Carton Brewing Company

Rate It
Beer Geek Stats | Print Shelf Talker
Stout - Russian Imperial
Ranked #530
Ranked #7,229
4.04 | pDev: 8.42%
Carton Brewing Company
New Jersey, United States
Notes: Super Galena hops early in the boil bring a strawberry touch. Russian imperial stouts have a dark chocolate presence with vanilla nuance; quite pleasing when accented by a bold hop addition. Our walk around this space had us skirting the territory of those three tone blocks of supermarket ice cream. All we needed was an ingredient you can ferment that would push those notions without running over the beer-ness of the flavors. We turned to that classic museum snack, freeze-dried Neapolitan ice cream. Drink Cosmonaut because exploration is what it’s all about.
Reviews: 48 | Ratings: 199 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of fujindemon74
fujindemon74 from Pennsylvania

4.76/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

L- pitch black

S- dark fruit, char, coffee roast

T- follows the nose, slight hip bitterness n the finish

F- overall medium body/mouthfeel

O- a tasty imperial stout punching above its weight class, would purchase again

Aug 29, 2021
Photo of WayneRooneyFan
WayneRooneyFan from New Jersey

4.1/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

After enjoying Carton Brewing's Cosmonaut countless times on draft, COVID-19 forced me to pivot towards the 12 oz. can version. While the usual elements of its Russian Imperial Stout stature stood out, the Neapolitan feature was slightly muted. That being said, I did sense more bitterness and enhanced spice flavors. This is not a typical sweet stout by any means, which is a good thing. Cosmonaut certainly stands on its own merits.

Apr 13, 2020
Photo of ichorNet
ichorNet from Massachusetts

4.33/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This is a really smart and inspired beer recipe if you've read the inspiration behind it, and I happen to love Neapolitan freeze-dried ice cream (got it very frequently at the Boston Museum of Science in my youth), so this seems like a match made in the cosmos. Let's dive right in to this immense space!

Pours a deep, dark, black hole-like color (okay, I'll cool it with the astronomy references now, I promise) topped with a moderate mocha head that lasts and lasts. Awesome legs on this one with great lacing to boot. Hey, it has superb surface coverage, too... this is one of the better looking imperial stouts I've seen in recent memory. Off to a great start with this one.

The nose is very forward on coffee, roasted malts, chocolate, and light notes of vanilla, though I guess I can detect a bit of strawberry from the Super Galena addition (I personally would have probably chosen to use Belma toward the end of the boil with a more-neutral bittering hop in the beginning, but I digress). Earthy, ashen notes and slight tobacco with a hint of spice in this one as well. It's definitely more of a RIS than any kind of "flavored stout" first, which is probably the safer and more widely-appealing way to go, though I have had a couple "Neapolitan ice cream" stouts that embody the elements of that confection better than this does. As a stout, though, this smells fantastic.

My first sip is definitely heavy on the bitter dark grains and roasty chocolate malt flavors, with some backing notes of toffee, burnt caramel, charred barley husks, and light fruity esters. The finish, in particular, is surprisingly smooth and contains some unusual (yet inviting) berry flavors, likely what they intended to accomplish with the freeze-dried ice cream addition. It's honestly really good, and, like I said; it's a stout first and foremost, and a flavored beer second. The base here is superbly well-crafted; heavy and dense with a moderated carbonation and light slickness through the finish. Vaguely dry and crisp as far as dark American strong beers go, though that's not to say it isn't heavy-bodied... it just feels a little more "fun" to drink than some other big stouts I've had recently. I would drink this again, for sure.

Feb 15, 2020
Photo of Roguer
Roguer from Connecticut

4/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Huge, frothy head from a moderate pour. Good retention and excellent lacing.

Nose is fairly straightforward RIS; if the freeze-dried ice cream brings anything to the table, it's to tone down the harshness and bring out the sweeter, richer notes. Toffee, raisin, red grape, toast, burnt coffee, strawberry, vanilla, bitter Baker's chocolate, espresso, and brown sugar.

Presentation on the palate is similar, with familiar RIS tones reined in just a touch. Still bitter and roasty, in particular from the second third and through the finish. Definitely nicely sweet up front, but by no means a dessert stout.

