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When it comes to buying gifts, beer lovers can be a finicky breed. Just going to the grocery store and grabbing any old cold six-pack, wrapped in paper and finished with a bow, will not cut it. Instead, beer is just the starting point for gifting your favorite beer geeks, a group that’s as diverse as beer itself.
Great glassware, a high-quality cooler, insulated holders, and a couple of educational books will bring a grin to a beer fan’s mug, which you can also fill with some fresh local beer delivered in a brand-new growler. With the help of some industry pros, we put together this list of the best gifts for beer drinkers.
If you’re drinking most of your IPAs at home, you need to get great bar-quality glassware. “Since I haven’t been able to go to bars as much as I’d like this year, I’ve loved bringing the bar to my house,” says Amanda Zessin, the communication manager for Rogue Ales. She loves the Spiegelau IPA glass because “it’s designed to showcase the complex and alluring aromatic profiles of the IPA beer style by preserving a frothy head while enhancing the taste and mouthfeel. I can now savor my favorite IPAs like Outta Line in the safety of my home!”
As with baking sourdough, homebrewing has seen a resurgence during the pandemic. “The good people at Brooklyn Brew Shop have the perfect set-up for the novice enthusiast,” says Shaun O’Sullivan, the brewmaster and a founder of 21st Amendment Brewery. The one-gallon beer kits provide the essential equipment for making a batch of your favored style. O’Sullivan is partial to the Black Is Beautiful imperial stout kit, a collaboration with San Antonio craft brewery Weathered Souls. “It is bold and rich.”
“Hands down, the best gift for a beer lover is beer,” says Hayley Shine, the brewer at Roe Jan Brewing Company in Hillsdale, New York. She recommends buying fresh beer from a local brewery; it can use your business more than ever. If the brewery or brewpub does not offer can or bottles, you’ll want to tote the beer home in an insulated growler (or, opt for a gift card and an empty growler). Try the Stanley Classic, which can keep 64 ounces of beer cold and pressurized for up to 24 hours.
A good beer sleeve is essential to drinking beer outdoors. “With a well-insulated Koozie, you’re able to enjoy that temp from the first sip to the last sip,” says Yiga Miyashiro, the director of brewery operations at Saint Archer Brewing Company, in San Diego. These stylish, heavy-duty can holders from YETI come in a variety of sizes, fitting everything from that slim can of hard seltzer to a 16-ounce can of your favorite hazy IPA.
You’ll up your park, BBQ, and beach game with this classy cooler. “We picked this up as soon as our outdoor backyard, and park meetups went up by 1,000 percent,” says Rogers of Schlafly Beer. “It’s not cheap, but you get what you pay for. It holds enough beer, water, and food for a good day-long hangout and keeps everything nice and cold.” (Drop 10 pounds of ice into the cooler, and 24 cans will remain chilled for up to 65 hours.) “It’s also seen a few overnight camping trips and has done a killer job. If you’re looking to spoil somebody, this is a great pickup for the beer lover who wants to take a good amount of beer on the go and keep it super cold the whole time.”
Every serious beer drinker needs a bottle opener, and this one will stay with you for years to come. “This is a great lower-cost gift that will get a ton of use,” says Wil Rogers, the director of marketing for Schlafly Beer. “It went onto my keychain the day I got it, and it hasn’t come off since—almost five years now. It’s great for opening bottles and cans, especially when you use the teeth to vent cans. Those teeth are also pretty damn sharp, and I find myself using it to open some boxes from time to time.”
“The shower beer will never be overrated, and this is the perfect piece to step up the shower-beer game,” says Rogers of Schlafly. For folks who want to crush a cold beer while taking a hot rinse, he likes the Shakoolie “shower Koozie” that sticks to a tiled wall. (Schlafly offers its own branded version, too.)
The large version of Skyline Workshop’s wall-mounted wooden map can hold around 118 beer caps, creating a visual survey of your drinking adventures across the USA.
Recalling the brick soap used by Korean War soldiers, this heavy-duty cleanser provides plenty of foam and a pleasant woody smell with notes of … lager? Yup, the soap is made with Old Milwaukee. Duke Cannon also offers soaps infused with IPA and even Budweiser.
Best Tasting Book: 33 Books Co. 33 Bottles of Beer Journal
Careful note-taking can help you make sense of a beer’s scents. “Tasting beer is a journey, and it’s fairly common to get lost along the way,” says Gene Buonaccorsi, the director of marketing for Maine’s Mast Landing Brewing. “This rad little book is an awesome way to keep track of the thoughts that flicker around after you’re a couple of beers into the session. Forget Untappd, the pen is your pal.”
“A beer club membership is the gift that typically keeps giving,” says Brett Faivre, the brewmaster at Oregon’s Deschutes Brewery. Naturally, he’s a fan of the Deschutes Reserve Club, featuring small-batch releases of barrel-aged beer. Another great option is the Rare Beer Club. It features monthly, bimonthly, or quarterly shipments of in-demand beers from breweries such as Mikkeller and Perennial.
Best Beer History Book: Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer
If you’re flush with extra free time, try reading a great beer book such as Maureen Ogle’s Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer. “If you like history and you like beer, this is your book,” says O’Sullivan of 21st Amendment Brewery.
“Ambitious Brew is a historical account of beer in America from the wave of German immigration in the late 1800s and how that led to the popularization of the lager style we enjoy today from the largest multinational breweries.”
Best Book for Craft Beer Newbies: The Complete Beer Course
The world of beer can be mighty overwhelming. Maybe I’m a little biased here, but my book is a fantastic compass for navigating the confusing world of pilsners, IPAs, barrel-aged stouts, sour ales, and more. After reading this book, you’ll be able to namecheck your favorite hop varieties and cruise beer aisles with confidence.
Best Beer Book for Foodies: The Brewmaster’s Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer With Real Food
The classic book from Garrett Oliver “should be at the top of every beer lover’s gift list,” says Sam Pecoraro, the head brewer at Von Ebert Brewing’s location in the Pearl District in Portland, Oregon. “Not only is it an aesthetically beautiful book, but it’s also a wealth of inspiration, resources, and references. Additionally, Oliver just launched the Michael Jackson Foundation for Brewing & Distilling, a grant-making organization that funds scholarship awards to Black, Indigenous, and people of color within the brewing and distilling trades. The book, along with a donation, would make the perfect gift!”
Best Classic Beer Book: Michael Jackson’s Beer Companion: The World's Great Beer Styles, Gastronomy, and Traditions
This Michael Jackson was the world’s most important beer writer. “His books fused solid journalistic curiosity with his singular prose and wit,” says Dave McLean, a founder of Admiral Maltings. “He put in the miles long before we could travel the world online, and the photos and tales of his brewery visits deliver a powerful assist to his writing—writing that now feels like a beloved old uncle spinning tales from a simpler era. That’s something maybe we could all use a dose of right now.”
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Joshua M. Bernstein, the author of this piece, knows beer. He's penned five books on the subject, as well as articles for The New York Times, Wine Enthusiast, Men’s Journal, and Imbibe. He interviewed nine beer experts for this article.