Despite the short sleeve weather we’ve been having lately, Christmas is coming just as surely as a hangover after a night of imbibing imperial stouts. With less than two weeks to go it’s high time to start thinking about Christmas shopping. I know there are probably some type A personalities out there who have almost wrapped up their shopping, but even the most organized people probably have some stocking stuffers left to pick up. So if you have a beer lover on your shopping list I’m here to help with beer-themed gifts for any budget. For the most part I’ve tried to keep the focus on local products and services. Follow the hyperlinks to get more information on each gift.
1. Pat’s Pints Crossword Puzzle
Is a tight budget limiting your Christmas shopping options? I’m here to help you with some no cost stocking stuffers for the beer lover. Print out one or more of my beer-themed crossword puzzles on fancy paper of your choice, and voilà. Keep the solutions for yourself and your perceived beer IQ could skyrocket when the recipient gets stuck trying to identify the Columbus beer whose name means enlightenment.
- Puzzle #1 – General craft beers puzzle
- Puzzle #2 – Ohio craft beers and breweries
- Puzzle #3 – San Diego craft beers and breweries
2. A subscription to Draft Magazine ($20)
Magazines might seem a little passe to the hip 21st century folks out there, but when my subscription to Draft Magazine ran out last year I was surprised to find out how much I missed it. It covers topics that include craft beer trends, brewer profiles, up and coming breweries, travel guides, beer/food pairings, and beer reviews. Best of all, every issue is chock full of recipes for cooking with beer. You can get a 1 year (6 issue) subscription for $20.
3. Hop infused beard balm or beard oil ($16 to $30)
Is your challenging gift recipient covered in facial hair? Does the aforementioned facial hair tend to end up a bit crusty from overzealous quaffing of oatmeal stouts and English barleywines? If you answered yes to both questions I’ve got the perfect Ohio-centric beer-themed gift for you. Why not try one of the hop-infused products from the Beerded Beard Company. Clevelander Bob Lesher may have let the sun go down on his beer blog (RIP The Artful Pint), but that gives him more time for hop infusing blends of long chain hydrocarbons. You can choose from beard balm, beard oil, or lip balm, all of which are infused with your choice of one of five hop varieties (Citra, Centennial, Columbus, Cascade or Simcoe).
4. Beer Soap ($6 for one, $15 for three)
Sticking with the personal hygiene theme, what about a few bars of beer soap. It’s affordable, comes in various flavors, and as an added bonus it’s likely to make the recipient smell better (provided they don’t start to nibble on the beer soap when the refrigerator runs dry on a weekend bender). Unlike the last time this item appeared on my Xmas gift list, there is now a local source for beer infused soap. The Glenn Avenue Soap Company in Grandview makes nine different varieties of beer soap all using local favorites, including Zauber Oktoberfest with maple and vanilla, Actual’s Fat Julian with Cherry Sandalwood, Sideswipe’s Coop Looter Saison with Lotus Berry, Rosemary and Grapefruit, and many more. Who knew soap could sound so delicious?
5. Beer Books
Nothing beats drinking a beer, but drinking beer all day is not ideal for your health, relationship, or job security. For those hours when you can’t be experiencing beer first hand, why not while away your time reading about beer. Here are some great choices:
- Modern Homebrew Recipes by Gordon Strong ($17) – Among home brewers Gordon Strong cuts a long shadow. He’s the president of the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP), and three time winner of the National Home Brewing Competition, not to mention an Ohioan. His second book, chock full of tips and recipes, came out this summer. If that hard to buy for person on you list is a homebrewer this is your ticket (Check out Tom Aguero’s review here).
- Proof: The Science of Booze ($10) – An award winning book that dives into the science of making alcohol and how it interacts with our body. Covering topics as far ranging as the history of yeast, the chemistry of barrel aging, and the science of hangovers what’s not to like. In full disclosure I haven’t read this book myself, but based on what others have said it’s at the top of my list (check out Tom Aguero’s review here).
- Great Beers of Belgium by Michael Jackson ($27) – Michael Jackson is the most celebrated beer writer of all time. Twice knighted in Belgium for his beer writing, Jackson’s master work was revised and updated shortly before his death in August 2007. I received this as a gift last Christmas and have read most of the chapters 2-3 times over the past year.
- The Beer Bible by Jeff Alworth ($12) – Just released in August of 2015 but many years in the making, Portlander Jeff Alworth has written a 644 page tome that covers the world of beer in a comprehensive, current and accessible manner. Considering the years of research and effort that went into this book it seems almost criminal that it costs less than a six pack of Scuplin.
6. Spiegelau Beer Tasting Kit ($30)
Over the past several years German glass manufacturer Spiegelau has teamed up with various American craft breweries to create a series of glasses designed specifically for some of the most popular styles of craft beer. This kit contains the IPA glass, the Stout glass and the American Wheat Beer glass. You may think it’s a bit pretentious to have such fancy glasses for your beer, and I suppose you’d be right, but here’s the thing they really do make a difference. The most recent addition is a glass designed specifically for barrel aged beers, so if your loved one is into the latest, greatest thing you might want to try tracking that one down. Otherwise this mixed kit is a good way to go. Interestingly it is selling for $30 at Crate and Barrel and $59 at Amazon, which seems ridiculously high. If you are only going to get one set of tasting glasses I would recommend the stout variety.
