Finding the best gift for the beer lover in your life can be tricky, especially if you’re not a beer person. And though it might be tempting to give them one of those “funny” beer gifts, like a helmet with the two straws, you can do better than that. There are plenty of clever gift ideas for beer lovers that they’ll use and appreciate, and to make it easy for you to pick a beer gift they might actually want, we consulted a group of experts that included brewers and brewmasters, certified ciceroni, and beer writers to find the best gifts for beer lovers that have more staying power than a six-pack.
Gifts for beer drinkers
Yeti coolers, which we’ve deemed the best coolers on the market, are beloved by pretty much anyone who uses them for their virtual indestructibility and the fact that they keep food and drinks (and ice!) cold for literal hours on end. Which is why we were not surprised when Jesse Ferguson, the founder and brewmaster at Interboro Spirits and Ales, told us this Yeti cooler would make an impressive gift for a beer lover who needs to keep their brews ice cold. “This is great for the traveling beer geek,” he says. “Fill it with cans and bottles and check it on your way home from your trip visiting new breweries.” The rugged soft-side cooler has a wide-mouth opening with ultrastrong magnets to keep it closed, as well as top handles, a shoulder strap, leak-proof liner, and a shell that’s resistant to mildew, punctures, and UV rays. It can hold up to 20 cans of beer or 28 pounds of ice.
Strategist writer Dominique Pariso first turned us on to Brümate’s stainless-steel coozies when she wrote that they kept her slender White Claw ice cold, even on a hot summer day. Luckily for the beer drinker in your life, BrüMate’s Hopsulator coozie comes in a standard size that’ll keep their favorite 12-ounce bottles of IPA ice cold, too.
Since glass isn’t allowed on many beaches or in some state parks, your favorite beer lover is probably hauling cans all summer long. Mary Izett, co-owner of Fifth Hammer Brewing Company in Queens, New York, loves the Yeti Colster — a can insulator — for summertime imbibing. “They’re lightweight, durable, and keep your beer at the appropriate temperature on the hottest of days,” Izett says.
“If you want to get some fancy glasses, Spiegelau has some really nice stuff specifically designed for specific styles,” David Zuskov, the brewer and lab manager at Almanac Beer Co. in Alameda, California, explains. “The IPA glass really makes a difference. I drank the same beer out of their glass and a pint glass, and you can taste so much more flavor from theirs.”
If you’re not sure what style of beer they enjoy the most, but still want to upgrade their glassware from novelty pint glasses, give them a Spiegelau four-piece tasting set, which comes with the IPA glass, a glass for stouts, and one for American wheat beer.
“One year for Christmas, my mom gave me one of those ‘Save Water, Drink Beer’ shadow boxes that you fill with your used bottle caps. She also gave me a wall-mounted bottle opener built from a melted Toasted Lager bottle. It was the perfect combo,” says Dan Jansen, director of supply at Anheuser-Busch’s Brewers Collective. “The challenge became filling the shadowbox by the next Christmas, and I definitely rose to it.” While these aren’t the same shadow box and bottle opener Jansen has, they’re just as compelling to get your beer-loving buddy to get busy (responsibly) filling up that box.
Speaking of bottle openers, according to Julia Herz, the publisher of CraftBeer.com and craft-beer program director at the Brewers Association, you can’t go wrong with giving a beer lover a solid bottle opener. “A kick-ass bottle opener needs to feel sturdy and work well. It’s a catalyst for each glee-filled moment you open a beer. It needs to be special enough for it to gain more and more meaning and purpose with each use.” We think this one from FS Objects, which is handmade from solid brass, definitely has that “special enough” quality she’s talking about.
Or, for the beer drinker who prefers to wear his gear, this belt with a built-in bottle opener behind its buckle is sure to delight. It came recommended by our Resident Cool Guy Chris Black, who says the belt has that “I played a side stage at Lollapalooza in 1993” energy.
You’ve heard of the one-gallon brewing kit, but if you’re pressed for space, Brooklyn-based beer supply shop Bitter & Esters sells a pint-size home-brewing kit. It includes a quart Mason jar, green fermentation lid, 16-ounce swing-top bottle, and everything else you need to make a literal pint of beer. “This is a clever, compact, and fun way to get a taste of home brewing before committing to a larger setup,” says Izett, plus it would also make a great gag gift for any amateur home-brewing expert you know.
The lambic beer drinker in your life, though, will need a corkscrew to get to the good stuff. (Bottles of lambic are corked, not capped, and we talk more about this unique type of Belgian beer below.) For them, consider this cheerful one from iconic Italian design company Alessi that Black also recommends. Her name is Anna G. and she was designed by Alessandro Mendini in 1994.
Herz says the best gifts she has ever received are “two swing-top milk jugs housed in a wooden box with a leather handle. They can be used as baby beer growlers and filled up at my local brewery.” This handmade ceramic growler is similar to the one she uses.
