Captain Lawrence beers. It is surely one of the most exciting American breweries around nowadays.

And now I have an empty growler. Time to start a jug band.

A

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