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Gift ideas for the craft-beer consumer

By Rich Ireland

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- These days it's probably a safe bet that everyone has a person on his Christmas shopping list who loves craft beer -- after all, craft beer remains the fastest-growing sector of the beverage market.

No longer do you have to trek out of state to find an interesting selection of seasonal craft beers, so it's now a simple task of putting together a holiday gift basket full of craft beer. Add a few cigars or maybe some artisan cheese. The possibilities here are endless. Here are a few of my favorites in the holiday beer category.

  • Great Lakes Christmas. A bit spicier this year but still one of the best.
  • Sierra Nevada Celebration. A beer that celebrates the season with hops.
  • Samuel Adams Merry Mischief. A limited release spiced dark-wheat ale with a gingerbread kick.
  • As for other gift ideas for that special beer geek on your list, I suggest you take a look at the epitome of fine craft beer glassware from Spiegelau. This German glassware manufacturer's "Beer Classics" set would be welcome by any craft beer enthusiast (www.spiegelauusa.com).

    Is that special person on your list a wannabe brewer? If so, take my word for it and steer away from the "Mr. Beer" type brewing kits.

    They give the potential brewer a false sense of what brewing really is, and, on top of that, they make lousy beer. I recently found an awesome beer-making kit that is the real thing. The folks at Makershed (www.makershed.com) have put together a full-grain based IPA kit that makes 1 gallon of what I am sure to be decent IPA. This is a taste of real brewing and real beer!

    For more on the craft of beer, see Rich Ireland's "Beers to You" blog at thegazz.com.


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