Carton Brewing Company

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American Black Ale
Ranked #5
Ranked #1,121
4.29 | pDev: 8.16%
Carton Brewing Company
New Jersey, United States
Notes: 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.

Reviews: 48 | Ratings: 324 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Wiffler27
4.6/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

canned 11/16/17 and enjoyed on 1/15/18

deep oil black with a thick creamy head, looks just like a black ale is supposed to

smell is surprisingly "green". smells of sweet hops. close your eyes and this could be a west coast ipa by it's aroma

taste is full of sweet malt and bittering hops. like a well carbonated and well hopped stout. black ales are so fascinating to me. a "green" flavor due to its hoppiness and dark colored yet light tasting malt.

really good beer, probably the best black ale i've ever had. Carton makes great IPAs and have some funky yet tremendous experimental shit, i love them. yay NJ

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Photo of AZBeerDude72
4.28/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A: Pitch black with rich tan head and sticky lacing.
N: Hoppy with a nice sweet note, floral in nature, some citrus.
T: Thrown off, you see stout but get hoppy smooth notes. Great hops, floral, little bite, minor malt. Is this an IPA? LOL
M: Medium
O: Impressed with the presentation, you see a stout and get a hoppy beer with some stout feel but drinks like an IPA. Impressed to say the least, really great effort on this beer. I think this is the only beer that drinks like an IPA and looks dead on for a stout, outstanding.

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Photo of JRed
3.69/5  rDev -14%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Black in body with khaki head that dissipates. Aroma of grape, grass, light medicinal. Tastes of grape, grass, pine, medicinal notes, molasses, big booze follows up, medicinal bitterness. Light bodied with light carbonation.

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Photo of eppie82
4.44/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From can. Very dark (opaque?) black with good bit of foam upon aggressive pour. Foam stuck around as you drank along. While cold, this smelled like a fruity IPA almost. But as it warmed, the chocolate and coffee malt profile really came out. The flavors were roasted malts, coffee, chocolate and even mild vanilla. These became more pronounced as it warmed a bit. Very creamy and smooth, with medium mouthfeel.

This was surprising in good way. Dangerously easy to drink for 10%+ abv. Would gladly get this again. Probably the best black ale I've had.

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Photo of ShaggaCurtisovich
4.79/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Wow! Close to a five. First, more breweries should churn out black ipas. Second, how did most miss the most important ingredient in this beer. To me vanilla stands out. Jet black nose lacing and a nice IPA taste with a smooth finish. This is the best black IPA I've had. Great job on this one.

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

On draft in a snifter glass

Black in color, off white colored head. Some lacing. Aroma is a nice mix of earthy hops and roasty flavor. Similar taste, nice mix of flavors. Moderately bitter, good balance of sweet and dry. A little cocoa. Medium bodied.

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Photo of Claude-Irishman
4.54/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Wow! Looks amazing with a never ending, very slow head. Similar to Guiness for head dissipation. In the crystal beer mug I used it had a 5 finger head. Actually smells dank and fruity. Was expecting roasty, coffee, chocolate. If it is there it gets overtaken by this black hop bomb. tastes silky and smooth. Something about Carton's yeast I find unique in a good way. Overall another winner for Carton. This beer was canned 11 days ago. 16$ a 4 pack , 16oz Tallboy cans.

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Photo of tzieser
4.5/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Canned 11/16/17. 16oz can poured into a tulip glass, Epitome pours pitch black in color, completely opaque with a khaki colored head that takes a very long time to settle. Aroma is remarkably citrus-hop forward. Usually with these kinds of beers the aroma is a bit muddled due to the higher roasted malt base. This one is an exception. If I had to smell this blind-folded I'd think it was a regular west coast DIPA. Citrus and floral hop aroma. Taste is very similar to the aroma, actually. Lots of citrus hops including grapefruit, orange and a bit of mango even. I'm searching for the roasted malt and it barely pulls through at the end, which is okay by me because this style always seems to be more roast than hops. Slightly dry finish. Never would've guessed 10.3% ABV, the burn is barely noticeable. Overall it is an exceptioanlly excellent Black IPA errr, I mean Imperial Black Ale that drinks wonderfully. This one knocked Wookey Jack as my top Imperial Black Ale Thingy that I've ever had. Another great beer from Carton!

