Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Cuvee De Castleton release at Captain Lawrence

Once again, our intrepid beer release hound (that's me) decided to head up to Captain Lawrence for their latest release. This time it was for their Cuvee De Castleton, a golden ale fermented with muscat grapes in oak barrels. For a better description, see their website. Just like the release of their Rosso e Marrone, my friends and I knew we had to leave ridiculously early in order to be able to buy bottles so that's what we did. I tried to get a little bit of sleep beforehand and sort of succeeded but waking up in the middle of the night is still difficult. When my buddy arrived, I gathered my beer for sharing and some other stuff and we headed out on our way there.

After two or so hours, we arrived at Captain Lawrence. Of course there were already a bunch of people there but they were crazier than us as they'd been there since 8pm and drinking basically the entire time. Here's us just after we pulled into the lot.
What? Too dark? See, now you know I wasn't lying about it being the middle of the night. When we got there we decided to start with a bottle of Three Floyds Zombie Dust. It's a well hopped pale ale with a large orange juice component so it seemed like a good way to go. It was practically noon as far as my body was concerned so why not start drinking? Of course, we were freezing our butts off since it had to be the coldest weekend so far but we hopped in and out of the car for the next couple hours to try to keep warm.

After splitting a few different bottles and chatting for a few hours, the sun decided to finally come up. At this point I'd been up entirely too long considering it was like 6:30am but, well, that's how it goes. Still, my friends all brought some awesome stuff and we worked our way through quite a few of them including a real tasty one from Olde Hickory out of North Carolina named Lindley Park. Yum. The drinking definitely helped with the cold a little although only a little as it was freaking cold. Not much else to say here as we mostly just stood around and killed another few hours.

By about 9am, a ton more people had shown up and were standing around sampling from the picnic table.
Notice all the sweatshirts, jackets and hats. See, freezing. I opened my bottle of Dock Street '09 Barleywine which was quite tasty and then added it to the tasting table for others to try. I grabbed a few samples from the table and spent the next hour socializing and getting to try a few more rare things. The two best (that I can remember at least) were Dry Dock Bligh's Barleywine and Goose Island Bourbon County Vanilla Stout. The Bligh's was a bourbon barleywine that my buddy Eric brought and was sweet and full bodied with an amazingly clean finish. The Bourbon County Vanilla sample was given to me by someone I had just met and holy crap it was delicious. The vanilla blended with the strong bourbon flavors of the base and was the smoothest 13% I've ever had. Just amazing. I know I had a few others that were quite good but I just don't remember them. Finally, though, it was time to head into the brewery to buy our bottles of Cuvee De Castleton. Eric didn't know what to do with the tiny bit of Bligh's left in the bottle so I took care of that for him.

Not much else happened at this point. We went through the line, bought our bottles, and got to try some Castleton which was quite tasty. Once we were all set we packed up the car, took a side trip to DeCicco's (just like last time) and then started on the trip back home.

As far as my general thoughts on the release, it wasn't quite as fun as the Rosso one even though I didn't have to drive this time. Besides the fact that I was freezing, a lot of the beers were entirely too cold to get a proper handle on their more subtle flavors. Some beers were still fantastic but you wonder how much better they would have been if it hadn't been like 40 degrees out (or colder possibly). Another issue was Captain Lawrence released some other beers called Barrel Selects which had much lower bottle counts than the Castleton. This led to the earliest people taking way more tickets than they needed to help their friends out which meant if you didn't get there ridiculously early, you wouldn't have even gotten to buy the Castleton. Basically, a little bit of supervision, either from volunteers or the brewery, would go a long way to making this system better. I also felt the picnic table was way more crowded and less inviting because there was a lot of clutter around it and it wasn't as easy to actually get to it but that's a minor quibble really.

But, all in all, it was still worth it and I still had fun hanging out with my group. I did get to meet a number of really nice people and releases are always an experience, positive or negative. Captain Lawrence is moving to a new brewery and they've said they are going to change how they do releases so we'll see if I go to the next one depending on the changes. When I was exhausted on Saturday night, I told Jo I probably wouldn't go, but she just looked at me and laughed since she knew I'd probably change that tune when the next announcement occurs. We'll see but she's probably right.

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