The weekend I visited the Beer Mecca of the Northeast– Half Time Beverage in Poughkeepsie, NY. The store claims, “1,800 BEERS, 500 MICROBREWERIES, 100 DELICIOUS STYLES FROM OVER 40 COUNTRIES.”
I was thinking, oh yeah baby! I had heard some fantastic things about this place but I never imagined that it would be so perfect. We were visting my wife’s family in NY for the New Year holiday weekend plus my mother-in-law’s 60th birthday. My wife’s family lives in Larchmont, NY and Half Time is Poughkeepsie about 60 miles away. I’m thinking that it would be close enough to make a trip, and from the reviews I’d read, I knew I had to go. So yes I did the 1+ hour drive and everyone thought I was crazy but they don’t know the lengths to which I will go for quality ales and lagers.
I mean, I had already driven over 200 miles from MA, so the extra 60 miles didn’t hurt much. My wife’s cousin Justin came along for the ride, and since he is a big beer enthusiast like myself we talked about brews and stuff during the drive, meanwhile salivating every mile. In retrospect Half Time was actually very easy to get to–a straight drive from Larchmont once on Route 9.
Once I was there, I realized I was blessed to enter one of the best beer stores on the East Coast. Half Time is a true beer mecca: A stand alone store devoted to beer, some malternatives, with 12 beers on tap to bring home. We bought 10oz samples of De Ranke Pere Noel, Delirium Nocturnum, and a growler of Southampton porter from the tap. Half Time sells 12 rotational brews in 1/2 gal growlers and 10 oz. samples. Also everything warm, they also have available cold in the coolers. Plus, most importantly for all of us who spend money on beer, is that they have very good prices!
Half Time is divided into two-sided aisles and the beers are laid out by country: US craft brew, UK, Belgium, Scotland, Imports (Canada, Thailand, etc.). The taps are on the left when you walk in and the coolers wrap around the entire store. I found so many beers that weren’t available at the time in my normal spots up here in MA, in particular the NY/NJ selection I was looking for (Southampton Publick house, and the now defunct Heavyweight Brewing Co.) to name a few.
Another great thing about Half Time was the employees. One of the guys working there was saying that the owner gave him a Keg of Avery Ellis Brown and Anderson Valley Winter Solstice for his b-day….I was Jealous! These guys have parties with top-notch brew! These guys know their beer well and will help you out if you want some advice. They’ll also leave you alone if you like that was well. I’m one of those people that will stare at an aisle for a long time as I contemplate the style and brewery.
I can’t wait to go again, and as I said to one of my friends, I might have to make the 6 hour round trip a bi-monthly ritual because Half Time is that good. Below are my reviews of the three beers we bought from the Half Time tap.
The Delirium poured a dark sienna color and left a small head that quickly dissipated. The aroma is dried fruit (plum, apricot, and raisin). As I tasted this beer the malty character came to the front, sweet with a small amount of bitterness that finished smooth with a fruit dose on the palate. This beer would pair nicely with spicy smoked ribs with a fruit glaze. I found this beer on the fruity side not syrupy sweet but enough to mirror the flavors in a fruit glaze and the savory smokiness of the meat will cut threw that malty character in the beer and really become present on your palate.
De Ranke Père Noël
The Père Noël pours a tangerine color with a thin white lace head that dissipates quickly. The aroma is candied fruit, orange citrus, peach, with grassy/hay (wheat) notes. The taste starts with sweet apricot flavor then hits you with a slight alcohol essence then follows with a slight hoppy bitterness that compliments the whole beer. I would love to make a reduction from this beer to pour over grilled or braised chicken with a side of mashed potatoes, and use the reduction instead of gravy. To make the reduction, I would take a cup or so of this beer and reduce it (boil it down) with whole orange peels and a touch of vanilla until the reduction coated the back of a spoon.
Southampton Imperial Baltic Porter
I’ve heard so many great things about the Southampton Publick House and I’ve been dying to try one of their beers for awhile now, so thanks to my trip to NY for this one, and Half Time the greatest place to buy beer I’ve ever seen, for having it. This beer pours a very dark brown and leaves a thin tan lace head that sticks with you as you drink. The aroma is of roasted chocolate and nuts, followed by a whiff of caramel sweetness that almost causes salivation. The taste hits you with some slight carbonation, then the taste of chocolate with some fig fruit essence. It starts on your palate with some caramel sweetness then gives you a little bittersweet chocolate hop finish. This is a great dessert beer, one that would go very well with any chocolate dessert since there are bittersweet chocolate and nut flavors throughout the beer. I would also try this beer as a addition to my grilled hamburger mixture with some sauteed onions and thyme… man that sounds good.