Happy Anniversary, Carton Brewing

Today’s Cocktail Hour choice is from a favorite local brewery.  I am drinking a Carton Brewing SS 2012 (We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat).  It’s an Imperial Pale Ale, an amped up version of their Flagship Beer, Boat Beer.  Boat Beer is a nice session pale ale.  Simple, easy, drinkable.  Great for a summer afternoon.

This beer knocks the Boat right out of the water.  It’s hoppy, malty, declicious goodness.  It has everything one wants in a beer.  The bigger hops, the sweetness from the malts.  This is Carton’s best beer (and believe me, they have a lot of good beers).  They brewed this beer for their 1 year anniversary, which is this month.

I love Carton Brewing.  My first trip to Carton was on a snowy January afternoon.  My wife and I took a ride down to Atlantic Highlands, a small town along the Jersey Shore.  The brewery is one of the most chill, relaxing places I’ve ever visited for beer.  It’s in a building that looks like a converted Firehouse  On Saturdays, they’re open from 12 to 5, and I think I got there at 4:45, expecting to run upstairs, try the beers, buy a pint glass and run out.

Instead, I got something completely different.  The bar area was packed with about 15 people all sampling the beer, talking, laughing, and watching college basketball.  I thought I was going to have to wait forever, just to get a sample.  Instead, one of the guys behind the bar made eye contact with me, and said, “You ever been here before?”

When I responded, “No,” he stopped what he was doing and gave me the personalized tour of the brewery.  He focused on the importance of their water, if I remember correctly.  Then, once he finished, he shrugged and said, “Let’s go drink some beer.”

Each beer came with a story–and my favorite that day was the Carton of Milk Stout, a dark beer that rings in at such a low alc %, that you never feel full.  It was the best hands on brewery tour I’ve had.  Since then, any time Carton is on tap, I make sure I grab a pint. And last night, I found out the anniversary beer was going to be at a Growler Station so I knew I had to fill up.  (I also picked up some Carton of Milk.)

SS 2012 is a great New Jersey beer.  I know it’s meant to celebrate their anniversary, but I hope it comes out every year at this time.  Hell, it should even beer a regular year-round beer.  It’s that good.  Enough alcohol to give you a buzz, but light enough to sip at cocktail hour.  Either way, Carton sells you on flavor, fun, and great employees.

Can’t wait to stop by the firehouse again, soon.

Happy Anniversary, Carton… Here’s to many more.

The Pros and Cons of a Home Kegerator

ImageOne of my silly dreams in life is to own a Kegerator.  I would love to have fresh tapped beer on my premises, ready to drink at any time.  I debated registering for one for my wedding (we didn’t have a house then, so no room) and I debated registering for one on our baby registry (somehow deemed inappropriate…. I don’t get it).  But yeah, I’ve always wanted one.

Look at the pros:  If you find a beer you love, maybe one you can only get in growler like say Carton’s Boat Beer or Kane Head High, you can always have it at your house, by picking up a keg once a month or so.  You’d also be the hit of the party, assuming you had a beer everyone likes on tap.  Plus, it just seems really classy.  No fuss, no muss, just fresh beer, anytime.  Delicious and wonderful.

But, there are two hindrances to me getting one.  One, they’re expensive.  It’s 500 bucks for a kegerator easy.  And then you have to pay for a keg.  Some of the best beers are 90 bucks a pop.  So, you usually end up relegated to Miller Lite or Pabst, just on money alone.

Second, I like to try new beers.  I love going to the liquor store each week or every two weeks and stocking up with stuff I’ve never tried before.  Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose, but it’s always interesting. With a kegerator, I’d be stuck with 1 beer for months at a time.  (Or a month….)

But the allure of a kegerator still stands.

So, what say you?  Those that have and those that don’t?

Is it worth it?