Beer holiday gift guideBaltimore Post-Examiner

Holiday Gift Guide for the Beer Lover (and brewer)

christmas_ale_2013Every beer lover (read beer geek) and homebrewer has a wish list every holiday season, and our loved ones that might not share the same affinity (read geekiness) for beer have trouble fulfilling these needs. Here is a Holiday Gift Guide with the singular focus, to appease the beer geek and/or homebrewer.

Anchor Brewing has been making Our Special Ale since 1975. Each year’s edition is a new recipe and a new label. Our Special Ale has become the oldest Christmas edition in American craft beer. While usually a very sessionable level of alcohol, it has a surprising amount of flavor. Available in 6 packs or 1.5L Magnums.

mag_poetryCreating a clutter of offensive phrases across the refrigerators of our country for what seems like forever now. Magnetic Poetry seems to reinvent itself with new word packs every time you think it’s tired.  Now there is a box of words dedicated to beer. Is there a better thing to put on the front of your keg fridge?

field_notesKnown for their durable notebooks on the go, Field Notes, has released, Drink Local, beer themed notebooks. Great for jotting down notes while at a beer festival or sitting at your favorite beer bar. Available in 3 packs, choose either Ale or Lager. Ale includes notebooks in Stout (dark brown-black), Amber (warm red), and IPA (rusty orange). While the Lager pack includes Pilsner (gold), Bock (brown), and Pale Lager (pale yellow).

25_gallon_ball_lock_keg_with_metal_handles_frontAs a homebrewer, one of the most hated tasks (besides cleaning) is bottling. So, you quit bottling, and begin kegging. Which is great, but sometimes wouldn’t it be great to keg in a smaller more portable size? Now you can with a stackable 2.5 gallon ball keg. The OB Keg available from Adventures in Homebrewing is great for split batches, taking a keg to a festival or picnic, or to keg those small winter brew in a bag batches you are planning.

ziggy-screenshot-large-2I know when I am brewing beer, my kids are pretty curious what is going on. And brewing can be pretty hard to explain, but they get it pretty quick. But when you start trying to explain yeast, that’s where, at least for me it becomes almost impossible. LA Aleworks has created, Ziggy the Beer Yeast, a fun game explaining the brewing process. While it’s not really meant for children, it could be a useful tool, or at least a fun game. This well produced game has Ziggy searching for sugar to eat while avoiding bacteria. Keep on the lookout for bonus items like hops and fruit esters. After gathering bonus items you can learn about their function too.

what-to-drink-with-what-you-eatWhat to Drink with What You Eat is an award winning book that explains how to pair food and beverages. This is not a beer only book. In fact, I would say this book tends to be more wine centric, but it covers wine, beer, and spirits. A great book to have during the holidays to help plan menus for holiday parties, and a great learning resource for any time during the year.

whitebrewbucketthumbnail_grandeA new to me company that has two items at the top of my wish list this year is SS Brewing Technologies. First is their Brew Bucket Fermenter. This has many of the advantages of both a stainless steel conical fermenter and a white plastic bucket fermenter. Those of you not familiar with brewing may be wondering what advantages a white plastic bucket could have. But they are easy to store since they are stackable, and easy to clean since it has a large top that can be removed. But it also has some features from conical fermenters. The conical shape helps reduce dead yeast cells contact with the beer, helping to reduce off flavors. And the rotatable racking arm makes it easy to transfer batches and take samples for testing during the fermentation.

5_gal_corny_pic_1_1024x1024The other product SS Brewing Technologies makes that I find very interesting is their 5-gallon ball lock corny keg. While it appears to be just a pretty corny keg made of polished stainless steel it has some interesting features to go with it. First is the price. $100 for a new corny keg is an excellent price. It is common place to pay at least $60 for a used corny keg that looks as if it just fell off a mountain. It was also made to store beer. More importantly it was made to store your homemade beer. The bottom of this vessel is concave, this encourages the yeast to settle to the sides of the keg away from the dip tube. So from first pint to last you can get sediment free beer.

craft-beer-cookThe Craft Beer Cookbook is a great way to incorporate your favorite beverage into the foods that you cook. Packed with 100 recipes, from Beer-marinated Flank Steak with IPA Chimichurri, to uncommon breakfast delights like Chocolate Chip and Smoked Porter Pancakes. Throughout the book they not only provide recipes, but recommendations on how to choose the right beer for that particular recipe. Cooking with beer will also help improve your ability to pair food with beer. After a few months with this book, you’ll want to host your own beer dinner.

tonicBeer isn’t the only thing that is going through an artisan movement. Bourbon, vodka, and gin have started going through a producer explosion too. So it makes sense that mixologists would want to start using better ingredients in their cocktails too. Tomr’s has taken a step in that direction with a Tonic concentrate. Tomr’s Tonic is 100% organic syrup with real cinchona bark (quinine), citrus, herbs, and cane sugar. Just add your own seltzer and spirit to create the perfect cocktail.

bark_lgBaker’s Bark has become one of my favorite all-purpose spices. Whether I’m making salmon, grilled chicken, or steak I’ve found Baker’s Bark tastes great. Made with spices and dehydrated beer, it has a wonderful flavor that is both sweet and spicy. I have found that Baker’s Bark, Salmon, and a Cedar Plank work together to create a mouthwatering meal. It’s a must try.

I am a big fan of history, especially when it comes to my beer. History creates good stories, and no holiday has more stories than Christmas. Many of the Christmas stories and traditions we have in the United States have European roots. Sinterklaas is still celebrated in parts of Europe including Belguim, who happens to also produce the finest Christmas beer in the world. I highly recommend you check out a few of Belgium’s holiday offerings. Including St.Barnardus Christmas Ale, Corsendonk Christmas Ale, and Scaldis Noël. Check out the rest on my Pintrest board.

Deviant-Bike-461x458Finally, after all the great holiday beer (and food) you will want a way to work them off. And no exercise is more prevalent in the beer world than biking. Oskar Blues Brewery certainly agrees with that. That’s why they created their own brand of world class mountain bikes. Reeb Cycles offers four bikes, each with their own purpose. And each of those can be configured exactly for your needs and budget.

For product links and more items make sure to check out the rest of my Holiday Gift Guide on Pintrest. I will continue to update it as I find more gift worthy items.

About the author

John Thompson

John Thompson is a beer enthusiast who began evangelizing craft beer a few years ago on his blog John has been homebrewing sporadically for almost 20 years, and also is a Cicerone Certified Beer Server. When not enjoying a cold malty beverage you will find John spending time with his spouse and two young children or working his day job in Financial Services Technology. Make sure to find John on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter @TheHopLocal and Untapped. at : Contact the author.

One Comment

  1. John Thompson says:

    For more gift ideas make sure to check out the related Pintrest Board:


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