Cuvée: (noun) wine in casks or vats so blended as to ensure uniformity and marketability. “Wine?” you may say. “But I thought this was an article about beer!”
Rest easy, my dear friends, for this is, indeed, about beer…
With the rise of more and more craft breweries and styles, the term “cuvée” has expanded to include blended beer, often Franco-Begian in style. Search the keyword “cuvée” on Beer Advocate and you’ll see what I mean — an expansive list of beers named after the blended wine.
Captain Lawrence Brewing Company, located in Pleasantville, New York, is a brewery that prides themselves on their attention to detail and care while brewing. Brewmaster Scott Vaccaro is known for his sour brews, but has taken up the cuvée style with his most recent release — Cuvée de Castleton. On Saturday, July 24, 2010, I took the Metro North trek from New York City to Pleasantville with a bunch of other BrewYork members to attend this release.
Although the doors didn’t open until 11AM, devoted Captain Lawrence fans were already diligently waiting outside with numbered ticket in one hand, rare and delicious beer in the other. The weather was gorgeously sunny and devilishly hot, which only helped to add to the giddiness of the hoppy nerd-dom that awaited a chance to collect this mouth watering and rare seasonal brew.
Finally, at 11 AM, Scott came through the front doors of the brewery to thunderous applause, announcing the start of the release. In single file and number order, we lined up to purchase our prize. Then, it was on to the tasting room for countless free tastings of whatever Captain Lawrence brews were on tap. At current moment, those taps included Pale Ale, Brown Ale, Imperial Smoked Porter (the highlight of the day, in my opinion), Liquid Gold, and the Imperial IPA.
Scott himself stayed behind the table passing every person in line their four allotted bottles (at $15 each). I was, however, lucky enough to get the chance to ask him about Cuvée de Castleton.
“The inspiration for Cuvée”, Scott says, “was the writings of Michael Jackson and the beers of Cantillon. Growing up a home brewer I would read about all these beers that I was never able to find, and just the way he described them would make me thirsty. The beer is a mix of a Belgian yeast fermented golden ale, re-fermented in used wine barrels with Brettanomyces and Muscat grapes. The flavors are sour, tangy and winey, with a beautiful fruity nose from the grapes. The oak contribution is slight, but is present in the background.”
Scott also gave me a glimpse into the upcoming events from Captain Lawrence that we should be aware of: “We will be releasing another batch of Golden Delicious, our American Tripel aged in freshly emptied apple brandy barrels. We have also re-worked our Smoke from the Oak series and will be releasing it in its new incarnation later this year.”
Needless to say, Captain Lawrence is a brewery that should be on all of our radars. If you have the ability to try one of their brews, do so. Now. You’ll thank me.
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