On both its website and a huge sign in front of its store, Half Time Beverage boasts that it has "the world's largest selection of beer." After a recent pilgrimage to the Half Time premises in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., I can't argue with that proclamation.
Now, before you go and accuse me of being crazy for driving all the way to Poughkeepsie just to go to a beer store, I must say this: I didn't drive -- my brother did! My brother, who has spent considerable time in England, is in love with Batemans XXXB, a British bitter that he has an impossible time finding locally. He stumbled upon Half Time's website, saw that Batemans was in stock, and was about to have a couple of cases shipped to him (he lives in Rhode Island, a state where beer can be mailed) when he realized: It would be cheaper to drive to Poughkeepsie to pick it up. He asked me if I'd like to come along for the ride. Heck, yeah. I've always wanted to visit Poughkeepsie!
Off we went, and a few hours later we arrived in the Half Time Beverage parking lot. We paused to savor the magnitude of the moment (and put my shoes back on). Inside, it was like walking into St. Paul's Cathedral, if St. Paul's Cathedral was lined with aisles of craft brews from around the world (as it should be).
Half Time is not a liquor store. It does not sell spirits or wine. It is a beer store. Every aisle and cooler is dedicated to beer. Never before had I seen so many varieties of beer in one place -- thousands of bottles of beer from every region of the United States, and pretty much every brand of beer from Belgium, Germany, Great Britain, and elsewhere that is distributed in this country. They even have beer on tap right in the store! Currently you can sample Hobgoblin, Ommegang Zuur, Brooklyn Concoction, and eight other beers, for about $3 a pint.
I picked up small bottles of Belgian ales Houblon Chouffe (which are hard to find; the big bottles are everywhere) and Rochefort, and more than a few American craft beers, including Weyerbacher Heresy, Oskar Blues G'Knight, and the last four bottles of Founders Devil Dancer, a ridiculously bitter "triple IPA" that cost $25 for a four-pack. My brother's haul included every available bottle of Batemans XXXB along with some British beers I've never even heard of.
Bonus: Given the amount of money we spent there and the number of miles we drove (and, in all likelihood, the amount of time we spent in the store), the kind staff let us choose -- for free -- a bunch of beer glasses from their aisle of drinkware.
Now, I'm not recommending anyone drive 600 miles round trip just to hit a beer store. But if you ever find yourself in the Greater Poughkeepsie Area (perhaps to see the world-famous Poughkeepsie Bridge!), you absolutely have to stop at Half Time Beverage. Pick me up some brews while you're there. Meanwhile, I snapped a few photos for you.