Seventeen-year-olds and beer are not supposed to mix. Yet Scott Vacarro began his beer career at this tender age when he watched his friend’s father brewing on the stove. “I just thought ‘what a cool idea,’ ” he says. “And I owe my parents, because they were pretty lenient and said, ‘Sure, make beer — no big deal.’ ” Vacarro later went on to obtain a degree in fermentation science — and reach the legal drinking age — before opening Captain Lawrence Brewing Company in Pleasantville in 2005. That location served him well for six years before he moved the business to Elmsford. Now, the tasting room is triple the size, with a 30-foot-long oak bar and floor-to-ceiling windows that provide natural light on one side, and views of the active brewery on the other. The beer is widely distributed around the New York-metro area; last year’s production increased to 14,500 barrels. For 2013, Vacarro expects to roll out 20,000 barrels.
Vacarro uses Belgian, German, and American yeast strains to produce about 20 different brews, including seven year-round choices, a few seasonals, and a dozen specialties. Customers clamor for the popular Pale Ale, made from the American strain; other favorites include the Belgian-style Liquid Gold and the Germanic Captain’s Kölsch, which has both fruity ale and crisp lager undertones.
The tasting room offers opportunities to try original beers each week. With the “pilot brew system,” brewers experiment with flavors, only making 14 kegs of each. “It’s something that’s here today, gone tomorrow,” says Vacarro. “None have become staples yet; it’s more just for fun. But you never know.” While there are a few chips and snacks, the food options are limited. The brewery recently paired with Tarrytown’s Village Dog to provide gourmet hot dogs, and the Cookery Restaurant rolls in its mobile pizza truck every Friday. 914-741-2337; www.captainlawrencebrewing.com
Cheers to: A cozy outdoor patio and bocce court, and $10 growler refills Don’t miss: Sun Block, a wheat beer only available during the summer
Be on the lookout for: Pumpkin Ale, returning in September
Best night: Wednesday, when the new pilot brews make their debut