Have a beer lover in your life? Do him or her a big favor and don’t attempt to guess what kind of beer your picky imbiber might like as a holiday gift. Stick with a gift certificate to a nice draft bar or bottle shop, or better yet, accessorize!
There is no shortage of beer-related items these days and I’ve selected a few of my favorites, starting with glassware. True beer geeks know that drinking from a can or a bottle is a no-no; you’ve got to pour that aromatic goodness into a glass so your nose can get a whiff and accentuate the taste. There are many glassware options–each one most appropriate for a specific style of beer–but for a good everyday compromise I’d recommend the Samuel Adams Boston Lager pint glass. You’ve likely seen it featured in the brewery’s commercials, and unlike some innovations that are little more than marketing gimmicks (I’m looking at you, Miller Lite Vortex Bottle), this one delivers on its promises.
A solid complement to the Sam Adams glass is author Randy Mosher’s insightful book, “Tasting Beer: An Insider’s Guide to the World’s Greatest Drink.” After summarizing beer history, the brewing process, and the science of tasting, the book covers what to expect from different styles of beer and suggests food pairings.
Armed with a good tasting glass and Mosher’s helpful direction, your giftee might want a method of recording details of all the great beers he or she will now thoroughly explore. Here is where a small, innovative notebook called 33 Beers comes in handy. With room to document–you guessed it–33 beers, each pocket-sized book provides space for vital statistics and notes plus a clever “flavor wheel” that lets you create a taste snapshot of a beer by ranking terms like “sour,” “sweet,” “burnt,” and “hoppy.” And if you’ve got wine and coffee lovers on your shopping list, you’re in luck: 33 Wines and 33 Coffees books are available too.
Now let’s say–and this is strictly a hypothetical here–that you left behind a fist-sized hole in your friend’s bonus room drywall during the waning hours of his most recent “epic” beer party. If you have neither the money nor carpentry skills to patch the Sheetrock, a great looking beer-themed print could be just the solution. Measuring 18 by 24 inches, “The Very Many Varieties of Beer” poster designed by Pop Chart Lab details all the major styles of mankind’s favorite malted adult beverage in family-tree fashion. It also offers example brews for reference, and is way more entertaining to look at than Spackle.
If you prefer to shop for beer art that’s wearable, look no further than Rotorcaps.com. This is the online store for Philadelphia artist Jen Roder, who fashions recycled bottle caps into cool cuff links and adorable pendants and earrings. Featured brands range from hip (Pabst Blue Ribbon) to obscure (various regional craft breweries). Still, you may want to caution the recipient against wearing these to his or her next job interview, just to be safe.
Of course, beer magazines are always solid gifting options–the proverbial gift that keeps on giving. For general beer news, culture, travel and recipes, go with All About Beer or DRAFT Magazine. The publication Brew Your Own, meanwhile, is perfect for anyone interested in making beer at home; it has regular features aimed at all skill levels.
For beer drinkers who give equal time to wine, spirits and coffee, Mutineer Magazine covers drinking culture and its intersection with pop culture–all through a prism of hipness that can be inviting or a little off-putting, depending on your perspective. To its credit, Mutineer did feature the coolest gift idea I’ve seen this holiday season (albeit not beer related): Teroforma whiskey stones that resemble sugar cubes and replace the need for ice in your drink. As the magazine’s gift guide says: “Whiskey should be enjoyed slowly and contemplatively. Ice, however, conspires against your plans…. The Vermont milled soapstone cubes don’t take away anything from the flavor of your beverage. They do, however, add awesomeness to your glass.”
Here’s hoping you and yours find lots of awesomeness in your glass this holiday season. Cheers!