Toronto beer lover's holiday gift guide
What to get the beer lover on your list this holiday season
That special time of year is approaching again: those mid- to late-December days when you start to sweat nervously about what to get for the last few people on your holiday gift list. Well don't fret, as long as those people are into local beer, I've got you covered with a few ideas. And if they're not into local beer, you should probably rethink your association with them. Either way, you're welcome.
Hangover Tea ($15)
Say what you will about liver damage, weight gain, increased blood pressure, and the tendency toward indiscriminate sexual relationships, for my money the only real downside to drinking too much is that it makes you virtually useless the next morning. But not any more! With this locally made Hangover Tea, available at the Drake General Store, you'll be able to get up off the couch and get your errands done early so you can start drinking all over again. According the website it "washes away all feelings of regret and leaves only the awesome memories of rockin' around the Christmas Tree." Sold!
How to Make Your Own Brewskis ($9.99)
For that beer drinker on your holiday list who has always wondered about making her own beer, this handy guide, co-written by local beer writer Jordan St. John, has everything she'll need. With step-by-step instructions and a handful of recipes, "How to Make Your Own Brewskis" will is the first step on the path to opening your very own nano-brewery. Bonus: Increased likelihood of free beers.
Brew Kits ($25.95-$55)
For that slow cousin of yours who's interested in homebrewing but couldn't possibly commit to reading an entire book on the subject, why not pick up a brew kit from BYOB Cocktail Emporium, Toronto's only dedicated shop for cocktail enthusiasts? The kits, also available on BYOB's newly-launched online store provide the amateur home brewer on your list everything he'll need to make a range of beer styles from Chocolate Maple Porters to Jalapeno Saisons, all with minimal labour-intensive reading. Need more supplies? Check out the Toronto Brewing Co. web site.
Toronto Map Coasters ($26)
They've been around a while, but what list of swag related to drinking in Toronto would be complete without coasters in the shape of the city's core? You can still order them directly from the National Design Collective or pick them up at Russet and Empire in the Junction, and now you can also get them from BYOB's store or their online shop.
Amsterdam Brewing Company "Merch" (Various prices)
What better gift for the discerning beer drinker on your holiday list than gear that proudly boasts an allegiance to what is arguably Toronto's fastest growing craft brewer? Let your cutting-edge friend pronounce to the world that he was into Amsterdam beer before it was cool with a "Hop on the Boneshaker" t-shirt or a New Era snapback hat with Amsterdam's "Adventure Brews" logo on it, both of which are available at their new retail space in Leaside.
A subscription to TAPS magazine ($35)
TAPS Magazine is the country's only magazine dedicated entirely to beer. It's independently owned and operated and features talented beer writers from Canada and around the world discussing beer from a uniquely Canadian perspective. And it's an ideal stocking stuffer for anyone who wants to learn about beer while doing other "business."
When in doubt for what to get the beer lover on your holiday gift list, there is of course no better option than actual beer. And, because our local brewers have released a number of excellent seasonals and specialty offerings, you're sure to find a bottle or two that will jingle anyone's bells.
Amsterdam's Wee Heavy Scotch Ale ($3.95 / 650mL)
Amsterdam's version of a traditional Scottish "wee heavy" ale, this slightly sweeter ale with a 6.2% ABV is just enough to warm your extremities on a December evening. Available at their retail store.
BNL Imperial Chocolate Stout ($13.95 / 750mL)
A collaboration beer brewed by Flying Monkeys brewery and The Barenaked Ladies to coincide with the band's 'Symphony Barenaked' tour, the press-release for this rich, chocolate-y beer notes that it's brewed with "organic Ecuadorian Cocoa Nibs to create a rich, friendly Imperial Chocolate Stout as sweet and quirky as the band's music." More importantly, it's got a good story behind it and comes in a fancy box, so it will make a great present. Available at the LCBO.
Black Oak Nutcracker Porter ($13.75 / six-pack)
This mildly spicy and well-balanced offering is something of a well-kept holiday secret (owing largely perhaps to the fact that Black Oak's specialty offerings are usually only available at their retail space in Etobicoke.) Pick this up and show off your beer nerd knowledge. Rumour has it they are also aging some in Single Malt Whiskey Barrels for a limited release in 650ml bottles in mid-December. Carpool, anyone?
Muskoka Brewery's Winterbeard ($10.95 / 750mL)
A perfect Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout that's as well suited to a third viewing of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation as it is to a post-tobogganing fireside thaw. The 2012 vintage is available at the LCBO and, for that extra-special someone, you might pick up one of 1000 limited bottles of their 2011 vintage which will be available through Muskoka's website
Great Lakes Brewery's Winter Ale ($6.95 / 750mL)
With some subtle orange peel, cinnamon, and ginger sweetness in the aroma but a nice, bitter finish in the taste, a couple bottles of this seasonal favourite from Toronto's oldest craft brewer and a handful of mistletoe will make for a perfect winter evening. Available at the LCBO and at GLB's retail store.
The OCB Holiday Discovery Pack ($11.95 / six-pack)
If you can't narrow it down to just one style for your beer-loving friends or relatives, the Ontario Craft Brewer's Holiday Discovery Pack is back. Inside the assorted six-pack you'll find: Black Oak Brewing Co.'s Nut Brown Ale, Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery's Smashbomb Atomic IPA, King Brewery's Dark Lager, Lake of Bays Brewing Co.'s Rousse Ale, Old Credit Brewing Co.'s Pale Pilsner, and Wellington Brewery's Wellington Arkell Best Bitter.
Steam Whistle ($13.25 / six-pack, $24.65 / 12-pack)
For that special someone on your holiday list who tends to go for quantity and easy drinkability over the more sophisticated tastes of a winter warmer, why not pick up a Steam Whistle Christmas-packaged 12-pack or six-pack? It's literally just Steam Whistle in a festive case with a spot to write someone's name. Grab some of Canada's premium pilsner for the gift that says, "I literally just remembered I should bring something on the drive over" while also managing to say, "I love you, man." Available at LCBOs, Beer Stores and at the Steam Whistle retail store.