For those that don’t know me, I work in a used bookstore and, due to my interest in all things geeky, I often get asked by shoppers of all ages and walks of life about what they should get for someone in their family or their significant other when all they have to go off of is a general interest.
This is usually limited to questions about video games, comics, music, or science fiction. Just last week, a young woman who recently moved to the area asked me for advice on gift ideas for her boyfriend who loves beer. Without putting much thought into it, I happened to rattle of nearly ten things before my coworkers had to interject and stop me from overwhelming the poor girl. She seemed pleased with my answers and thanked me for my time.
As soon as she was outside of earshot, the coworkers that stopped me from embarrassing myself suggested I should write a blog post on the topic. When I got home, I pulled out my handy notebook full of blog ideas and scribbled away at the first few things that came to me.
With a little less than two weeks left before Christmas, I’ve tried to craft this list so that most of these items are readily available in most local areas or can be purchased through online or big box retailers just in time!
1. Gift Sets
Sometime in late November, several of my favorite area liquor stores and big box stores put out gobs of boxed gift sets that usually include a bottle of liquor and either rock glasses or some other cocktail accessory. For years, I have always wanted them to release something for beer drinkers outside of the occasional Chimay gift set that includes two bottles of beer and two glasses. With the recent craft beer boom, my wishes have been granted!
In several of these chain stores or liquor stores, you can find breweries such as Sam Adams, Atwater Brewing, Coney Island Brewing Co., Founders Brewing Co., and even Budweiser offering a deal where you get one to six bottles of beer plus a beer accessory. Most of the better offerings usually consist of a pint glass or two and a single bomber or two pints. These are usually about the same cost as buying the beer separate from the glassware included. Best of all, you’re giving someone something they can enjoy in the moment and something with practical use for the rest of the year. Unfortunately, these gift sets aren’t available online so you’ll have to check your local stores in order to find them.
Can’t find a gift set that includes adequate glassware? Don’t fret! There are tons of options for you.
For the sake of full disclosure, I’m kind of a snob when it comes to the type of glass that my beer is served in. I’m always impressed when I go to a bar and they serve me my beer in the corresponding brewery glass or when my pint isn’t served in the traditional pint glass. This small attention to detail makes the whole beer drinking experience more memorable. For those that don’t know much about beer glassware, believe it or not, the glass you serve your beer in definitely effects the taste.
While I could spend the rest of this post talking about the differences in how glass effects flavor and presentation, for the sake of brevity, I’ll simply refer you to two fantastic articles that explain why you shouldn’t always be drinking your beer at home from a frosty mug:
- Beer Advocate’s extensive list of glasses (although not all inclusive) that also has the corresponding styles that work best in the glass.
- An excellent article that was originally published on Gizmodo about the process of designing the perfect stout glass. This article even suggests that the best beer glass is more akin to a wine glass rather than a your standard pint glass due to the wine glass having a thinner glass wall that allows the beer to stay cooler and the tulip shape allows for a better showcase of the aroma. But I digress. Let’s talk about what you should buy.
The Pint Glass
There are several reasons why I still rely on my trusty pint glass. While it isn’t always the most perfect glass for getting all of the subtleties of taste and aroma, there isn’t anything comparable to the attractiveness of having your favorite brewery’s logo emblazoned on the glass. So if you are looking for the perfect pint glass for your beer drinking friend, consider getting a pint glass from their favorite brewery. Special kudos if this pint glass also has sexy curves.
What and Where to Buy:
- Sam Adams Pint Glasses (set of four)
- Guinness 20oz Gravity Pint Glass
- Yuengling Logo Pint Glass
- Ballast Point Scuplin IPA Pint Glass
- Arrogant Bastard Pint Glass
- Stella Artois Challice
- Spiegelau American Wheat Beer Glass (set of four)
The Tulip Glass
When trying new beer for the first time, I don’t reach for anything other than my tulip glasses. I just feel that this is the best way to present new beer. The large open mouth allows the more room for your nose to enter the glass with every sip and the thin glass wall, as I suggested above, keeps the glass cooler. Plus, just look at these glasses. Just look at ’em!