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Photo of hopsputin
4.2/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A: silky matte black color. No head on this point

S: roasted malt, orange zest, milk chocolate, crackers, and a hint of brown sugar. There is also a hint of cola in the aroma. Doesn’t smell too heavy, for the ABV

T: chocolate, orange zest, grapefruit, roast malt, sweet sweet malts. Does NOT taste like it’s this high ABV

M: medium mouth, with a nice silky feel which os a bit sticky at the end

O: solid Black Ale. Nice balance of citrus hops and malts. This is dangerous. It’s high ABV, but drinks real easy

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Photo of jfitzbrew
4.17/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer is definitely different. A beast as advertised. Deep black with a pretty nice tannish head. Great retention for the ABV of this beer. Get a lot of pine, molasses, rich berries, and roasty notes in the aroma. The flavor follows but what is delightful in the aroma seems to clash a bit in the flavor profile. Maybe that is just me. Alcohol detectable. Not surprising for the ABV but at the same time surprising that it isn't masked by everything else going on. Definitely will drink again and see if my opinion changes.

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Photo of orcrist_cleaver
4.31/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Lemon myrtle, jasmine petals, and citron form a fresh and rejuvenating aroma despite the pitch black color. Pineapple and maybe some mango, but definitely pine oil. Taste is similarly tropical and piney. Soft, silky smooth graham cracker. Malt extract is subliminal with suggestions of marshmallow, light syrup and a bit of coffee to match its cafe au lait colored head. Mocha latte is apt given its super creamy mouthfeel. The cows definitely were grass fed; super lush and herbaceous flavor. The citrus fruit and piney, floral hop notes bound in the sweetness before it gets out of hand. It's an easy sipper despite the high ABV although occasional wafts of high ethanol and spent espresso beg to differ from time to time.

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Photo of aquabears
4.78/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Pours black with thick lacing. Smell is piney and slightly fruity. Taste is... incredible. Citrus (sweet lemon?) and tropical, dank, strong malt backbone... the bitterness is faint and blends perfectly with the roasty sweetness. The taste is truly incredible. Thick, leaves and oily feel in your mouth after swallowing, some heat from the alcohol. But... you would never guess it is 10.3%
If you see this, buy it.

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Photo of threeviews
4.65/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 16oz can (Canned on 22 November 2016) into a (Carton Brewing branded) Rastal Craft Master One Tumbler:

A - Pours black, none more than black with a single finger coffee ice cream colored head. For a 10%+ ABV beer, the retention is strong (4.75)

S - Pine, citrus (orange and grapefruit), floral and mixed berry aromas all wrapped in a blanket of mild roast and dark molasses. Although my review is one month from canning, the hops were much more pungent when first canned (of which I had less than a week after canning) but are still very pungent and dominate the aroma. Any hints of alcohol do not exist and are hidden wonderfully well. (4.75)

T - Hops clearly dominate with only a slight hint of the dark malts. In addition to healthy dose of pithy orange & (white) grapefruit, and berry sunshine, there is a fleeting lemon/lime presence that is not detected in the aroma. Very well balanced for a beer this big, this dark and this hoppy...a massive Black IPA (let us call it what it is) has been executed very well. (4.75)

M - Medium+ body with conservative carbonation. Although it finishes really tacky and dry, a bit more carbonation would be welcome to accentuate the nose and titivate the palate. (4.25)

O - Epitome is everything I look for in a Black IPA: a mind-bender of a beer where the aroma and flavor tricks your senses...this does exactly that (especially when drinking it one week fresh). Due to the size of the brewery and its output, the price (~$5/can) is a bit pricey, yet understandable since it screams hops, hops and more hops in both aroma and flavor. (4.5)

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Photo of jpbrooklyn
4.57/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Feeding beer-blessed I scored 6 cans of this nectar. Sorry to repeat others but it's true: if I didn't pour this out I might not know it was a black IPA. Hoppy bomb infused with a through-line of molasses maltiness. Perfect mouthfeel--light on the carbonation and the alcohol is wonderfully well hidden. Dangerously drinkable, flavors just keep coming! Makes me proud to know a NJ brewery created this nectar. My only sadness is I now have just two cans left...

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Photo of Hoptimistic_Pissamesstic
4.83/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

On its own this is a straight up top tier imperial IPA. I tried school of hops and then this and that made it taste like a top tier black ipa. If I did not pour it in a glass I would think it was one of he best imperial IPAs out there and I have heady and crusher in my fridge right now. I poured it, its a black IPA and its magnificent!

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Photo of Dopen993
4.29/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

16 oz can into tulip. No date.

L. Pitch black with tan head, 1 finger at most. Moderate lacing.
S. Lots of hops and pine. Even getting some mango and tropical fruit. A bit unexpected from a black IPA.
T. Get some coffee Carmel and malt mixed in with some nice hops. Light on the citrus and pine and tropical.

