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: 300
Photo of Tobes181
5/5  rDev +16%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

My favorite Black IPA, wish it came out more then once per year. This Black IPA is well balanced. Not overly roasty and not overly bitter. Carton nailed this one.

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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 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 SammyJaxxxx
4.75/5  rDev +10.2%

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 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 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 HopBomb515
4.62/5  rDev +7.2%
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 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 pressedmeat
4.54/5  rDev +5.3%
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 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 Gavage
4.46/5  rDev +3.5%
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 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 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 Act25
4.42/5  rDev +2.6%
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 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 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 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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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 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 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 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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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 IvoryFoxhole
4.25/5  rDev -1.4%

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 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 mdfb79
4.24/5  rDev -1.6%
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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Epitome from Carton Brewing Company
4.31 out of 5 based on 300 ratings.
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