Do you have a beer lover in your life but are unsure what to give them this year? We’ve got you covered with the best gifts, from apparel to glasses to gadgets, for all the beer-lovers on your list in our Holiday Gift Guide! Each day this week we will cover a different category of beer-related gifts.
Of course the one thing that every craft beer lover would love to get as a gift is craft beer! And why not? Wine and spirits have been a staple holiday gift for a long time, but it is much less common to find bottles of beer beneath the tree.
Give the Gift of Beer
Giving craft beer as a gift is a great idea for the craft beer fans on your list, but if you are careful it can also be a great gift for the wine lovers and people new to craft beer as well! For craft beer neophytes a selection that covers some major styles of beer can be a great way for them to experience the different flavors that craft beer can offer. For the wine drinkers a complex Belgian saison, or a lambic or other sour, or rich dopplebock will share flavor-notes with wines and perhaps open a wine lover’s eyes to the possibilities of craft beer.
Barrel aged beers and limited holiday releases are nearly always a good choice for gifts! I like to hit the bottle shop and buy a selection of “gift-able” bottles (things that are interesting looking and present well etc) so that I have a cache of bottles available to give when I inevitably forget someone or unexpectedly end up at a holiday party.
Gift boxes of craft beer are another great choices. Many breweries are producing sets with assorted bottles and sometimes glassware. Orange County’s The Bruery has a nice holiday set for $50 with Melange #3, Autumn Maple, and the new 5 Golden Rings that makes for a great gift. Gift sets are also common with Belgian breweries and several of the Trappist brewers make nice sets. Your local bottle shop will be able to hook you up.
If you know the favorite breweries or beers of the people on your list then you already have a good place to start. If not, ask the employees at your local bottle shop for what they have that’s special and would make a good gift. They’re there to help!
Beer of Tomorrow Pick: Fresh, Local Growlers
Our favorite option for gifting beer is to give a growler of something fresh and local. With one gift you can support the local scene, provide a couple of litres of liquid revelry, and set up the recipient to continue to support local craft beer!
With a little pre-planning you can grab a couple of new growlers from the local brewery, have them filled with something fresh and delicious, and give them along with a gift certificate for another fill. This way you get to share some of the beer, but you don’t have to feel bad about drinking your gift as the first refill is already covered!
Eagle Rock Brewery even has their own holiday gift basket deal running right now that includes the glass, 1 fill, 4 pint glasses, and assorted shwag!
Gifting a filled growler gets much tougher if you need to ship the beer. If you need a gift for a craft beer fan that lives in another state with less restrictive growler-fill laws than California, then you have the option of sending an empty and reusable growler that they can fill at the brewery (or bar or gas station) of their choice. There are many options out there, but our choice is the Northern Brewer Hydro Flask.
Home Brewing Set-Up
What’s that old parable? Give a man a beer and you’ll quench his thirst, but show him how to brew and he’ll never go thirsty? The equipment and basic skills of home brewing is truly a gift that keeps on giving.
Delving into the joys of home brewing is a natural progression for a craft beer fan, and brewing your own beer is a special kind of rewarding and much easier than many people think. You can take your home brewing ambitions as far as your space and wallet allow, but a basic starter set-up is fairly compact and won’t break the bank.
There are as many ways to home brew beer as there are different styles of beer, but our favorite beginners method is to brew very small batches on the stove-top. Small one-gallon brewing set-ups do not get the respect that they deserve; many brewers claim that the effort to produce a “standard” 5-gallon batch isn’t much greater than a 1-gallon batch that will only net 8 bottles of beer.
This may be true, but the space requirements are much greater when dealing with 5 gallons of beer. A 1-gallon set-up from home brew supply company Northern Brewer runs just $50, and nearly all of that equipment can be used on 5 gallon batches as well. Northern Brewer also sells 1-gallon ingredient kits that range from pale ales to black IPAs, and they are all under $12.
They also have standard 5-gallon brewing kits in both a “regular” and “deluxe” configuration, and the line of recipe kits to match those kits. Northern Brewer is a respected and very popular internet home brew supply vendor, and we have also had good experiences with Midwest Supplies, but your very best bet when purchasing any home brewing related equipment or materials is to buy from your local home brewing supply shop! In Los Angeles this means Home Brewing Supply in Eagle Rock or Culver City. The shops are run by some great guys who have done a lot for beer in LA, and they’d appreciate your support!
One thing that you should shy away from is the Mr Beer Kits that are available everywhere from Target to Macy’s to the grocery store these days. It is certainly possible to brew good beer with these kits, but the process and equipment is just different enough from established home brewing practices that it makes transitioning to a “standard” home brewing system more difficult than it needs to be.