Captain Lawrence’s Seasonal Sour Collaboration with Stone Barns

To the craft beer enthusiast, sour ale is the source of obsession. But its pungent tonalities can be off-putting to the casual consumer. With their newest release, Captain Lawrence Brewing has bottled a sour capable of pleasing both camps. Hudson Valley Harvest Sour Raspberry is an ale aged in oak barrels, fermented with fruit sourced entirely from Stone Barns in northern Westchester County. This weekend, the Elmsford-based brewery unleashes a supremely limited supply of the beer for $15 a bottle.

Sour ales are often bottle conditioned, meaning they are packaged with active yeast, allowing them to develop with time as they sit on the shelf. But Sour Raspberry actually hit the bottle almost a year ago. The beer sat patiently in the brewery awaiting elegant, updated labeling. Now it is rearing to go, ready to please palates with all its glorious complexities.

“This is far and away one of the best sours we have produced to date,” says Scott Tobin, brewhouse manager. “It’s got this crisp mouthfeel that lets the freshness of the fruit shine through every sip.” And those raspberries really do assume centerstage, delivering a tartness only slightly subdued by faint traces of wood in the finish. Never overwhelming on the tongue, its an optimal gateway sour to share with the uninitiated.

“With the current demand for sours at the brewery, this one’s going to be fetched up fast,” warns Tobin. So if you’re hoping to secure Sour Raspberry as a stocking stuffer this Christmas, steer your sleigh towards the brewery post haste. Enjoy a few classic Captain Lawrence offerings on tap while you’re there.

The tasting room is open from noon until 6 p.m. on Saturday, and noon – 5 p.m. every Sunday. Click here for details and directions.


With This Beer, We Raise a Toast to Queens

Move over, Brooklyn. After years of threats and broken promises, we may finally be entering the era of Queens. You want proof? There’s the Mets, of course, who are riding an eleven-game win streak to the best record in baseball. Although it’s still April, the team’s most electrifying start since the championship season of 1986 is enough to snag the entire city’s attention. But that’s sure to fade faster than the hop profile of a great I.P.A.

More importantly, a great borough needs a great beer — dozens of them — and Queens seems to get a new, noteworthy brew with each passing month. In fact, the craft-beer scene there is now so broad and distinguished as to merit a dedicated celebration: Queens Beer Week. Launched in 2014, May 8 marks its triumphant return with an opening event at Crescent and Vine in Astoria. And there’s plenty to sip on in the meantime. Start with Starchild, from Glendale’s own Finback Brewery. Representing rebirth, and packing a whole lotta funk, it’s an entirely appropriate beer for 2015 Queens.

Tart and tangy, Finback’s April release is a 4.6 percent sour brewed with grapefruit peels and wild yeast strains. This particular style of beer typically takes some getting used to; the pungent flavors of a sour ale can evoke unfavorable comparisons to everything from vinegar to wet barn. But yes, some people actively seek out these elements in their beer. Belgian lambic drinkers, for one, have been enjoying them for centuries. Starchild improves its accessibility, however, by offering the ripened zest provided by citrus. You don’t have to be a sour-beer lover so much as a grapefruit enthusiast to get down with this brew. And after you get down, it’s unlikely you’ll turn around. Once you go sour, as they say…

With an orange-hued body reminiscent of our Citi Field baseball team, Starchild has a light, acidic fizz that might linger on the tongue longer than the Mets’ reign at the top of the standings.

Look for it on tap at many of the borough’s standout beer bars. For a guaranteed taste, not to mention a fun weekend excursion, head over to the Finback taproom, open Thursday through Sunday. There you can enjoy four-ounce pours and growler fills of the new sour, along with ten other house brews on draft. In the heart of the borough, it’s a great taste of Queens. Be forewarned: There isn’t a subway stop within a mile. Plan accordingly. From the Middle Village stop at the end of the M line, you can either walk about 30 minutes or take the Q54 bus to get to the brewery.