Joe Sixpack's 2014 Holiday Gift Guide
Beers of the month, books and beer fashion are among Joe Sixpacks 18 holiday gift ideas.
BEER ENTHUSIASTS are so easy to buy gifts for. As long as it comes in a sixpack, we're happy with whatever you give us.
And we're even happier with a little more imagination on your part. Look no further than Joe Sixpack's Annual Ultimate Gift Guide.
For the DIYer
Local home-brew shops offer all-in-one starter kits for kitchen brewmasters. Or head to Northern Brewer, an online home-brew supplier, for one of its holiday-inspired kits, including Festivus Miracle Holiday Ale ($49.99), a blend of orange peel and holiday spices. Homebrewing is the gift that keeps on giving. Northernbrewer.com
For the snuggler
Dogfish Head Brewery has an entire collection of soft and comfy Woolrich apparel, including a button-down shirt and ladies shirtdress (both $89.50). Its soft wool blanket ($145) pairs well with a bottle of World Wide Stout. Dogfish.com
For the clumsy
Worst beer nightmare? Dropping a pricey bottle of a favorite brew out of one of those flimsy cardboard holders from your local bottle shop. The solution: The PuzzlePax sixpack carrier (from $22), a lightweight personal wooden carrier printed with a variety of logos.
For the foamless
Second-worst beer nightmare? Flat beer. Those half-gallon growlers filled with takeout draft suds usually lose their fizz in a couple of days. The solution: Phsssh CO-2 To Go ($49.99), a nifty gadget that removes oxygen from the bottle and re-carbonates the beer.
For the ring bearer
Neighborhood Map Coasters ($36 for set of four) not only save your coffee table from water rings, their attractive, laser-engraved Philadelphia nabes will show you where you live. Uncommongoods.com
For the art lover
Alaskan artist Scott Clendaniel challenged himself to paint a beer portrait every day in 2014, and he's just a few days from living up to his challenge. From a can of South Dakota's Pile O' Dirt Porter to Pennsylvania's Mad Elf Ale, his artworks will liven up any man cave or office. Framed originals at $140, limited-edition prints $40.
There are a million different, very cool bottle openers out there, for beach sandals, dog collars, smartphones, TV remotes and more. Most breweries sell them online, and you can even order custom key-chain openers from Vistaprint.com (starting at $4.24 each). My favorite this year: The Trailer Hitch Diamond Plate Opener ($34.95), a perfect accessory for tailgaters. Craftbeerhound.com
For the tongue
The Beer Tasting Tool Kit ($20 at Local 44, 4333 Spruce St., 215-222-2337, localbeer44.com) is a fun way to improve the palate and learn about beer. The package includes a 48-page tasting guide by author Jeff Alworth, paper bags to conceal the identity of bottles and notepads. Grab some friends and put your tongue to work.
For the head
Got a pal who can't get enough of hops? Does he have greasy hair? Atlantic Farms Hops Shampoo ($24 for 8 ounces, Urban Outfitters, various locations, urbanoutfitters.com), made with organic hops flower essential oils, is the perfect gift.
For the mind
There's no shortage of great beer reading material. Here are a few highly recommended titles:
* Goodnight Brew ($16.95, Bailiwick Press), a parody of the classic kids book Goodnight Moon, by the preposterously named Ann E. Briated, is a fun read with fine illustrations.
* We Make Beer: Inside the Spirit and Artistry of America's Craft Brewers ($24.99, St. Martin's Press), by Sean Lewis, is a well-reported look at the people behind the beer.
* The Complete Beer Course: Boot Camp for Beer Geeks ($24.95, Sterling Epicure), by Joshua M. Bernstein, is the textbook they never assigned in college.
For the mailbox
Though it's still illegal to purchase beer by mail in many states, several shippers now openly ignore the rules and will deliver beer to Pennsylvania and New Jersey end-drinkers. CraftBeerClub.com will send a dozen 12-ounce bottles ($39/month, free shipping); last month, they sent me bottles of Geary's and Saint Arnold. The Rare Beer Club ($32.94 plus shipping for two 750-milliliter bottles) specializes in high-end exclusives, at a considerably more costly price tag. beermonthclub.com/the-rare-beer-club.html
For the world traveler
Next holiday season, beer enthusiasts can bend an elbow with Joe Sixpack while casually floating down the Danube. I'll be leading a river cruise in December 2015 from Nuremberg, Germany, to Budapest, Hungary, with visits to great European breweries and wonderful Christmas markets (from $1,907 per person).