It’s been my holiday season refrain forever: Shopping for the beer lovers on your list is really simple — just buy them something rare or seasonal or find out what beer style they like most and make a mix pack of, say, world-class IPA or imperial stout or Belgian Trappist ale.
This year, though, it’s looking bit more daunting. There’s a beer out there that’s so rare and so highly rated that news of it’s very limited release has already created both excited expectation and Grinch-like grumbling.
This month, Westvleteren XII, perhaps the most coveted beer in the world, will be released in the U.S. for the first time (and maybe the only time).
Currently, the Trappist quad is sold exclusively at the Abbey of Saint Sixtus of Westvleteren in Belgium to support the monastic community there. Proceeds from U.S. sales will be sent back to the Abbey to help raise money for much-needed building renovations.
In Georgia, Westvleteren XII is being sold at Total Wine stores in Alpharetta, Dunwoody and Kennesaw. The gift pack, with six bottles and two glasses, is priced at $84.99, sold on a first come, first served basis, with a one pack per customer limit.
So what if you aren’t lucky enough to get your hands on a “Westy” gift pack? St. Bernardus 12, Trappistes Rochefort 10 and La Trappe Quad are all great examples of the big Belgian style and are readily available in Atlanta.
The ornate beer glasses made for Trappist breweries like Orval, Rochefort and Westmalle always make a great gift. Another beer geek favorite, Tritan Crystal glassware by Schott Zwiesel replaces the lead content commonly found in fine crystal with Titanium and Zirconium, and it’s sturdy, too.
Two new books from Brewers Publications, a division of the Brewers Association, are perfect gifts for hophead homebrewers.
“For the Love of Hops: The Practical Guide to Aroma, Bitterness and the Culture of Hops” ($19.95) by homebrewing expert Stan Hieronymus is a comprehensive guide with descriptions of more than 100 hop varieties, along with 16 recipes from around the world, including top U.S. craft brewers.
“IPA: Brewing Techniques, Recipes, and the Evolution of India Pale Ale” ($24.95) by Stone Brewing Co. brewmaster Match Eisele explores the history of India pale ale from its birth in 1700s England, and it’s near extinction during World War II and Prohibition, to its American renaissance as one of craft beer’s most popular styles.
If you’re looking for stocking stuffers, gift subscriptions to beer magazines and papers, and gift cards from beer bars, brewpubs, and bottle, growlers and homebrew shops at are always a good bet.
Or consider taking your favorite beer geek out during the holidays to sample the myriad festive Christmas and winter ales on tap this time of year. And for a safe ride after a night of beer fun, give a gift card for Uber, the new “on-demand private driver” car service: uber.com/cities/atlanta.
Christmas Beer Dinner
Big Tex Decatur is hosting a five-course “Christmas Bell’s Beer Dinner” with Bell’s Brewery featuring seasonal treats like Bell’s Winter White and Black Note Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout alongside big boy foodstuff like lamb sliders with duck fat fries and braised Georgia wild boar shoulder with stuffed cabbage. $45. 7 p.m. Dec. 13. 308 West Ponce De Leon Avenue, Decatur, 404-377-3939, www.bigtexdecatur.com. Limited seating; call for reservations.
By Bob Townsend, AJC Drink blog.