beer gift guide toronto

10 holiday gift ideas for the beer lover in Toronto

That time of year when you start to sweat about to get the last few people on your shopping list is nearly upon us. But, as long as the people on your list are into beer (and if they're not, why are you friends with them?), I've got you covered.

Read on to avoid that annual panicked trip to Shopper's Drug Mart that ended up with you buying everyone magazines and novelty tooth brushes last year.

Henley Brands Waxed Canvas Wine Tote with Corkscrew
While technically designed for wine, this handsome natural-cotton tote is perfectly suited to stylishly concealing your bottle of Witchshark for post slacklining summer refreshment in Trinity Bellwoods park. With a built-in shoulder strap, you can also haul ass with it when the popo show up to harsh on your good time. Available for $34.00 at BYOB

A homebrew kit from Noble Hop
Noble Hop, the homebrew supply store on Dundas West, has introduced four simple one-gallon brew kits that include everything the aspiring beer-maker on your list needs to channel his or her inner brewmaster. Available in kits to make an IPA, an Oatmeal Stout, a Blonde Ale, or a Hefeweizen, the one gallon, all-grain brew kit contains pre-milled malted barley and hops in a vacuum-sealed bag and dry yeast. For roughly three hours work, the kit will yield nine beers.
Available for $39.99 at Noble Hop

The Spiegelau Craft Beer Glass Set
After making a hugely successful glass specifically designed to bring out the flavour of an IPA, Spiegelau has now partnered with Left Hand Brewing Company from Colorado and Rogue Ales from Oregon to create what they call "the ultimate tool for enjoying Stout beer" as well as a glass they deem the "new standard" for enjoying wheat beer, made in collaboration with Michigan-based Bell's Brewery. Set of four glasses Available on Amazon for $45.68

The Lost Breweries of Toronto
Written by Toronto beer writer, Jordan St. John, Lost Breweries of Toronto isn't just a book about beer, it's also a book about the origins of Toronto. Because, as the book entertainingly points out, the big smoke's humble beginnings are actually intrinsically tied to everyone's favourite beverage. Available for $21.99 in various bookstores

Stalk and Barrel Rye
Because sometimes fans of craft beer need something a little stronger to drink, why not introduce the fiercely local alcohol enthusiast on your list to this 100% Ontario rye grain whisky made in Vaughan? Mashed, fermented, and distilled by hand in small batches, this whisky is aged in ex-bourbon casks for three years and, while it may taste a little "young" to the more discerning spirit sipper, it's an excellent new rye and a great accompaniment to an Ontario craft beer.
Available via Still Waters Distillery's website for $69.95 a bottle

Brew Box membership
For some reason, last month when I wrote about the absolutely brilliant idea of craft beer of the month from The Brew Box Company, people came out of the woodwork to decry the concept as overly expensive. Frankly, I just think haters gonna hate. With structured packages available for $55, $75, and $105, the company offers people in the areas they service access to great craft beers they probably wouldn't think to--or be able to--buy at the LCBO.

Hangover Tea
Regrettable sexual encounters aside, for my money the only real downside to drinking to excess is that it can make you virtually useless the next morning. But finally, there's a tea for that. Available at the Drake General Store, this locally made Hangover Tea claims that after drinking it there is no need to regret last night's party. Until the burning feeling when you pee, presumably. $18.00

Cool Beer Labels: The Best Art & Design from Breweries Around the World
While I'm loathe to associate craft beer with a certain sect of people that lesser authors might classify with a certain "H word," it is probably true that a large swath of those involved with craft beer are notably creative, artistic, and yes, hip. The result is that, in addition to great beer, the craft brewing industry has given rise to innovative and cool packaging and labels (I once even devoted a post to the ones found here in Toronto). Available for $31.00 at BYOB Cocktail Emporium

BEER!

Just because it's the obvious choice doesn't mean it's not the perfect gift. In a few days (teaser!) I'll share my top picks for the best local beers for winter, but if you're grabbing something to give someone who really loves beer or you want to impress the host of a party you're crashing, why not grab something imported that's on LCBO shelves for a limited time, memorize one or two descriptive adjectives, and pretend you know what the hell you're talking about? Cheers!

Sigtuna Midvinterblot
A Russian Imperial Stout from Swedish brewer Sigtuna Brygghus,, this beer is as dark as the winter night. With aromas and flavours of espresso and molasses, this strong beer will make attempting to pronounce its name more fun as you finish the bottle. $4.50 for a 350mL bottle

The St. Bernadus Mix Pack
Something like your perfect introduction to abbey ale, the St. Bernardus gift pack comes with their wit, watou tripel, tripel, pater 6, prior 8 and abt 12--all phenomenally good beers. It's the perfect gift to bring to that buddy of yours who claims to love great beer so that when inevitably resorts to his go-to IPA you can drink it! $18.95 for a six pack of 330mL bottles

Bonus Beers

CuvĂŠe Van De Keizer Blauw
A world class Belgian strong ale, the name of this beer from Het Anker brewery translates to "beer of the emperor" and is brewed every year to celebrate the birthday of Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor. With carmelized malts, dark fruit and plum flavours and warming 11% alcohol, this is a great beer to convince the oenophile in your life that beer deserves as much attention as wine. $8.75 for a 750 mL bottle

Rochefort 10
Remember a couple years ago when people went crazy because Westvleteran 12 was finally going to be available at the LCBO for a limited time and people were shelling out crazy money to get their hands on the "best beer in the world?" Well that was nonsense for a number of reasons, not the least of which the fact that Rochefort 10 isn't nearly as hard to get and the fruity, spicy, caramell-y Trappist-brewed Belgian Quadruppel is every bit as good as the mythical Westy. $3.85 for a 330mL bottle

What items did I miss? Leave your ideas in the comments.

lcboThanks to the LCBO for sponsoring our 2014 Gift Guide.

Ben Johnson also writes about beer over on Ben's Beer Blog. Send him seasons greetings or bah humbugs @Ben_T_Johnson


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