The owner and head brewer, Scott Vaccaro’s story started sort of like every brewer’s story, but also sort of not at all. Vaccaro began brewing years before he could even legally drink at the age of 17, after being at a friends house and seeing his dad brew a batch of beer and wondering what sort of flavor combinations he could create. After some convincing he was able to talk his parents into getting him brewing equipment even though he again wasn’t able to drink legally.

After a brief stent in college studying accounting Vaccaro couldn’t shake the notion that he was much more interested in brewing than he was at crunching numbers. He dropped out of school and began studying fermentation science at University of California, Davis and while there, started working at a local brew shop which fueled his desire to brew beer.

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He admittedly didn’t have many friends in California, so he was brewing 10 gallons a week to keep busy. While in California he was able to land his first professional brewing job at Sierra Nevada and gained a wealth of experience brewing there. After six years in California he decided to head east and brewed for The Colorado Brewery, but after only six months it was forced to close down. He then decided to head back home to open a brewery for those who he first brewed for in his hometown of New York.

Vaccaro opened up in 2006 in Pleasantville, N.Y. and then changed locations in 2011 when he could no longer keep up with production on the original 20bbl system. Captain Lawrence moved over to a 40bbl system in Elmsford, N.Y. and now have the ability to bottle with the additional space.

Captain Lawrence Smoked Porter is part of its specialty beers lineup, but the site says it’s coming back soon, so it appears to be a possible yearly release.

The pour is very dark, with around one finger of light brown head. There are tons of loose bubbles that linger a good while. It is really dark, especially for being lower in alcohol at 6.4 percent.

Captain Lawrence Smoked Porter

The aroma on it is rich chocolate malts; roasted coffee and very faint smoke, I am actually surprised at how light the smoke is on the nose. It is really much more of a background smell than it is a main aroma in the beer.

The taste is fairly similar to the nose, I tasted much more porter than smoke, I also get rich dark chocolate flavors with some roasted coffee taste as well. I can also taste bitterness on the back end; the flavor matches that of acidic coffee. The smoke comes in on the very back end; it was very smooth smoky flavor, like that of barbecue and not as harsh like a campfire taste.

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Captain Lawrence Smoked Porter
BREWERY: Captain Lawrence Brewing Co.
LOCATION: Elmsford, N.Y.
STYLE: Porter
ABV: 6.4 percent
IBU: 45
PRICE: n/a
RELEASE DATE: 2006
AVAILABLE IN: 16.9-ounce bottles
BEERS POURED: One
To be honest, I am not a huge smoked beer fan, but thought this one was very balanced and would be a good “gateway” smoked beer. It was pretty light on the palate, but was very flavorful in many of the profiles that were present. If you are a fan of smoked beers, the longer this warmed up and the more I drank it, the more the smoke flavors became prominent. This was my first experience with Captain Lawrence and it would definitely seem like they know what they are doing over there. I hope to get to try more beers from them and would definitely say if you’re a smoked beer fan to give this one a shot and if you’re on the fence about smoked beers, this is a good one to ease you into the style.
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