We also love this vacuum-insulated growler from Hydro Flask. It would make a perfect companion to the Yeti cooler on your beer-loving friend’s next camping trip.
If you really want to wow your cold-one swigging loved one, try this snazzy stainless-steel growler that doubles as a tap and also features a pressure gauge and a carbonation cap that “automatically regulates pressure to optimally carbonate beer,” according to the product description.
The best gift that Jim Raras Jr., the executive vice-president of Mikkeller NYC, ever received is a lambic basket. Lambic is a specific style of beer from Belgium, considered special because it’s fermented with native yeast in the bottle. (That’s also known as bottle-conditioned beer.) But the yeast means that it’s a finicky type of beer to serve, and you want pour it and store it at a tilt so that you don’t get sediment in your glass while drinking. That’s where the lambic basket comes in, and it’s a great gift for Belgian-beer nerds. “The one I received was from a wonderful friend, for my birthday; he got it from brasserie Cantillon — that was very special to me. A properly clear pour of a bottle-conditioned beer is such a delight and really showcases the beer; this helps a ton if you’re not pouring the entire bottle at once.” This handmade one is made from dyed seagrass and rattan.
This all-rattan lambic basket is also handsome, though slightly less expensive. It can also be used for wine, which is great for a split household.
Probably the best gift you could give someone who loves beer is, well, beer. To that end, Nikki McCutcheon, the beverage director at Magic Hour Rooftop Bar and Lounge at the Moxy Times Square hotel, recommends gifting a subscription to a “beer of the month” club from Beer Across America, which, according to her, “offers a customizable monthly subscription of beer samples from all over the country your beer lover is sure to enjoy.” Each month, for however long you choose, Beer Across America delivers four varieties of award-winning beer from two independent craft breweries that have been curated by a panel of experts. If your beer enthusiast can’t hit the road discovering new brews on their own, this subscription is their best bet.
Gifts for beer makers
“If the person is a novice home brewer, you can get them a basic setup kit,” says Zuskov, the brewer and lab manager at Almanac. He likes the home-brew starter kit from MoreBeer, an East Bay-based company, but this one from Amazon has all of the same equipment.
“If the person is more advanced, maybe upgrade one of their pieces of equipment,” advises Zuskov. “If they’re using a plastic bucket to ferment, maybe buy them a glass carboy.” And whether you’re buying home-brew equipment for a new or experienced brewer, consider also getting them grain, malt, and hops. “You could always buy the ingredients for the brew and then that way you could go and brew the beer with them.”
For the serious beer lover or home brewer, Mulligan recommends a Kegerator — that is, a fridge for a keg. While definitely pricey, “a Kegerator is a great way to spruce up a home-bar setup for your beer collector,” she says. She likes this 24-inch model from Kegco that can accommodate a full-size keg (even commercial ones from the likes of Coors and Miller); a half or quarter-size barrel; or three narrower home-brew kegs. It also comes with three taps and caster wheels for easy mobility, and can be converted into a regular refrigerator by adding the two included shelves. “If your beer lover is also a home-brewing geek, choose hookups for a Corny (Cornelius) keg,” adds Mulligan. Andrew McNally, the founder and brewmaster at Common Bond Brewers — Montgomery, Alabama’s only production brewery — agrees that “a kegerator makes a great gift,” adding, “You get to serve draft like the pros in the comfort of your very own (wo)man cave.”
Gifts for beer geeks
“In terms of giving a beer-related gift, I would have to say that the Oxford Companion to Beer is a great option,” says Zach Mack, beer writer and owner of Alphabet City Beer Co. and Governors Island Beer Co. “It’s perfect for someone who already knows a little bit about beer and wants to learn more, but doesn’t want to dive into the insanely overcrowded realm of beer books. It’s a very concise and tightly written encyclopedic record for beer that’s remarkably approachable given its depth. And even if they don’t end up using it every time they crack a beer, it looks nice on a bookshelf or coffee table.”
The author of the Oxford Companion, Garrett Oliver, is the brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery and the 2014 winner of the James Beard Award for Excellent Wine, Beer or Spirits Professional. His first book, The Brewmaster’s Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer With Real Food, is also a good read for someone who knows they like drinking beer, but doesn’t know much about the history or even different styles of brewing.
“I can’t recommend Randy Mosher’s Tasting Beer enough for anyone who wants to develop and refine their palate and develop a better understanding of the sensory components of the beer they’re drinking,” says Izett. “Honestly, if you drink beer, you need this book.”
“It’s impossible for me to overlook how instrumental Josh Bernstein’s The Complete Beer Course was in motivating me to dig deeper into the infinite world of beer,” says Blake Tomnitz, co-founder and CEO of Five Boroughs Brewing Co. “Not to mention, it helped solidify my desire to work in the beer industry. For someone who loves beer, it hits all the right notes.”