To help you with your holiday shopping for that beer lover or homebrewer that you know, or as a resource to figure out what you want for the holidays, I’ve formulated with the following Holiday Gift Guide. If you have any more suggestions, list them in the comments and I’ll update the article.
This guide has recommedation for book, movies, glassware, homebrewing, draft equipment, neon signs, and beer.
Reading and learning about beer can be almost as fun as consumption of beer. The following are some recommended books on the subject.
- Tasting Beer: An Insider’s Guide to the World’s Greatest Drink by Randy Mosher, is a good resource of flavors, styles, and breweries.
- The Brewmaster’s Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food by Garrett Oliver, is a great guide to pairing beer with food.
- Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer by Maureen Ogle, is an interesting take on the history of beer in America.
- Christmas Beer: The Cheeriest, Tastiest, and Most Unusual Holiday Brews by Don Russell, is a fun book about holiday beer.
- Michael Jackson’s Great Beers of Belgium by Michael Jackson, is considered by some to be the bible of Belgian beer.
- Good Beer Guide Belgium by Tim Webb, is a great guide to beer, beer bars, restaurants an breweries in Belgium. I used this book daily on a recent trip to Belgium and found it indispensable. Unlike most travel books, this guide is still very useful after the trip due all of the information about Belgian beer. I especially like the “Find that Beer” index.
- Red, White, and Brew: An American Beer Odyssey by Brian Yaeger, is about a craft beer trek across America.
- Brewing Up a Business: Adventures in Entrepreneurship from the Founder of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery by Sam Calagione, is the story about how Sam Calagione started Dogfish Head Brewery and got it off the ground.
- A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage, is a view of world history from the standpoint of beverages such as beer.
The following are some great books on the subject of homebrewing.
- Extreme Brewing: An Enthusiast’s Guide to Brewing Craft Beer at Home by Sam Calagione, is full of interesting beer recipes and is targeted at the beginner and extract homebrewers. It does, however, have some a great chapter about beer pairings including several recipes for food using beer as an ingredient.
- The Complete Joy of Homebrewing by Charlie Papazian is a great resource for beginners that starts easy and leads you through all-grain brewing. It includes a bunch of recipes.
- Radical Brewing: Recipes, Tales and World-Altering Meditations in a Glass by Randy Mosher is one of my favorite homebrewing books. It has interesting recipes for both extract and all-grain brewers (some recipes are all-grain only) and the history behind many of the recipes in the book. A very solid homebrewing book and highly recommended.
- Designing Great Beers: The Ultimate Guide to Brewing Classic Beer Styles by Ray Daniels is for the advanced homebrewer with tons of details about several styles of beer.
- Clone Brews: Homebrew Recipes for 150 Commercial Beers by Tess Szamatulski has 150 recipes with partial-mash, extract, and all-grain versions of each.
- North American Clone Brews: Homebrew Recipes for Your Favorite American and Canadian Beers by Scott R. Russell has over 100 recipes, again for partial-mash, extract, and all-grain brewers.
- Dave Miller’s Homebrewing Guide: Everything You Need to Know to Make Great-Tasting Beer by David G. Miller is a good guide for all-grain brewers and explains all the different methods of mashing and how it works on a technical and scientific level.
Movies with a beer theme can be great fun to watch and the documentaries are informative. Here is a list of movies about beer.
- Strange Brew (1983) is a classic movie with Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas about trying to get a free case of beer.
- Beerfest (2006) (Blu-ray edition) is a new classic comedy about beer. Octoberfest, brewing, beer games competition, slapstick comedy, this beer movie has it all. Das Booooot!
- Beer Wars (2009) is a recent documentary about the beer industry and the 3-tier system of distribution.
- Artie Lange’s Beer League (2006)
As craft beer lovers know, beer is always best poured into a glass and especially good if you can drink it from the preferred shaped glassware. Beer Advocate has a great guide to beer glassware.
- Pilsner glasses use these for all of your lagers and German style beer.
- Double walled Pilsner glasses, keep you beer colder in one of these and admire your beer in this interesting glass.
- Beer Goblet glasses for all of your big Belgian beers like strong, dubbel, tripel, etc.
- Beer Steins are great for American craft ales, English ales, Oktoberfest beer, Vienna lager, and dark lagers.
