The Holidays can be a time for joy and spending quality time with family and friends, but it can also be as frustrating and stressful as it is happy and joyful. Most of this has to do with the stress of shopping and picking out the right gift for your loved ones.
Luckily for you, if your loved ones also love beer, we've got you covered! With the influx of delicious beer available locally, the interest in the age-old liquid has also increased. This means that you can find a multitude of products that cater to the beer lover.
If you have been in a bookstore lately, you may have noticed that the "Wine, Spirits and Beer" section within the food shelves has become littered with more and more books about beer. There are literally dozens of books available at store level, and when you start searching the internet, there are thousands of publications about our favorite libation.
For the entry level beer enthusiast, a book like Great Beer Guide by Michael Jackson (not the singer) is a great way to start them off on their journey through beer. Jackson is considered one of the Godfathers of craft beer, and this book is a great way to see all that beer has to offer world wide.
Either of Garrett Oliver's publications are great picks as well. The Oxford Companion to Beer has information on almost every aspect of beer you could possibly dream of. My personal favorite, The Brewmasters Table, is a deep look into beer and food pairing.
For the beer lover who also loves to brew, or is interested in the science behind brewing, the Brewing Elements series, which includes four volumes, all penned by different authors, on the main ingredients to brewing. Each of the four (Malt, Hops, Yeast and Water), delves deep into what each ingredient brings to the table in the finished product that we all know and love.
Finally, for one neat, all encompassing package, you can go for Tasting Beer: An Insider's Guide to the World's Greatest Beverage by Randy Mosher. What is now in the industry seen as a study guide for the Cicerone Certification exams, is a well written and easy to read run through all that makes beer such a wonderful beverage!
For the Brewer
For the homebrewer, or those interested in beginning to brew at home, a quick trip to the local homebrew store is always a good place to start. If you are not sure what equipment your brewer at home has, a simple gift certificate to either your local homebrew shop or a major homebrew supplier such as Northern Brewer, should suffice.
For those looking to get in to homebrewing, there are beginner kits available at numerous retail locations. Be cautious with some of the all encompassing kits, as many of them do not get good reviews or produce quality liquid. Again, going to your local homebrew shop is your best bet, as they can walk you through what will be needed to begin brewing.
For the Pub Feel at Home
Everyone who loves beer loves to go to their favorite craft beer bar or pub to drink fresh draft suds. Why not bring that experience home for them? If you have an old refrigerator, you can get conversion kits to turn that fridge in to a beer dispensing vessel. This is the cheaper option, if you don't want to spring for a stand alone keg unit.
Of course, there are many keg units available that require less work, as well. These can run from a few hundred dollars, and go up from there. This could make a great addition to a home bar. There is nothing better than drinking a great draft beer in the comfort of your own home!
Another part of what makes going to a good craft bar exciting to the beer lover is that most beers are served in correct glassware. Many retailers, including big box stores like Target and Wal Mart, are now offering sets of glassware that include glasses for pilsners and wheat beers, snifters and more. This is another good way to bring the feeling of your favorite craft beer bar in to your home.
Of course, as beer lovers, we all love to actually drink the stuff! If you know your favorite beer lover's libation of choice, simply grabbing a six-pack, 12-pack or case will be greatly appreciated! Many of the local beverage stores offer gift certificates, gift baskets or empty (or full!) growlers that will delight any beer lover. There are also online "beer of the month" clubs, and a subscription to one of those will send beer at your loved one's doorstep every month.
Hope you all enjoy the holiday season, and if it gets to stressful, at least there is beer!
Matt Zaloga (aka Bow Tie Matt or Matty) is a man who is after the epitome of sensory experiences. Whether it be tasting the latest and greatest beer, testing out a new culinary experience or checking out a new band, his search for anything to excite and mystify his senses is never ending. Matt is as comfortable at home in the kitchen as he is out on the street, ensuring the public is well stocked with finely brewed liquid. You can find him wherever there is good food, tunes, and of course, great beer! Just look for the bow tie!