Augie Carton of Carton Brewing on How Craft Beer Makes a Better NJ

Since the licensing changes put into effect in 2012, the craft beer industry in New Jersey has been growing rapidly. Is the Garden State now ready to compete effectively, or are more legislative changes still needed to allow the industry to flourish?

As the laws have changed, NJ’s game has definitely stepped up. Better laws will obviously lead to a better NJ craft scene, which from my perspective is a better NJ if that’s possible.

It’s a 2 way street. As more communities get more breweries working to make their community proud, the less strange the idea of properly supporting them will be. It’s a process NJ is behind most of the other states on, but even when NJ is slow to start something we close gaps quickly.

For now we have community breweries working small scale and becoming a point of local pride. If we keep growing in that direction people will naturally move to work out the (now arcane) laws still hanging around on the NJ books hurting these small businesses’ potential. It’s just natural that a good community business should be supported by local laws. So far, most the breweries in NJ are working along those lines and we seem headed in a good direction.

Long term, I hope all the silly hold-over laws from almost a century ago all over America will change for the better. In the short term, my hope is the laws will at least improve to the point where NJ’s brewers have similar rights to those of NJ’s vintners as far as things like off premises tasting rooms and green markets go.

Brewing beer well in NJ is good for New Jersey. I have yet to find a community with its own brewery that isn’t benefiting from the commerce, the jobs, and the pride that comes from having your own local artisanal culture. It’s especially simple if that thing is as universally understood as beer.

In 2013 Carton Brewing Company’s Boat Session Ale became the first canned craft beer in New Jersey. How have the canned brews been received by the community, and what are the advantages of cans over bottles?

Our canning experiment is going well. We have been way oversubscribed from day one. At this point, we are working to make a sensible plan to get more of it beyond our tasting room so it is easily available to our neighbors in the NJ beer community.

As far as advantages of cans, do a simple fun experiment: Buy 2 cans of Boat, and 2 bottles of a beer with a similar structure hop/body/ABV wise. Drink each and consider what’s going on to make them what they are, rather than whether you like one or the other. Just try to quantify the flavor and aroma aspects of each. Throw the remaining two in your fridge and wait one, three, six months or a year, depending on your patience (and need for fridge space). We’ve done it with double blind tasting panels. There won’t be a doubt which protected the integrity of the liquid better so we can put that question to rest.

We love our beer so we go through extra expense and effort to get it in cans, and so far we are delighted with the results.

Carton Brewing is clearly not afraid to experiment and create some unusual flavors and surprising combinations. Where does your inspiration come from?

Different beers have different inspirations. I do my best to explain the thinking behind each in a series of two minute videos produced by IDrinkGoodBeer.com. That question is probably best broached on a case by case basis there.

Click Here for More Videos

What beers are you drinking lately, and what local breweries are getting your attention?

Coolest beer I’ve had lately was an “Armand 4 Autumn” that the brewer Sean Lawson shared with me during a largely sour session last Sunday, it’s been a couple days and that beer is still hanging tight in my mind.

Otherwise my mind has largely been on working recently and I haven’t had much time to consider beers beyond cursory impressions. That being said, the days I get to lift my head and get together with the members of NJ Brewers Guild, like the Brewfest on the SS New Jersey, are always a great time and I’ve been nothing but impressed with the liquid they’ve shared with me.

What can we expect from Carton Brewing in the future, and what’s in the tippy right now?

You can expect us to keep looking for new flavors or approaches to flavor. Most recently, we did a milk chocolate stout with rose petals as a Valentine’s notion taken off the beaten craft.

Visit the Carton Brewing Company Website

New Jersey Breweries Take Gold and Silver at GABF

New Jersey brewed craft beer took the Great American Beer Festival by storm this year, bringing three medals to the Garden State. The festival, hosted in Denver, Colorado by the Brewers Association, is the largest of its kind in the US. Here’s a look at the NJ brews that impressed the judges:

Hopfish IPA, Flying Fish Brewing Co.

Combining American, English and German malts with three hop varieties, this IPA maintains a deep golden color and plenty of hop-bitterness.

Awarded a Gold Medal in the Classic English-Style Pale Ale category at GABF 2014.

