#103 – Carton Brewing Company in Atlantic Highlands, NJ

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(1) OUR EXPERIENCE

While cousins and co-owners, Augie and Chris Carton, and head brewer, Jessie Ferguson, were away at the Craft Brewers Conference in Denver, we were thankful that the remaining staff was able to meet with us to share their knowledge of Carton Brewing Company. We started off in the tasting room where Rebecca Flynn was finishing up her last week with the company and training her replacement, Kelsey Stahl. Rebecca and Kelsey gave us a detailed rundown on the unique brews coming out of the tippy, the brewery’s pilot system, as well as the established rotation of beers. It was clear from the beginning that Carton does things on their own terms with a one of a kind approach to creating beers. The Cartons opened the business with an great appreciation for food and much of the beers brewed here draw inspiration from food or are meant to pair well with a fine meal. You won’t find much for standard styles in the taproom. Instead, Boat Beer, GORP, Carton of Milk, and B.D.G. (Brunch. Dinner. Grup) filled the tap lines.

Following our introduction to the Carton beers, we made our way downstairs and chatted with Brewers Jeremy Watts and Doug Phillips, a.k.a Phresh. They showed us the brewing facilities as well as the impressive barrel aging cellar. It’s obvious that Carton Brewing has a lot to add to the growing conversation in New Jersey craft beer. The staff is incredibly friendly and take great pride in the product. The brewery is located less than half a mile from the bay and makes for a great day trip with convenient access from NYC by ferry. Tours and tastings are offered Thurs and Friday evening as well as afternoons on the weekend. Definitely stop by to sample some of these inventive beers, make new friends, and fill up a growler for later.

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(2) VITAL INFORMATION

Date of our visit: Wednesday, 04/09/2014
Open since: Aug 15th 2011
Brewhouse size: 15 bbl
Owner(s): Augie Carton & Chris Carton
Head Brewer: Jessie Ferguson
Packaging: Kegs / Cans
Distribution: NYC and Hudson Valley in NY, Philadelphia Self Distribute throughout NJ

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Other things we learned:

* Facilities built in 1906 to store tents for the Methodist community that established the community in Atlantic Highlands. Addition (currently the brewing warehouse) put on in the 50’s. Also used to be a candy shop downstairs with the school across state.
* Chris and Auggie enjoyed good beer but realized that everything was from out of state. Developed an interest in tasty sessionable beers. They decided they had something to contribute to the NJ beer discussion and got to work opening up a brewery.
* Utilize well water from an aquifer with nice mineral content
* 3 – 30 bbl fermenters and 3 – 45 bbl fermenters
* Started mobile canning Aug of 2013 – cans in NJ only.
* Fill and cap 32oz growlers of their high ABV releases.
* Did Extreme Beer Fest in Boston; don’t do too many festivals because takes away staff from tasting room and they want to be available to support the demand within the community.

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(3) BEERS WE TASTED DURING OUR VISIT

* Boat Beer: Hoppy Session Ale
* B.D.G – Brunch, Dinner, Grub : inspiration from Biere de Garde and meant to be a table beer and pair with food.
* 077XX – Double IPA : based off of area code of the bar it was made for. On the Zip Code Tour they rented a van and traveled to each bar that was pouring a different rendition for that particular zip code.
*Red Rye Returning – Rye Ale
* Carton Of Milk – Session Milk Stout
* GORP : inspiration from the popular trailmix, a robust porter is supplemented with chocolate and peanuts and fermented with black raisins.
* The Wit Whale

* Carton beers

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What we learned about their beer during our visit:

*The Tippy is their experimental system where they brew something nearly every Sunday. The website features updates as to “what’s in the tippy”.
*Something Like Sandy – made for an anniversary beer. Donated $20 per sixtel sold to local rebuilding efforts. Originated from an attempt to create a soured Milk stout. Due to the hurricane in October 2012 they were without power for 8 days during lactic rest phase and, keeping to their experimental nature, they decided to boil and brew it. The beer turned out pretty nice so they brought it back, under different conditions of course.
*Following our stop, they released Comma Black Pepper Saison
* Releasing June is Monkey Chase the Weasel – Mulberry Berliner Weiss.
*In the works: Panzenella – recreation of the flavors in a panzenella salad : bread, tomato, cucumber, etc. Hop Pun – IPA for anniversary beer. Sept – Harvest w/ whole cone fresh hops
*Other Beers: Shipwrecked is a 10% Honey Porter aged in Brinley Gold Shipwreck Rum barrels. The rum is made in the Caribbean but the family has ties to the NJ area. Pumpkin Cream Ale aged in Lairds AppleJack barrels. Regular Coffee Imperial Cream Ale – in NJ one orders a ‘regular coffee’ made in milk w/ two sugars. Partnered with Fair Mountain Coffee Roasters.

(4) EXPANSION PLANS

Nothing set at this time

(5) BACKGROUND OF PEOPLE WE SPOKE TO

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[Top: Jeremy; L-R: Michael, Me, Rebecca, Phresh, Kelsey]

Name: Rebecca Flynn
Title: Tasting Room, Staff Training and Education, Accounts
Been with company since: Sep-11
Previous Occupation(s): Bartender/Waitress/Student
Favorite Superhero: Hugh Jackman as Wolverine

Name: Kelsey Stahl
Title: Taking over Rebecca’s position
Been with company since: Started interning on brewing side this past December
Previous Occupation(s): Bartentder/Student
Favorite Superhero: Christian Bale as Batman

Name: Jeremy Watts
Title: Brewer
Been with company since: 2012
Previous Brewing Experience: Homebrewing
Previous Occupation(s): Preschool teacher then worked at homebrewing store
Favorite Superhero: Silver Surfer

Name: Doug “Phresh” Phillips
Title: Brewer
Been with company since: 2012
Previous Brewing Experience: Homebrewing
Previous Occupation(s): Lifeguard
Favorite Superhero: He-Man

(6) MORE LINKS ABOUT BREWERY

* Brewery Website
* News & Events

(7) You can find the rest of our photos here

Author: Brandon Wurtz

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