Full bodied and smooth, with a little heat from the ABV; not exactly chewy-thick, but definitely still quite full bodied.

This comes across as one of the more approachable takes on an RIS, without seeming wild or gimmicky.

Nov 12, 2019
Photo of AyatollahGold
AyatollahGold from Indiana

4.27/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

From a 12 oz. can into a Willi Becher style glass, this beer pours out dark brown with streams of highlights running throughout. It forms three fingers worth of tightly packed, light caramel colored bubbles that stick around with great retention. Heavy lacing as crown slowly recedes. 4.5

The nose carries in frozen strawberries tangling with silky chocolate and vanilla sweetness. 4.25

The taste brings in silky milk chocolate, bitter baker chocolate, vanilla sweetness and the touch of lingering strawberry ice cream throughout. 4.25

The mouthfeel is medium bodied, leaves some bitterness and roastiness behind. 4.25

Overall, a very interesting brew that was fun to try and worked out well. Fun, experimental brew with a traditional backbone.

Oct 27, 2019
Photo of jzeilinger
jzeilinger from Pennsylvania

4.09/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Many thanks to DEdesings57 for this beer!

A - Black pour with thin caramel colored lacing and lots of viscosity on the sides of the glass.

S - Dark chocolate, cinnamon, and light strawberry on the nose.

T - Dark chocolate and cocoa, strawberry, a hit of vanilla, and a little bit of booziness on the back side. Lingering roasted cocoa with light cocoa bitterness and a little bit of strawberry.

M - Thick and viscous with a healthy amount of dryness on the back of the tongue.

O - A rock solid Imperial Stout that's interesting and packed full of flavor.

Mar 17, 2019
Photo of Harrison8
Harrison8 from Missouri

4.01/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours black with a finger and a half of khaki foam. Head retention is good. Aroma is roasty, toasty, nutty, caramel malts with bits and pieces of nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, strawberry and vanilla. Strawberry and vanilla give it a little bit of a Neapolitan ice cream aroma. Flavor profile is roasty, toasty, nutty, caramely malts in a very smooth blend. Strawberry, chocolate, very light vanilla bean and cinnamon and clove add to the hearty malt base, without adding a lot of sweetness. Balance is great. While the aroma is a little course, the flavor profile is smooth. Mouth feel is smooth and creamy with a medium-thick consistency. Thanks to the slightly thinner consistency and the creaminess, this beer goes down quick and smooth. Overall, a splendid stout with a little spicy and sweet variety in the mix.

Served in a 15.5oz Spiegalau tulip from a 12oz can.

Mar 10, 2019
Photo of dacrza1
dacrza1 from New Jersey

4.19/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

DATE: March 1, 2019... OCCASION: celebrating a fourth straight win in rec with Michael and Joey by watching the first Iron Man... GLASSWARE: Duvel snifter... this is quite a find on tap from the Liquor Factory... a jet black body holds an off-brown head, arching in waves and cloud smears...formidable if not awe-inspiring.... thick lactic milk sugars, chocolate nibs, sea brine, light charcoal, pear, apple, sudden sweet fruits, and a bit of syrup... this sips at an appreciable rate, smooth, rich, and substantial... although no bourbon is involved in this, a boozy experience is afforded... the peat is strong, as is the chocolate, coffee, and sweet lactic milk... the fruits round this into a drink beyond its initial bite... its strength overtakes the senses, with a winning, numbing confidence akin to something 80 proof... the "cashier" asked me if I liked this, though I didn't sample it--and I laughed: it's a Carton product--how far off from its genre could it be? And it wins with a thick drawl, a long aftertaste that holds throughout the glass... a dessertif that holds strong to its style, and provides heft with its 10+ ABV....

Mar 02, 2019
Photo of npolachek
npolachek from New York

4/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours jet black with a coffee colored head. Nose of cocoa, chocholate, bourbon, and some spice. Decent stout, but pretty this compared to others within this class category.

