1) Rare Brews
Extremely rare beers are outstanding gifts for discerning beer fans. The problem is that tracking them down can be a pain. You’re in luck if you’re looking for an excellent barrel-aged stout. Head to Good City Brewing (2108 N. Farwell Ave.) on Saturday (Dec. 15) morning for Density Day and you can pick up their tasty, and limited, Density Barrel-Aged Stout.
If you can’t make it, try scouring the internet, but be warned — online beer sellers are well skilled at gouging. Try looking at the Milwaukee Craft Beer Exchange for something limited. Or talk to the friendly folks at places like Ray’s Wine & Spirits, Discount Liquor, Aman’s Beer + Wine or Three Cellars. Ask them what limited-release beers they expect to arrive in the next couple of weeks. They’ll tell you and give you an idea of when to come in to get some.
2) Easy Access to Local Brews
3) Brewery Swag
While cruising around town to get brewery gift cards, pick up some apparel at those same spots. Most have some pretty cool sweatshirts, hats and T-shirts to choose from (my Milwaukee Brewers-inspired blue and gold tee from Third Space is in my constant rotation). Brewery gear has become as popular as college and pro team wear and craft beer fans like to support their favorites at beer fests and tastings. Not into the whole clothing deal? Biloba Brewing has gift baskets available that include a bottle and a pair of glasses. Look for similar cool ideas at other breweries.
4) One Good Book
Chicago Tribune beer writer Josh Noel is one of the best in the business. His talent shines in Barrel-Aged Stout and Selling Out. The book, which examines Anheuser-Busch’s acquisition of Goose Island Brewery and what it has meant for the craft beer industry, has earned rave reviews for Noel’s engrossing storytelling and generated as much buzz from a book about beer in a while.
5) A Cool Accessory
I initially thought the popularity (and price) of YETI gear was due largely to brilliant branding. That’s part of it, but the stuff really works. The YETI Rambler Colster holds 12-ounce cans and bottles and keeps them cold for a really long time. Mine has become a staple of summer imbibing. The only downside is that it doesn’t hold 16-ounce cans, which means I can’t use it for Half Acre Daisy Cutter sipping on the beach.
6) Beer Tourism
If you’ve got some expendable income and enjoy more extravagant gifts, consider giving a trip with beer tourism as the focus. Pay for the travel, the hotel stay and the imbibing, and your beer-loving guest will be forever indebted to you. The good news is that you don’t necessarily have to spend the cash on a long trip to Portland or Denver. According to the Brewers Association, the city with the most breweries in the U.S. is Chicago (actually, the Chicagoland area). So, hop in the car, head south and enjoy your choice of 167 breweries.
7) More Cold Storage
A few years ago, I got a medium-sized beer fridge from Danby for Christmas. It has evolved into the centerpiece of my modest beer cellar. A wide range of temperature choices makes it ideal for beer, and the glass front lets me admire all of the bottles that I really should drink instead of stare at. It also comes with a lock, which can come in handy when guests decide to raid your fridge.
8) An Intro to Homebrewing
This is a staple on my annual gift list, but for good reason. Brooklyn Brew Shop offers kits that make it easy for those who aren’t comfortable with commitment to try their hand at brewing. The one-gallon batches are easy to make, and if for some reason you mess up a batch, it’s not really a shame pouring just a gallon down the drain. Dozens of style options are perfect for pretty much every beer fan.
No beer-related gift guide is truly complete without the mention of the ubiquitous bottle opener. It’s an economical and extremely functional gift that works for every beer fan. I dig this one because it’s made of steel and looks rugged. On, Wisconsin!