Getting a Christmas gift for a beer enthusiast seems pretty easy: Just buy them a bottle of their favorite brew and put a bow on it. But in the midst of this veritable craft renaissance with quality beers galore, you might want to branch out a little and find them something truly spectacular that they’ll want to make their new go-to brew. Finding that quality bottle or other beer-related item can be harder to do if you don’t know what to look for. Here’s a gift guide to make the beer lover in your life very merry indeed. (For wine fans, I’ve got this round-up of affordable holiday wines to try.)
The season of the stout
For holiday white elephant gift exchanges with friends who drink beer, I tend to take a couple of bombers or a six-pack, depending on the price limit, and they’re always pretty popular steals. I even wrote a story last year about some of the beers you could take to one such gift swap (it was my very first column as Liquid Austin writer, actually).
I’m now happy to see most all the recommendations I gave are ones I’d still stand by today, from Rogness Holiday, a spice-filled seasonal ale, to Firestone Walker Wookey Jack, a Black Rye IPA. But I’ve also got a few additional ones that are especially perfect for the fast approaching holidays and all the imbibing opportunities they bring.
- Upslope Foreign Style Stout: Dark and full-bodied, this beer from Colorado embodies exactly the kind of beer you’d want this time of year, with roasted coffee notes and a lingering finish, but it lacks the high ABV that often accompanies a stout. Upslope’s version clocks in at 6.9 percent, allowing you to have more than one (because yes, indeed, you’ll want to finish the whole six-pack). It’ll hit store shelves in Texas starting Dec. 15.
- Atwater Brewing Decadent Dark Chocolate Ale: It’s about as rich as the name suggests, with chocolate extract added in from a blend of three different types of chocolate, but it’s not overly sweet — and at 5.5 percent ABV, it’s almost sinfully sessionable. Atwater, from Detroit, Michigan, arrived in Austin earlier this year with plans to open a satellite brewing facility here next year as part of a massive expansion out of its home state. The dark chocolate ale offers an easy-drinking, if filling, taste of what’s to come if Atwater becomes a fixture in town. The beer is a year-round offering from the brewery but especially perfect in these colder months.
- Prairie Christmas Bomb: Prairie Artisan Ales’ superstar of an imperial stout, the Bomb, is getting the holiday treatment with the addition of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg in a beer that already explodes with the bold notes of espresso beans, chocolate, vanilla beans and ancho chile peppers. Plus, the label art from this Oklahoma brewery pays clever homage to Macaulay Culkin, he of “Home Alone” fame, so it won’t be hard to get in the Christmas spirit with this brew. But beware the ABV: it’s at 13 percent.
- Infamous Sweep the Leg Peanut Butter Stout: If you’re wanting to show off a local beer, go with a bomber of Infamous Sweep the Leg, which doesn’t let you down for including peanut butter in the name. You’ll catch prominent notes of the nut (Infamous brewers added peanut butter to the stout during the fermentation process), as well as chocolate, coffee and even some vanilla in the 8 percent ABV brew, and you’ll realize one important fact: Sweep the Leg will make you go nutty for peanut butter beers.
Or if your beer-loving friend or family member already has a well-stocked cupboard of wintry brews, consider something else beer-related. Whole Foods currently has a variety of Brooklyn Brew Shop beer-making kits, from a Warrior Double IPA to a Chocolate Maple Porter, priced at $40. The grocery store is also selling a trivia board game called Beer Nerds that will test your knowledge of the beverage while you drink it.
Austin Homebrew has holiday homebrew kits as well, including the AHS Christmas Day Black IPA to the AHS Fireside Winter Warmer and more. You can either visit the store on Metric Boulevard or order online at www.austinhomebrew.com.
And if you’ve already got homebrewing supplies, Jester King is bestowing you with a gift: recipes of some of the Hill Country brewery’s most popular beers. Ever wanted to make your own version of Wytchmaker? Go here to learn how.
This post has been corrected to reflect that Infamous Sweep the Leg is 8 percent ABV.