Feb 24, 2019
Photo of JRed
JRed from New Jersey

4.3/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Black body with coffee head. Strong aroma of cocoa, dark chocolate, spices (cinnamon), mild earth. Tastes of spiced dark chocolate, earth, booze, cola. Heavy bodied with medium carbonation.

Feb 24, 2019
Photo of AZBeerDude72
AZBeerDude72 from Arizona

4.24/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: Jet black with rich head and sticky lacing.
N: Chocolate, malt, some vanilla, and nutmeg.
T: Follows the nose, a very rich beer. Flavors are amazing.
M: Full
O: WOW, loved the chocolate and vanilla kick and malty sweetness. Did not get any ice cream but loved this beer.

Jun 28, 2018
Photo of Blackop555
Blackop555 from Michigan

4.16/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pour is black. Short, thick tan head that Fades slowly.

It smells roast malt, chocolate, vanilla, dark fruit, coffee and caramel malt.

Taste roasted malt, dark chocolate, vanilla and caramel malt. Followed by dark fruit, Berry and light earthy bitterness. Finishes semi-dry with a roast linger and light earthy bitterness. Medium body and smooth lower carbonation.

May 19, 2018
Photo of RedhawkPoke
RedhawkPoke from Oklahoma

4.14/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: Beer pours a black body with a small amount on tan head. Not much lacing to be had but fair amount of head stays behind during the entire drink.

S: Beer seemed to have some bourbon smells to it. Along with a spicy bourbon touch I also get some oak aromas. Beer has some sweet chocolate malt aromas also. Main note, however, seems to be of a spicy bourbon feel.

T: Beer has a strong amount of spice/bourbon to it in thestart that gives way to a more sweet taste at the end. Nice flavors that don't seem to have the spicy kick that the nose seemed to hint at. Beer improves and becomes sweeter as the beer warms.

M: Beer is fairly thin for what I assume is a stout. Not sure what the ABV here is but the alcohol presence is nicely hidden by other flavors. Pretty easy drinker for the style.

O: Beer has a strong bourbon aroma in the start that fades away to a sweeter beer at the end. A tad thin for what I assume is a stout but solid easy drinker.

Apr 08, 2018
Photo of Tony210
Tony210 from New Jersey

3.42/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours very dark and kind of this with minimal bubbly head that quickly recedes. Not much to the nose - faint roasted malts. Flavor is mostly roasted malt, some chocolate. I don't notice any of the Neapolitan flavors. Carbonation adds a nice creaminess to it. I feel the yeast detracts from the flavor. Overall this is a thin RIS, a little gimmicky with the freeze dried ice cream, which I wanted to taste but don't. I really wanted to like this one...

12 oz can dated 2/22/18
3.5 rating

Mar 24, 2018
Photo of srw
srw from Virginia

3.96/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a teku glass from a 12 oz can. Very dark with a tan head that leaves nice lacing on the glass. Smells like berries and chocolate. Taste is similar to the smell, chocolate and some sweet fruit with a little alcohol. Wonder if the fruit is from the strawberry ice cream? Medium carbonation with a creamy mouthfeel. Overall, a nice beer with interesting ingredients.

Oct 29, 2017
Photo of Alieniloquium
Alieniloquium from Florida

3.31/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

12 oz. can. Black body. Smells a little fruity. Chocolate. Smells of barley and grain, too. Tastes fruity as well. Milk chocolate. Alcohol. Vanilla. Creamy. Heavy and alcoholic. Boozy and creamy bodied. It’s pretty good, but not my thing. Also, it tastes better than it smells, which is not a usual criticism of a beer.

Jul 04, 2017
Photo of Wasatch
Wasatch from Colorado

4.37/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Thanks goes out to thebeers for this brew.

12 oz. Can
Canned On: 3/15/17

Poured into a tulip a very nice dark brown color, very nice carbonation, with a very nice thick/creamy one-finger tan head, which also leaves some pretty nice creamy sticky lacing behind. The nose is malty, with some nice chocolate/toffee, vanilla, kinda roasty, slight licorice. The taste is really nice, malty, very nice touch of chocolate/toffee, nice vanilla, slight licorice, nice roastyness. Full Body, ABV hidden very well, nice little dry/bitter finish, nice creamyness. Overall, this one surprised me, very tasty brew. Thanks Arthur!