What and Where to Buy:
- Spiegelau Stemmed Pilsner Glass (set of two)
- Libbey Belgian Beer Glass
- Belgian Tulip Beer Glass (set of four)
The Stout Glass
So the next two glasses are ones that will really blow the socks off of your beer drinking friend. This is the first glass specifically designed for stouts. Since I’ve had this glass, I honestly swear by it. I drink a lot of stouts and porters and this glass really helps bring out the subtleties of the style. It was designed with meticulous research involved and is definitely something beer lovers should have in their cabinet. If you are curious about the process of the design and why it really makes a difference to drink stouts and porters out of these glasses, click here.
What and Where to Buy: Spiegelau Stout Glass (set of two)
The IPA Glass
If you haven’t caught on by now, you would be totally safe just buying Spiegelau glasses. This IPA glass was also designed after months of meticulous research and it is the only glass that I reach for when I’m drinking an IPA. It is an absolute must have for any beer drinker who loves IPAs.
What and Where to Buy: Spiegelau IPA Glass (set of two)
The Best Bang for Your Buck (Glassware): The Spiegelau Craft Beer Tasting Kit (3 count)
So what do you get for the beer drinker who has a cabinet full of glassware and a fridge already full of beer? Accessories! Beer accessories include bottle openers, coasters, koozies, growlers, and even holsters. In short, these make perfect stocking stuffers or additions to a larger brew-related gift.
3. Bottle Openers
The world is your oyster when it comes to bottle openers. I’ve seen some that are attached to phone cases, belt buckles, and even dog collars. For the sake of practical purposes, I cannot recommend a keychain bottle opener enough.
I can’t tell you how many social gatherings I’ve been to where I struggle to find a bottle opener or have to ask three people where one is located before I can enjoy my beer. These are incredibly inexpensive and are almost infinitely customizable.
With the new Star Wars movie due out just days away, you may want to consider getting them the Millennium Falcon Bottle Opener (pictured above). If keychains aren’t their thing, consider getting one to be used at home. When I pick up bottle openers to keep at home, I go for the magnetic ones that I can stick to the fridge or bar style openers that are attached to the wall. Also, every decent corkscrew should have a bottle opener. More bang for you buck!
What and Where to Buy:
- Heavy Duty Stainless Steel Bottle Openers (set of 2)
- Army Man Bottle Opener
- Wall Mount Bear Bottle Opener
- Magnetic Wall Mount Bottle Opener
Believe it or not, this is a gift that is extremely cheap (possibly free) and always something the beer drinker appreciates. One of the best gifts I ever got for Christmas was a bag filled with coasters.
Given that they are highly disposable, but also look great on your desk or around your home, these gifts are both practical and attractive. If you fee like having a bit of an adventure, consider going to local bars, breweries, or even liquor stores to ask if they have any coasters you can have. They will almost never charge you for taking them off their hands. If you’re looking for something a little more sturdy and long lasting, there are some great coasters out there. For the music lover, consider getting them a collection of LP coasters. They are durable, washable, and made of silicon so they should last forever.
For the uninitiated, a growler is a 64 oz. container that can be filled at breweries for carryout. Years ago, there weren’t all that many varieties available. The standard growler can be purchased for less than $10 at any brewery that also allows for growler filling.
Granite City (a brewery chain and restaurant) has one of the nicest growlers on the market and will surely impress the beer drinking gift receiver. Otherwise, pop into your local brewery and ask them about their growler options. One of my all-time favorite growlers is one from Fort Wayne’s own Mad Anthony Brewing Company. On one side of the 32 oz. growler (also known as a howler), is the phrase “Keeping it Fresh. Keeping it Local.” It always gets a few comments when I bring it to gatherings!
