DULUTH, Minn. — It's the most wonderful time of the year. I am a huge fan of this season, and as I was asked to provide some gift ideas for the craft beer lover on your list, I'll get right to it.
Breweries all over the Twin Ports and the nation have been upping their game on beer swag since the craft beer movement swept the nation. In the last 10 years, growth has been exponential, with beer fans being offered new and cool stuff to buy and share.
Here are this year's recommendations:
• Beer of the Month Club. An internet search will offer many options shipping right to your door.
• Beer T-shirt of the Month Club. Just like it sounds, a T-shirt will show up in the mail every month.
• Gift Cards. A very easy option with many choices from local breweries.
• Beer Foods. Many breweries are offering condiments and marinades made with beer. Check out Blue Heron at the Dewitt-Seitz Marketplace in Canal Park as they have a great selection.
• Beer Books. Every year there are a ton of books published for the beer lover, brewer, traveler and collector. This year my favorites are: "Session Beers," by Jennifer Talley; "The World Atlas of Beer," by Stephen Beaumont; "The Complete Beer Course," by Josh Bernstein.
• Home Beer Dispenser. A mini-keg or kegerator, either of these would be a dream of many a beer drinker. The kegerator is a refrigerator that holds a keg of beer and sports a tap for pint pouring. You can find these at major retail stores and online. Kegs can be purchased with a deposit at local liquor stores. Another cool option is called the BeerTender from Krups®. This unit receives 5-liter kegs equaling about 14 cans of beer. It is a compact easy-to-use draft system that is affordable.
• Beer Glassware and Steins. Beer drinkers love to collect pint glasses and other vessels they can fill with the named breweries beer, and the breweries love it as well.
• Beer Videos. There are thousands of CDs, videos and streaming films about beer available. Search a beer topic you think will interest your beer lover and purchase it. My choice this year is "Brew North," a beer story by WDSE and Karen Sunderman, our local PBS beer expert.
• Beer Lifestyle Magazine Subscription. With the growth of craft beers, there are many worthy publications. My picks: "The Growler," "Draft, All about Beer," "The Celebrator," "Beer Advocate" and "Zymurgy, Beer Connoisseur."
• Beer Movies. Another of my favorites. Here are my choices in no particular order: Strange Brew, Beerfest, Smoky & the Bandit, Drinking Buddies, Beer Wars, Beer, Crafting a Nation, Young Einstein, Crafted to Last, and Brew North.
• Beer Festival Tickets. Pre-purchasing tickets to a local fest for your beer lover will be very popular. My choice is a pass from the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild for the three annual festivals they sponsor. They also have a sweet swag shop with lots of Minnesota themed beer stuff.
Then there are the classics, T-shirts, hoodies, trucker hats, stocking caps, growlers, crowlers, flannels, stickers, tin signs, LED signs, and totes, all sold locally from brewers in the Twin Ports.
Happy Holidays everyone. I hope Santa brings you what you wish for, be it that IPA in your stocking or the 12 -pack of Grain Belt Premium, or maybe that rare sour beer. Best to you all.