The Carton Brewery is the product of when Augie Carton & Chris Carton (owners) purchased their friend Jesse Ferguson a home-brewing kit as a wedding gift. Jesse immediately took the bull by the horns and started producing some impressive beers with ease. When Auggie and Chris tasted some of the beers that Jesse was brewing, they knew that they had to share them with the world.
After bouncing around ideas and looking for locations that can house a brewery, the guys found a location resting right under their nose: Washington Street in Atlantic Highlands. Auggie and Chris grew up in Highlands and Atlantic Highlands, so they were very familiar with the area and recognized the need for a brewery. Monmouth County is an area of New Jersey that has a thirst for good beer, but before Carton Brewing came along, there wasn’t any local source to provide it. After moving into the building and installing a brand new 15 barrel brewing system, they began brewing some of the best beers to hit NJ in a long time.
The Carton Brewery is in the quiet waterfront town of Atlantic Highlands NJ located in a small brick building on Washington Street. They’re only a few doors down from the main street that passes through the town and across the street from the elementary school. When looking at the building from the outside, you wouldn’t expect a brewery to be located there. There isn’t any sign or anything else to indicate what’s inside. However, inside there’s a full service brewery producing some incredibly tasty beers.
Currently the brewery has three regular releases:
077XX is a tribute to Monmouth County. If you don’t live in Monmouth County, you should know that all of the zip codes begin with 077(insert additional two numbers). This is an IPA with an ABV of roughly 7%. It has a heavy citrus bite with just enough malt to balance it out perfectly. The brewery will occasionally release different variations of this IPA, but aside from the regular release, my favorite version has been the 07750.
Boat Beer is probably my favorite session beer. This beer is best described as an all day IPA. It was given the name Boat Beer because if you live in Highlands or Atlantic Highlands, you’re likely to either own a boat, or know someone who does. Spending long hours outside fishing or cruising around the bay leaves you thirsty, but who wants to dull tasting fuzzy yellow stuff? Not me. This beer was made for those who want a hoppy, tasty beer you can drink a few of to quench your thirst, but not be knocked on your ass afterwards. It’s only 4.2% ABV but packs an incredible assertive citrusy hop taste and smell that will make you think it was more.
BDG (Brunch Dinner Grub) is a brown ale that has been developed as a beer for meals. It’s tasty by itself, but drinking it with a good savory meal will make it even better. I’m typically not a fan of brown ales, but the bready roasted notes along with soft bitterness makes this an excellent choice for foodies and beer nerds alike.
Visits at the brewery take place on weekends between noon and 5oclock. There isn’t any set times for tours and the brewery welcomes people to stop by and get a personal tour. Afterwards, you can take a trip upstairs to the tasting room to try what they have on tap. Usually they will have 077XX, Boat Beer, BDG and an experimental tap. Typically the experimental tap is a beer that they’ve brewed a small batch of and are looking to get opinions on.
After you’re finished with the tasting, you can purchase merchandise and beer. Carton currently only offers their beer in draft form and will only make growler fills. The prices will vary depending on the beer you chose. I typically visit once a week and get a growler of Boat for the weekend.
The future looks bright for the brewery as they’ve already been exceeding their initial expectations and are trying to keep up with demand. Their beer is available in a large number of bars and they are hoping to give that 15 barrel set up a workout within the coming months. A future release of theirs includes a dry milk stout called “Carton Of Milk” and is expected to be released in January. This beer is expected to have a low ABV, but still pack a huge taste. Keep an eye out for this brewery. They’re making moves – and incredible beers.