Carton Brewing Double IPA - East Meets West

April 09 2015 - 12:23 AM

Excellent!   I recently opened up an east coast treat, Carton Brewing’s 077XX Double IPA.  This is the first among a passel of East Coast beers that Josh gave me.  It’s also my first ever New Jersey beer!   It makes me want to say, “Bruuuuuce!”, and go hang out on a boardwalk, eating a gigantic, floppy slice of pizza.   Although my long-standing favorite beer is Dogfish Head 90, over the years my palate has decidedly shifted toward west coat IPA’s, with their mammoth bitterness and delectable tropical flavors and aromas.   Apparently, Carton, which hails from Atlantic Highlands, NJ, shares my love for such west coast goodness, as its offering here pays serious homage to IPA’s from the Pacific motherland.  But this beer carries a bit of a twist.

Carton’s 077XX smells much like its west coast inspirations, owing a lot to the Port Brewing family of beers.  There’s not much malt on the nose, which is dominated by citrus aromas such as tangerines and mangoes. I didn’t get a ton of grapefruit out of it.  Rather, much sweeter tropical fruits waft from the glass.  After generating a massive white head, the beer settles into its burnt orange color.  The mouthfeel is quite thick and almost chewy.  An enormous malt presence provides this with serious density without seeming unwieldy.  This brew substantially replicates the west coat taste profile.  Your palate is met with the resinous bitterness of a Pizza Port beer, which coats and quickly overwhelms your tongue, like a relentless shark dragging it off a paddleboard into the deep.  As for that twist I mentioned, it’s a slightly dirtier hop finish than the bright, acidic one you get from west coast varietals.  Carton’s website mentions that it adds “our water” to the wort, and perhaps it’s indeed that Jersey water which provides the beer’s gritty finish.

To my knowledge, Carton’s not yet available in the Chicago market but  if you’re traveling out east or have a friend out there who wishes to trade beers with you, this beer’s worth asking for.  According to their website, Carton makes a full range of beers, from country ales, to sours to session ales.  Perhaps they’ll soon leverage that broad lineup to make a foray into the increasingly crowded Chicago market.

Until then, Bruuuuuuuuuce!

– M. Sheppard