Taste Tart and Tangy Brews at Captain Lawrence Brewing's Sour Beer Fest

2014 Sour'd in September Beer Festival at Captain Lawrence BrewingEXPAND
2014 Sour'd in September Beer Festival at Captain Lawrence Brewing
Brad Japhe

Craft beer aficionados in and around the city are perpetually inundated by a flood of festivals celebrating their beloved liquid. Sadly, you can only fit so much beer in your belly. Important decisions must be made. Last year, around this time, Captain Lawrence (444 Saw Mill River Road, Elmsford, New York) in Westchester had the good sense to ease the decision-making process for the craft crowd: Attending their Sour'd in September festival was a no-brainer. Focusing almost exclusively on the tart and tangy, wilder ales that make the geeks go gaga, it's no wonder that the event is now on its way to becoming an annual tradition. The second rendition returns to the Elmsford microbrewery this Saturday, with doors opening at 2 p.m.

This time around, Captain Lawrence brewmaster Scott Vaccaro promises an even broader selection of sour ales — more than 80 in total from the 40 breweries in attendance. Your $65 general admission ticket scores you four hours of unlimited pours, followed by added frivolity in the tasting room, well into the evening hours. 

Augie Carton of Carton Brewing is ready to throw down with Dune Fruit, an accessible sour made with prickly-pear cactus. "It's run by a brewer I really respect," Carton says of Vaccaro's event. "So I said yes when asked. Now I'm going back with some of our most unique beers because I had so much fun last year."

Although NYC has been somewhat sluggish in embracing the sour scene, Captain Lawrence has been knocking 'em out of the park since opening a decade ago. Their Rosso e Marrone — an oak-aged, Belgian-inspired brown ale — and the now-defunct Cuvee de Castleton wild ale are as exemplary as they are elusive. Saturday is a rare chance to sip both, alongside an assortment of specialty one-offs. 

Sour beer can skew heavily toward pungency, provoking hesitance among the uninitiated. But the novice has a whole slew of entry-level pools into which to dip their toes. Plan Bee from upstate, for example, offers a gentle zest in their Shandee. While technically a saison, it's made with lemon verbena, begging the palate to delve deeper into the tang.

And to top it all off, you get local food vendors, live music, and bocce. Lots of bocce. In an outdoor beer garden. Designated drivers get in for $10, but if you're confined to public transit, hop on the Metro-North Harlem Line to the North White Plains stop and call ahead for a taxi. It's a short ride to the brewery with the following providers:

Greenburg Taxi (914) 592-4949
Westchester Taxi (914) 946-9333
Knapp & Mccarthy Taxi (914) 693-8294

Tickets are available here. Pucker up. 

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