Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Interior work at Carton progresses

Carton Brewing is moving along with renovations to their building at the Monmouth County bayshore. The crew there expects delivery of the brewhouse, fermenters and bright and hot liquor tanks from Newlands Systems in Canada in a little over a week.

"Looks like there's some flooding in Manitoba. The train our tanks are on is stuck. We're not getting it this weekend, looks like it will be the following weekend," brewer Jesse Ferguson explained on Wednesday.

"But they're in there pouring conrete tomorrow. They busted out that front door already, where we're going to put in that roll-up (door). So, things are moving."

Last Saturday, with newly installed floor drains and other plumbing in the background, Jesse, with founders Augie and Chris Carton, discussed the interior work going on at the soon-to-be brewery in Atlantic Highlands.

They also offered some samples of pilot brews produced on a homebrew rig: a hoppy kölsch at 5% ABV and an almost 8% West Coast-slanted IPA.

The IPA, the first test take on that style, was hopped exclusively with Falconers Flight, the Hop Union mash-up of Citra, Simcoe and Sorachi Ace. The Citra-hopped kölsch, much farther along in development than the IPA, is being called Boat and was finished with Nugget and Cascade.

"It's a kölsch yeast in an American pale that we've hopped within an inch of its life," Augie says. "This one is a little higher (in alcohol) than we want; we want it to be closer to 4%."

There's a touch of wheat in it to give it some body, plus some flaked barley. "I'm doing everything I can to get the mouth feel up because it's low gravity, and it's finishing low," Jesse says. "We had a problem where it was coming off too dry and the hops were just off-the-map accentuated. The wheat and the flaked barley are there to try to counteract that."

Among the next steps is possibly another tweak to the grain bill and to produce six more test batches of Boat using various hop varities, since they're having some trouble with the availability of Citra, their preferred hop for the beer, and may need to select an alternative. Four of those Boat R&D batches have been brewed, Jesse said Wednesday.

With Boat, Augie says, the goal is to make a beer whose flavor doesn't collapse, while its alcohol content overwhelm.

"Image you're fishing, imagine you're playing softball, imagine you're commuting on the ferry (from Manhattan), you want to have three or four beers, but you don't want to be crippled. But you also want it to be tasty," he says. "We want it to be a friendly, sessionable beer for guys who like the beers we like – Nugget Nectar, Dogfish 60, Double Simcoe from Weyerbacher. We love all those crazy beers, (but) they're all just so boozy."

The Carton business model is to make brews below 5% ABV or at 7.5% and over. "It's either going to be sub-5 and sessionable and fun to drink, or it's going to be contemplative, thinking, big bottle 8%," Augie says.

A guy with a food blogger background and penchant for exploring flavors, Augie acknowledges the time-is-money critical nature of getting the brewery built. But he confesses to finding pleasures in the R&D side.

"Jesse and I bought ourselves a (MoreBeer) Tippy ... It's our pilot system; we got that just to have our mad scientist days with. It's coming in about another six weeks," he says.

The pilot brewing rig's arrival could be about the time their actual 15-barrel brewhouse is ready.
"We'd like it to be late June," Augie says, referring to the brewery buildout. "But I think it's going to be July."

It's a mug of one of the incarnations of Boat, provided by Jesse.

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