Carton Brewing, New Jersey
Imperial cream ale with coffee added 12% abv
New Jersey hasn’t exactly had its day in the sun. I know the average NJ ticker will generate a list of innumerable local pretty tasty options, but in the larger scope of things, it isn’t the Napa of fermented grain. When Carton released boat beer I was on board and really enjoyed the simple and refreshing framework.
Sure enough a few months go by and you have NJ tickers already heralding 7700WWXXYXYX as the next heady wait no BETTER THAN HEADY IMPOSSIBLE TO FIND. It is lamentable to see a solid brewery poisoned by dipshit fans. This is something akin to how TOOL is a phenomenal band but for some reason attracts nothing but insufferable assholes as followers.
This isn’t a site for reviewing the locals attendant to a brewery, this is ostensibly a blog that looks at beer critically. So is Regular Coffee a shitty beer? Well it really depends on your expectations going into this thing: do you enjoy double digit abv in your cream ales? Do you want a lactose sweetness with a bitter coffee aspect? Finally, do you need these packaged in multi-can packs for rapid consumption? Then perhaps you are the model consumer.
Kiwi can’t handle coffee up in the club
The beer pours a strange deep orange with hazy light brown and amber at the center. The off white carb billows and serves as a Trojan horse for this strange 12% beast.
The nose is sickening sweet nondairy creamer, honeycomb, of course intense coffee but more of a Nescafé verve over single origin Chemex pour overs. The waft takes that distilled cream ale and really pushes rails of sweet n low down your nasal passage, the bitter coffee a cold overseer to this process. This beer is all over the place.
The taste delivers on the ransom note that the nose presented, sticky sweet confectioners sugar, butter almost tart coffee grounds like the bottom pour from a press pot and what seems like a touch of DMS rounding out the chimera with a cornbread tail hissing on the swallow. Noble makes a “golden stout” with coffee called naughty sauce, and it is pretty tasty. This is like if the Foot Clan mixed mutagen with that beer and a huge unbalanced monster spawned from those good intentions. The sticky honey and frothy latte drool spilling from the grinding maw of stale coffee filters, inspiring breakroom terror while you contemplate those OSHA posters.
The mouthfeel is syrupy and crackles with the light body and dryness from the coffee just clanging and banging pots and pans along your gumline, leaving candy wrappers pell mell like the floor of a shitty movie theater. I had difficulty polishing off a single 12oz can and the fact that they sell this beyond the single unit assumes Herculean patience from the consumer.
I don’t know who this beer was for. I can’t say why Carton decided that this beer needed to exist, but, here we are. This isn’t so horrible that I would shudder upon hearing the crack of a can, but I certainly never need to revisit this, and 12% cream ales may be dead to me altogether, but I never was one for absolutes. Perhaps this was just outside their wheelhouse. Carton seems to shine when employing reductionist, refreshing crushers. On paper this looks like something you would see on a Kuhnhenn whiteboard next to a bulletpoint that reads “carbonation: the inexplicable mystery.”
Get yourself a can. Put on Undertow and shake the night away with sticky caffeinated ptsd to the sweet sound of Maynard’s dulcet tones.