The holiday season was practically made for beer drinking. Cold, snowy nights pair perfectly with maple barrel-aged stouts, ultra rich winter warmers, intense Belgian quads, and all manner of other warm-you-up heavy hitters. Crisp saisons pair just as well with holiday feasts as a good bottle of wine does. Plus, the stress of seeing family and navigating gift lists might require a slightly above-average rate of booze consumption.
But amid cracking open bottles throughout the holidays for yourself, you're going to need to do some gifting, too.
Any beer drinker would probably be more than happy to receive a hard-to-get, seasonally appropriate beer for a gift (like Hardywood Gingerbread Stout, Founders maple-aged CBS, or Fremont B-Bomb imperial winter ale, to name a few) But you'll have to be willing to brave the world of beer trading or hunt down what's locally available.
Gifting something that's not beer can be even better. Beautiful books, useful drinking and brewing tools, clever T-shirts, and gear that'll come in handy while waiting in line at that next can release are all interesting options that anyone who enjoys a good pint (or Teku) or beer is sure to enjoy.
So we rounded up a bunch of them into this gift guide, filled with things that should appeal to beer drinkers of all stripes. Pick something up to gift... or just treat yourself. You've earned it.
Not everyone is a growler kind of beer drinker – as cans surge in popularity, the necessity of using a growler for fresh pours of take-home beer seems to be shrinking. But still, if you've got occasion to use one, this is the best pound-for-pound growler on the market. Hydro Flask's insulating tech is almost frighteningly good – a pour of beer in here will stay cold, crisp, and carbonated for ages, locking in your pour's quality until you're ready to drink it. It's great for both keeping beer in top condition until you're ready to drink it, and for ensuring that your suds stay perfectly chilled and carbonated when you're heading to, say, a picnic.
There are a lot of homebrew kits on the market. Exceptionally thorough rundowns in the past have decided that the homebrew starter kit from Northern Brewer was the best bang for your buck. And it is great, as are any number of other kits that give you a basic setup with plastic buckets and the requisite tools.
But if you want to take things up a notch, spend the extra cash and get a Catalyst Fermentation System for your setup. The handsomely designed conical fermenter is way better-looking than a big old plastic jug, so you can proudly display your in-progress homebrew rather than hiding it in a grimy closet, and the butterfly valve at the bottom lets you easily get rid of trub, harvest excess yeast, dry hop, and bottle straight from the fermenter.
Most beer glass sets are cheesy. Not this one. Sempli makes stunningly pretty glassware with an architectural, hard-lined design that makes your pour look less like a standard pint of suds and more like a work of art. They're supposedly designed to hold specific styles (IPA in the bowtie kind of one, pilsner in the taller flute, and most anything else in the pint and 12-ounce sized tumblers) but no matter what you pour into each one, it's going to look damn good. Plus, the conical bottom encourages carbonation, giving you more bite as you sip. They're from a cool company, too – Sempli was founded by a Swedish guy who moved to Florence to study design, eventually bringing high-end styling to humble glasses.
Part cookbook, part examination of the role beer can – and should – have in pairing with high-minded cuisine. Written by Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø (of Evil Twin) and chef Daniel Burns, the book is a result of the duo's work at Tørst, the craft beer bar with a (sadly, now-shuttered) Michelin star-winning tasting menu restaurant inside. The book is full of gorgeous shots of Burns' culinary creations, though they are admittedly quite unique and not very easy to faithfully recreate, alongside explorations of the nature of beer pairings.
If the person you're shopping for is a home brewer, this is a no-brainer. But even if they're not, this is one damn cool poster – it visualizes every aspect of a huge number of different hops, comparing bitterness to tasting notes and aromas and giving specific measurements and crystal-clear notes for each data point. And the design couldn't be any cooler, with an exceptionally smart and compact organization that makes it both useful and beautiful. It's huge, too, at 24" by 36", printed on heavy-duty textured card stock. Pop it into a nice frame and mount it on the wall of the home bar.
Kind of like an unplugged version of Untappd, this journal is pocket-sized and perfect for quickly jotting down notes at your next tasting. This little, inexpensive notebook has templates for quick-hitting beer reviews and a neat little diagram that you can fill out to note all kinds of flavor nuances, which is especially helpful for noting differences between very similar beers (looking at you, New England IPAs).
Much has already been said about the allure of Yeti coolers, so suffice it to say that they're exceptionally effective at keeping beer cold. Which comes in handy if you're a beer release type, packing cans to trade in line – keep 'em in here, and they'll stay frosty (and will be easy to carry) no matter how long the line is. And, of course, you can use it for all kinds of other non-beer-release reasons, too: picnics, fishing, tailgates, and more.
Ever opened a bomber or 750ml bottle of high-gravity beer and then realize that you can't finish it all in one sitting? This inexpensive little tool is here to help, just slide it onto the bottle top and it'll act as a makeshift cap, hermetically sealing your beer and keeping it fresh for days. It works as a bottle opener, too.
A handsomely designed, tongue-in-cheek beer tee that's a little more refined than wearing something with a big brewery logo on it. IBU is short for International Bitterness Units, a measure of hop bitterness imparted to a beer's final flavor profile. Duh.
This is the bible of beer books, written by one of the most respected beer writers around, Randy Mosher. It's crammed full of cool and informative information on just about everything when it comes to beer – historical style origins, tasting guides, food pairings, and all kinds of deep dives into the composition of a brew. It's a fascinating read and full of meticulously researched, thoroughly detailed information, but is presented in a fun format that couldn't be easier to understand. The long-awaited second edition just came out earlier this year, too, so it's as up-to-date as possible.