Monday, April 6, 2015

Carton Brewing

This is Kevin, Casey's husband bringing you another rousing brewery review.  We decided to check out Carton Brewing out of Atlantic Highlands, NJ this go-around.  Now you may ask yourselves, what is the algorithm for brewery selection?  It could be location, yelp/google reviews, or because I have tried a particular beer from a brewery that I've enjoyed enough to warrant a visit.

This may sound creepy, but at times I just hang out at the craft beer section at liquor stores and observe patrons selecting beer.  If someone is shopping around for a while, unsure about what to get, then I know they are just experimenting with a new brew.  However, if someone dives right in to the beer cooler with a purpose, I know right then and there that they must enjoy what they are getting.  In this case, I observed someone walk right in to Whole Foods' craft beer section, and made a bee line for 077xx, a double IPA by Carton Brewing.  Long story short, I grabbed a 4-pack of cans and checked out as well.    Delicious.  It was one of the best double IPAs I've had, right up with Victory's Dirt Wolf DIPA.

Upon arrival at the brewery, we took a short, basic tour through the facility.  Tours are required for tastings in New Jersey.  One interesting fact about this particular brewery is that it is right next to a school.  Because of that, they are not allowed to ventilate the brewery the way other breweries do, giving the building a strong brewing aroma, which honestly should be captured in a candle or something...amazing.  Another uniqueness to the brewery tour is that they have a 20 gallon "experimental" brew kettle for them to create new recipes.  They have these small batch, experimental brews rotate through the tap room depending on what recipe they are trying to perfect and feedback received from their regulars.

After the tour we headed upstairs into a modestly-sized tasting room. The first thing we noticed was the incredible artwork.  I am usually the most oblivious person in the world when it pertains to interior decorations.  In fact prior to marriage, I think every domicile that I've inhabited has had bare, white walls.  This artwork was really cool though and added to the ambience of the tasting room.  The artist is Kira Yustak and I recommend checking out her artwork online.  My hope is to eventually acquire one of her paintings when we buy a home.

For $5/ea we received 6 tastings, one of was an obligatory Boat Beer, which is their flagship beer.  The other five I tried were BDG(Brunch, Dinner, Grub), 077xx, Red Rye Returning, Launch Golden Ale, and Carton Canyon.  Casey tasted just about the exact same, but also tasted a Gilded Lily which is a fruity ale with truffles infused.  Of the tastings 077xx was still my favorite but overall all of the beers were excellent.  Red Rye Returning, a RyePA, was very smooth with a perfect balance of hops, maltiness, and good mouth feel.  That was my second favorite of the batch.

All in all, I highly recommend checking out Carton Brewing.  If you are ever planning a brewery crawl and stumble through the northeast, this place is a must.  Don't just take my word for it, BeerAdvocate gave Carton's brewery a place score of 99/100.  Try and go early in the day if you can.  By the time Casey and I were left it was packed wall to wall.  I recently read that they purchased the building next door for future expansion, so hopefully that will alleviate some of the crowding later in the afternoon/evening hours.

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