Craft beer lovers are generally a pretty easy lot to shop for. Grab a six pack of their favorite splurge beer or have a friend in another state ship something they can't get themselves and they're generally pretty happy.
But beer is fleeting, sometimes incredibly so. If you're looking for a beer-themed gift that's a step above the novelty bottle opener or second-hand tap handle, there are a number of good options that craft beer connoisseurs can enjoy all year long. Here are some of our favorites:
Yeti Rambler Colster ($30) - Coozies only go so far when it comes to keeping your drink chilled. Yeti's Colster might carry a higher price tag, but it will keep your beer frosty in brutally hot conditions for several hours - no matter how many times you sit it down. It's like a mini refrigerator without electricity. The only hangup is the Colster's just heavy enough that you may think you still have beer left in the can or bottle when it's actually almost empty.
DrinkTanks Juggernaut ($109) - Like the Colster, this double-sized growler will keep cold beverages ice cold for a long, long time. (DrinkTanks claims up to 24 hours.) But for a trip to the beach, this is a lot more convenient than lugging a cooler through the sand. And if you choose the optional KegCap Accessory ($45), you can force carbonate whatever you choose to put in the 128 oz. insulated container and create a mini-tap system, not only ensuring that things stay frosty, but that you don't get sand in your beer.
PicoBrew Zymatic ($1,999) - Home brewing isn't always hard, but it sure can be messy - and there are some parts that are time-consuming. PicoBrew made the process a lot easier with the Zymatic - essentially a bread machine for home brewers. It's pricey, yes. But there's no easier way to home brew. Just fill the system with grains and hops, input your own recipe (or, easier still, grab one of the 300+ available from the system and its owners) and press start. The machine does 90% of the work - though it still needs some human intervention during the cooling phase. Clean up is as easy as sticking the containers in the washing machine and setting up the automatic clean cycle for the hoses and internal systems. Whether you'll enjoy the 2.5 gallons of beer you create depends on the recipe you choose/create, but we've seen a lot of promise with it.
Spiegelau glassware ($40 for a set of four) - As with wine, the glass you drink from can have a big impact on the flavor of a beer. Spiegelau is the gold standard when it comes to craft beer containers, working with top breweries to create glassware that highlights the flavors and aromas of everything from IPAs to stouts to barrel aged beers. They won't make a bad beer good, but they will make a good beer better.
Randall Jr. ($20) - Want to play mad scientist? Randalling beer in the traditional fashion involves forcing new flavor components into a beer as it's being poured from the keg. But that's not always practical at home. Dogfish Head's Randall Jr. lets you easily infuse flavors into a single beer. Stick whatever you'd like in the container (cinnamon sticks! additional hops! peppermints!) then cover them with your beer of choice. Let them marinate for 20-30 minutes, then pour through the filter to change your beer into something completely different.
Fizzics Beer System ($170) - It sounds like it shouldn't work. Heck, I was skeptical. But this gadget really can improve the taste of a canned or bottle beer, giving the head all of the mouthfeel, aromatics and body of one that came from a nitro tap. Better still, it doesn't require CO2 canisters. Just attach your bottle or can to the system, close the lid and pull the tap handle. It's a way to completely change your beer drinking experience for the better - even if it's pretty good already.
Craft Beer Pretzel and Popper Kits ($8) - Beer and food pairings are nothing new. Nor is putting beer in food. But these kits let you add the craft beer flavor of your choice (be it IPA, Porter or even a pepper beer) to pretzels and poppers. They're easy to make and pretty tasty as well. And since the alcohol burns off, they're safe for anyone to taste.
BACtrack Mobile Pro Breathalyzer($100) - There's nothing wrong with going to the local craft brewery to taste their latest offerings. Just don't be an idiot when it's time to go home. This easy to use, portable breathalyzer will let you quickly check your blood alcohol levels to let you know if you're safe to drive home or should call a cab instead. It will also estimate when your Blood Alcohol content will return to zero percent.
State Brewery Guides ($15) - Planning a trip or looking to learn more about your own craft brew scene? These guides give the history of breweries, info on their tour schedules, and beers brewed. They're not all encompassing - breweries are opening entirely too fast these days for that to be possible with a book - but they're a good way to get a feel of what to expect from any state.
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