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.


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.

Captain Lawrence Fresh Chester Pale Ale

So, this was one of the beers I got a growler of after my visit this week.

It’s one of my favorite Pale Ales.  The odor is piney and sweet.  The look is darker than most pale ales.  And the taste is hoppy as hell.

In fact, I’d say this is closer to an IPA, with it’s sweet hoppy overtones.  It’s the closest beer I’ve had to Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale and that’s a huge compliment.  The hops are followed by strong, sweet malts.  Like getting caught in the sap of a tree.  It almost feels sticky in your mouth.  The taste sits with you long after the drink.  That description doesn’t sound good, but believe me… it freakin’ is.

Captain Lawrence is a brewery that is going places.  The second you see some of their beer (they used to be available in NJ, but they pulled out last year) you should get some.  Their Double IPA is just as good–if not better–than this beer.

But this, this is a big beast of a beer.  It beckons you to drink it.  This is the beer to bring to a party or a tailgate, to share with friends during a fun night of cheering on your team.  It’s relaxing and tasty.  It’s not too heavy.  It’s refreshing.

Definitely worth the hour trip every so often.