For my final column (more on that below), I’m taking a slightly different approach: a holiday gift guide that doubles as a road map to beer self-study. Consider it a variant on the “teach a man to fish” proverb. I like to think of it as “teach a person to appreciate beer, and you satisfy their thirst for a lifetime.” Here are four gift ideas for beer fans this holiday season.
For the Book Lover
In the spirit of lifelong learning, I recommend two beer books to expand your giftee’s beer knowledge and understanding. The first is Tasting Beer, a guide to drinking and appreciating beer, written by noted beer educator Randy Mosher. In the best resource I’ve read to tell your Wits from your Weizens, Mosher provides detailed descriptions of different beer styles while keeping the content highly entertaining.
For a more expansive and complete collected beer knowledge, look no further than the Oxford Companion to Beer, edited by Garrett Oliver, brewmaster of Brooklyn Brewing.
I can’t help but think that the idea to publish this definitive compendium must have been hatched over many beers at the Oxford University Press. With contributions from 160 historians, scientists and brewers covering every imaginable topic in the world of beer, this book is the ultimate resource.
For the Suave Sipper
I don’t know about you, but when I’m reading about beer it feels only natural to be drinking a beer. But you need the right glass. The beer world hasn’t quite reached the excessive glassware customization of wine, but there are some dos and don’ts to consider with beer glassware. The biggest and probably least-known “don’t” may come as a surprise: the traditional straight-walled pint glass is the worst to drink beer from. The wide mouth of a typical pint glass actually dissipates all of the aromas you should be appreciating.
A useful “do” is to drink fragrant beers from a standard wine glass, the design of which optimizes the collection and release of aromas while drinking. Better yet, there’s a glass specifically created for beer appreciation. Designed in Italy and made in Germany, the Teku beer glass by Rastal can be found online and is a worthwhile gift for the beer aficionado.
For the Do-it-yourselfer
To expand your gift recipients’ beer knowledge and independence, equip them with the tools to brew their own. It may seem like a daunting prospect to pick out the various brewing paraphernalia, but you’ll find the folks at your local home-brewing store extremely helpful. There’s no better way to gain a greater appreciation of beer than brewing your own, and it all starts with the first beer kit.
Finally, as I mentioned, this will be my final instalment. I’m expanding beyond beer appreciation to brewing. I’m building a brew pub in the Ritchie community of Edmonton, and I’m calling it the Blind Enthusiasm Brewing Co. to reflect my unbridled passion for the industry, and my big plans. It should be open in spring 2017, so please come by and don’t be shy if you’ve got any beer questions you’d like to ask.