A Night to End All Dawns Imperial Stout, Kane Brewing Co.

Aged for over a year in Four Roses bourbon barrels, this bold flavored imperial stout features a subtle caramel sweetness with hints of vanilla and oak.

Awarded a Gold Medal in the Wood & Barrel-Aged Strong Stout category at GABF 2014.

Red Fish Red Ale, Flying Fish Brewing Co.

Described as a “west coast hoppy red ale”, Red Fish features aromas of grapefruit and pine, with a pleasant hop-bitterness.

Awarded a Silver Medal in the Extra Special Bitter category at GABF 2014.

Congratulations to winners Flying Fish Brewing Company and Kane Brewing Company! You make us proud to drink New Jersey Beer!

Follow Your Favorite New Jersey Breweries

If you’re not keeping tabs on your favorite breweries on Facebook and Twitter, you’re missing out on updates about the latest brews, events and insider info. Many great beers are brewed in small batches that sell out quickly, so a social media “heads-up” from a brewery can help you get your hands on some great beer.

Here is a list of New Jersey craft breweries and their social media pages. Find your favorites, follow them and let them know you’re thirsty for more!

NJ Craft Beer Trivia Quiz

NJ Craft Beer Quiz

We all love craft beer and everyone has their local favorites. But how much do you really know about the brews and breweries of New Jersey? Take the NJ Craft Beer Trivia Quiz and find out!

The quiz is just 10 questions long and most of them come directly from information listed on brewery websites. Good luck!

1. Starting as the web’s first “virtual brewery” in 1995, this is now the largest craft brewery in the State of New Jersey.

  • Climax Brewing Company
  • River Horse Brewing Company
  • Flying Fish Brewing Company
  • High Point Brewing Company

2. Which of the following is the oldest craft brewery in New Jersey?

  • D. G. Yuengling & Son
  • Flying Fish Brewing Company
  • High Point Brewing Company
  • Climax Brewing Company

3. Featuring wheat, barley, hops and yeast obtained from Bavaria, this New Jersey microbrewery is the first exclusive wheat beer brewer in the USA.

  • High Point Brewing Company
  • Cape May Brewing Company
  • Kane Brewing Company
  • River Horse Brewing Company

4. This NJ brewpub features Italian fare and was awarded medals at the Great American Beer Festival in 2002, 2003, and 2006 for its coffee flavored “Maxwell’s Dry Stout”.

  • Maxwells Tavern
  • Basil T’s Brewery & Italian Grill
  • Artisan’s Brewery & Italian Grill
  • Eagan & Sons

5. Bringing over 30 unique varieties of craft beer to South Jersey, this brewery boasts the largest taproom in the state and offers monthly Yoga sessions.

  • Cape May Brewing Company
  • Tuckahoe Brewing Company
  • Glasstown Brewing Company
  • Pinelands Brewing Company

6. Which New Jersey shore brewery, founded by two cousins and home brewer Jesse Ferguson, regularly tests their experimental brews in a handcrafted 20 gallon pilot system called “The Tippy”?

  • Kane Brewing Company
  • East Coast Brewing Company
  • Pinelands Brewing Company
  • Carton Brewing Company

7. One of Kane Brewing Company’s flagship beers, this American IPA has a noticeable grapefruit flavor with aromas of citrus, tropical fruits and pine and is 6.5% ABV.

  • Overhead
  • Head High
  • Single Fin
  • Simplicity

8. Launched in 2000, this New Jersey brewery practices Reinheitsgebot, the “German Beer Purity Law”, a regulation concerning the production of beer in the Holy Roman Empire and its successor state, Germany.

  • High Point Brewing Company
  • River Horse Brewing Company
  • Cricket Hill Brewing Company
  • Flounder Brewing Company

9. Which New Jersey brewery features a swimming hippopotamus in their logo?

  • Flounder Brewing Company
  • Triumph Brewing Company
  • Harvest Moon Brewing Company
  • River Horse Brewery

10. Patrons of this NJ brewpub can enjoy the house favorite “Bulldog Blonde” before venturing upstairs to visit the homebrew supply shop, where they can buy everything they need to brew their own beer.

