Christmas and general gift ideas for your favourite beer geek
Christmas and general beer gift suggestions: Originally posted in the Brandon Sun, December 9, 2016
The past few weeks have been incredibly exciting for the Manitoba craft beer scene, Half Pints, Torque and Winnipeg’s newest brewery Little Brown Jug have all opened up their tasting rooms just in time for the pre-holiday rush! If you’ve never been to a tasting room before, it’s essentially a small pub attached to the brewery that serves the beers that are made right at the brewery. Unlike your typical pub, they don’t serve food to keep costs low but the typical price of a 16oz pint is around six dollars, making it well worth the trip, especially when the taprooms. So far, my favourite was Torque’s taproom as they have a self serve popcorn machine - who doesn’t love popcorn?! With Torque being just down the street from the Winnipeg airport, it’s going to be a hot spot for pre-flight beers and with out of town tourists. For those looking to try out Torque, their beer is now officially available at the three main Liquor Marts in Brandon. Currently you can find their What the Helles Lager, Diesel Fitter Stout and Finish Line IPA in cans at these Liquor Marts.
Christmas is only a couple weeks away and one thing I always think about this time of year is what I want for Christmas. Being a beer geek who buys just about every beer he can find, I generally try everything so it’s tough to surprise me. Many of you are likely looking to get beer themed gifts for friends and family this month but don’t know where to start. This is my guide on what to get the “beer geek who drinks everything”.
Glassware - There’s no such thing as having too many beer glasses. In fact, most types of beer work best with a certain kind of glass. Stokes in the Shoppers Mall (www.stokesstores.com) has a variety of beer appropriate glassware from snifters to pilsner glasses that go well with a great beer I recommend the Micro Brasserie glass set.
Hudson’s Bay (www.thebay.com) has a great selection of beer glassware from Spiegelau including glasses made specifically for IPAs, stouts and wheat ales. I recommend Spiegelau’s 4-piece beer tasting kit but at $60 it may be a bit pricey for some people. Final Touch’s 13 Piece Beer Tasting set as it includes five sample-size glasses that are great for the most popular craft beer styles, six coasters and a tasting guide that helps educate beer drinkers a bit on the beer style they’re drinking.
Swag - Every brewery has beer swag (t-shirts, toques, hoodies) and I know beer geeks love to wear the swag of their favourite breweries. Torque Brewing (www.torquebrewing.beer) has a great online store with a great selection of his & hers t-shirts, hoodies, hats and even toques. One stocking stuffer I’ve been recommending everyone this year is Torque’s premium cast iron bottle opener ($20) made by Winnipeg-area's Cloverdale Forge. Barn Hammer and Half Pints don’t have online stores so you would have to get their swag at their tasting rooms, but that would mean a special trip to the tasting room.. everybody wins! Neepawa’s Farmery (www.farmery.ca) has a great selection of clothing, glasses, and even a holiday gift pack that includes four cans of their various beers, beer coasters, flapjack mix and bread mix.
Homebrew kits - If the beer geek in your life really likes beer, home brewing kits are an affordable way to experiment and try new beers. Wine Sense (130-18th Street) carries Saskatoon's Paddock Wood Brewing’s ReadyBrew kits while Brewer’s Direct (817 Rosser Ave) carries a variety of beer kits as well as brewing equipment for those who are getting more serious about homebrewing.
Beer - Of course one of the easiest things to get a beer geek or snob is beer. The three main Liquor Marts in Brandon as well as the Keystone Motor Inn have a great variety of beers to please the strongest palate. For beer gifts, I always suggest doing a theme such as a “make your own six pack” such as an IPA theme with six different India Pale Ales, or a Manitoba-only theme with cans/bottles only from breweries in Manitoba. Alex at the 10th & Victoria Liquor Mart is a wealth of information when it comes to pairing the right beers with the right palate.
Beer Advent Calendar - Oh wait, that’s too late for that this year but the 10th & Victoria Liquor Mart usually gets a few different beer advent calendars every year at the beginning of November. That’s a pre-Christmas gift that every beer geek enjoys right before Christmas - trying a new beer each and every day.