Christmas Gifts for Beer Lovers

This per­ma­nent page is a com­pi­la­tion of pre­vi­ous blog posts updat­ed and amend­ed (on 17/12/2018) for Christ­mas 2018, but hope­ful­ly also use­ful for birth­days, moth­er’s day, father’s day, Ground­hog Day…

Even though it’s only October, we’ve started getting emails from relatives asking if we’ve updated our Christmas wish lists.

If you’re in the same boat, or you’re look­ing for gift ideas for a beer-lov­ing friend or rel­a­tive, here are some sug­ges­tions and tips.

Books

  • For every­one: we have to men­tion our book Brew Bri­tan­nia, don’t we? It’s just shy of 300 pages of prop­er read­ing, cov­er­ing the his­to­ry of British ‘alter­na­tive’ beer in the peri­od from 1963 to 2013. Here’s what Tim Hamp­son said:
  • For Lon­don­ers (new for 2015): The new edi­tion of Des de Moor’s guide to Lon­don’s Best Beer, Pubs & Bars is an enter­tain­ing read and a use­ful guide. Here’s our review.
  • For home­brew­ers: The Home­brew­er’s Guide to Vin­tage Beer by Ron Pat­tin­son is a won­der­ful­ly read­able sum­ma­ry of his some­times intim­i­dat­ing body of research into brew­ing his­to­ry. The recipes which make up the meat of the book are great too. (Our review is here.)
  • For seri­ous home­brew­ers: Michael Ton­s­meire’s Amer­i­can Sour Beers is an extreme­ly detailed, fas­tid­i­ous guide to brew­ing all kinds of sour and oth­er­wise funky beers. Heavy going, but the kind of peo­ple who brew twice a week will rel­ish the chal­lenge of set­ting up a mul­ti-year brew­ing and blend­ing pro­gramme in the shed…
  • For all home­brew­ers (new for 2015): Randy Mosh­er’s com­plete guide, Mas­ter­ing Home­brew­ing, fol­low­ing on from his much-admired Rad­i­cal Brew­ing, looks like a safe bet for begin­ners and expe­ri­enced brew­ers alike. Here’s Stan Hierony­mus’s review.
  • For His­to­ry buffs: first pub­lished in 1939, Mau­rice Gorham and Edward Ardiz­zone’s books The Local was reprint­ed in a nice hard­back edi­tion in 2010. Here’s Ewan’s review, and there are some quotes from it here. N.B. Return to the Local, from 1949, con­tains much of the same mate­r­i­al, with some updates and addi­tions.
  • From the archives: we’ve pre­vi­ous­ly sug­gest­ed Pete Brown’s Shake­speare’s Local and Bri­an Glover’s Lost Brew­eries of Britain.

DVDs

  • We’ve pre­vi­ous­ly rec­om­mend­ed the British Film Insti­tute’s col­lec­tion of archive doc­u­men­taries Roll out the Bar­rel.
  • ealing_rarities_9Net­work DVD’s Eal­ing Rar­i­ties series includes a cou­ple of long-lost clas­sics of note: the 1939 com­e­dy Cheer Boys Cheer! (about the rival­ry between two brew­eries, and reviewed by us here); and The Saloon Bar, a light mys­tery film from 1940 set in a pub.

Other fun stuff

  • A gen­er­al point: avoid nov­el­ties! No-one needs gener­ic beer glass­es with ‘hilar­i­ous’ slo­gans; can-hold­ing base­ball caps; or ran­dom house­hold objects with BEER print­ed on them for no par­tic­u­lar rea­son.
  • These wood­en beer crates hold nine or twelve 500ml bot­tles and are a bit cool­er than card­board or plas­tic box­es – per­fect for beer hoard­ers or home-brew­ers. (But it’s prob­a­bly polite to put some beer in at least one of them if it’s intend­ed as a gift…)

Suck UK keyring bottle-opener.

Aspen Beer T-shirt from Last Exit to Nowhere.

  • Ebay is full of inter­est­ing vin­tage items from brew­ery-brand­ed mir­rors at sev­er­al hun­dred pounds a pop to small­er col­lec­table items such as these Wat­ney’s Red Bar­rel keyrings. Lots of quirki­er items real­ly are one-offs, e.g. an unused Whit­bread brew­ery work shirt from the 1970s that we saw recent­ly.

An assortment of beers in a box.

The Main Event – Beer

  • A gen­er­al rule: try to find brands that can’t be bought eas­i­ly all-year-round. You can’t go too far wrong buy­ing some­thing that is described as lim­it­ed edi­tion and/or that is eye-water­ing­ly expen­sive: at the very least, it ought to be inter­est­ing.
  • A warn­ing: avoid nice­ly pack­aged bud­get super­mar­ket gift sets, which often fea­ture small­er bot­tles of rel­a­tive­ly weak, not-espe­cial­ly-good beer in fan­cy box­es. You’d be bet­ter off buy­ing a slab of cans of lager, or one real­ly nice beer, in terms of val­ue for mon­ey. (But have a look here for our tips on which super­mar­ket brands are worth buy­ing.)
  • Many online retail­ers have curat­ed bun­dles of, e.g., Bel­gian, Amer­i­can or Bel­gian beer.
  • Fuller’s Past Mas­ters his­toric recre­ations are always inter­est­ing and a new one, 1910 Dou­ble Stout, is due any day now.
  • On the high street: Marks & Spencer have a rotat­ing range of posh-look­ing-but-afford­able beers in 750ml bot­tles and pre­sen­ta­tion box­es any of which we’d be hap­py to find under the tree on the big day.

Adnams mini casks.

3 thoughts on “Christmas Gifts for Beer Lovers”

  1. Also avoid those shep­ard neame / bate­mans beers with a Christ­mas label / nov­el­ty fes­tive name. Usu­al­ly a quid but sad­ly not even worth that

  2. If you can vis­it a brew­ery, you may be able to get some­thing spe­cial and rare. It can also be quite cheap­er than in a spe­cial­ist off license.

    Nev­er rule out the sea­son­al big/keeping beers. This is the time when a lot of very inter­est­ing bar­ley­wines, old ales and impe­r­i­al stouts get released.

    A case of Fullers vin­tage ale would be a real­ly nice present (should include a bot­tle or two of old­er vin­tages which are real­ly pre­cious indeed). Don’t for­get the Past Mas­ters series either (Fullers 1966 is great).

    Also, you for­got to men­tion Beer Glass­ware! Your beer lov­ing friend or part­ner may already have some, but it nev­er hurts to have a selec­tion in all stan­dard sizes, and the bel­gian beer glass­ware is stun­ning stuff.

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