Local beer abounds in Montana, and most of it is pretty darn good. But that doesn't mean we can't expand our horizons once in a while. Which is where Half Time comes in—they'll send you a sample pack of various beers from breweries around the country, so you can see how other craft beer stacks up to our own. We got a sample pack and doled 'em out to the staff, who enjoyed them in all the usual places: on the river, atop a mountain, and everywhere in between. Here's what they had to say.
"I drank the Fluctuation Wave from Equilibrium Brewery out of New York. It hit with a zest and was a bit hoppy for my taste. But after a few sips in the sun, the flavor started to grow on me, and pretty soon I was enjoying how juicy it tasted. Not to mention the buzz I got. At 8 percent, one 16-ounce can had me rockin’ ’n’ rollin’. Save this for a hot summer day or a backyard BBQ. " —Corey, managing editor
"The Vanilla Gunner's Daughter from Mast Landing in Maine is sweet but not overbearingly so. It's not as thick as some stouts, and it's smoother than many, with no aftertaste. It has really good flavor—delicious, really—and is pretty much dessert in a can. Drink it ice-cold after dinner on a hot summer day and you'll feel good, but not too good – at only 5.5% alcohol, it won't muddle your mind (too much)." —Annie, staff gear reviewer
"Put off by the madness of the IPA obsession, I've switched to more traditional beers—and I may have found a new favorite pilsner in the Alexandr from Shilling Beer Company out of New Hampshire. It's a Czech-style pilsner, whatever that means, and is light, smooth, with a clean, dry finish. It's refreshing and easy to drink at 5% ABV. Still, there's a subtle yet substantial flavor hidden underneath, like the proverbial underside of an iceberg. It's pilsner with a punch—and is just right for the hot, sluggish days of summer." —Mike, publisher
"While I can’t speak to the validity of this beer’s enigmatic title—It’s Complicated Being a Wizard by Burlington Beer Co. in Vermont—I will say that this 16-oz can packed some magical flavor. It’s got a well-balanced hop profile with notes of citrus and pine, supported by a strong malty backbone to reassure you that you’re actually drinking beer, not just hop water. Plus, at 8% ABV, you won’t need to drink many for a pleasant buzz." —Jack, senior editor
"I wanted to like the Strictly Illegal from Lupulin Brewing Company out of Minnesota. I like hoppy IPAs, but this beer wasn’t that. To my untrained taste buds it had an amber flavor with a medicinal aftertaste, which I’ve discovered is supposed to be fruity. While the 11% alcohol is enticing, it wasn’t worth suffering through the overly malty sweetness of this beer. I checked online reviews and it seems to be popular with folks, so maybe I had a bad can or simply don’t know my beer." —Chris, sales manager
"Slightly intimidated by the 8% ABV, I opted to share the 16-ounce El Dorado Oh-J from Lone Pine Brewing in Oregon with a friend—but I wish I hadn’t. Though somewhat bitter, as a double IPA should be, the citrusy and tropical flavors made it a great summertime after-work bevy." —Becca, sales & marketing associate