There are a lot of gift guides for the “craft beer lover in your life” out there right now. 'Tis the season, etc. But when I look at the majority of these lists, all I see are items picked by people who obviously don’t know what people who like beer actually want.
Because seriously, there is no planet out there where I would want a game that’s Monopoly, but for beer. That’s just stupid. I do, however, embrace the version of Monopoly from McDonald’s, as it pleases me with its simplicity.
Anyway, this gift guide contains stuff that I own, love and use regularly — and think you should too — and some other awesome stuff I really freakin’ want. It may not be terribly fancy, but I stand by it.
So without further ado, from left to right, here’s the 2013 Naptown Pint Gift Guide:
THE $3 SNIFTER FROM IKEA
I’ve had a few people ask me about this snifter, which figures prominently in many of my beer pornography shots. Well, as the heading gives away, it’s a $3 glass I picked up at the College Park IKEA on an impulse. I totally stand by some of the hand-crafted sets you’ll see featured elsewhere, but if you’re not ready to invest in beer to that level — which many aren’t — this is a great alternative. Snifters are a versatile style of glass, well-suited to many types of beer, so you’ll get a lot of mileage. Plus, it’s okay if your drunk uncle breaks a few during his annual Christmas dinner meltdown, since they’re cheap to replace.
THE SPEED BOTTLE OPENER
There are a lot of fancy openers out there — ones you can wall-mount or put on your dog. But this basic model is my ol’ reliable. They’re no muss, no fuss openers that get the job done quickly and then fit snuggly in my back jeans pocket. Many breweries sell them online and at their shops, too. Like Maryland’s own Flying Dog, who sells their “Good people drink good beer,” model for $7.
ANNAPOLIS HOME BREW KIT
The guys and gals of the Annapolis Homebrew Club are completely awesome, which I know I’ve mentioned here before. Not only are they fun, they make damn good beer and really know their stuff. And after meeting them, I was led to check out Annapolis Home Brew — I was not disappointed. They have a wide variety of kits (online/in-store) that are intelligently curated based on a number of factors like size, beer type and, honestly, how much you want to spend. Moreover, these kits are a great way to give the gift of beer, while keeping it local. And yes, the kit Patrick got me for my birthday is still silently mocking me in our kitchen, but I assure you that is only because I fear I will set myself (or others) on fire. Rest assured, my adventure into homebrewing is coming. And I’m stoked.
Once upon a time on the Internet, I saw a glass I had to have, so I bought it. Because that hops and crossbones design is the coolest. And that is how my affair with CraftGeer.com began. Joe and the team at CraftGeer have a clear mission: “CraftGeer was born on the idea of working with our friends to create the world’s first premium brand aimed solely at the craft-beer-loving community.” They’re kicking ass at it too, with awesome shirts, hats and glassware. And Naptown Pint readers get an exclusive 10% their purchases (excluding glassware) now through 12/31/13 by using the code NAPTOWN10 at checkout. Sweet, right?
TASTING BEER BY RANDY MOSHER
This book is the cornerstone of my beer book collection. It primed me when I was first getting steady on my beer legs, and I reach for it constantly still as a reference guide. (Ninety percent of the time, I am carrying this in my bag with me. No joke.) It covers beer styles, history, tasting and everything else you could possibly want to know about beer. And it’s only a little over $11 on Amazon. There are tons of books out there that cover the same material, but Randy does it in a way that’s accessible and relevant for noobs and snobs alike.
Um. It says “BEER” on tube socks. And it’s cold outside. So I want them. Not a lot of rocket science involved here. Dear Santa. I actually want socks this year, please and thank you.
I CAN’T BELIEVE I HAVE TO SPELL THIS OUT: BUY ME BEER
What do craft beer lovers love the most? BEER. So what should you buy them? BEER. It amazes me how many people don’t see this obvious gift idea staring them right in the face. I love beer, so I want beer. It really is that easy. If you don’t know what your craft beer nerd loves, look in their fridge to see what styles they buy. Or ask them. Or go see your local beer manager, like Mike at Mills, and ask them for suggestions. And if you want to buy more than one beer as a gift — bless you — get your loved one a variety, instead of ALL THE IPAS EVER. Then put the beer (or beers) in a gift bag along with a $3 snifter, and you’ve got yourself a nice little present.
There are obviously other things you can do (tickets to beer dinners or events are good, too), but hopefully this gives you a good starting point. The important thing is to not waste your money on junk.
So remember, kids: Just because someone slapped a picture of a pint glass on an ashtray or a hedgetrimmer, doesn’t mean I want it.