If you have a beer geek in your life, chances are you’ve learned to ignore their unbridled enthusiasm for craft brews.You’ve blotted out all the times they’ve excitedly said “try this” and handed you a glass of what tastes like a ground-up pine tree floating in grapefruit juice, or when they’ve prattled on about head retention, or have lamented the fact that they missed this year's batch of KBS (that's Kentucky Breakfast Stout, if you're uninitiated).
While this is a smart coping mechanism, it might leave you a little unprepared when it comes time to acknowledge the fact that you’ve been listening (even when what you’ve really been thinking about is Real Housewives, dry cleaning, or anything other than the original gravity of your loved one's latest batch of homebrew).
The good news is: You don’t have to be a beer geek in order to buy a nice gift for someone who’s a little obsessed with the world’s greatest beverage.You just need a little help. To that end, here are 10 gifts that will brighten the holiday of even the most hardened beer geek in your life.
Beers Not Bombs bottle opener: These stylish little openers are made from what’s been dubbed “Peace Bronze,” recycled copper cabling that once was the conduit between “the button” and nuclear missiles waiting silently in a silo.Not only is it handy to have a bottle opener on your keychain, this one is a conversation starter that any peace-loving beer geek would adore.
Pricey Beers: I recently wrote a review of Sam Adams Utopias, an amazing ambrosia of flavors that runs $190 for a 24-oz. bottle. While many people expressed an interest in tasting Utopias, few showed an interest in paying for it. Receiving one as a gift allows these desires to exist in perfect harmony, and for the beer geek in your life to check “score a bottle of Utopias” off their bucket list. Another excellent beer that’s pricey enough ($45 for a 750ml bottle) to warrant special gift status is Scaldis Prestige de Nuits, a remarkable Belgian Strong Ale that’s been aged in Burgundy wine casks.
Books About Beer: All books about beer are not created equal, but there are a couple that every beer geek should own. One is Randy Mosher’s Tasting Beer, which offers an accessible way to learn about the fundamentals of the brewer’s art, the major beer styles, and how best to store and serve each. If you think your geek already knows it all (or if THEY think they know it all), then the Oxford Companion to Beer, with its 1,100 A-Z entries, will show just how much they have yet to explore. Both are available in print and electronically, but I prefer my beer books analog. (Plus, a download is tough to gift-wrap.)
Homebrew Equipment: One of the best ways to learn about how beer gets its awesome flavor is to brew it yourself. Northern Brewer sells a nice selection of starter kits, each with all the tools you need to properly brew, ferment and bottle up a batch of beer. Just make sure you order a recipe kit so you have something to brew, and if you don’t already have a pot big enough to brew in, you’ll have to pick up one of those as well. (If your gift-getter is already brewing, then perhaps a wort chiller or a nice grain mill will get their fermenters bubbling.)
Good Glasses: Once you’ve had a beer in Spiegelau crystal beer glasses, it’s hard to drink out of anything else. Far from being a boxful of fancy nonsense, these amazing vessels present beer to the senses unlike just about anything else out there. It’s like drinking beer in high definition. If your geek is a beer omnivore, then the Connoisseur Gift Set will provide them with a variety of glasses, suitable for any beer style they desire. If they are more partial to stouts and barleywines, then consider a pair of tulip glasses, perfectly shaped to get the maximum pleasure out of these boozy treats.
Beer of the Month Club: Making your favorite beer geek happy with the Beer of the Month Club comes down to choosing the right package. If the beer geek in your life is generally a fan of anything bubbly, then he or she might enjoy the U.S. Microbrewed Beer Club, an assortment of entry-level beers from breweries across America. If the person you’re shopping for is a hardcore beer geek or prefers heartier fare, then go for the Rare Beer Club, which delivers two excellent 750ml beers to your door every month. Either way, there’s nothing more fun than coming home from work to find a box of well-chosen beer waiting for you.
Butterfly Beer Opener: Every red-blooded American boy goes through a stage where he wants to be a ninja, starting at around age 8 and lasting until he’s 70. The BBbarfly opener is wielded just like a butterfly knife, but instead of producing a blade with a flourish of the hand, it produces something more useful – a bottle opener. This might sound like a childish and unnecessary contraption, because it is. But I haven’t met a beer geek yet who didn’t want to take a turn being the Bruce Lee of beer when one of these is in the room.
Kegerator: Owning a Kegerator is the beer geek equivalent of having a hot tub: They're expensive, frivolous and require some maintenance, but there’s nothing like having the comforts of a public house in the privacy of your own home. A Kegerator can either be a dedicated mini-fridge with a beer tap on top, or a kit used to convert an existing fridge into a beer-dispensing pleasure appliance. Kegerators are especially nice for homebrewers, because it saves them the tedium of having to bottle their beer – instead they keg it, tap it, and serve it up cold. There’s nothing more fun (and potentially more plumping) then having a few gallons of fresh beer on tap in your own home.
Beer Shampoo: What part of the anatomy loves beer even more than that spare tire around your gut? Your hair! It turns out that craft beer is packed full of vitamins, minerals and proteins that make hair thick and lustrous. Bröö Craft Beer Shampoo is brewed made in Ashville, N.C., a burg that’s quickly becoming the craft beer center of the universe. (And beyond being great for hair, this beer-infused shampoo will allow the beer geek in your life to take “you smell like a brewery” as a compliment!)
Shower Beer Koozie: A steamy stall is a tough environment for keeping one of man’s greatest pleasures cool and soap-free – the shower beer. Well, that is until now. The Shakoolie Shower Beer Holder is insulated to keep your cold one cold, and holds the beer away from the wall so no suds slide onto the sipping surface. It’s the perfect thing for the beer geek who has everything except a good reason to shower more often. Pro tip: The makers of the Shakoolie recommend only using cans with their products, because broken bottles, slippery surfaces and naked people don’t mix.
Beyond these 10 gifts, there are tons of other options: branded brewery apparel, Discovery Channel’s Brew Masters on DVD, tickets to beer festivals, or even a beer opener shaped like the Millennium Falcon.
Of course, if you’re short on cash and want to give a beer geek the ultimate gift, then consider granting him or her one more year of feigning interest in their obsessive hobby -- because the next best thing to drinking craft beer with a buddy is talking endlessly about the stuff to someone you think is interested.
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