Jul 01, 2017
Photo of FFFjunkie
FFFjunkie from Illinois

3.94/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Look is jet black with a 1/2 inch of tight khaki head on a very aggressive pour. I like my stouts with more head than most.

Smell is bitter chocolate, coffee and some vanilla.

Taste has a lot going on. Bittersweet chocolate, coffee and vanilla. Maybe even a faint hint of strawberry. Definately a nice bitter hit at the end.

Feel is smooth and creamy and it also coats the mouth quite impressively.

Overall a really unique stout and glad I had the opportunity to try it. Definately different and the freeze dried ice cream is really cool.

Jun 25, 2017
Photo of BEERchitect
BEERchitect from Kentucky

4.12/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Taking exploration quite serious, the brewers at Carton take craft beer where it has never gone before. Layering an imperial stout with vanilla and berry-like hops might not seem so curious, but when you pull out the freeze dried ice cream, you know that the sky's the limit.

Cosmonaut pours as friendly as any imposing stout could. Jet black and topped with a creamy mocha lather, the lacy ale soon streams the nose with dark chocolate, dark roast coffee, char, tangy fruit and the sweet scent of cookies-n-cream. Sweet to taste, the beer's malt dominant taste slathers the tastebuds like heavy sweetened, caramelized espresso.

Slowly relaxing sweetness allows the char to inch up that flavor totem pole as its caramel, cream, molasses and toffee begin to take a slight backseat to the toasty, roasty and charred taste of french press coffees, bittersweet chocolates, black walnut, burnt toast and a hoppy finish that's decorated with smoldering embers, grilled berry and an overall woodsy, off-smokey bitterness.

The effects of ice cream keep a slight "neapolitan" taste of strawberry, vanilla and chocolate rolling gently into finish as the full bodied imperial stout finishes bold, malty and bittersweet like roasted marshmallow. Added caramel takes an edge off of the char and allows for a simmer of alcohol warmth to register long and deep like coffee liquor.

Jun 15, 2017
Photo of superspak
superspak from North Carolina

4.2/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce can into snifter, canned on 3/15/2017. Pours opaque dark brown/black color with a small dense khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a thin lace cap that lingers. Light spotty lacing clings on the glass, with a fair amount of streaming carbonation retaining the cap. Aromas of big milk/dark chocolate, cocoa, vanilla, strawberry, fudge, caramel, cream, brown sugar, and toasted dark bread; with lighter notes of coffee, smoke, char, herbal, pepper, and roast/toasted earthiness. Damn nice aromas with great balance and complexity of dark/roast/bready malt, vanilla, ice cream, and light-moderate earthy hop notes; with great strength. Taste of big milk/dark chocolate, cocoa, vanilla, strawberry, fudge, caramel, cream, brown sugar, and toasted dark bread; with lighter notes of coffee, smoke, char, herbal, pepper, and roast/toasted earthiness. Light-moderate roast/char and herbal/spicy hop bitterness on the finish. Lingering notes of milk/dark chocolate, cocoa, vanilla, strawberry, fudge, caramel, cream, brown sugar, toasted dark bread, light smoke/char, herbal, pepper, and roast/toasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Fantastic complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/roast/bready malt, vanilla, ice cream, and light-moderate earthy hop flavors; with a nice roast/hop bitter/sweet balance. Light-moderate dryness from roast/hop bitterness, increasing through the glass. Slight increasing acrid roast/hop astringency, but not overwhelming. Light carbonation and medium-full body; with a very smooth, creamy/silky/velvety, and lightly sticky/chalky balanced mouthfeel that is great. Minimal warming alcohol after the finish for 10%. Overall this is an outstanding Russian imperial stout! All around awesome complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/roast/bready malt, vanilla, ice cream, and light-moderate earthy hop flavors; very smooth and easy to sip on for the ABV; despite the increasingly acrid/bitter/drying finish. Very rich and complex, with awesome balance of all flavors. Would have bumped up the mouthfeel if it lacked the acrid/drying character. Really silky and velvety with the low carbonation. A highly enjoyable offering.

