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Epitome - Carton Brewing Company

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17 Reviews

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Reviews: 17
Hads: 206
Avg: 4.29
pDev: 31.47%
Wants: 48
Gots: 25 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Carton Brewing Company visit their website
New Jersey, United States

Style | ABV
American Black Ale |  10.30% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Chas58 on 12-29-2012

We don't have many rules at Carton Brewing and those we have we made up for ourselves. In general though, we strive for drinkability through balance and harmonization of flavors. But even self-imposed rules are meant to be broken. With Epitome we decided to embrace the teenage metalhead in each of us and get discordant with a seriously hoppy, high gravity, black ale. The only notions accepted were to make it bigger, bolder, hotter & faster. A Beast. The ABV had to push past 10, the black had to be "none more," and the hops had to be American and piled on like a double bass drum kicking faster and harder. Drink Epitome because things worth doing are worth over doing.

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FX ... 6WbvjLR1Kg 
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 17 | Hads: 206
Photo of JerzDevl2000
4.18/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Had one of these on tap yesterday during the Carton tap takeover at the Cloverleaf Tavern. I'm not a big fan of American Black Ales but I figured that if anyone could brew a good example of one, it would be these guys. Strong, full-flavored, and balanced, this was not for the weak of heat but it was certainly impressive and worth savoring, since it took quite a while to finish off!

Nice brown hue to this as I poured it out with a bit of light that seeped in around the edges. Not a lot of head or lacing to this but there was enough carbonation to make up for it. Lots going on in the taste - citrus, pine, and menthol notes reinforced by a strong roasted and charcoal taste that gave this a lot of depth. The hops were earthy and reminiscent of a good West Coast IPA but there were enough reminders of a Porter too, with a strong amount of booze to tie everything in together. Dry in the aftertaste, this went down relatively smoothly given how much was going on here.

Not for the faint of heart, this beer is the reason why the style should be reclassified as a Black IPA. If there was such thing as an Imperial American Porter, this would be it as there was more than enough here to satisfy fans of IPA's as well as dark beers. The finish was a bit too strong and dry for me but this beer deserved the high rating that it has and was worth the madness at the takeover. Would love to have this out of a bottle!

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Photo of WesMantooth
4.18/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

As I dumped all 16 oz from the can into the glass, it produced a huge, off white/slightly kahki foamy head on top of the nearly pitch black body. Leaves a solid 1/4" ring and moderate amounts of laciness.

Aroma is big citrusy and somewhat floral hops. I don't notice any charred/roasted malt, but I do notice a slight dankness.

The taste is a blast of hops right off the bat. Very zesty and biting. Citrus - in the form of grapefruit, orange, and lemon. There is also some west coast piney flavor in there too along with the slight dankness I could smell. I never really notice a lot of roasted malt in this other than the aftertaste. There is a very strong bitterness long after finishing. I think the hop flavors just drown it out for the most part. It is a tad boozy, but not in your face.

The body is a solid medium. It is actually a little heavier than several porters. Carbonation is also on the higher end of medium I would say.

I am not real good with picking out hop varieties, but I do thing I can compare them to other beers fairly well. This one screams Great Lakes Chillwave to me. Both in smell and taste. This is where it became hard for me to score this because I love Chillwave, and I am really digging this.

I went back and forth with the taste from 4 all the way to 4.5 several times. I finally settled on 4. The main reason is, to me, I feel black ales should be as close to a 50/50 balance of a porter and an ipa as possible. Of course, that may just be me, but this is why Lagunitas Nightime and The Brew Kettle's Black Rajah remain my favorite in this style. All of that being said, this is one of the top 3 black ales I have had so far. It is a monster of a beer at 10%+ and 100 IBUs, but drinks so well. Much better beer than Founder's Dark Penance for reference. From my experience, I have a feeling that Carton beers may become more and more difficult to find in the near future.

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Photo of Jason
4.4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

16oz tallboy from the brewery.

Amazing lace that lasts, loving the darkness. Pungent hops nose, lovely levels of hop oil, pine and soft citrus... Some dark bread as well. 100 IBUs is there but there is so much else going on that the hop flavor and dark bready base seem to show harder. Pine and citrus rind in the middle. Warming and a long lingering hop resin in the finish.

Pretty damn amazing... Seek this one out.

