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.
There is a vast galaxy of tools, toys, gadgets, and accessories that can go along with craft beer, and we’ve gathered some of our favorites from across the internet for this edition of the Holiday Gift Guide.
The Little Stuff
Here are a few ideas, most of which are under $20, that any craft beer fan would like to find under the tree or in their stocking.
Beer of Tomorrow Pick: Tasting Notebooks
Taking notes while tasting beer is a crucial skill that helps develop your palate and provides valuable insight into the magic of craft beer. There are many options available for tasting notebooks, but our favorite, and winner of our Tasting Journal Face-Off, is the line of 33 Bottles of Beer note books.
These made-in-America journals are compact, inexpensive, and intuitive. Filling them out is simple and actually fun, and we’ve found that we take better notes more often when we carry one around. There are also tasting journals available for wine, whiskey, cheese, coffee, chocolate, cigars, and hot sauces, and at around $4 each, they make great gifts for co-workers and other people on your “little gifts” list.
If you would prefer a more elegant solution the Moleskine Passions Beer Journal was our second choice in the Face-Off, and is available from Amazon for around $15. Dogfish Head has also introduced a branded tasting journal, and while we haven’t had a chance to test it out yet, it looks to be another useful offering.
One final option is the new Little Book of Beer, which we did not discover until after publishing our tasting journal face-off. The size, format, and materials of the book are similar to the 33 Bottle of Beer journal, but the Little Book of Beer uses a more free-form, double-page spread for your notes. We really like the simplicity and clean design of the Little Book of Beer, and they are also inexpensive and made in America!
Like glassware, bottle openers are another one of those things that beer fans accumulate quite a lot of, and everyone has their personal favorite, go-to opener. But there are just too many cool designs out there to ignore their usefulness as a gift item!
Gadget blog Uncrate recently rounded up a collection of unique openers (above), though they missed our very favorite (if insanely expensive) bottle opener: the Uncommon Goods game-used baseball bat bottle opener! They are $85, but for the die-hard baseball fan in your life this bottle opener is sure to become a prized possession!
If you need a gift for someone who values function over form the very best bottle opener is the classic speed bottle opener. There is a reason these are the favored bottle openers of bar tenders everywhere: they work, they are fast, and they are easy on your hands (and at under $5 they can go in everyone’s stockings!)
Craft Beer Mustard
We are currently working on an in-depth evaluation of many different brands of beer mustard, and while we can’t yet tell you which one is the best, we can tell you that they are all pretty damn delicious. There are several breweries producing varieties of beer mustard, and even some handy DIY options.
Sierra Nevada Brewing Mustards
The seminal California craft brewery also produces our current favorite line of beer mustards. There are three varieties: Stout & Stone Ground Mustard, Pale Ale & Honey Spice Mustard, and Porter and Spicy Brown Mustard, and our favorite of the bunch is the Stout version (though they are all delicious).
Stone Brewing Co Mustards
Stone has a line of food products that includes three mustards and a few other sauces. The mustard varieties are Cali-Dijon, Pale Ale Stone Ground Mustard with Chipotle Peppers, and our pick, the Sublimely Self Righteous Whole Grain Mustard.
Firestone Walker Mustard
Firestone Walker makes a delicious sweet-hot style mustard with their flagship DBA, and we love this mustard slathered on pastrami sandwiches or as the base of a marinade. The mustard is available from their online gift shop.
The DIY Option
Need a gift for a home brewer or foodie craft beer fan? How about this beer mustard making kit from William Sonoma. It features attractive pieces and enough base ingredients to make two 8oz crocks of mustard (just add beer!)
Five More Ideas
If journals, bottle openers, or mustard don’t sound like a good fit for any of the craft beer fans on your list, here is another handful of ideas for everyone from the most casual beer drinker to the die-hard craft beer nerd who has it all!
Soap is another product that is popular to make with beer, and there are many varieties available. The Beer Soap Company alone has dozens of different beer soaps available that are made with everything from IPAs to lambics! Stone Brewing Co has their own line of soaps, as does Dogfish Head.
Great for the beer geek who loves gadgets this well-reviewed electric bottle chiller is aimed at the wine-drinker, but it will hold 750ml bottles, bombers, 12oz bottles, and cans and can chill them in minutes. Alternatively, these lower-tech ice-sleeves have always worked for us without the mess of putting together an ice-bath when we wanted to chill a bottle quickly.
Proper serving temperature is an important part of getting the most enjoyment out of craft beer, and you’ll never have to guess at a bottle’s temperature again with an inexpensive IR thermometer. These little gadgets take the surface temperature of nearly anything instantly, and are even accurate enough to use when brewing. I’ve got one I use when setting up tastings, but I’ve found many other uses for it around the house, and it is one of my favorite little gifts to give to beer geeks.
It is a painful truth that once you get really serious about beer you stop washing your extensive collection of beer glasses in the dishwasher (it’s too rough on them, and drying agents leave a film that can deflate a beer’s head. You just can’t get a beer clean glass out of the dishwasher.) This means a lot of hand-washing and air-drying, and a drying mat is a great tool that makes the process a little easier.
The classic version is the rubber or vinyl knobby mat popular at bars and restaurants. These are available in a variety of sizes (Oxo also makes a well-reviewed version), but we prefer the microfiber versions that we discovered recently. My favorite is black so it doesn’t show stains, under $20, and sized perfectly to fit on top of my beer fridge. It might not be the most exciting gift, but it is a very useful one!
A necessary item for any serious drinking household; few people would ever consider coasters an exciting gift. There are actually a lot of creative and attractive solutions for preventing water-rings on the furniture. From a grab-bag of English “pub mats” to recycled vinyl albums it would be hard to find someone on your list who wouldn’t be a good match for some variety of coaster.
Our picks for the best coasters to give as a gift are the attractive and hip Letterpress Beer Coasters from www.swagbrewery.com. These coasters look great, but they don’t do much to advance the usefulness of the coaster. If you are ok with sacrificing looks for function then the Oxo Good Grips coasters are the way to go.
These coasters are designed to prevent messes and they won’t stick to the bottom of your glass so you can put the salt away! (I actually even dig their look; they remind me of manhole covers.)
Boring But Effective
When all else fails, there is always gift certificates. Gift certificates and cards are never a great gift; they say that you didn’t care enough to really find an item that fits your recipient. It’s a pretty lousy way to show someone who you care, but you don’t always have the time or energy to find deep and meaningful gifts for everyone on your list.
Hopefully our Holiday Gift Guide as given you enough ideas that you won’t have to resort to gift card giving this year, but if you do find yourself needing a few last-minute gift certificates please don’t settle for a Starbucks card while in the check-out line at the grocery store. Give the gift of craft beer-related gift certificates. The local breweries will be happy to sell you some, as will your favorite local beer bars or bottle shops. This way you are still giving a local gift and keeping more money in our city!
You can see the other Beer of Tomorrow recommended gifts for the craft beer fans in your life in our Gift Guide Index here!