Fa-la-la la-la la-la-la Beer!

Even more gifts for the beer nerd in your life

Christmas decorations went up in stores a month ago, so I suppose that means it’s time to think about the gift buying season. I’m tempted to go on a rant about our mindless consumer culture, or how Walmart is laughing at you for lining up like sheep to the slaughter on Black Friday, or how your average retail clerk is risking their lives and sanity by having to deal with a zombie-apocalypse scenario of rampaging customers. It’s kind of appalling, really.

Thankfully, the liquor industry doesn’t have Black Friday sales, though if it did, we’d all be killing each other over Johnny Walker Blue Label instead of the latest Playstation.

I’ll never understand the herd instinct. If I’m going to buy gifts for my friends and relatives, I’d rather purchase things they actually will appreciate. Sure, beer runs out fast and maybe they’ll forget the name by the next morning, but at least it won’t be obsolete by the time the box is opened.

There are a lot of gifts to buy for that special beer enthusiast in your family. I usually recommend homebrewing equipment, specialty beers and tickets to upcoming beer festivals, but this time I think I’d like to try a different approach. You see, a number of beer-related devices and accessories have gone overlooked. I think it might do well to go over some of these items as potential gifts for your friends and relatives who enjoy a good brew. These are different devices for different people, so I’m going to include a brief description of the person these devices are best suited for. See? Most of the work is done for you! Also, since most of these items are available online, there’s no need to fight the ballet of stupid on Route 2 this year. Happy hunting!

Draftmark System – For: The Showoff – Do you have that friend who loves to show off the latest toys? Maybe growing up he always had the coolest bikes, or the latest games, or the best weed. Well, this is the beer system for the Showoff. While long-term the Draftmark system has some flaws, in the short-term, it pours an impressive glass of beer and can store about a gallon at a time. Warning: Do NOT buy this for the serious craft beer enthusiast, as the selection for replacement cartridges is very limited. Also, don’t buy it for your homebrewing friend, as the cartridges are impractical for refilling or adapting for homebrew purposes. But for an entertaining conversation piece at parties, this will give the Showoff something to brag about.

Kegerator – For: The Homebrew Hobbyist – If you have that friend who brews their own, a kegerator could be a perfect gift. You can sometimes find them on Craigslist or eBay, and usually for a fair price, but do NOT buy this for the casual homebrewer, as they might not have the space or extra money to pay for the increased energy bills. You can buy it for the Liteweights, but they’re just going to stick quarter-barrels of rice water in there, and it’ll always be empty when you drop by for a visit. Kegs are expensive, man.

The Turtle – For: The Dedicated Beer Geek – This is a neat novelty for the beer geek. Basically, it’s a little turtle-shaped device that is placed on top of a pint glass to mix Black and Tans. It diverts the darker beer from the main pour, so it rests gently on the lighter beer already in the glass. This causes it to settle more gently, and create an excellent division between the lighter beer in the bottom and the darker beer on the top. This is for the beer geeks who like to experiment with their beer, and mix custom Black and Tans with oatmeal stout and blueberry ales.

Fancy Bottle Openers – For: The Casual Beer Drinker – Assuming this person doesn’t exclusively drink from cans or twist-off caps, there are a number of bottle-openers that might appeal to them. Bottle opener rings are fairly popular, if only available in two sizes. Bottle opener iPhone cases are out there as well, for the social media drinker. There are bottle openers that you can screw into the wall of your kitchen, or onto a post on your porch. Some have little lights in them for drinking in the dark. Some of them are shaped like actual keys, i.e., church key. The novelty bottle openers run the gamut from silly to ‘so useful I can’t believe no one else has thought of it.’ Some can go on your belt, in your hat, on your shoes, and some are USB flash drives! The possibilities are endless. Sure, it sounds like a cheap gift, but find one inventive enough and no one will even notice. Besides, don’t you always find yourself in need of a church key at the worst possible times?

The Stein – For: The Classy Beer Drinker – Not the giant plastic steins with sports team logos on them and flashing LED lights that go dead in two days. I mean solid glass or ceramic beer steins that can hold a half liter of beer without breaking a sweat. They’re out there. Some are aluminum tanks with closeable lids to minimize spillage during wild Oktoberfest parties. These hefty vessels are both good conversation pieces and solid drinkware. This is a good one for that friend who collects beer glasses whenever they’re available at the local store. Sometimes you can even order them online with custom printing or laser etching. If you want to get fancy, you can order some of the antiques that are floating around out there. It can get pricey, but you won’t have to trample a blue-vest to get one.

Custom Tap Handles – For: The Full Bar in the Basement Guy – There’s always one. He’s spent thousands at Home Depot to create his own little man cave, complete with a stocked bar and a tap system that some brewpubs would be envious of. Perhaps he even homebrews. A few custom tap handles will round out his décor nicely, especially if it’s rare, or specially designed with engraved lettering. He might even invite you over more often to watch the game while sipping his special Oktoberfest shipped straight from Munich. It’s the gift that keeps on giving! Just make sure you don’t get him one that says ‘Schafer’ on it, or you might find yourself banned from the bar.


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