Recently, there has been a new development in the world of growlers that has me incredibly intrigued and something that I would like to eventually get for myself. My biggest issue with buying growlers is that you have to finish them either the same day or within the first three to five days of bringing your beer home. If you don’t, you’re often left with incredibly flat, watery beer. That’s where the GrowlTap comes in.
6. The Chillsner
You’ve all been there. You find the beer you want to drink at the liquor store, but they don’t have it in the cooler… and you really wanted to have one when you get home. Most beers take at least 45 minutes in the freezer to reach optimum temperature or at least 4-6 hours in the fridge.
But who has the time to wait when you want it now? Enter the Chillsner. The Chillsner is a stainless rod that you freeze and pop into your beer so you can enjoy a cold one in a matter of seconds. I wouldn’t recommend using it for all of your beer drinking, but definitely does the job when you want that beer icy cold as soon as scientifically possible.
For the beer drinker who is also a voracious reader, there are several books on the subject of beer that are absolute must-reads. Below are some of my favorites.
I picked this up a few years back and still have yet to finish it. However, what I have read seems to be a promising account of how American beer came to be. Definitely a gift you can get for those beer drinkers who are also interested in American history.
This was the first book I picked up when I started getting into beer. The front half has a basic breakdown of styles and a brief history of beer. The second half is nothing more than several blank pages that allow you to jot down tasting notes. While there may be better journals out there, this one is great to those just heading down the wormhole of beer drinking.
I picked this one up on a whim and couldn’t be happier with my purchase. This may be the single best book I’ve read about beer. It starts with an extensive global history of how beer came to be in various countries around the world and then progresses into the science behind beer, suggested food pairings, and tips for refining the beer drinkers sense of smell and taste. If you buy one book on this list, this is the one to get. I cannot recommend it enough.
For those looking to take their interest to the next level and wanting to dabble in homebrewing, this is my personal bible. Written by the founder of Dogfish Head, Sam Calagione, this book teaches you the basics and gives you an unbelievably solid set of recipes to try after you get the hang of brewing the first beers in the book. Included in the recipes are the Punkin Ale that I reviewed earlier this year. On that same post, you’ll also learn that I absolutely love Dogfish Head. Seriously, buy this book to learn how to brew and not the outdated classics that are so incredibly hard to read.
8. Memberships + Subscriptions
A lot of breweries have a Mug Club. These clubs often get the member discounts on pints during certain days of the week, exclusive private tap parties, a free birthday beer, t-shirts, membership cards, and often a custom glass that you get to keep at the end of the membership year. In short, it is a great deal for those that frequent certain breweries and quickly pays for itself after just a few pints.
Additionally, consider gifting a year-long subscription to a beer magazine!
9. Gift cards
Many people do not know that liquor stores offer gift cards. I’m always incredibly appreciative of a gift card where I typically spend way too much money anyway. If you want to make it slightly more personal, consider going to your local brewery and purchasing a gift card there. This could open up other options of buying clothing or other beer drinking accessories that the brewery sells. Best of all, they could even use the gift card to grab a bite to eat while they enjoy the local offerings.
10. Beer, of course!
Don’t ever underestimate the power of getting someone what they really want: beer. It always brings me great joy to open up a gift bag full of beer I haven’t tried or full of my favorite brews.
It’s a great way to get people into a beer that they often wouldn’t purchase themselves. In fact, if you are looking for suggestions, I would advise asking your local liquor store clerk for their recommendations on the latest and greatest bomber. These are the beers kept on the upper shelves that often have price tags equivalent to a six pack or twelve pack. Even though I buy bombers semi-frequently, I only seem to purchase them for special occasions or when I have a little extra cash. So what better time to buy them a bottle of beer than Christmas?
I hope this helps those of you looking to treat your beer-loving friends, family, or significant others with the perfect gift this year!