If you’re looking for gift ideas for the beer enthusiast in your family or circle of friends, look no further. From inexpensive stocking stuffers to a high-end option for the person who has everything, following is a small selection of suggestions for the holiday season. Of course you can always buy beer as a gift – the number of locally brewed options is growing quickly and increasing in quality – but this column will focus on nonliquid gift options.
• People like beer, and people like candy, so Santa Clara resident Steve Casselman had the great idea to put them together when he founded Beercandy Inc. in 2009. Three varieties of Beercandy are available: Hopdrops are hard candies with a tasty hop bite, Beertaffy includes stout and IPA-flavored taffies, and my personal favorites are the delicious chocolate-enrobed caramels infused with real craft beer ($5.99 to $9.99 from beercandy.com).
• True beer aficionados often travel with their own opener. To avoid being caught without the right tool for the job, beer lovers can make sure to be prepared with either the Reef Leather Fanning sandals ($58 from reef.com), which include an opener in the sole, or the Opena iPhone case ($7.99 from opena.com), which has a slide-out bottle opener in the back.
Under the tree
• “The American Craft Beer Cookbook” (Storey Publishing, 2013) by John Holl includes unique recipes from brew pubs and brewers across the United States ($19.95 from storey.com). While not every recipe contains beer (though many of them do), the book recommends a half-dozen different brews that would pair well with each and every dish. From slow-cooked Doppelbock BBQ Meatballs to ice cream Beer Floats, this book is sure to please the beer-loving foodie in your life.
• Beer Nerd is a new beer-tasting trivia game ($35 from chroniclebooks.com). Players answer beer trivia questions as they travel around the game board, identifying specific beers if they land on the “Blind Taste Test” squares. With trivia questions for all skill levels (general knowledge to technical), Beer Nerd can be fun for everyone (over 21) in your family during the holidays.
• Every homebrewer or home bartender should have his or her own Craft Beer Barrel Sign ($99.99 from redenvelope.com). Constructed from solid oak with a galvanized iron barrel strap, the sign features a customizable graphic including name, city/state and date.
• For beer lovers who want to try brewing their own, MoreBeer at 991 N. San Antonio Road in Los Altos offers a variety of personal home-brewery kits ranging in price from $69 to $494 (morebeer.com). For the beginner, I’d recommend the Deluxe No. 2 kit ($109), which contains nearly all of the equipment needed to begin brewing beer, including a bottling/sanitation bucket, a fermentation carboy, a hydro- meter, a siphon, a thermometer, a bottle filler, a capper, sanitation and cleaning supplies and a beer-making manual. The kit does not include bottles, ingredients or a 5-gallon kettle, which can be purchased separately if the brewer does not already have a cooking pot this size.
For the beer lover who has everything
The Brew Cave (starts at $6,350 from brewcave.com) is a walk-in beer cooler that holds up to 30 cases plus six kegs of beer. Approximately 7-feet-by-5-feet-by-8-feet in size, with glass doors, the insulated storage system contains everything needed to keep beer cold, including a refrigeration system and serving equipment for the taps mounted on the outside of the cave. The Brew Cave is recommended for the beer lover whose basement or garage is already full of refrigerators for his or her favorite beverage.
Derek Wolfgram is chief communications officer for the Silicon Valley Sudzers Homebrew Club, which meets the first Friday of each month at a home in Los Altos Hills and welcomes both new and experienced beer enthusiasts. For more information, visit sudzers.org.