- Weizen glasses are frequently sold as pilsner glasses. Use them for your wheat beers.
- Double walled weizen glasses keep your beer colder longer and look cool too.
- Imperial pint glasses are great for just about any American or English ale.
- Snifters are good for the high gravity ales like barleywine and Belgian-styles.
- Tulip glasses are great at collecting and concentrating the aroma of the beer. I liket hem for almost all styles but they are traditionally best for Belgian style beer and double IPA.
One of the best resources for homebrewers is continuing to learn new techniques and recipes by reading magazines. The following magazines are great resources for hombrewers.
There seems to be at least one constant with the hobby of homebrewing, the need to continually upgrade your equipment. You can start as simple as a single food grade bucket and some empty bottles and eventaully graduate to a full RIMS or HERMS setup.
- A Beginning Homebrew Kit is the place to start if you have never tried homebrewing and want to get started. The only thing this kit is missing is 48 bottles and sanitizer.
- Pre-assembled extract recipe kits are an easy way for extract brewers to brew their favorite beer styles without the trouble of digging for a recipe on the internet and wondering if it will be good or not. The link provided starts you off to find some great beer recipes.
- Auto siphons are the best and cleanest way to get a siphon started. I’m surprised how many homebrewings don’t have one of these.
- A homebrew kegging system is one of the best upgrades you can make as a homebrewer. Even though there is some prestige in bottled conditioned beer, it is a lot of work and kegging takes out many hours of work instantly. This kit has everything you need to get started.
- Used 5 gallon ball lock kegs are on sale for $16 as of writing (November 28, 2009) so get that extra one that you wanted for more beer or “cask” conditioning or what have you.
- Gift certificates make buying for a homebrewer easy. Let them choose what they need.
Having cold craft or homebrewed beer on draft at home is convenient and a wonderful experience. Years ago kegerators used to be completely inaccessible in price, now most of them are $600 or less.
- Haier Dual Faucet Kegerator w/ Stainless Steel Door is what I recommend to start with. Why two faucets? Because it is much cheaper to start with two than to upgrade later. Keg fridges will fit either one full keg, one pony keg, or two or more 5 gallon kegs. Since homebrewers and also many craft brewers use 5 gallon kegs, the desire to have 2 beers on tap will arise shortly after purchase.
- Deluxe Keg Tap Refrigerator Kegerator Conversion Kit will allow you to use an existing old refrigerator and turn it into a keg fridge. I recommend, however, that if they fridge is very old to either get a newer used fridge or a full on kegerator. Old fridges use a lot of power, unnecessarily.
Tap handles are fun and useful and are even sometimes collected by beer enthusiasts who don’t even have a draft beer setup.
- This Tap Handle Display – Holds Eight: Walnut is perfect for the tap handle collector.
- A Custom Beer Tap Handle is great if you want to design your own logos for your homebrew.
- The Changeable Tap Handle with Natural Oak Finish is another easy customizeable solution for tap handles.
- Use a Chalk Board Tap Handle to quickly write what beer you have on tap. Use this with color chalk to get really creative.
- For something stylish, check out the Pub Style Beer Tap Handle with Oval Shield or without Oval Shield.
- There are also crazy shaped styles of tap handles:
- Leprechaun Beer Tap Handle
- Beach Babe Beer Tap Handle
- Devil Maiden Beer Tap Handle
- Bulldog Beer Tap Handle
- Monkey In a Tree Beer Tap Handle
- Mexican Pepper Beer Tap Handle
- Dartboard Beer Tap Handle
- Wild Boar Beer Tap Handle
- Hawg Motorcyle Beer Tap Handle
- Football Beer Tap Handle
- Golf Bag Beer Tap Handle
- Wizard Beer Tap Handle
If you have a bar setup, a basement, man-cave, or a garage, these signs can really light up the atmosphere. Although I’m not much of a fan of Pacifico, I have a wonderful Pacifico neon sign in the garage above the kegerator.
Giving beer as a gift to a craft beer lover can be more difficult than you might think. First, you need to know what beer the recipient likes and dislikes. Next, to make it special, you should look for a unique bottle of something either imported and hard to find, special release, or limited edition. If you can meet these criteria, then giving beer as a gift can be great. If not, you can always give a gift certificate to a a good beer store or bottle shop.
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