BY BREWMASTER ED HEETHUIS
In past years I would shy away from publishing a buying guide for beer aficionado’s as locating said gifts would range from difficult to impossible. With the advent of a myriad of online outlets, the game has changed.
That said, here is a list of suggested beery holiday gifts (in no particular order) along with my personal commentary on general usefulness, pricing, and availability.
Spiegelau IPA Glass – “If you want to get some fancy glasses, Spiegelau has some really nice stuff specifically designed for specific styles,” David Zuskov, the brewer and lab manager at Almanac Beer Co. in Alameda, California, explains. “The IPA glass really makes a difference. I drank the same beer out of their glass and a pint glass, and you can taste so much more flavor from theirs.” Dave is not wrong here as I could convince many a beer connoisseur that the same beer in a standard pint glass and the IPA are completely different beers. These are an excellent choice and available for $11 at Crate and Barrel as well as Amazon where pricing will vary. Grade: A
Spiegelau 4-Piece Craft Beer Tasting Kit – If you’re not sure what style of beer they enjoy the most, but still want to upgrade their glassware from straight-sided pint glasses, give them a Spiegelau four-piece tasting set, which comes with the IPA glass, a glass for stouts, one for common ales, and one for American wheat beer. While I would still prefer a German Weizen glass for my wheat beer, this is a very nice set and would be enjoyed by a beer lover provided their cupboards are not already overflowing with glassware. Available for $37 at Kegworks as well as some Total Wine & More! locations. Grade: B-
BrüMate Hopsulator BOTT’L Stainless Steel Insulated Bottle Cooler – Strategist writer Dominique Pariso first turned the world on to Brümate’s stainless-steel coozies when she wrote that they kept her slender White Claw ice cold, even on a hot summer day. Current ad copy states, “Luckily for the beer drinker in your life, BrüMate’s Hopsulator coozie comes in a standard size that’ll keep their favorite 12-ounce bottles of IPA ice cold, too.” This is pure balderdash in my book as most folks who are serious about their suds are not bottle babies and would much prefer to consume their beer from a glass. Grade: D
Beer Across America Monthly Beer Club Subscription – One would believe the best gift you could give someone who loves beer is, well, beer. According to the folks from Beer Across America, “we offer a customizable monthly subscription of beer samples from all over the country your beer lover is sure to enjoy.” Each month, for however long you choose, Beer Across America delivers four varieties of award-winning beer from two independent craft breweries that have been curated by a panel of experts. If your beer enthusiast can’t hit the road discovering new brews on their own, this subscription might be their best bet.” This can be a hit or miss strategy depending on two factors. First, who is on this “panel of experts”? Second, many breweries (and some retailers) use beer clubs and assortment packages to rid themselves of brews which have or are close to their expiration date. My advice would be to start with a short subscription as a trial and then re-upping if the beer is of very good or better quality. Grade: C
Kegco 24” Wide Triple Tap Stainless Steel Kegerator – According to The Strategist.com, this is “for the serious beer lover, we recommend a Kegerator — that is, a fridge for a keg. While definitely pricey, a Kegerator is a great way to spruce up a home-bar setup for your beer collector,”. She likes this 24-inch model from Kegco that can accommodate a full-size keg; a quarter-size barrel; or three narrower slim kegs. It also comes with three taps and caster wheels for easy mobility, and can be converted into a regular refrigerator by adding the two included shelves. Andrew McNally, the founder and Brewmaster at Common Bond Brewers — Montgomery, Alabama’s only production brewery — agrees that “a kegerator makes a great gift,” adding, “You get to serve draft like the pros in the comfort of your very own (wo)man cave.” Well, I say hold on for a second bullseye. Before buying someone a keg box, you’d better be part of the family, otherwise this purchase is akin to giving your niece or nephew a drum set without parental approval. The Kegco is a solid residential unit, but having three taps at home is more than a little over the top…as is the price tag of $1,311 from Beverage Factory. Grade: C-
Tasting Beer, 2nd Edition: An Insider’s Guide to the World’s Greatest Drink – I’d be hard pressed to not recommend Randy Mosher’s Tasting Beer for anyone who wants to develop and refine their palate and develop a better understanding of the sensory components of the beer they’re drinking. Anyone who seriously drinks beer needs this book, as is evidenced by the dog-eared copy I keep on the bookshelf in my own brewery. Randy was one of my instructors at Siebel Institute and conveys all aspects of beer in a very approachable manner. Available on Amazon for $18. Grade: A+
There you have it; a partial guide to beery gift giving for 2021. Should you be stumped and are looking for more personalized advice, simply hit me with an email at the address contained within the disclaimer below.
(When Ed Heethuis isn’t brewing at Spotlight 29 Casino for 29 Brews, you will find the Certified Cicerone / Brewmaster out on his road bike, sampling the latest Holiday brews, or talking beer with the patrons at Taproom 29. He may be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or wherever beer may be found in the wild.)