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Photo of PintSizedLover
4.09/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Extra i got in a trade. Thanks to PatsBlueRibbon1. AP: A vigorous pour of this opaque jet black ale, beckons a foamy 4 finger khaki head that dissipates slowly to a thin foamy head that lingers throughout the drink, with spotty lacing up and down the whole glass. AR: Funky wet pine predominate, with faint hints of roast and caramel syrup. Floral notes linger way in the back. TA: More wet pine, and loads of citrus, mostly grapefruit and orange peel, with some orange blossom notes hiding with faint bits of roast, and sweet caramel scones. The ABV is hidden well behind the IBU's. MF: Probably the biggest miss in this ale. I could use a little more carbonation, to make the bitterness a bit more aggressive. OV: I want more. I am so glad that this is didn't try to become a hoppy porty, which many dark ales try to do. This is a hoppy ale, with a dark side that is only expressed in its appearance.

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Photo of thedoubler55
4.35/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: Pours a pitch black in color, with a nice one finger tan head at the top, some nice lacing around the glass as drink it.

S: Nice notes of fresh hops, piney hops, grapefruit, and oranges, some malts coming through on the tail end as well, some hints of chocolate as well.

T: Lots of malts coming through up front, with a nice bitter backbone, roasted taste as well throughout.

M: Medium bodied, somewhat slick, mid carbonation.

O: Definitely One of the best Black IPA'S I have ever had, Carton is stepping up their game, and glad they are from my home state NJ! This beer was perfectly balanced, with an abundance of flavors, Awesome!

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Photo of HopBomb515
4.62/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pitch black pour with a thick tan head that refuses to fade and leaves chunky lacing everywhere. Sweet caramel, lemon, grapefruit, light pine and coffee notes. Sweet caramel and soft coffee notes open up and give way mid palate to a burst of citrus hops that bring lemon and grapefruit flavors then finish with some light pine and light sweetness. Amazing beer. The mouthfeel is sublime. Enough carbonation to let you know it's alive, but supple and soft at the same time. Finish is dry and carries the hop bitterness and 100 IBUs beautifully. I must say, this beer is incredible.

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Photo of Gavage
4.46/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: pours a black color with a 1/2" head that slowly falls to a thick surface covering.

Smell: loads of grapefruit, lemon, and a strong hop presence.

Taste: nice roasted malt base with tons of grapefruit, some lemon zest, dark fruits sweetness, some mild alcohol warming, and a strong bitterness.

Mouthfeel: lightly crisp from start to finish, and there is a dry end with one. Long lasting aftertaste/

Overall: a wonderful flavored big beer that is bold and clearly hits the spot as a black DIPA. Super beer that should be seeked out by all.

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Photo of justintcoons
4.3/5  rDev +0.2%

10 oz pour on-tap at Barcade, Philadelphia into a stemmed snifter.

Near-black with a short tan head that dissipates quickly.

Grapefruit zest, pine, perfumey florals, caramel, and roasted barley.

Very Centennial forward. Boisterous amounts of grapefruit zest, dried pine needle, perfumey florals, and onion. Light backbone of caramel, roasted barley, and hints of dark roast coffee.

Medium bodied, crisp, and off-dry with a moderate bitterness.

Super bonus points for hiding the 10.3% abv so damn well. I kind of don't believe it.

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Photo of Act25
4.42/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

I was glad to see top reviewers on this beer. At the brewer, everyone was rejoicing in this deep dark iconoclastic beer.

A: What sets appearance apart are the density of the head, its long duration and its sticky lace. Color density the black with ruby highlights help out too.

S: Plentiful nose. Mountain, high altitude wet pine, with roast chocolate, hay, olive garden notes.

T: Follows smell but BOOM! Dark chocolate and roasted malt under pin mountain, wet piney hops, with a see-saw battle between bitter and sweet with the peppery, bitter, and almost floral/perfumey hops the winner in a long finish.

Superb with food in this case with rotille on arugula, blackbeans, grass fed ground beef, tomato sauce, pesto, peppers, jack cheese.

F: Another creamy dream on top of all the richness.

MIght have to return to rate this higher as it warms.

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Photo of SammyJaxxxx
4.75/5  rDev +10.7%

Poured into my DFH glass
A: The beer is jet black in color with a finger high head. Great lacing.
S: Plenty of resiny hops in the nose followed with chocolate and toasty malts
T: The taste has plenty of roasty toasty malts and resiny piney citrusy hops. There is a moderate amount of bitterness. This is like a hoppy Porter. (and I mean that in a very good way.)
M: It is medium-bodied with a nice bite.
O: This beer is way too drinkable for a 10% beer. It is the perfect beer for a morning tailgate on a crisp fall day. It tastes like a hoppy porter and that is a very good think. This beer is simply excellent. I hope that it becomes readily available.

Another great beer from New Jersey's best brewery

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Photo of IvoryFoxhole
4.25/5  rDev -0.9%

Growler from Trenton Road Takeout 11/28/14

It's very good. Full-bodied, well-balanced, hides alcohol well. Not very bitter considering the hoppage. Hope to see this again.

