Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Holiday Gift Guide For the Beer Geek

I originally wrote a post on Holiday gifts for beer drinkers in 2011.  I am updating it to reflect the current beer environment.  

1.  Don't Give Beer.  Unless you know beer and know the taste of who you are buying for, or have been given a specific beer request, avoid direct beer gifts.   The beer geek is at heart a snob and if you don't know the beer you are giving, the chances of choosing a beer the geek will like is slim.  Stella Artois and Newcastle Brown Ale are not special, and neither are Cost Plus' Beers-of-the World twelve packs.

2.  Beer Store / Brewery / Tasting Room Gift Certificates.  If you are set on giving beer, a gift certificate to a good beer store or grocery store with wide beer selection is a better gift idea than randomly trying to choose strange beers.  Over the past three years, a number of satellite tasting rooms have opened providing more opportunity to buy gift certificates, and they also offer clothes and other beer-related items.

3.  Generic Growler.  This is a new entry and is essential for a beer drinker.  California law now allows breweries to fill unlabeled growlers, and most, but not all breweries will fill an unlabeled growler.  With the growth in the number of tasting rooms, a generic growler not only saves the growler owner's wallet, but also storage space.  I bought my logo-free growler at Modern Times Beer, and you can also order from Amazon.

4. Glassware.  Quality beer glassware makes a great gift.  Decent glassware was hard to find a few years ago, and still is at major department stores and home retailers.  Breweries are now an excellent source for glassware.  The Stone Company Stores, for example, have a number of glassware options.  Avoid the ubiquitous Shaker-style pint glasses, tall pilsner glasses or any glasses with handles, unless its dimpled imperial pint glasses.  If you are giving glasses, give at least two. 

5.  Beer Books.   Most professional beer writing is tedious, so be careful with selecting beer books.  Beer books range from glossy, coffee table books to technical brewing books.  Stores like the Stone Stores and Ballast Point's Homebrew Mart are excellent sources for beer books. 

6.  Bottle Opener.  It sounds simple, but a good bottle opener is a must for any beer geek, and an overlooked tool for the drinking trade.  Choose an opener that has heft and leverage, as it will be required to open wine bottle-size beer bottles.  Local breweries and a quality beer or liquor store are sources for openers, but other cooking stores should carry suitable ones, too.  I get far more use out of my two dollar Ballast Point key chain bottle opener than I ever thought I would.

Keep your beer gift search simple.  Beer does not lend itself to over thinking.  The beer geek is typically an appreciative person, despite the snooty attitude towards beer, and will enjoy any extra effort to indulge their habit.

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