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.


Narragansett Cream Ale


I just got finished mowing the lawn and weeding (which included getting bit by a spider, I think.  No wall crawling abilities though), so I decided to stereotype myself.  While I’m waiting for my lunch to cook, I’m drinking the most refreshing beer I could find in my fridge.  A Narragansett Cream Ale.

Wait, you don’t know Narragansett?  Their a Rhode Island Brewery, known for their easy drinking lager (only 4.99 a six pack.  I have some of that in my fridge too).  It’s the beer Quint drank in JAWS.  It’s the beer of the 70s.  And the best part is, both the Cream Ale, the Lager, and all their beers come in 16 oz cans.  So not only is it affordable, there’s a lot of it.

But how does it taste?

Creamy.  That’s the best way to describe this ale.  It’s not a hoppy ale by any stretch.  There’s a hint of hop at the tale end, but for the most part the malt shines through.  It gives the beer an almost milky taste.  That’s not right, but … let me think about this.  Ever have a Malted candy?  You know that flavor right when you get through the chocolate?  That’s the flavor.

But you can drink this fast.  It’s smooth, it’s easy and it refreshes the body after yardwork.  The color is goldne, and there’s a very little, but strong white head.  It looks like a light beer, but man does it have flavor.  It inches close to the Pilsner category in my eyes.  This beer is best drank cold.  Very cold.  Let it ooze through your system, cooling you off, relaxing you.  Getting you ready for the game.

Seriously, Narragannsett may become my go to back-up beer.  So glad it’s available here in NJ.

So, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go crush my can, make my lunch and enjoy the rest of this brew.  You should too.

Farewell and adieu to you fair Spanish ladies… farewell and adieu….

Maine Beer Company Peeper Ale

I don’t know if you can see it from the picture, because the color has darkened a bit, but when I poured this, it looked like a hazy ginger ale.  This is a PALE *in caps for a reason* ale.

On first sniff, I get a lot of hops.  It struck me as closer to an IPA than a pale ale by smell.  A lot of hops with the pine scent, not citrus.  And man is it hazy.  I can’t see my fingers through the glass and the beer.  It almost looks as if there’s something extra floating around in the beer.

And guess what?  That’s a good thing.

The taste is pure pale ale.  In fact, it’s one of the best pale ales I’ve ever had.  At first you get the pine hops, but it almost seems to be mixed with honey.  This is a beer of nature.  You sip this on your back deck as the son sets and listen to the animals.  This is like one of those delicious organic iced teas… but beer.

What’s interesting, though, is the deeper you go, the more malty this beer is.  It’s not supposed to be a hop beer.  You’re supposed to find the malts, which is where the sweetness comes from.  This the first malty beer I’ve liked.

Yeah, that good.

I just want to sip this and relax, let the world ease off of me.  I wish this beer was available here in NJ, because I’d pick it up by the caseload.

Whoaaaaaaa, Nelly.  Good beer.

Kane Head High IPA

Ooooh wee, look at that color!  Looks delicious, don’t it?

Kane Brewing Company is one of my new favorite breweries.  They are located–depending on your line of demarcation–in South or Central Jersey, AKA down the shore.  They’ve been around for over a year, and have made a plethora of brews.

But the beer they hang their hat on is the Head High IPA.  This has been my go to beer.  I picked up a growler of this today (Saturday) and am sitting down to check out some hockey and have a glass.

The first thing I noticed was the scent.  Sure there’s a healthy amount of hops, but a pineapple smell really stands out (and I know because my wife has been into pineapple lately.  The whole house smells of it.).  It gives you the sense that there’s going to be a definite sweetness to the taste.

On first sip, there’s no sweetness.  You’re attacked by hops.  Bitter, juicy hops.  The kind of hops you want to roll around in and take a nap (ahem, did I write that?).  The bitter taste is a surprise, but it is a welcome one.  As the sip goes down, though, the pineapple sweetness sneaks up on you.

And it is refreshing.

This is a summer IPA.  One you can sit in the sun and drink and relax.  But be careful, it’s 6.8%.  On a hot day that’s going to set in real quick, and you’ll be stumbling around, confused and sunburned.  And you don’t want that.

Right now this beer isn’t available in bottles.  If you’re in New Jersey, you can find it at most bars, at this point.  And, if you’re in Jersey… come on.  Take a ride down and pick up a growler.

You’ll be real happy you did.