The holidays are in full swing, the parties have already started, and you have not finished your shopping!
Chances are you know someone who is a self-professed beer lover. These are the people who will bring craft brews to a dinner party instead of wine, love to discuss hop varieties at length with strangers in a bar, and can pronounce Reinheitsgebot with little effort. These are the craft beer lovers, and their gifts should be special.
The easy answer is to buy them beer. You certainly can’t go wrong with that choice. Find a great bottle of something uncommon or a growler from a local brewery. Maybe even a “beer gift basket” with a variety of different beers represented. But like I said: that’s the easy way.
For those who want to go the extra mile for their beer-loving friends or family, here are some suggestions for that elusive perfect gift.
It’s the obvious evolution in a beer-lover’s life: crafting their own beer. There is something oh-so-satisfying about pouring a bottle for a friend, handing to them, and saying “yeah… I made that.”
The homebrewing scene is vibrant and exciting, and more importantly it is producing some really amazing beer. Tampa Bay alone has five homebrew clubs and four homebrew shops. For a nominal initial investment, your beer lover can become a home brewer overnight. Already caught the brewing bug?
Upgrade them. Move from extract to all-grain. Start kegging. The possibilities are endless. Check out The Beer and Winemaker’s Pantry, Southern Brewing & Winemaking, Bootlegger’s, or Booth’s Brewing to get your startup supplies or anything you need to brew your own beer.
Is your beer lover also a reader? Numerous books about the life and times of beer have been released over the years, and some of them are truly excellent. For the initiate, try The Naked Pint by Christina Perozzi and Hallie Beaune. This fun, irreverent, and extremely informative book walks beer lovers of all stripes through styles, tasting guidelines, and even pairing suggestions.
Fans of the business and history of brewing in America should read The Craft of Stone Brewing Co. by Greg Koch, Steve Wagner, and Randy Clemens.
Not only do these icons of the industry spin the tale of the origin of the SoCal “arrogant bastards,” but they include recipes and business insight, all with an easy-to-read style and plenty of humor. Finally, for the would-be beer traveler, I have to recommend Red, White, and Brew by Brian Yaeger.
Starting in Pottsville, PA at the oldest microbrewery in America (Yeungling), Yaeger drove around the country, stopping at breweries, brewpubs, craft beer bars, and even visiting home brewers to take a look at the beer culture around our nation. It is a fun read, but was also the book that inspired me to starting writing about beer.
It’s time to move beyond the shaker pints and upgrade. From Pilsner glasses to tulips to steins, beer glassware has never been more popular. Fine crystal is no longer just for the wine set. Great beer should be served with the same respect.
Beer wear (shirts, etc. from local breweries) is probably the second-easiest gift, but it is still very cool, especially if your beer lover is in another city. T-shirts, hats, coasters and so on are available for purchase at nearly every brewery taproom. Even better, get a variety of swag along with a couple bottles of their best beers.
Of course you can also go the easy route and just get beer. Or even easier, a gift card to a local beer store. But by choosing something a little more out of the ordinary, you are telling your beer lover that they are special — and that’s the best present of all.