Epitome | Carton Brewing Company

39 Reviews

Brewed by:
Carton Brewing Company
New Jersey, United States

Style: American Black Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.30%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.


Added by Chas58 on 12-29-2012

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Reviews: 39 | Ratings: 301
Photo of jfitzbrew
4.17/5  rDev -3.2%
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%
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 +10.9%
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 +7.9%
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%
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 +12.1%
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 -0.5%
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
4/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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. nb

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Photo of mothman
4.06/5  rDev -5.8%
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 +7.7%
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 +4.6%
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%
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 1127/2016. 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 -1.6%
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 -3.7%
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 +1.4%
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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Photo of Bdalik
4.24/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured in to a Carton teku glass.

Jet black. Although this is a black IPA, this is brewed with black malt extract to darken. It's still a beautiful jet black in the glass. Light brown, creamy head. Smells a lot like 0dub. Piney, dank and resinous. Touch of hot alcohol on the nose, but at 10.3, almost no booze. Tastes really smooth and hoppy. Upfront bitterness followed by pine and earthy hops. Essentially a triple IPA, I put this up there with the best of them.

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Photo of Phigg1102
4.02/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pitch black with a finger of tight bubbles. Earthy and floral hops in the aroma with a touch of cherry. I love dark beers with great hop characteristics and this delivers, mostly piney hop flavors come through here.

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Photo of Yancey82
4.45/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dang! This is one awesome beer. Picked it up super fresh for the Black Friday release. Pours opaque black with a creamy tan head that lingers. Amazing nose of pine and wood. Great flavor that follows the aroma with a creamy mouthfeel. Go grab one if you can.

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Photo of njcraftguy
3.62/5  rDev -16%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had this on tap at Ambulance brew pub after striking out on getting some cans. Pours dark with a thick - foamy head. Nice brew - smooth and tasty. Slightly heavy but that's expected. I would get it again but not sure I'd go crazy trying. Good brew overall but nothing special here.

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Photo of JerzDevl2000
4.18/5  rDev -3%
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 can!

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Photo of WesMantooth
4.18/5  rDev -3%
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 +2.1%
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 -5.1%
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 +0.9%
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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Epitome from Carton Brewing Company
4.31 out of 5 based on 301 ratings.
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