I say it every holiday season, but it’s still true.
Shopping for the beer geeks on your list is so simple — just buy them something rare or seasonal or find out what style of beer they love and create a special mix pack.
How about celebrating Southern craft beer with a collection of winter and holiday brews, such as Abita Christmas Ale, Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale, Red Brick Old Stock Ale, Sweetwater Festive Ale or Terrapin Wake-n-Bake Stout.
Belgian breweries make some of the world’s most interesting and complex holidays beers. A few to look for: Corsendonk Christmas, N’ice Chouffe, Delirium Noel, De Ranke Pere Noel, Dupont Avec Les Bon Vieux, Fantome de Noel, Scaldis Noel and St. Bernardus Christmas.
Beer glasses from a special brewery always make a fun gift. But if you want to splurge, grab a set or two of Spiegelau Beer Classics glassware. They come in lager, tulip, wheat and ale shapes and sizes in packs that retail for around $25-$75.
Compared with a generic shaker pint, you’ll be amazed by the quality of the ultra-thin glass and the way it reveals the true color, aroma and flavor of the beer, while helping retain the temperature and carbonation.
Almost as much as drinking beer and arguing about beer, geeks like to read books about beer — and sometimes argue about those, too.
There’s no doubt “The Oxford Companion to Beer” edited by Garrett Oliver (Oxford University Press, $65) is at the top of the 2011 list of most important beer books. The 900-page encyclopedia easily delivers on the jacket hype that touts it as “the most comprehensive reference book ever published on the subject.” But it’s also surprisingly entertaining.
Here are three more beer books to slip under the tree:
“Craft Beer Bar Mitzvah” by Jeremy Cowan with James Sullivan (Malt Shop Publishing, $16.99) is another example of the crazy chutzpah and offbeat branding genius of Cowan, the man behind the Shmaltz Brewing Co. and He’brew, “the Chosen Beer.”
“Brewed Awakening: Behind the Beers and Brewers Leading the World’s Craft Brewing Revolution” by Joshua M. Bernstein (Sterling Epicure, $24.95) is a good primer for exploring craft brewing and a guide to current hot topics like extreme beers.
“The Great American Ale Trail: the Craft Beer Lover’s Guide to the Best Watering Holes in the Nation” by Christian DeBenedetti (Running Press, $20) suffers from the same problem that plagues most guidebooks — they’re often outdated on arrival. But this one still has a lot of good info and the section on Georgia is sure to start some fights around here.
If you’re looking for stocking stuffers, gift subscriptions to beer magazines, like Beer Connoisseur, and papers, like Southern Brew News, are always a good bet.
And, of course, beer festival tickets, which often sell out far in advance, make a super gift. Here are a few on the horizon:
World Beer Festival, Jan. 28 in Columbia, sponsored by All About Beer magazine, allaboutbeer.com.
Sweetwater’s Brew Your Cask Off, March 10 in Atlanta, with guest brewers and Sweetwater beer, brewyourcaskoff.com.
Classic City Brew Fest, April 15 in Athens, with lots of Georgia beers and a new cask ale pavilion with one-off firkins, brewfest.net.