Retailer of the Year: Half Time Beverage

Vision and Execution

Half Time also serves a great deal of craft connoisseurs, who travel in from surrounding states to purchase hard-to-find beers. For the discerning drinker, Half Time is a craft mecca. That doesn’t mean macro staples aren’t available. The store carries all those brands, along with its massive selection of micro. A place for all beer was the vision of founder Alan Daniels, shared with his son Jason.

Opening Half Time 15 years ago, Alan was well ahead of his time. The 9,000-square-foot Poughkeepsie location opened in 2002 with about 600 SKUs. Craft beer was just then becoming an industry-shifting trend.

Alan remained at its forefront. Along with the Poughkeepsie store, he built up one of the largest beer distribution businesses on the eastern seaboard. He then sold Liberty Distribution in 2007 to spend more time on retail. Five years later, he and his son opened the second Half Time location. At 20,000 square feet, the Mamaroneck store claims to have the largest craft beer selection in the world.

“Our cooler in Mamaroneck has 50 doors,” Jason says. “It’s the largest cooler of its kind in North America.”

Jason, at age 26, was prominently involved in launching Mamaroneck. With a background in real estate, he selected an ideal location: a dilapidated industrial building in a densely populated, affluent neighborhood.

He oversaw the building’s transformation from blight to business, raising awareness about the new location with a beer fest that matched the store’s scope.

Big Store, Big Festival

In 2014, Jason organized the first annual Harbor Island International Beer Festival, selling over 5,000 tickets. This year’s festival was again a great turnout. Thousands of attendees packed shoulder-to-shoulder under huge tents. There were 150 breweries sampling 350 beers. Products came from as far away as Iceland and Japan.

The festival also featured live music and food trucks, plus premium ticket packages. VIP passes gave access to a tent with a food buffet and dozens of special beers. These included products by Clown Shoes, Brooklyn Brewery, Dogfish Head, Bad Seed Cider and the Goose Island vintage series.

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It may have been a cloudy day at the 2014 Harbor Island International Beer Festival, but inside the Brewmaster Reserve tent was plenty of sunshine.

For the craft connoisseur, there were Brewmaster Reserve tickets. Rare beers in this tent were the types that have enthusiasts lining up for hours, or traveling across states to buy.

Two kegs from Hill Farmstead Brewery were on tap all day — Double Citra and Brother Soigné — an unusual abundance of small-batch beer. Hourly tastings in the Brewmaster Reserve tent included other top-ranked brews: Heady Topper, Sip of Sunshine, Founders Kentucky Bourbon Stout and Cantillon sours.

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