Carton Brewing Company – commonly referred to as just Carton (like a carton of milk) – is a craft brewery located in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey. Carton has gained a lot of popularity in the last year or so, and has quickly become one of my favorite breweries! Carton makes excellent and creative beers, from a super smooth session ale to a Russian imperial stout brewed with freeze dried ice cream to my favorite, an imperial cream ale called Regular Coffee at 12% ABV. Some of my recent favorites:
Carton distributes some of cans and kegs, but they are somewhat difficult to find. If you want a particular beer, its best to visit the brewery when that beer is for sale or on tap in their tasting room! Carton updates its Facebook page regularly with its offerings available at its tasting room. And, its one of my favorite breweries to visit!
The Brewery – The brewery is located in downtown Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey in what appears to be a renovated warehouse. The brewery is on the first floor, along with a sales area for purchasing cans. Tours are free, on request and “required” (by NJ state law for first time visitors). The tour lasts anywhere from 5 minutes to 20 minutes depending on your guide and how many questions you ask. No samples are included in the tour.
The Tasting Room – The second floor of the brewery building houses the tasting room, which is small, with a bar selling only Carton beer, a couch and a few beer barrels as tables. While not free, a tasting of 6 beers is only $5. The brewery starts the tasting with their flagship session beer – Boat (a tasty American Pale Ale at 4.2%) – and give you 5 Carton poker chips, each good for one beer sample to taste at your leisure. Note – you do not have to start with Boat, but they like you to do that, and its usually a good idea since Boat is almost always the lightest beer. In addition, you can split the Carton poker chips between people or bring them back for your next visit. Just like cash! Here is the tasting room – wish I was headed there tonight!
If the tastings are not for you, you can purchase a glass of your favorite beer, but I generally find the samples to be a better deal. Cool swag is also sold in the tasting room.
The Beers: As mentioned Carton makes a lot of interesting beers, but they also make a number of quality “standard” beers that are available year round. The referenced Boat Beer has won awards and gets rave reviews. The tasting rooms also frequently features B.D.G., a brown country ale at around 6%, their famous 077XX Double IPA (or some variant of that), also referred to as O’Dub, at about 7.8%, and Carton of Milk, a milk stout at about 4%. Typically there are about 8 beers on tap, including one on nitro, and one on cask, split between the standard beers and their new creations. If you don’t know what you want, descriptions of their standard beers are on the wall above the stairs and special beer descriptions are often on an easel in the tasting room. I recommend trying a sample of any and all of their special beers – they don’t last long!
Here are some of the beers: Carton of Milk, Eden and a glass of Irish Coffee! Had to go with the full glass since its so delicious and not readily available!
Almost all beers can be tasted with a poker chip as part of the“tasting” and most beers are available in growlers, however there are exceptions. Check Carton’s Facebook page for the latest updates. Also some exclusive beers take two chips.
Food: There is no food sold at the brewery and I have never seen anyone order food in. If you get hungry, there is no shortage of restaurants in downtown Atlantic Highlands within walking distance of Carton, including my standard, 1st Avenue Pizza.
How to Get To Carton: You really have two options in getting to Carton – driving or taking a ferry from NYC or NJ. If you drive, there is a free parking lot on site but note that some of Carton’s beers are quite strong. I much prefer to take the ferry from NYC or Hoboken/Jersey City (stops in both). Sea Streak Ferries runs the ferry between both Hoboken/Jersey City (the “NJ Ferry”) and Manhattan (the “NY Ferry”). The NJ Ferry is a bit quicker, but the NY Ferry has much better views, including of those of Lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty, and a proper bar on board. Tickets are sold on board and schedules are posted online. The Ferry port is less than a ten minute walk to Carton, right through downtown Atlantic Highlands. Very safe and well-lit. Here is the view leaving the Jersey City port on the NJ Ferry:
Atlantic Highlands – Atlantic Highlands is a charming little town that reminded me a lot of Martha’s Vineyard (and not surprisingly, like Martha’s Vineyard, it used to be a Methodist camp). Atlantic Highland’s has lots of shops, cafes and restaurants, and a movie theatre, and would be a good place for your non-beer drinking companions to kill some time while you are at the brewery.
STEAL OUR TRIP
Carton Brewing Company – 6E. Washington Ave – Atlantic Highlands, NJ. T: 732-654-Beer. Open Wednesday – Thursday 5:00 – 8:00, Friday 4:00 – 8:00, Saturday 12:00 – 8:00, Sunday 12:00 – 5:00. Entrance and tour are free. Tasting of 6 beers is $5.00. Most recent updates available on Carton’s Facebook page.
Can’t make it? Carton beers are available at many local New Jersey bars, I suggest that you check Beermenus.com for local availability. Cans can be tough to come by, they distribute some in New Jersey, mostly Boat and Sit Down Son. However, 07xx and some other cans make it out on occasion but they sell out fairly quickly.
Sea Streak Ferry – Comprehensive website with schedules and prices. Tickets are sold on board and can be purchased with cash or credit card. Most ferries have at least a small bar with standard beer and wine.
1st Avenue Pizza – 75 1st Ave, Atlantic Highlands NJ, 07716. T: 732-391-1707. Sunday – Wednesday 10:00 – 9:00. Thursday 11:00 – 9:00. Friday and Saturday 11:00 – 11:00.in