Happy holidays, beer lover. Yes, we’re talking to you, and your significant other, and your friend who just got into beer (and who is maybe a little too excited about it). When it comes to buying gifts for beer fans, there are endless options—but most of those options are bottles and cans of great beer.
If you want to think outside the six-pack for the beer buff in your life, look no further than this exquisitely curated guide full of unique gifts for homebrew newbs (who actually wants a bunch of pH tester strips in their stocking?), pinkies-up design snobs (no shade, they have great taste!), and your average craft geek (because yet another beer-themed novelty T-shirt is not a good look).
You and your significant beer lover can thank us later.
Gifts for Homebrew Newbs
There’s no shortage of homebrew tutorials, videos, books, and even podcasts out there. But a true fan of the microflora that help humans create beer, wine, and more should understand the basics. In this critical reference text, godfather of the fermentation renaissance Sandor Katz explains the science behind yeast and bacteria in our food and drink, but he also explores some traditional and ancient booze recipes (flower mead, tesgüino, rice beer) that other homebrew books skip over. ($26 here)
OK, we’re biased with this one because the author of this fantastic homebrew book also writes for October. Putting that aside, however, here’s what you can expect from Homebrew World: time-tested recipes, tips, and secrets from some of America’s best homebrewers, with formulas that range from fairly basic (English mild, amber ale) to ambitious (raspberry lambic, brett IPA) to boundary-breaking (lemongrass ale, chrysanthemum kölsch). Why trust just one expert for advice when you can trust more than a dozen? ($13 here)
Last year, visionary chef-turned-donut-kingpin Wylie Dufresne told us, “Like donuts, there are not a lot of components to beer, but to make good beer is hard.” Anyone’s who’s ventured into homebrewing knows that even with a handful of ingredients, there are many variables at play. The best way to keep track of those variables is with a journal preformatted for yeast observations, hydrometer readings, tasting notes, and more, all bound in vegan leather. ($28 here)
Once that homebrew is ready to drink, you can keep it fizzy by fiddling with bottle-conditioning (and risking bottle bombs) or investing in a kegging stem. Alternatively, you could pick up this handsome pressurized growler from GrowlerWerks, which keeps beer fresh and carbonated for two weeks inside its double-walled, vacuum-insulated chamber. And as with a regular growler, you can take it to breweries and beer stores to keep your favorite brews at their peak. ($169 here)
Gifts for Design Buffs
Kitschy bottle openers shaped like everything from sharks to skulls tend to show up as stocking stuffers this time of year. While these gag gifts have their place, this sophisticated alternative is one your friend might actually keep after the holidays wind down. This decidedly more tasteful number cast in solid brass eschews the gimmicks for a clean, minimalistic look that’s sure to win over the aesthetically inclined. It’s a subtle update on a classic style that nicely combines form with function. ($60 here)
Does an IPA taste better when sipped from a $100 handblown glass designed by Keita Suzuki? There’s really only way to find out. Sure, it might seem a tad extravagant, but lovers of fine craftsmanship will appreciate the handiwork of Sugahara Glassworks. With its wide bottom and tapered sides, the glass echoes the shape of Mount Fuji and is especially adept at preserving the head on your favorite brew. Better still, it’s versatile enough to showcase whiskeys, brandies and other aged spirits as well. ($100 here)
The masters at Pretentious Glass Co. joined forces with Blackberry Farm Brewery for an impressive lineup of limited-edition, handblown glassware. Options include a timeless pilsner glass and elegantly curved Belgian-style beer glass, as well as a luxe all-purpose number etched with the peaks of the Great Smoky Mountains. The net effect is subtle, yet definitely eye-catching. ($48-80 here)
For those that like to rock beer swag with a little extra flair, this line of attire from Stillwater Artisanal might just hit the spot. From unisex tees to hoodies and even swimsuits, these accessories nod to the wearer’s affinity for craft brews without overdoing it. Whether you opt for a cheeky slogan—a “Gose Gone Wild World Tour” shirt, perhaps—or a brightly colored print depends on that special someone on your gift list. ($25-50 here)
Gifts for Craft Geeks
Beer people are often also adventure people. As the saying that we just made up right now goes, “Will travel for beer.” Taking your beer with you is a lot easier—and more stylish— with Tourit’s Comrade Backpack. The insulated soft cooler pack can carry 21 cans of beer in its waterproof main storage compartment. Stick some koozies in one of the many zippered pockets and you’re ready to go. Oh wait, did you forget to pack your bottle opener? No, you didn’t, because this backpack has a beer opener built in to the strap. ($52 here)
Let’s face it, when you get down to the nitty-gritty of brewing and beer history, the details can get a little snooze-worthy. Sure, beer-making Trappist monks are fascinating, but they are even more fascinating when depicted in comics. Written by Jonathan Hennessey and Mike Smith and illustrated by Aaron McConnell, the first graphic novel about beer takes readers on a journey from ancient Egypt to Prohibition and beyond, ending in the craft beer heyday of today. ($19 here)
If you don’t want to take our word for the fact that Where to Drink Beer is the must-have accessory for any beer traveler, take Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø’s word for it. He, along with his beer-loving friends from around the world, wrote the book on where to drink beer no matter where you are. With recommendations for everything from breweries to bowling alleys, from New York City to North Korea, this book is like having your coolest in-the-know friend in your back pocket. ($30 here)
For those who not only want to drink beer, but who also want their house to smell like a resinous IPA, enter the Barley & Hops Craft Candles. Not only do these candles smell like farmhouse ales or Belgian beers, they are made in collaboration with craft breweries. The Earthy, Piney IPA Candle is inspired by Kansas City, Missouri’s Strage Day Brewing, while the Pumpkin Beer Candle smells just like Saxapahaw, North Carolina’s Haw River Farmhouse Ales’ slightly spiced pumpkin beer. ($22.50 here)