May 13, 2017
Photo of NiceTaps
NiceTaps from New Jersey

3.83/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12oz. can in a snifter.

Props to the 12 ounce can! "Cosmonaut", nicely named nod to the spirit of RIS, especially during these times of strained relations between Russian and the US "brain trusts". Enough of that, the beer...

A- Nearly black, dark chocolate brown color with just a touch of, yes, strawberry red hue. A foamy British tan colored head measures about 1F and fades quickly to a modest film. Fat rings of lacing.

S-Bold roasted malt aroma. There's dark chocolate, a touch of coffee, vanilla, and the alcohol shows as it warms. I get the fruit, too; admittedly, knowing ahead of the strawberry was helpful.

T-Roasted malts, bitter dark chocolate, vanilla. There's evidence of the ice cream flavors. I get some coffee and alcohol.

F- Creamy medium body. Not full and hearty, but it's definitely a stout. Alcohol up front, dry and hoppy on the end. The hops win the battle with the ice cream and the abv to buffer the sweetness.

O- I like the effort here and could see myself looking for this again, come the cooler weather.

May 06, 2017
Photo of thebeers
thebeers from Pennsylvania

3.51/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

Red-tinted black with a lush, two-fingered mocha head.

Strong, roasty malts in the nose with a definite hint of strawberry and slight whiff of vanilla behind.

The mouthfeel is fairly full bodied, lightly creamy with just the right carbonation.

The taste is very similar to the nose. Strong, roasted malts up front with some slight strawberry and vanilla sweetness in the background.

What's odd to me is that they get the strawberry and vanilla notes, but miss the chocolate one. Maybe you could call the charred grains here burnt chocolate, but it definitely isn't sweet or ice cream-like at all. If anything, it's got an almost nutty character to it with a hint of coffee. There's also a little formaldehyde lurking in the background that I don't really love.

I'm drinking this at room temperature. Maybe a little chilling would alter the balance a bit. This might be an example of faulty expectations, but the Neapolitan astronaut ice cream concept just doesn't come together for me.

Apr 10, 2017
Photo of q33jeff
q33jeff from New Jersey

3.48/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25


can to snifter. my 6th of 8 since grabbing them at the brewery a few weeks back.

LOOK: dark black with a creamy looking beige head. does not look to be motor oil thick, but color wise it is very dark. head faded to some patchy lacing.

AROMA: typical russian, loads of barley, some coffee,

TASTE: similar to aroma, but a stark bitterness finishes. I appreciate them using the freeze dried ice cream to minimize the sweetness added, but the result is that I get none of those neopolitan flavors at all. The malty flavors just seem more bitter than they would be.

FEEL: a little light for a stout, but robust enough not to call it a porter. some dryness and astringency in the finish.

Great name; OK beer.


Apr 07, 2017
Photo of hiphops
hiphops from New Jersey

3.06/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Looks like espresso side with a tan/grey small head
Smells like chocolate and roasted malt and vanilla some sweet fruit in there but I can't honestly say it's strawberry.
It tastes smoky and acrid and a boozy.
Feels dry and kind of hot and very thin.
not a fan

Apr 07, 2017
BIGPOPPAS from New Jersey

4.45/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

I'm shocked at the reviews here, but then again I like sweet brews. I don't care if it's Dipa, TIPA. Stout, or whatever, if it's sweet , creamy or fruity I generally like it .
This is a first for me and closely reminded me of Firestone Walker Oatmeal Stout ..
Super delicious flavors as I could drink the 4 pack without hesitation and a decent aroma .
Just like FW though it has a very thin body for a stout, however comparing price well it's hands down way. Better a deal . Guys here complaining about price ???
4 -12 oz for $14.99 for 10 abv
FW $15.99 for a 22 oz bomber 8.5 abv

Hello !!!

Highly recommended and very tasty treat for those that want something sweet and tasty, but not thick like say a Founders RIS .
I'm starting too love Carton Breeing and they are my home state . Glad to see it showing up ❤

Apr 02, 2017
Cosmonaut from Carton Brewing Company
Beer rating: 90 out of 100 with 199 ratings