Beery Christmas!

DCP’s beer lovers Christmas list

Photo: “National Geographic’s Atlas of Beer: A Globe-Trotting Journey Through the World of Beer” makes a perfect Christmas gift.

By Jim Witmer

If you want to give the gift of beer this holiday season, there is no shortage of options.

Besides the obvious six-pack or bomber under the tree, you can find everything from beer-of-the-month clubs to IPA soaps to sandals with built-in bottle openers.

Hopefully you know your recipient well enough to determine whether or not they would appreciate something frivolous, or the gift of the finest available beer.

First off, for those whose love for craft beer goes way beyond just picking up the local holiday release, I suggest a book that will provide hours of entertainment and comprehensive information on the world’s favorite beverage. Unlike a beer that is perhaps enjoyed for a short time and possibly all that is left is a fleeting impression (and maybe a digital entry on an app just to brag a little to let your friends know you have good taste), a book would be a gift that would keep on giving.

I recently scored a newly released book that I have just read and can highly recommend: “National Geographic’s Atlas of Beer: A Globe-Trotting Journey Through the World of Beer”. During a preliminary scan of the book, I was pulled in with headings such as, The World In Your Glass, How Beer Has Shaped Our World, Why Beer Matters, etc. By featuring 45 countries and six continents, the body of research includes hundreds of maps and photos with interesting trivia for all levels of beer interest. I found it relevant reading what the locals are drinking in any given area. This book would be a fine gift just by itself – or even better with a selection of the beers from the countries featured inside. Too numerous to mention all of them, but Europe itself would be a start.

At any respectable bottle shop you can find many options of high gravity or vintage dated ales so that they won’t go out of date quickly. (If it does, shame on them).

Other books-as-gift ideas: Published this year: “Untapped: Exploring the Cultural Dimension of Craft Beer”. Twelve essays about the rise of craft beer and changing attitudes.

“The Beer Review Logbook (Rate and Record your Favorite Brews)” is a portable beer journal with enough space for logging 124 beer notes for that person who takes his or her beer tasting seriously. Simple and classic, if I saw a person taking notes while tasting a beer … well that’s one person who is actually paying attention and not uploading to an app without thinking it through.

Brewery clothing is a good option – who doesn’t like wearing their favorite brewery logo and/or letting everyone know you support your locals? T-shirts, sweatshirts, work shirts, hoodies, and hats.

More brewery swag: signs, glassware, towels, and small stuff like bottle openers, koozies, etc. can fill a stocking. I wouldn’t wait too long. Get ‘em now.

Holiday gift packs: There are many options out there to choose from, ranging from Robinson’s Trooper Iron Maiden Gift Tin with Trooper Pale Ale bottle and collector’s pint glass to the oldest brewery in the world, Weihenstephan, has variety five-pack bottles with glass.

At any respectable bottle shop, you can find many options of high gravity or vintage dated ales so they won’t go out of date quickly. If it does, shame on them. Just remember that sales of are final, or at least up to the discretion of the retailer.

At the top of the heap of Christmas beer gifts is the Kalea Bier Adventskalender. A collection of 24 German beers, one for every day of December, of brands you are not likely to find otherwise. Finding this treasure can be difficult as they sell out quickly even at the $72 range at your better area bottle shops. If you cannot find it, you can get creative and make your own version of the advent beer calendar. If I were to do that, here would be my top picks of 24 holiday/winter warmer beers in no particular ranking:

1. Anchor Brewing’s Our Special Ale – this one has stood the test of time and each year shows a small new twist on the recipe. 2. Great Divide Hibernation – no spices, but malty and warming with chocolate notes and there is a 750 ml. barrel aged version if you want to upgrade. 3. Fat Head’s Holly Jolly – with ginger, honey, and cinnamon. 4. Madtree Thundersnow – a Winter Warmer with ginger, nutmeg, vanilla, cinnamon, and bready malt. 5. Stone Xocoveza – winter spiced mocha stout interpretation of Mexican hot chocolate and has a Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream version. 6. Avery Old Jubilation – an English Strong Ale style of five specialty malts. 7. Breckenridge Christmas Ale – a classic warming strong ale. 8. Revolution Fistmas – a Red Ale steeped with ginger root and orange peel. 9. Sierra Nevada Celebration – citrus and pine hop character in one of the few hop forward holiday beers. 10. Great Lakes Christmas – winter classic of honey, ginger, cinnamon, and ginger. 11. Troegs Mad Elf – a spicy Belgian 11% ABV with cinnamon, clove, and allspice. 12. Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome – a malty English with fruity notes from the yeast strain and an independent brewery since 1758. 13. The Bruery 10 Lords-A-Leaping Imperial Witbier in a 750-ml. bottle with 10 spices. 14. Three Floyd’s Alpha Klaus – a big American Porter brewed with English chocolate malt, Mexican sugar, and the signature Floyd’s use of hops. 15. Fat Head’s Pimp my Sleigh, Belgian-Style with a secret lineup of spices.16. Warped Wing Esther’s Little Secret – White Ale with chocolate and vanilla cream for the 2017 version, as each year is a different recipe. 17. Dogfish Head Pennsylvania Tuxedo – a spruce tip infused pale ale. 18. Boulevard Nutcracker Ale – a hearty winter warmer with brown sugar and dry hops. 19. Ridgeway Criminally Bad Elf — English Barleywine, 10.5% ABV. 20. Boulder Brewing Slope Style IPA is a full-bodied Red with piney Horizon hops. 21. Heavy Seas Winter Storm – 22. Brasserie d’ Achouffe N’ice Chouffe – a 10% Exceptional rated Belgian Strong Ale brewed with thyme and curacao. 23. Sixpoint Global Warmer – an imperial red ale with rich toasted malts and a big 70 IBU hop profile.

And finally, just because I saved it for last, number 24: Ridgeway Lump of coal, an 8% bittersweet chocolate English-style stout, and probably a nicer gift than you actually deserve this year.

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Jim Witmer
Reach DCP beer writer Jim Witmer at JimWitmer@DaytonCityPaper.com

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