Ah Christmas, now only a few short days away; yet it seems like it’s been creeping up on us since Halloween because retail stores can’t bank on much before Thanksgiving apparently. With this time of year comes the call for gift guides, where everyone tries to tell you what you should buy for people. Are we going to do this, you may ask? You bet. You read the title, didn’t you? If you don't like the suggestions below we have a store here with some great Focus on the Beer branded merchandise too...
For the adventurous drinker: Belgian Beers.
Sure you’ve had Belgian style ales from your local brewery, but we’re talking about beer that originated IN BELGIUM. They have fantastic sour, fruit, and other beers that can challenge what you might know or think about how beer can taste. Some recommendations we like are: Gulden Draak (dark strong ale), Duchese de Bourgone (sour red ale), Trappistes Rochefort 10 (quadruple ale), Lambic, any flavor that suits you (from Cantillon if you can find it, but Timmermans is usually easier to find). You're not going to find a Westleveren 12 on a liquor store shelf, but if that were possible, we'd have it on the list for certain because it is an amazing beer. Look for these in the foreign or Belgium section of your best local beer and liquor store. You can likely find a good one or ask the staff to point you towards a winner. (Or you can try your luck with an online dealer like Belgium in a Box)
For the Do-It-Yourself-er : Homebrewing kit.
Sure you can go BUY some already brewed beer, but you can’t put a price on the satisfaction of making your own personal batch of brew and enjoying that with friends…or by yourself—you do you, buddy. Actually, you CAN put a price on it. Starter kits for homebrewing will run you right around $100-150 bucks... making this the most expensive item on our list, but you can use them practically for life. Check your local homebrew shop for holiday specials or google an online homebrew supply store of your choice. You can also play it a bit safe and opt for a book to test the waters (before you jump into the full blown equipment purchase). We recommend: How to Brew by John Palmer or the ever popular tome: The Complete Joy of Homebrewing by Charlie Papazian.
For the ‘Fizzy Yellow Beer’ Drinker: Can 'swag'.
Look, your standard American or foreign style lagers are decent beers for what they are: designed to be slightly sweet and refreshing and mass consumable. They manage to do this in spades globally, and if you can’t pry them from your friend or father’s cold dead hands..then I suggest you try to class up the experience with a Das Can-in-Stein! It’s bound to add some gravitas to the first can from the 36 pack, and the can(s) after that as well. If you're looking for something a little more affordable, shoot us an email and we'll send you a koozie for your craft cans.
For the Beer Snob: Proper glassware.
We admit to being skeptical that glassware could impact the experience of beer, but it really, REALLY, does. That pint glass, while cheap and sporting your favorite superhero is cool; it does a marginal job delivering all the aroma and taste of a beer to your palate properly. IPA, Stout, Wheat/Wit, and Barrel Aged beer glasses available from Spiegelau are just what the snobber ordered. If you know their favorite type of beer, you can find a glass that fits the brew for them.
For the Beer ‘Nerd’: Books from the Brewer’s Association.
Seriously, they have a fantastic catalog on any subject beer related you might have an interest in. Are you most interested in food and beer pairings? Pick up Julia Herz’ book on the subject, Beer Pairing. It’s packed with information about pairings that you don’t have to be a brewer or chef to understand and apply. Want to get into the technical aspects of brewing? They have books on Hops, Malt, Water, and Yeast. Individual books on each of those..and they are exhaustive in the coverage of each element. Great to dive deep into the subject matter. Gardener or herbalist? Check out Stan Hieronymus' Brewing Local, which addresses finding your beer ingredients in the world around you
For your best friend: Two 6-packs.
Buy one sixer of their favorite and one of your favorite. Get together and share a couple brews with your friend or multiple friends. Beer with friends is the best beer you can have, and pleasant company is a gift that keeps on giving. We hope you enjoy your holidays with those closest to you. Cheers to you, and to a great new year in 2017!