My new favorite glasses are the Beer Classics from the 500-year-old Spiegelau glass works. With their thin, laser-cut, polished rims, these crystal beauties at first seem too delicate for slugging back beer. But sipped from a beautifully styled lager glass, a can of PBR tastes like the nectar of the gods.
Available at Amazon.com. Wheat, lager, stemmed pilsner glasses start at $22.99 a pair.
A splash of color
The 2008 Holiday Collection by Lolita is a fun set of hand-painted pilsner glasses decorated for the season. See them at www.designsbylolita.com. Available at area Hallmark and Kitchen Kapers stores, starting at $25.
Even if you never read them, books make great beer coasters. Here's a quartet of new editions.
_ "Christmas Beer: The Cheeriest, Tastiest, Most Unusual Holiday Brews" (Universe, $19.95) by, um, me. The first book devoted to the season's favorite beers.
_ "Red, White and Brew" (St. Martin's Griffin, $14.95) by Brian Yaeger. The cross-country beer tour of a lifetime.
_ "The Beer Book" (DK Publishing, $25), edited by Tim Hampson. A colorful guide to more than 1,700 beers.
_ "New Jersey Breweries" (Stackpole Books, $16.95) by Lew Bryson and Mark Haynie. An in-depth guide to the Garden State craft beer scene.
Attention span too short for a whole book? How about a magazine? (Note: I write for all three of these.)
_ Draft. Glossy, with good interviews and overviews of the beer scene in cities across America. www.draftmag.com, year's subscription $19.99.
_ All About Beer. Focuses on the industry, with in-depth looks at beer styles and brewing. www.allaboutbeer.com, $19.99 (six issues).
_ Beer Advocate. Designed for the most serious beer wonks, with very good, opinionated tasting notes. www.beeradvocate.com, $30.
The ultimate bar
Assuming you didn't have your fortune invested at Lehman Brothers, you could always shell out for the annual extravagance from Neiman Marcus: A cool quarter-mil will get you an Authentic Guinness Home Pub, built in your own home.
It comes with a trip to Dublin, Ireland, to visit the famed St. James's Gate brewery and a year's supply of Guinness Stout.
The Portopong is an inflatable beer pong tabletop. Take it anywhere, blow it up and start tossing. www.portopong.com, $49.99.
_ Beer-flavored lip balm, www.oskarblues.com, $3.
_ Knit caps from Flying Fish Brewing, www.flyingfish.com, $12.
_ Personalized beer labels, www.giftspecialistsinc.com, $19.95.
_ Beer Brittle, www.anettes.com, $9.95.
_ Bottle openers, www.bottleopener.com, starting at $3.25.
_ Golf balls from Victory Brewing, www.victorybeerstore.com, $8.
_ Pewter Troegenator belt buckle, www.troegs.com, $22.95.
Join your friend on a guided tour of Old City's food and beer scene with City Food Tours' "Artisanal Beer, Cheese, and Prosciutto Tasting." The knowledgeable, friendly guides provide the flavor of America's Best Beer-Drinking City. www.cityfoodtours.com, $39.
Lunch with me
The Philly Christmas Beer Fest at the University of Pennsylvania Museum on Dec. 27 features a VIP luncheon with Joe Sixpack. We'll taste rare, vintage Christmas beers with a catered meal. www.phillybeerfests.com, $125. General admission tix are $75.
The ultimate sixpack
You'll have to do some running, but here's a carton of one-of-a-kind specials any beer freak would love. These beers are pricey and hard to find. Try the Foodery (2nd and Poplar, Northern Liberties) or Capone's (224 Germantown Ave., Norristown).
Dogfish Head Theobroma, brewed with honey, cocoa, chili peppers and annatto seeds. 10 percent alcohol. $20, 750ml.
Iron Hill Triple Bock with 3-D label, available at Iron Hill locations, www.ironhillbrewery.com. 13.2 percent alcohol. $12, 375ml.
Red Hook Double Black Stout, a cult favorite with a limited production after a three-year absence from shelves. 7 percent alcohol. $7.50, 22 oz.
De Struise Black Albert, a Russian imperial stout from Belgium brewed especially for Ebenezer's Pub in Lowell, Maine. 10 percent alcohol. $12, 11.2 oz.
Weyerbacher Merry Monks, an abbey-style tripel from Easton, Pa., in a special, large corked bottle for a lively pop on New Year's Eve. 9.3 percent alcohol. $9, 750 ml.
Nogne O Dark Horizon imperial stout (2nd edition) is a redux of one of the most talked-about beers of '07, from Norway. 16 percent alcohol. Boxed, $26, 16.9 oz. *
"Joe Sixpack" by Don Russell appears weekly in Big Fat Friday. For more on the beer scene in Philly and beyond, visit www.joesixpack.net. Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.