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Photo of metter98
3.97/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

A: The beer is jet black in color. It poured with a finger high beige colored head that died down but consistently consistently left a short head covering the surface and lots of lacing down the sides of the glass.
S: Moderate aromas of chocolate and roasted mats are present in the nose along with notes of pine resin hops.
T: The taste is similar to the smell, but is more complex and has additional flavors of chocolate and a moderate amount of bitterness. Notes of citrusy hops are also perceptible.
M: It feels medium-bodied and a little crisp on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is extremely drinkable for a 10% beer as it hides its alcohol very well and has a good balance between the malts and hops. It also doesn't seem as bitter as a Black IPA should be, but this makes it balanced and adds to the drinkability.

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Photo of brentk56
4.19/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Arrives with a fudge brown colored liquid capped by an inch or so of foam; a fairly nice amount of lacing lined the glass as the beer was consumed

Smell: Piney with some roast and chocolate tones

Taste: Dark chocolate and roasted malt tones form the backbone with piney hops building into the middle; just a hint of citrus but both the hops and malt flavors are well-balanced

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation

Overall: A very impressive ABA; so many of them are unbalanced but this one showcased both the malt and hops very nicely

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Photo of mdfb79
4.24/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

From 11/29/13 notes. 16 oz. pour in a pint glass at Top Hops in NYC at their Black Friday Goose Island event.

a - Pours a dark brown, almost black, color with two inches of light tan head and low to moderate carbonation evident.

s - Smells of dank pine hops, roasted malts, dark chocolate, citrus hops, oranges, toasted malts, and earthy notes. Nice nose; tons of pine hops up front which I love. Smells super fresh and hoppy.

t - Tastes of pine hops, roasted malts, citrus hops, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, toasted malts, and burnt malts. Not quite as hoppy as the nose but still a great mix of pine, citrus, and roasted notes.

m - Medium body and low to moderate carbonation. No bitterness at all and very easy to drink for the ABV. Great mouthfeel.

o - Overall I thought this was a great beer; one of Carton's better beers and one of the better BLack IPAs I've had. Tons of pine hops in the nose and the taste is a little more balanced between pine and citrus hops and roasted malts. Easy to drink which is scary, and no bitterness which I love, wroth checking out if you like the style. Would love to have it again.

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Photo of Rifugium
3.87/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

First had: on tap at Carton

I decided to finish off my session at Carton with Epitome, or as the guy sitting next to me called it "EPP-ih-tohm." Dark brown-black pour, with a solid cap of off-white head that receded to a thick ringlet, lacing the glass nicely. Typical of the style, the nose was full of piney hops, with a good dose of dark chocolaty malts, but it was the hop profile that came through the most. Good balance in the taste of piney hops and dark roasty malts, with neither really fully taking charge; solid yet controlled bitter finish. Mouthfeel was chewy and bold, body was medium. I have to give extra points for the feel, because this did not at all seem like a 10+%ABV beer. I'd have thought maybe 8 at the most, but nope. Good brew overall.

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Photo of pressedmeat
4.54/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had a sample of this beer, and decided to purchase a growler immediately.

A: Dark chocolate color with maybe 1/2 to a finger of head

S: some hops, and I think I actually smell some hints of chocolate

T: Get some alcohol, coffee, and chocolate

M: Lightly carbonated, velvety, and smooth

O: If, and I mean if, you can get this beer, worth the trip.

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Photo of Chas58
4.3/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a growler from Joe Canal's Iselin into my Firestone Walker Nonic Pint Glass

Appearance: pours an inky black with a progressively growing active brownish head. Very much the consistency and appearance of an imperial stout. The head remains and leaves clingy lacing and a persistent head throughout.

Smell: this is the first place where your senses play tricks. I immediately smell the aroma of Carton 077XX Imperial IPA but this is jet black, not the golden orange of the 077XX. The hop aromas come through very strong and you clearly think you have a strong DIPA. It has a slight citrusy scent with a piney back

Taste: This is the best part, where the strong hop forward, and the heavy maltiness combine into a really great balanced beer. This has characteristics of a hoppy stout;but more, a heavy porter; but more, and if you close your eyes, you could imagine a DIPA, like 077XX, but with a malty sweetness.

Mouthfeel: A very nice tight carbonation with minimal resiny residue, the malt that makes this inky black in color helps to balance the hop forwardness.

Overall: for anyone that can find this, try it. This is a magnificent Imperial Black Ale with a maltiness that screams stout. I can not even guess that this would be a 10% beer, the alcohol is well disguised and makes this so drinkable, caution it is a 10% beer. I am not sure if this is just a Carton experiment, but this is World Class. For those of us in New Jersey lucky enough to taste this brewery expanding and experimenting like this, boy are we lucky.

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Epitome from Carton Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 17 ratings.