Beer is the world's most popular alcoholic drink. Living during this current renaissance of craft beer has allowed a wide spectrum of styles and flavors to become available, making the beverage even more accessible than ever. So whether your loved one has a budding interest in or full-blown obsession with craft beer, there are plenty of beer-related gifts that belong under the tree this year.
TICKETS TO A BEER FESTIVAL OR DINNER. I find that many of those on my Christmas list have more than everything they need in life, making the gift of an experience much preferable to giving more material things. An evening at a beer festival or beer dinner, especially for the uninitiated, is one of the most fun gifts you can give.
BEER OF THE MONTH CLUB. This is one gift I haven't had the chance to try out yet (hint, hint, for any family and friends reading!). Check out DrinkCraftBeer.com, where my friend Devon has put together a great comparison of some of the most popular clubs out there. This isn't a cheap gift at $35-45 per month, but having a case of new beers arrive every month on your doorstep is pricless!
GEAR FROM LOCAL BREWPUB. Odds are that if you are considering a beer-centric gift for your loved one, they probably already have a favorite local brewpub. These community institutions both deserve and need our support, so pick-up a T-shirt, sweatshirt, hat, or glassware emblazoned with the brewpub's logo. If you are making your purchase close enough to Christmas, growlers to-go may also be an option.
READING MATERIAL. There are a number of craft beer publications to help you keep up to date on all beer-related happenings. I subscribe to Beer Advocate magazine, an incredibly informative source of all news beer.PROPER GLASSWARE. This is not the first time that I have sung the praises of proper glassware in this column, and it probably won't be the last. Beer glasses are cool and exponentially improve the experience of drinking beer. Put another way, proper glassware makes good beer better.
Survey what glassware (if any) that this individual already owns. If he or she doesn't have proper glassware for their favorite style, than move this suggestion to the top of the list! Every respectable beer drinker should have at least two pint glasses, mugs, snifters, tulips, and pilsner glasses. Crate & Barrel is one of the best places to start.
HOME BREW EQUIPMENT. For the past two years I've brewed my own beer. After an initial investment of $100 for equipment, each batch costs approximately $40 for 50 bottles. And it's so easy! Boil malts and hops for an hour, put in a carboy with yeast, bottle, wait three weeks, and — voila! — you have beer! This gift is certainly intended for hardcore craft beer enthusiasts, but if committed, this is a great opportunity to learn a lot about beer and be creative. Most any home brew book will tell you what equipment is necessary, but a gift certificate to your local home brew shop works too. I've heard kits, such as Mr. Beer, work fine, but if the beer lover on your list is serious about brewing, I recommend getting higher quality equipment.