Barcelona Wine Bar in SoNo recently hosted a beer dinner with Captain Lawrence Brewing Company founder and brewmaster Scott Vaccaro. The four course dinner paired a spanish inspired menu designed by Chef Freddy Chimborazo, with four of the brewery's beers (and at $45 per person, this felt like a dine and dash). The meal went from light to heavy, beginning with a first course paired a grilled shrimp with lemon aoili paired with Liquid Gold, a Belgian Style ale, to a fourth course pairing smoked short ribs with a smoked porter. In addition to the four well-matched courses, the highlight of the evening was getting to know Vacarro, Captain Lawrence's amiable founder and brewmaster himself.
1. How did you go from drinking Schaefer to brewing your own beer at the age of 17?
I stumbled upon home brewing at a friends house my junior year in high school. I was amazed that you could actually brew beer at home. I was given the green light by my parents and with the help of my friends father I brewed my first batch in November of 1995.
2. You studied brewing at UC Davis, and worked at a few breweries including Sierra Nevada. Are you inspired by a particular style or brewery when brewing your beers?
We make a wide variety of beers. Some very hoppy, some oak aged, some dark, some light. What inspires me every day is that we have the freedom to brew whatever style we want. The possibilities are endless.
3. What sets Captain Lawrence apart from other microbreweries in the region?
I would like to think it is our creativity and ability to brew so many different styles well. But I think that every brewer in the region has their strong points and everyone is brewing terrific beers these days.
4. Can people visit? What can visitors do when they come visit your brewery?
They sure can. we are open wed- fri from 4-8pm, sat 12-6 and sun 12-5. We give tours on the weekend and offer tasting and retail sales every day we are open.
5. 'Tis the season for all things pumpkin, including beer. Yours is extremely popular. What is it about pumpkin beer, are they overrated or just plain awesome?
I cant put my finger on what is the driving force behind pumpkin other than everyone seems to like them. There is no gender barrier when it comes to Pumpkin ales….everyone drinks them.
6. What new beers do you have in the works at the brewery? And what do you look for when crafting a new brew? We have been brewing new beers every week on our pilot system. We yield around 14 kegs per brew on that system, and they can only be found for sampling in our tasting room! We look to create beers with a distinct intensity of flavor.
7. What was the last beer you drank?
A Captain Lawrence IPA last night…..quality control is what I call it, not drinking.
8. We met at a Barcelona beer dinner. How important is pairing beer with food?
It is fun, enjoyable and rewarding when it all comes together.
9. If you weren't a brewer, you'd be a _____?
Probably a plumber…..I have done more plumbing in the last 8 years keeping this place running and constantly expanding.
10. Extracurricular activity you enjoy when not brewing?
Hanging out with my kids and fishing.
[Photograph courtesy of Serendipity Magazine]