Joe Sixpack: Put brews and gadgets in holiday stockings

Posted: December 08, 2011

NEED TO TELL your Aunt Sarah you don't need another knitted sweater this holiday season? Clip out this all-purpose gift list and slip it into her handbag. Maybe she'll get the hint.

FOR THE DIYER: The Complete Homebrew Beer Book by George Hummel (Robert Rose, $16.47). With 200 easy recipes, anyone can brew lager, mead, fruit beer - you name it. Order it with a homebrewing kit directly from the author ($150 at www.homesweethomebrew.com).

FOR THE BOOKWORM: "The Oxford Companion to Beer" (Oxford University Press, $65), edited by Brooklyn Brewery's Garrett Oliver, with more than 165 experts in a variety of beer-related fields. At nearly 1,000 pages, this tome requires its own shelf in your bathroom.

FOR THE PIOUS: Diary of a Part-Time Monk by J. Wilson (Old Line Publishing, $14.95). Wilson is the blogger who famously tested the legend that fasting monks once lived on double bock alone by embarking on his own 46-day beer-and-water regime during Lent earlier this year. Consider this a beer drinker's diet book for 2012.

FOR HANUKKAH: Craft Beer Bar Mitzvah (Malt Shop Publishing, $16.99) by Jeremy Cowan, who tells the story of his Shmaltz Brewing Co., maker of He'Brew, the Chosen Beer.

FOR THE WALL FLOWER: The Lagunitas Brewing Butterfly Bottle Opener. Guaranteed to turn the recipient into the life of the party. Either that or he'll poke his eye out. $15 at store.lagunitas.com.

FOR THE ATHLETE: Customized beer-pong table. The ultimate home-field advantage is a table with one's own logo and graphics. Available with optional iPod speakers. Starting at $70 at www.partypongtables.com.

FOR THE SPECTATOR: The BeerBelly. Worn under a shirt and filled with a sixpack's worth of suds, it looks like a full-blown gut. It's ideal for smuggling brew into a stadium ($50). And for her, there's the Wine Rack ($30), which really needs no description. www.thebeerbelly.com.

FOR THE NOT-EASILY IMPRESSED: A beer geek's jaw-dropping sixpack. Painstaking assembly required:

Schneider Nelson Sauvin (Germany): A rich, fruity weizenbock with trendy Nelson Sauvin hops from New Zealand. 750ml, $20.

Ithaca Alphalpha Double IPA (New York): A stunning double IPA with a honeylike sweetness. 750ml, $11.

De Dolle Oerbier Special Reserva 2010 (Belgium): A Flemish brown ale with that classic oak- and sour-cherry flavor. 375ml, $10.

Mikkeller Red/White Christmas (Denmark): A blend of British red ale and Belgian witbier with plenty of American hops and bitter orange peel. 1.5 liters, $31.

The Alchemist Heady Topper (Vermont): The only beer made by this brewery (sadly closed after flooding this fall) is a hop-lover's delight. A few cans are still available in some stores. Price ranges.

Cigar City Hunahpu's Imperial Stout (Florida): A rich imperial stout flavored with Peruvian cacao, chili pepper, cinnamon and vanilla. 750ml bottle, $100 and up on eBay.

FOR THE CRAFTY: Anything from Etsy.com. Just search for "beer" at this website devoted to artists and crafters, and you'll find an incredible array of gifts made with the beer drinker in mind, including organic beer soap, bar towels, notebooks, glassware, jewelry and clothing.

Highly recommended: Rob Sand's custom-printed plywood sixpack carriers at $39.50.

FOR THE TERMINALLY LAZY: Beer-of-the-month-club membership. Get a stash delivered to your door every month. Clubs of America ($36.95, www.greatclubs.com) specializes in American micros. The Rare Beer Club ($31.95, www.beermonthclub.com) offers bold, top-of-the line imports and micros.

FOR EVERYONE: What the Hell am I Drinking? by Joe Sixpack ($11.95, www.joesixpack. net). OK, it's a shameless plug, but if you made it this far, you'll enjoy the essays on 50 beer styles. Suitable for barroom or bathroom reading.


"Joe Sixpack" is by Don Russell, director of Philly Beer Week. For more on the beer scene, sign up for his weekly email update at www.joesixpack.net. E-mail: joesixpack@phillynews.com.

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