Half Full Brewery in Stamford, CT is all about inspiring optimism. From their Inspirational Series fully equipped with motivational descriptions on each can, to their mantra of looking forward to “more”, to even their name (but I figured that one was a given). With a focus on what is new, and getting people excited about artfully crafted beers, this small up-and-coming brewery has plenty to showcase. With the help of beer tender Tom (cheers, Tom!) we scanned the draft list, found a seat at the bar, and treated our taste buds to some fine craft beer.
We started with the Inspirational Series which is basically their year-round offerings. First on the list was Bright Ale, an American Blonde Ale that clocks in at 5.2% ABV and just 17 IBU. The body was light and crisp with notes of citrus and grapefruit making it the perfect year-round sessionable beer. It may be light on taste for some, but it’s the balance that makes this beer enjoyable. The Onward APA was another enjoyable offering from Half Full. The American Pale Ale was light in terms of ABV (5.5%), which makes it palatable for any occasion, and provides just enough hop character to hold over the people who are craving something a little more daring.
The Toasted Amber Ale was certainly a standout. Classified as an American Amber/Red, the Toasted Amber Ale had a deep caramel aroma and taste to match. The beautiful copper look to this beer enhances everything that comes along with it. Definitely a beer that can hold its own in a popular category. Rounding out the Inspirational Series was the Pursuit IPA. Upon first glance, you might question if this is an IPA at all. It pours a bit darker than most IPA’s, and leaves behind some bitterness with a 60 IBU rating. Nonetheless, this IPA is a very drinkable beer. Nothing here will blow you away in terms of malt profile or hop flavor, but it gets the job done.
With four down, we were eager to get our hands on something a little off the beaten path. The Limited Release selections are where we feel Half Full really shows its stuff. The first four beers were perfect staples to attract the average beer drinker, but the Limited Release is how you make them stay.
Look no further than Within Reach Peach Wheat. A classic style wheat beer with a load of peach added in to make one of the most refreshing beers we’ve had to date. It comes as no surprise that it’s their summer seasonal release, and they nail it perfectly. Wheat beers always seem to be spruced up with an “it” fruit of the year. One year it was lemon, then blueberry, raspberry, and of course orange, but peach seemed to fly under the radar until now. A bright rush of peach aroma fills your nose upon first scent, and doesn’t quit on the palate either. Earning the Our Favorite distinction and weighing in with a 5.5% ABV, make sure this is one to put on your summer BBQ shopping list (and your standard shopping list too).
The last beer we had was Liquid Hoptimism, a double IPA that finally gets into the heavier side of things at Half Full. Hoptimism starts off with a solid malt backbone, but doesn’t drown out the all-important hops that make this beer what it is. The hop profile comes off as a bit fruity, but subtle enough to make you double take at the 8.5% ABV. But what really stood out to me was a suggestion made by Tom (remember him from the beginning?). He told me how sometimes when the beers get low, he enjoys some experimentation with Liquid Hoptimism and Within Reach. Taking a simple half pour from each glass and combining the two, created a whole new beer that easily rose to the top of the ranks. Albeit against some of our unwritten rules to rank a beer that isn’t listed, we said “to heck with the rules!”, slammed our glasses down on the table, and rode off into the sunset on our matching jet black Harley’s. Well, all of that isn’t exactly true, but we did decide to give the Liquid Hoptimism/Within Reach mash-up our Must Try for the day.
Next time you’re in the area of Stamford, or simply skimming the shelves at your local package store, make sure to search for some delicious offerings from Half Full. And if you decide to visit the brewery and you run into Tom, make sure you ask about his ingenious concoctions. Make sure you tell him that we sent you!