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Congressman Frank Pallone paid a call on Carton Brewing last week, taking a tour of the Atlantic Highlands brewery and sampling the beers as part of an observance of National Manufacturing Day.

Let’s be candid for a minute.

It’s an election year. Pallone’s on the ballot, and Atlantic Highlands is in his district. He’s a longtime incumbent and most likely a lock for re-election. Still, face time with constituents, even for a feel-good observance such as National Manufacturing Day, plays well. It’s a bonus if you can do it against a popular backdrop, and craft beer is still ridiculously popular. So, on one level, it’s smart campaigning to find that everyman niche, be populist.

But politics and cynicism aside, there are some important points to highlight off the Democrat’s talk with owners Augie and Chris Carton, cousins who launched the brewery at the Monmouth County bayshore three years ago.

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Carton Brewing’s hoppy session ale, Boat, has a first mate – and a passenger.

The Monmouth County craft brewer last week added its signature double IPA, 077XX, and its mulberry-infused sour seasonal, Monkey Chased the Weasel, to its lineup of canned beers.

O-Dub (the zero, plus double 7s, a nod to the brewery’s postal ZIP code), the brewery’s shorthand for its 2X India pale ale, and Monkey Chased the Weasel (3.9% ABV) were packaged in pint-can four-packs last Friday and put on sale in the brewery’s tasting room over the weekend. (Check with the brewery for availability. Learn the story behind Monkey Chased the Weasel.)

Monkey-WeaselBoat Can8Carton launched in 2011 with Boat session ale (4.2% ABV) and 077XX (7.8%) as draft-only beers; last summer the brewery canned Boat, becoming New Jersey’s first craft beer-maker to package in cans. 

Both brewers and consumers are still big on craft beer in cans. A lot of brewers have embraced canning as a better option for preserving the beer from staling. Beer drinkers like them because their ease of handling and recycling.

Even when there was nothing but a homebrew pilot rig in their building in Atlantic Highlands, the folks at Carton Brewing noted their plans included canning beers under their brand. Cans are a good fit, says co-owner Augie Carton, for a brewery that is managing growth while continuing to brew a diversified portfolio of beers.

“Cans are good for beer; they’re just better for beer,” Augie tells Beer-Stained Letter. “We’re trying to figure out some ways to make some bottles … some things you would want to oxidize, things we’re designing to age. Right now we’re making things we want to deteriorate as slowly as possible, and cans preserve that creation.”


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It doesn't take a black pepper saison to get Augie Carton talking about beer.

However, Carton Brewing’s saison, Comma, its newest release, is the beer that’s fresh on the mind of the eponymously named brewery’s co-owner.
Nope, talking about beer is just something Augie is driven to do, with equal parts fervor and cerebralness.

Throw in some practicality, too.

“For anything as subjective as flavor,” he says, “the way to get better is by gathering inputs from various perspectives and trying to reconcile them to your experience. That is done through conversation.”

That’s why on Sundays during brewery tour hours you’ll usually find Augie in a discussion circle somewhere near the brewhouse area. Or tasting pilot batch beers in the Carton pipeline.

If you go, be ready to talk flavor, and not just that of latest releases but about what makes a beer great. Period.

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Carton Crew Jan 2014

 Carton Brewing is bumping up the size of its brewhouse crew, adding Pete Dickson from Sixpoint Brewery to the Atlantic Highlands ale-maker team.

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Thursday, 28 November 2013 06:47

Carton aims for new heights with hops

HopRocketHow do you show your hoppy, flagship ale even more love after you've given it some craft beer rock star treatment by putting it into cans?

Give it a ride in a rocket.

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Friday, 15 November 2013 18:07

A talk with mobile canner Iron Heart

Carton Brewing has put its Boat beer into the liquor store pipeline. See the distribution list here.

Once a draft-only beer, Boat (4.2% ABV) was the Atlantic Highlands brewery's answer to the question of which New Jersey craft brewery would be the first to can its beer. (A Jersey-brewed craft beer in cans was always a when, not an if.)

Last summer, Carton struck a deal with mobile canner Iron Heart and took with it a little bit of glory and the kind of mentions that typically come when craft beer trends from other parts of the country surface in the Garden State.

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Saturday, 05 October 2013 18:39

Carton Brewing Shipwreck porter pours Oct. 14

The porter's been in the hold for a year, ye hearties, time to bring it up.

Carton Brewing will be doing just that Oct. 14th (Columbus Day): tapping Shipwreck, a 10% ABV rum barrel-aged honey porter.

A collaborative effort with Brinley & Company, St. Kitts rum importers with Atlantic Highlands ties, the limited-run, draft-only beer was aged in wooden barrels used to condition Brinley's Shipwreck Gold Spiced Rum.

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Thursday, 29 August 2013 03:41

Carton's Boat 1st N.J. craft brew in cans

Carton Brewing on Wednesday became the Garden State's first craft beer maker to package in cans, teaming with a Connecticut-based mobile canning company to put its signature session ale in 16-ounce cans.

Over the course of five to six hours, the Atlantic Highlands brewery and Iron Heart Canning put up 400 cases of Boat, the hoppy 4.2% ABV session beer that Carton launched its brewery with two years ago this month.

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Monday, 05 August 2013 14:35

When your love affair with beer sours

MagritteCraft beer tends to pivot off what the next big thing is – bright shiny objects, if you will. Double IPA, black IPA, Belgian IPA, ryePA, imperial this or that … They've all been on the hit parade as styles evolve, if not outright collide sometimes to form hybrids to grab craft fans' attention.

It's an ongoing thing, which is why you may have heard some people in your beer circles declare they're over the hop bombs, over IPAs. "I'm into sours," they say.

Sours may be the next stampede, never mind that they've been part of the beer mosaic on the store shelves for a long time (how could they not be with Belgian brews being so popular?). If they are indeed next in the spotlight, then it's a logical choice. They run the gamut of pleasantly tart to oh-my-god funky. And for acceptance, they demand a little effort on your part.

To run through the list of Garden State craft brewers who have made sours is to name-check probably half the breweries in the state.

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Saturday, 20 July 2013 05:31

Carton Brewing: And so it Gose

Carton BarrelsWith American brewers and craft beer, anything goes.

At Carton Brewing on Sunday (July 21), it's gose (pronounced GOH-suh) ...

And clams. 

The Atlantic Highlands brewery, soon to notch a second anniversary as a member of the Garden State's craft brewing industry, will release its take on the tart, mildly salty German wheat beer, probably best known from the Gasthaus & Gosebrauerei Bayerischer Bahnhof brand in the tall flask-like bottles found on the shelves of liquor stores with ambitious import sections.

Digger – the name of Carton's 4% ABV rendition – is a mid-summer, über small-batch brew, perfect for long hot days and sultry late-July evenings.

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