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Gifts for the Beer Fan
Holiday cheer is made even better when it involves good beer-centric gifts. A few ideas come to mind when trying to buy for the beer geek in the family.

Brooklyn Brewshop Kits
 are small brewing kits perfect for the aspiring homebrewer. One-gallon batches are easy to make and if you screw one up, it’s not that big of a loss. I have three of these kits, and have brewed several batches in just a few months.

Hophead Beer Tours are a great way to visit the best breweries in Wisconsin without having to drive to them. A gift certificate to Hophead goes a long way, literally.

Sam Adams Utopias are for those with plenty of disposable income. The barrel-aged elixir costs $200 for an ornate 750ml bottle. It’s not easy to find but at that price it doesn’t exactly fly off of the shelves of the few beer stores it shows up in.

Pick up a beer gift basket from south of the border. Drive to Chicago to shop. No, not on Michigan Avenue, where you pay a ridiculous amount for parking and have to deal with thousands of other shoppers, but at the beer store of your choice. Pick up beers from outstanding breweries like Pipeworks, Revolution, Surly, Ballast Point, Stone, Boulevard and more that you just can’t find in Wisconsin. 

I got a beer refrigerator last year for Christmas and it is my favorite appliance. It’s a great gift for those who need safe storage for aging beers, and it relieves pressure on the storage space in the main fridge.

Barley Pops of the Week 

I had a couple of friends come over last week to share both the Proprietor’s and Backyard Rye Bourbon County Stouts, a couple of rare beauties that were released on Black Friday. 

We tried the Proprietor’s first, a potent 14 percent ABV brew that ages in Templeton Rye barrels and is made with toasted coconut. I was the most excited about this one, and wasn’t disappointed with what I found. The thick black stout had an extremely rich, dark chocolate flavor with a subtle coconut finish. (I actually wanted a little more coconut flavor.) The boozy stout was potent and delicious. 

The nice surprise was the Backyard Rye, also aged in Templeton barrels. The mix of mulberries, marionberries, boysenberries and snozzberries (just kidding) added a nice fruit finish to a dark chocolate stout without tasting like cough syrup. The result was an extremely smooth flavor (likely helped by a lower ABV around 12 percent) that I wish I had a lot more of. 

I’ve read plenty of reviews of both of these gems and Proprietor’s seems to be everyone’s favorite. But myself, and my small group of tasters, all sided with the smooth flavor of Backyard Rye. Both are world class beers, and I wish I had a fridge full of them.

Quick Taps

Dogfish Head is bringing its tasty beer back to Wisconsin and that’s good news for craft beer fans.

I had my first Lakefront Holiday Spice of the year last week. It’s “festive” in a bottle.

Events Brewing

Tuesday, Dec. 10: Erv’s Mug (130 W. Ryan Rd.) hosts a Holiday Ales Dinner. Check out the menu and call 414-762-5010 for more information.

Wednesday, Dec. 11: Bernie’s Tap Room (351 W. Main St., Waukesha) hosts a Founders Brewing Beer Dinner that starts at 6:30 p.m. The five-course dinner costs just $30 and includes tasty Founders beers including Backwoods Bastard and Breakfast Stout. Call 262-548-9800 to make a reservation.

Wednesday, Dec. 11: 3 Sheeps is bringing three casks to Burnhearts (2599 S. Logan Ave.) to spread holiday cheer at 8 p.m. They brewery is also tapping a barrel of Ewephoria, an intriguing ginger chocolate stout.

Thursday, Dec. 12: Try Seef Belgian, Asphall Dry Cider and La Trappe at Discount Liquor Milwaukee (5031 W. Oklahoma Ave.) from 4 to 7 p.m.

Thursday, Dec. 12: Krombacher is the beer being sampled at Discount Liquor Waukesha (919 N. Barstow Ave.) from 4 to 6 p.m.

Thursday, Dec. 12: Romans’ Pub (3475 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.) taps some tasty Founders brews including the new and rare Sweet Repute Barrel-Aged Wheat Wine and Backwoods Bastard Barrel-Aged Scotch Ale. The fun starts at 7 p.m.

Friday, Dec. 13: Tasty samples from Hinterland include Lunatic Imperial Stout from 4 to 7 p.m. at Discount Liquor Milwaukee.

Friday, Dec. 13: New Belgium brings a slew of samples to Discount Liquor Waukesha from 4 to 7 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 14: New Belgium makes a trip to Discount Liquor Milwaukee from noon to 3 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 14: Hinterland heads to Discount Liquor Waukesha from noon to 3 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 14: Sample stouts at Three Cellars (7133 S. 76th St.) from 1 to 4 p.m.

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