I dont know about the rest of you, but I always enjoy getting beer swag and maybe a double-deuce or two under the Christmas tree.
Here are a few gift ideas for the craft beer nut in your family.
Glassware. Beer: Its not just for pint glasses anymore! Now that there are so many beer styles available to imbibers these days, the need for specific glassware is a little more pronounced if you really want to maximize the drinking experience.
For instance, a narrow flute glass (think champagne) ensures that carbonation doesnt go away too soon, making it the go-to glass for a good pilsner or effervescent lager. Snifters are great for big, extreme beers because they capture aroma so well.
The new tulip-style tall stem glasses from Bittercreek Alehouse ($8) are a personal favorite. We just drank a Deschutes Abyss out of this glass last weekend. The lip of the glass kept the head intact and it just looked cool and you didnt have to bend down too far to get the aroma.
For those of you who went to the Stone Tap Takeover at Bittercreek earlier this year, the Boise Co-op has a limited supply of those glasses ($5), perfect size for splitting up a bottle of one of those high-alcohol winter warmers with a few others.
You also cant go wrong with a salt-of-the-earth-style pint glass. Pretty much all of our local breweries sell pint glasses with logos on them. They make great stocking stuffers and are reasonably priced. Brewers Haven (1795 Vista Ave.) always seems to stock a lot of reasonably priced cool pint glasses from regional craft brewers.
Get a growler. With all the fresh beer options in the Treasure Valley these days (like six active breweries in the Boise area, good beer stores with multiple taps), if your beer nut doesnt have a growler, you need to get them one. Right away. I mean, Whole Foods has 16 taps! These 64-ounce glass jugs are available at all the local breweries and usually dont cost more than $10. Filling a growler usually costs somewhere between $10 and $20, depending on the style. Fill, drink, rinse, repeat.
Another cool option is the 32-ounce half growlers also known a chubs and grenades. These can be purchased at the Brewforia stores in Eagle and Meridian for a totally reasonable $3.50 each. This is a very cool idea for those high-gravity beers we all love so much, when a regular size growler might be a little too big and a little too cost-prohibitive to fill. You may not want 64 ounces of fresh imperial stout or a Belgian Trippel, but 32 ounces is way more manageable.
My personal favorite is a little more costly but enables you to assimilate fresh beer into outdoor recreation. The 64-ounce Hydroflask growler from Payette Brewing Co. may cost $50, but fill that up and you become the most popular person in the forest or at the fishin hole. Its like a giant Thermos for beer. Imagine pouring fresh pints of Outlaw IPA around a campfire after setting up a tent or taking a hike. The hydroflask also works for hot beverages, but why would you want to do that when you can fill it with brew?
Stocking stuffer alert: Bier:Thirty at 3073 Bown Road in Bown Crossing is offering a $100 growler/punch card combo for the holiday season. You get 10 64-ounce growler fills of any beer $14 or less. For the math-impaired, thats a savings of up to $40.
IPA: Brewing Techniques, Recipes, and the Evolution of India Pale Ale by Mitch Steele. There are a ton of craft beer books out there these days, but so many are similar, with lists of great brews to drink or navel-gazing insight about how the authors got into the world of craft beer.
Pretty dull, right?
Finally, someone wrote a definitive book about the most popular craft style in the United States and the engine of the five-years-and-counting craft beer explosion. Steeles book is a fun history lesson and will satisfy homebrewers with 48(!) recipes for iconic IPAs such as Union Jack and Pliny the Elder. Steele is the brewmaster for Stone Brewing Co., so he knows his stuff.
The Boise Co-op also has several hardback copies of The Craft of Stone Brewing Co.: Liquid Lore. Epic Recipes, and Unabashed Arrogance for sale. This is a history of Stone brewing, complete with descriptions for pretty much every beer they made before 2012, and recipes for homebrews and excellent food dishes made with Stone suds. Its the coffee table book of the year.
Local brews. 2012 has been the year of the can in Boise in that we finally have homegrown six packs on store shelves. Payette (Pale Ale and Mutton Buster) and Sockeye (Dagger Falls IPA and Winterfest) are putting their libations in cans. Crooked Fence Brewing (5242 West Chinden Blvd.) is providing a consistent supply of 22-ounce bottles of at least four of the brews, which are available at the brewery and our local bottle shops. TableRock Brewpub has fancy new full growlers of various beers at the Co-op.
Special brews. How many of you have looked at the $20 bottle of beer and decided it was just too much coin? I know I do all the time. That phenomenon also is what makes such brews great gifts. That beer nut on your list will be thrilled to finally drink a bottle of, say, Firestone Walker 16th Anniversary Ale that they couldnt bring themselves to spend $20 to $25 on (depending on where you shop). Theyll probably even share.
Another excellent choice would be a 750-milliliter bottle of Anchor Christmas Ale, $15.99 at the Boise Co-op.
© 2012 Idaho Statesman
Patrick Orr: 377-6219, Twitter: @IDS_Beer