Confused as to what to get the craft beer lover in your life for Christmas this year? When it comes to the beer world, there’s even more obstacles than usual in finding the perfect gift. With all the competition, breweries are releasing more clever ways to get noticed with barrel-aged variants, limited edition experiments, and collaborations. There are, however, a lot of other non-beer items that can be appreciated just as much that are a lot less intimidating to buy. So, to anyone out there looking to buy a special gift for their beer guy or gal, here are some suggestions of what (and what not!) to buy.
There is no shortage of beer-related items to buy out there. The challenge is in separating the items that are only related to beer from those that will enhance it. Tip number one: don’t waste your money on items claiming to be beer-related! The market is flooded with too many products designed solely to catch your eye at the 11th hour on the last day of shopping. The reasoning for shoppers to pick these things up goes thusly: You like beer – I’m not sure what to buy – this has beer on it – Merry Christmas!
A search for the word “beer” on Amazon turns up the following “beer-related” results: EZ drinker redneck can holster, shotgun beer tool, 12-pack drink vest, lazy man’s beer mug, beer stein, and beer cozy. There seems to be a theme here, and that theme is junk. These items are tailored for your casual macro lager type of drinker, clueless about micro brewed beer. However, if you are reading this blog, it can be safely assumed that you are not clueless. You might even like drinking craft beer yourself. The problem that many holiday shoppers face is that even when they try to think of a gift that a craft beer drinker might want, useless novelty gifts are still everywhere!
If you’re thinking about buying someone actual beer as a gift, keep in mind that most beer geeks are very particular about what specific beers they want. They probably spend a lot of time researching very particular bottles and/or have evolving palates and change what they like to drink often. Either way, it’s safe to say that buying actual beer for a beer geek can be tricky. This gift guide will largely focus on items that enhance a craft beer guy or gal’s craft beer hobby.
*A note about this gift guide: many of the specific items on this list can be found in shops around Montreal. However, the links to all other online stores have variations on these ideas and can be shipped anywhere in Canada.
Beer cap map: This map of the country is carved out of wood and has slots for bottle caps to rep your favorite beers.
Beer Cap Collector Shadow Box: These frames hang on your wall and replace pictures with bottle caps.
Periodic Table of Beer Styles Poster: An illustrated poster of all the styles of beer.
Beer passport: This unique idea from Le Bièrologue beer store is the perfect companion for beer tastings both at home and abroad.
Beer tasting notebook: A notebook used to take tasting notes on your beers.
Beer Tasting glass Set with serving paddle: Great for having multiple beers at once.
Carrying case for bottles and/or glasses: Also known as a “wine tote bag” or “wine caddy”, the carrying case with a compartment for specialty glasses is a nice gift for the discerning beer geek on the go. These come in all shapes and sizes and are sold at various locations but, here is one good, local example called Bois Gourmand.
Wood crates for beer storage: Harkening back to prohibition era, wooden crates add a rustic charm for a beer collection. These can be found at Michael’s, IKEA, vintage stores, and if you’re luck, local beer store Le Bièrologue have great ones.
Beer Fridge: If you have a larger budget, a beer fridge (typically sold as a “wine fridge”) will help un-clutter the fridge in your house and allow optimal temperature to store your special beers.
Beer-infused food items: Most specialty beer stores around the city have food that is sometimes made with beer or, that will at least help enhance it. Make a beer geek basket with: beer-infused sauce, cheese, vinaigrette.
Trou du Diable Chocolate: Enough said!
- Maltus Beer Syrup (Brasseurs Illimités micro-brewery)
- Barrel Aged Wee Heavy Syrup (Le Castor micro-brewery)
- Equinoxe du Pintemps Beer Syrup (Dieu du ciel micro-brewery)
Brewery-specific clothing and accessories: These beer-related items should only be bought when it is from a specific brewery that someone likes. They should also be bought on site or on the brewery’s website to ensure that the money goes to them.
Gift Certificate at a beer store: If you’re afraid to buy beer yourself for fear that it won’t be “the right one”, get a gift certificate at a specialty store. That way, your beer-lover will be able to get the right beers when they want.
Unibroue Methuselah Bottle: Unibroue Limited Edition Six Litre 6 liters. There are two choices for these magnificent beasts this year: Fin du Monde and 17 Grande Réserve both available at Dépanneur Peluso.
Beer tasting and certification classes: There are two locations in Montreal that offer classes on how to brew beer and general knowledge course in person and online – L’Atelier des bières & MaBrasserie (French only).
English classes are available with Ontario’s Prud’homme’s beer sommelier program, which offers three levels of certifications. here are online options for the different levels. Gift certificates available here.
There are a lot of coffee table beer books that either repeat commonly known facts and history or talk about beers that your beer guy or gal will never have the chance to see. The importance of a beer book that will actually be useful to someone comes down to geography and interest. Here are a list of books from Quebec and Ontario that focus on local products. There are also a few options for food pairings which is very much on trend this year. All are available at Archambault, so remember to shop local!
- Le Guide D’achat des Bières au Québec de Philippe Wouters
- Guide de la bonne bière du Québec de Mario D’eer
- Microbrasseries du Québec de Jean-François Joannette et Guy Lévesque
- Les saveurs gastronomiques de la bière par David Lévesque Gendron et Martin Thibault
- La route des grands crus de la bière par Martin Thibault
- Plaisirs Culinaires à la Bière par Philippe Wouters
- À table avec les microbrasseries du Québec par Sylvain Perron
- Beerology by Mirella Amato
- The Ontario Craft Beer Guide by Robin Leblanc and Jordan St. John
An article by T.J. Blinn