7. Barrel aged Local Beer ($10 – $24 per bottle)
As much fun as it is to read about beer or lather up your private parts with hoppy soap, there’s no substitute for drinking beer. If you want a classy gift what could be better than a limited edition local beer that’s spent months, even years aging in a barrel. Here are a few special beers that have been released in the last month or so. They may be a little hard to track down, but when one of these winds up under the tree your beer loving companion will be seriously impressed. I recommend you visit the brewery or use beermenus.com to locate these limited release beers.
Actual – As of this past weekend two of the three beers from Actual’s recent bottle release were still available, Tenacity Brett Beer and Bourbon Barrel Aged Fat Julian. Tenacity, a sour Brett beer aged for a year in oak barrels, is bursting with pineapple fruitiness, Brett funk, and complex sour notes. Fat Julian is one of Columbus’ finest imperial stouts and the effects of bourbon barrel aging are transformative.
Elevator – Looking for a rich, high abv sipper to warm you through the cold days of winter, look no further than Elevator’s Bourbon Barrel aged Bar Bar Barleywine. Oozing with caramel, overripe fruits, vanilla, bourbon, this beer is a decadent treat perfect for sipping by the fire.
Seventh Son – Imperial Stouts are not known for having much hop character, but Oubliette has enough hops that they manage to show through the big, roasty malt presence. This special version aged in bourbon barrels adds another level of complexity.
Zaftig – Bourbon Barrel BamBaLam is another imperial stout (sensing a theme here), infused with chocolate and coffee, then aged in OYO bourbon barrels. Unlike the other beers on this list BamBaLam comes in 12 ounce bottles that fit nicely into a Christmas stocking. I think you’ll have to make a trip up to the Schrock Road Brewery to get your hands on one of these.
8. Gift Certificate to 101 Beer Kitchen ($25 and up)
I’m a proponent of giving gift certificates for a night out on the town, because because more often than not as the gift giver you also get partake in the revelry that goes with the gift. With two locations, one in Dublin (7509 Sawmill Road) and one in Gahana (397 Stoneridge Lane), 101 Beer Kitchen is sure to please both food and beer lovers in the family. The tater tots and soft pretzels are to die for, and the eclectic beer menu is always interesting.
9. Daily Growler Crowler of the Month Club ($100)
If one or two bottles of beer is not enough, how about 32 ounces of beer every month for the entire year. The Daily Growler (2812 Fishinger Road in Upper Arlington or 258 W. Olentangy Street in Powell) has one of the best selections of beer in town, and they just announced the Crowler of the Month club. For those not in the know a crowler is basically a 32 ounce can that is filled with beer of your choice and sealed onsite.
10. Columbus Brew Adventures ($55 per person)
If your beer lover lives in the Columbus area, it’s hard to beat a Columbus Brew Adventures Tour. There are various tours most of which involve visits to four Columbus area breweries. You’ll start off with some tasty appetizers and then start sampling some of the best beer Columbus has to offer. Host Jim Ellison drives you around in a big ass climate controlled van while regaling you with tidbits of information on the local brewing scene. Best of all at each stop you meet the brewers and hear what they have to say about their creations. For an inside look check out my post entitled, My Columbus Brew Adventure, where I give a first person account of one of these tours.
11. Tickets to the High Gravity Hullabaloo (~$60 per person)
The High Gravity Hullabaloo is one of the best events on a very crowded calendar of Central Ohio beer events. The folks at the Columbus Craft Beer Alliance (formerly the Grandview Craft Beer Alliance) know how to throw a festival. Firstly, they limit the number of tickets so that size of the crowd is commensurate with the space and amount of beer. Secondly, they always have an excellent lineup of all-Ohio beers on hand. For their winter festival they showcase high abv beers and combine that with a selection of savory smoked meats. As of the time of this writing the final details are still being worked out, but I’m told that tickets should go on sale before Christmas for the 2016 Hullabaloo, which is typically held in early February. It could make the perfect last minute gift, but you’ll have to keep checking their website because this event routinely sells out.
12. Brew your own at North High Brewing ($190 to $240)
If your loved one is an aspiring homebrewer skip the hours spent sanitizing bottles and avoid filling your basement with carboys belching CO2 by heading to North High Brewing, where they have all of the equipment, ingredients and enough expertise to help even the beginner brew a keg of craft beer. You can enjoy tasty craft beer brewed by professionals and use their recipes to craft a personalized 15 gallon batch of beer. I did this recently and it was a seriously good time. I’m still waiting to bottle the beer so I can’t report on its quality, but unless my beer turns out to be an over hopped mess I’m giving the folks at North High brewing two thumbs up.