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Photo of SmashAdams
4.75/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This is quite a beer. When first poured the smell and taste are dominated by hops. As it warms I'm getting some of the toasty malts and slight chocolate. Very smooth despite the high abv. This beer has a lot to offer, one of the best dark beers I've ever had. yb

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Photo of mothman
4.06/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Can't tell this is a black ipa or a black ale at all. This is ipa all the way. Grassy, green, grapefruit flavors. No chocolate or malts. Very deceiving. Very awesome offering.

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Photo of gopens44
4.3/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Cut to the chase, tastes unreal. As a self proclaimed Cascadian expert, this is perfect tasting. Begins earthy piney bitter to start, fading into anise and finishes with a hint of molasses and picks up enough earthy bitter to give a full circle awesomeness before the dry finish of this full bodied beer. And for the record, Nose carries a nice foreshadow of the taste.

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Photo of Wasatch
4.64/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Thanks goes out to SammyJaxxxx for this brew!

16 oz. Can

Poured into a Squatters True Pint glass a very nice black color, with some very nice carbonation, with an awesome thick/creamy two-finger plus tan head, which leaves some very nice thick/creamy sticky lacing behind. The nose is hoppy, with some nice malt notes, some nice chocolate/toffee notes, licorice, citrus/pine notes. The taste is very very nice, hoppy, malty, licorice, pine/citrus, chocolate/toffee. Medium body, ABV is hidden very very well. Overall, this is one helluva brew! Highly Recommeded!

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Photo of Nickwierda
4.51/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer really surprised me. I'm not too keen on black ipas (love Weez but many of the others I've tried haven't really been up my alley), but this one was different. The 10.3% abv dials up the sweetness a touch to accentuate the citrusy and piney hops and does a great job of blending those elements with the chocolate and roast of the malts. The result is a perfect balance between the two, which is both difficult to achieve and exactly what you need in a black ipa. Not too bitter, not too sweet, not too roasty: just right. Great, great beer.

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Photo of MacMalt
4.44/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Originally reviewed on 12/16/2015 on draught at a restaurant. Re-reviewed on 11/27/2016. Can dated 11/22/2016. Poured into Carton Teku. It pours a dark mahogany-black in color with a fluffy, khaki-colored head and elegant lacing with excellent retention. The smell features dark, roasted malt and floral hops. The taste is a nice combination of sweet roasted malt and citrusy hops. It is really more malt-forward than I anticipated but the combination is really good. It is not very bitter for 100 IBU. The feel is creamy and moderately carbonated. The 10.30% ABV is pretty well hidden but this ale packs a punch. Overall, this is one of my favorite Carton offerings, which says a lot. For a "Black Ale" or "Black IPA" it iss definitely more at the malt end of the spectrum than Wookey Jack, NightTime or Dark Penance. I look forward to Epitome's release every year.

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Photo of stephenjmoore
4.24/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a dark brown and settles into the glass as a near black. Sticky, foamy tan head sits on top. Aroma is roasted malts and dank, herbal hops. More of the dank hops come through in the flavor and crush the palate. Herbaceous, grassy, notes of licorice and charred malts. Feel is smooth and creamy, but prickly and potent at the same time. This is a ridiculously huge black IIPA that just has huge flavor and big dank bitterness.

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Photo of agreenman19
4.15/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

L - pours blacker than black. Can't see through it at all. Not even so much as an amber glint in the light. Mocha colored head. Fluff.

S - citrusy hops. Can't really smell the "black". Can't smell the booze, but you can tell it's going to have deep penetrating flavors. Grassy. Scallions.

T - lot of pine. Slight resin. The alcohol peeks through but is mostly well-hidden. The bitterness creeps up on you and you don't really realize it until a few moments after the sip and your mouth is throbbing. 100 IBUs at work!

F - one of the better aspects of this beer. Surprisingly light, but velvety and creamy as can be. Slip n' slides all over the tongue. For best results, take a sip while there is still a finger or so of head. The way the foam caresses my lips is heavenly. Almost feels like it flips gravity upside down and is lifting my mouth upward! Great combination and a superbly soft and delicate feel.

O - solid beer, but nothing really stands out from the crowd, aside from mouthfeel. The can says Epitome... epitome of what?

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Photo of Tonyjenlasc
4.37/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Look - Pitch black, didn't get much head. Some alcohol legs as expected
Smell - The nose on this beer blew me away. Tons of citrus, pine, some tropical fruits even. Not what you would expect a "black" beer to smell like.
Taste - A lot of roasted malts, citrus, earthy, pine, hop bitterness, touch of booze on the back end
Feel - Big beer, full body.

Overall - Not a black IPA fan myself but this one is great!! Carton really did an awesome job with this beer.

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Epitome from Carton Brewing Company
Beer rating: 95 out of 100 with 324 ratings