  • Tun Tavern Brewery and Restaurant
  • Gaslight Brewery and Restaurant
  • Ship Inn
  • Artisan’s Brewery and Italian Grill

How did I do?

Keeping it Fun with Ryan Krill of Cape May Brewing Company

Congratulations on celebrating the third anniversary of Cape May Brewing Company earlier this summer! Has the brewing industry in New Jersey, and Cape May Brewing Company, changed much over the last three years?

The brewing industry in New Jersey has changed in a large way over the past three years. State legislators passed a bill that allowed new and progressive changes for production breweries and brewpubs, which allowed for things like taprooms, new businesses and a growing craft beer culture in New Jersey. There have been several new breweries open all over the state and the craft beer culture is growing at an exponential rate.

The Cape May Brewery is a different story altogether. In 2011 we started with humble yet ambitious beginnings. We had a homebuilt 12-gallon brew system with great aspirations. We had one account and managed everything as a three-man show. It was a hobby business but we aspired for more.

Three and a half years later, we have 18 employees, 120 wholesale accounts all over South Jersey, a 15 barrel brew house and recently installed a bottling line. This year we will produce about 3,000 barrels, most of which is sold through our self-distribution network. It’s a big jump to go from brewing 12 gallons to 15 barrels but it’s still very small, which has its benefits. We can brew a tremendous variety of beers (we have done over 60 different beers thus far). It keeps things still fun.

According to your Twitter feed, you’ve taken your advertising to the skies this summer with a Cape May Brewing banner pulled by a plane! What was behind this unique choice of promotion and where should we be craning our necks to see it?

Telling our story and sharing our love of craft beer is really important to us. We like to tell that story in a way that reflects our quirky and creative sides. There are many ways we make ourselves known and this summer we experimented with a new medium: banner planes.

Growing up watching the banner planes fly past while sitting on the beach have always captured my attention. It’s such a typical Jersey Shore icon that it was natural for us to give it a try. It’s a fun way to interact with our customers and those who don’t even know we exist. It’s also noteworthy that I’m a pilot, so I’m apt to vote for anything involving airplanes.

The lucky taproom and event employees at Cape May Brewing get hands-on brewing experience as part of their training. How does this enhance their ability to better serve your customers?

Every employee gets what we call a brew day no matter what you do at the brewery. Making fun and exciting beer is at the center of what we do and I want everyone to share in that experience. Additionally, every employee gets to design a beer that will be served in the taproom and offered to our accounts. You’ll see beers like Maggie’s Day Off or Brian’s Geek Out. Maggie and Brian are both employees who have their own different ideas on what type of beer to make. We allow everyone to participate in that excitement, which gives a sense of pride and ownership. And that’s just the beginning.

We spend a lot of time, money and energy on training our staff so that they know everything we know about beer and we make it fun. This allows our customers to be able to have the best experience possible with the brewery, whether that be in the taproom or at one of our accounts. Everyone who works with us is an ambassador of Cape May Brewery no matter where they go, and people who engage will know it.

What beers are you drinking lately, and what local breweries are getting your attention?

I’m drinking Troegs Troegenator while I write this. I really enjoy trying beers I haven’t tried. It’s exciting to see what brewers are doing all over the region. Flying Fish, Kane and Carton always put out a top-notch beer and they’ve been my go to brews.

I’ve always been inspired by Short’s Brewery in Michigan. I love the variety and quality of the beer they produce. That and they only distribute in Michigan. Way cool.

What events are on the horizon for Cape May Brewing Company?

I’ve been working with Jesse Prall from Dogfish/Delaware Brewers Guild on planning Brews by the Bay on September 6th. It’s a unique beer event that has not been done before.

From 12-4pm the event starts at the Cape May ferry lawn, which will showcase 12 New Jersey breweries, live music and food trucks. Included in the price is a round trip ferry pass so you jump on one of the ferries to Delaware where there will be 11 Delaware breweries more live music and awesome food. It’s effectively two beer festivals in two states with one ticket. Tickets can be found at http://brewsbythebay.ticketleap.com

Visit the Cape May Brewing Company Website